I have come across conflicting forum posts about opening a bank account in Vietnam with a tourist visa and for some reason Google searches would return forum posts results that are 4-5 years old. Most foreigners in Vietnam would advise you to keep using the ATM card or debit card issued in your home country. But not all debit cards are created equal and I experienced that firsthand in Vietnam.
I usually stay in Vietnam on a 3-month tourist visa each time and have had frustrating experiences with picking ATM machines that will actually dispense money. Would have been nice not to have to wait 3-4 weeks for a refund from my card issuer because the ATM machine did not dispense cash. Would have been nice not to get paranoid each ATM withdrawal attempt because as my luck would have it, I’ve had to dispute non-dispense incidents twice in a two-year period for my debit MasterCard and once just recently for my debit Visa card.
I’ve also had unsuccessful withdrawal attempts at a VP Bank ATM machine using my Philippine-issued RCBC Visa Debit Card. The first few tries would be successful and then in the next 4th or 5th attempts, the ATM machine would advise me that my transaction cannot be processed. I would then go looking for another ATM machine (as if the previous one didn’t already clearly state that they accept ALL CARDS) only to give up. It always gets glitchy after some time. Interestingly I never experience this string of unsuccessful withdrawal attempts at ATM machines in Thailand. I believe it has something to do with the conversion as Vietnamese dong is in thousands while the Philippine peso and Thai baht aren’t as diverse.
Yes, some banks here in Vietnam actually allow visiting foreigners on a 3-month tourist visa to open a bank account. I had consulted with my landlady about it two weeks ago and she had phoned the bank for confirmation that someone like me, a foreigner on a 3-month visa, could, in fact, open a bank account. She recommended Techcombank as there was a branch nearby and I thought it’s also because she has an account there.
The next day I went to the Techcombank branch she provided. The staff at the counter for new accounts confirmed what I already knew – that I could only receive money from other countries or from my home country with the VND account but I would not be allowed to deposit VND cash directly into it. It’s the same thing with opening a USD account – I could open one only for incoming remittances.
I now have a VND and USD account with Techcombank. There were no fees in opening both VND and USD accounts but there are monthly and annual fees as per usual with banks. The teller only asked for my passport and my local cellphone number and she helped me set up my mobile banking with their app. The VND account comes with the Visa debit card.
Back in my home town I had to be personally present or assign a relative as a proxy at the bank to make a withdrawal on my USD account. I also had to keep the $100 maintaining balance on the account which apparently has already been raised to $500 and even so I cannot do a transfer to another USD account via the bank’s online banking website.
For my Techcombank USD account, I don’t have to be physically at the bank to make a USD withdrawal. I can conveniently convert my USD into VND with a few clicks on the online banking website and it’s instant, too. There is a $1 monthly fee for the USD account but I don’t have to keep $100 in it for it to be active.