You’ve work hard to earned your money. Having access to your money is another story. I’m going to show you how to save a few bucks while you’re traveling Vietnam when accessing your money is not as easy as back home.

My buddy Paul from California is using a Vietnam Citibank ATM in Ho Chi Minh City for the first time. We’re about to take an hour long river boat cruise/dinner thingy in District 1.

It’s just a matter of being prepared and having access to the right information that’s needed to make a wise decision. And then act upon it.

When you’re in your hometown you know where all your local banks and your bank’s ATM are. And it’s a very useful piece of information because it could save you a little or a lot of money depending on how often you use the ATM.

If you go to your bank’s ATM then most banks nowadays offered free banking services, like withdrawal through the use of your ATM cards on any of its own bank’s ATM machines. Think of it this way, if you’re using an ATM that’s not your bank then your fee is like $2.50 or more per transaction plus your bank might even charged you another $5.00 fee on top of that for not using their machines.

So if you uses your ATM often then you are saving quite a bit of money. But sometimes you just can’t avoid the fees because it’s not convenience. You might be somewhere that the nearest ATM of your bank is miles away and you need cash now. Then it might worth the fee at the time.

Traveling abroad is one of those times that you just can’t avoid the fees. But if you’re prepared then you can minimize these fees and save some of your hard-earned cash.

You might think if you’re traveling far like to Vietnam then why not bring a lump sum of cash with you and avoid all these headache with ATM. Well, you can. But I just don’t recommend it. Here’s why. Have you ever heard of this saying?

“Don’t put all your eggs in your basket.”

You should always and I repeat ALWAYS secured your belongings and valuables when you’re in a third world country like Vietnam. Yes, as of today Vietnam is still considered a 3rd world country even with all these newly built and modern buildings, facilities, roads, etc. For a third world country, in my opinion Vietnam is pretty up-to-date with technologies and fashion.

Salary in Vietnam is low. An average worker with no college degree get paid around 3-5 millions VND more or less. That’s about $150-$250 USD. A thief will think that if he managed to steal one iPhone a month then he is making twice as much as some of his friends doing hard labor for a “boss”. So there’s a lot of these going on everyday and night.

But hey, don’t let that scared you but allowed these information to help you be prepared and make your visit more enjoyable, safe and fun.

As to how much you should carry with you while you’re traveling, that should be another topic that I will address in another post when I get a chance.

Reasons why I use Citibank’s ATM in Vietnam

Citibank is not my bank. I don’t have any current account with them. And they are not paying me to recommend their ATM either. I use their ATM because so far I’ve found it’s the only cheapest and convenience solution available to me at this time. Citibank’s ATM machines in Vietnam still charge a fee just like any other bank’s ATM. I have not found any ATM in Vietnam that are free of fee for people who don’t bank with them.

Their fees are 60,000 VND that’s a little under $3.00 USD. It used to be a little cheaper last year. And my bank charged me $5.00 for not using their ATM. So what’s so cool about Citibank? They still charged fee just like everyone else and just about the same amount. Well, the cool part is they are the only bank that allow you to withdraw 8 millions VND per transaction.

How is that cool and save me money?

Vietnam ATM Withdrawal Limit: Most ATM in Vietnam will allowed you to withdraw 2-4 millions VND at a time because you don’t bank with them. Agribank in Vietnam is second most that I know of that allowed 6 millions VND. All ATM in Vietnam will charge you about the same fee. And if you withdraw from an ATM that do only 2 millions then you will have withdrawn 4 times as much as Citibank’s ATM to get the same amount of money.

Lets do the math.

$3.00 ATM fee + $5.00 bank fee = $8.00
$8.00 x 4 transactions = $24.00

Here’s what you will see in your bank statement. That 8 millions VND withdraw including the 60,000 VND ATM fee will show around $382-$385 depending on the currency exchange rate at the time. Plus my bank charged $5.00 fee show up as another transaction in the statement.

$385 USD is not a huge amount to carry around with you. If that’s between you and your spouse then you each carry only about $192.50. Pretty safe and smart.

I think you got the point but just for fun of it. Lets do the math again. What if you needed a little more because you just happened to found a painting that worth $500? And you got to have it. That means you will have to do another withdraw and have some money left over to carry around.

Citibank $8 x 2 transactions = $16
Other banks $8 x 8 transactions = $64 (Can you feel the pain yet?)

One more step deeper if you haven’t felt the pain.

Citibank $8 x 3 transactions = $24
Other banks $8 x 16 transactions = $128

That should get your head spinning. You’ve just saved $104 on few withdraws total of about $1155.

Two last tips on this ATM topic, be sure to call your bank to:

  1. Tell them that you’re be traveling to Vietnam so they don’t lock your ATM card thinking it is stolen. You don’t want when you’re enjoying your vacation and  when go to the ATM for money and it’s locked. It could be worse if you have no way to calling back to the U.S.
  2. Also ask them to raise your daily withdraw limit because most banks daily limit is default at only $300. I would want to get the maximum that allow on my account because I will be withdrawing about $385 each time. But do understand the reason for the limit. It’s for your safe as well just in case your card did get stolen and somehow the thief have access to your pin code then they can withdraw to that limit. (Raise limit at your own risk.)

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