Should I exchange my money before leaving? Or should I use the ATM abroad to withdraw abroad? The answer to that would depend on the currency of the country you’re heading to and try to do the USD/Your Home Country’s Currency and Currency of The Country You’re Visiting/USD exchange rate comparison.
On ATM Withdrawal:
For the past year up to the present, the USD to THB (Thai Baht) exchange rate fares well compared to PHP (Philippine Peso) to THB. My Payoneer MasterCard, for example, is in USD currency and if I use it to withdraw at an ATM in Thailand, I probably would get 200 baht more compared to using a GCash MasterCard to withdraw THB money which is in PHP currency by default.
An ATM in Thailand from a bank called Siam Commercial Bank (colour violet) would prompt me if I wanted to follow the bank’s conversion rate displayed on the screen. There also is an additional 220 baht withdrawal fee. From countless withdrawals with the SCB ATM machine, I noticed that choosing the option of NOT following the bank’s conversion rate was preferable. I also tried the Krungsri Bank ATM machine many times but it would not give me the option to view the bank’s conversion rate.
On Exchanging Currency:
I do not recommend exchanging money three ways. Stick to the bills on hand and exchange them at a currency exchanger WITHIN the city or locale you’re in. Exchanging my money at an airport almost always gets me 500 baht or 350,000 dong short. That’s a lot. Local currency exchangers (and legal ones, please) often have the best rates – the kind of rate that’s closest to what you would see on the XE mobile app.
Here’s the slip of a currency exchanger at the airport (arrivals) in Don Mueang:
At the time, 1 VND was equivalent to 0.0013 on the XE mobile app. It fluctuates between 0.0012 and 0.0014. What’s interesting was when I exchanged my Vietnamese dong into Thai baht at a local exchanger in Ben Thanh Market before leaving HCM a month and a half ago, the rate they had was 1 VND = 0.0013 THB.
Before I left Thailand for HCM in early October, I went to a local exchanger to exchange my baht into dong. The rate of the local exchanger was similar to that of XE’s.
Here are the details of the currency exchanger I recommend:
For Philippine passport holders, you’ll be glad to know that tourist visa extension in Vietnam is not as long-winding as the visa extension process in Thailand. The longest period for applying for a visa on arrival for Philippine passport holders is 90 days and this could either be multiple entry or single entry visas. Philippine citizens can stay in Vietnam for 21 days on visa exemption.
You might encounter a few visa on arrival websites online for a longer stay in Vietnam but Vietnam Visa Easy is the one I prefer because of the affordable fees. Upon completing the form online via the Apply Now button, I would only wait 1 or 2 days to get an email reply if my visa on arrival application was approved or unsuccessful.
The replies I would usually get include the visa on arrival form along with the list of names of the visa on arrival applicants. Yes, you will see other applicants’ names and others approved will also see your name on the list. Few websites offer the option to exclude your name on the approved visa list for an additional fee , which means you get a more personalized approval letter with only your name on it. I do not really mind the idea of my name being on others’ approval letter but that’s just me. Whatever floats your boat.
Stamping fee assistance indicated as additional option in the Vietnam Visa Easy website is not the same as the stamping fee which you would still have to pay at the visa on arrival counter.
Upon submitting the form at the visa on arrival counter, names would be called out via a television screen and you can expect to see your passport ID displayed too. Only then can you join the immigration queue for passport arrival stamp. Easy-peasy.
So you’re planning a trip outside of the Philippines but just within Southeast Asia and you’re asking yourself, can I use Grab overseas? The answer is yes. But can I use Grab overseas and still have my Grab rewards points intact? The answer is also yes.
Sometime last year I went out of the country and used my Grab mobile app overseas. This entailed a change to the local sim card and when I landed in NAIA 3 after my trip, I saw my Grab rewards points restarted to zero even though I had the same email address with which I registered my Grab account with. No one in Grab Support could satisfactorily address my concern.
Since they overhauled their system, the option to link one’s Grab account to a Google account or a Facebook account has become available. This feature helped keep the rewards points intact even if you are changing your Philippine sim card to a local one. I’ve done this in Thailand and Vietnam. I would insert my Thai or Vietnam sim card once I arrive at the airport or at the land border. As I had emphasized in this article, I do recommend using a local sim if you plan to get around as much as you can in Southeast Asia where Grab transport service is available. I cannot stress enough how it is the safest option for tourists.
The catalog for rewards points redeemable vary from one country to another. I had wanted that iFlix subscription for 1 year for Platinum Members worth 2,100 points but the Grab Vietnam market does not offer it as it was only available in the Philippines.
Having traveled to a few countries in Asia for the past year, I feel this information is share-worthy for potential tourists coming in to Vietnam. I have a GCash MasterCard from the Philippines and it is the principal card I use for ATM withdrawals and grocery purchases. However, I would run into a problem sometimes because not all ATMs accept my card even though the ATM machine clearly has MasterCard sticker on it. I’ve compiled this short information as a result of my own trial-and-error experience with most ATM machines.
Just like Indonesia, Vietnam’s currency employs many zeros and mindfulness is a useful asset when handling money here in Vietnam. In Thailand, I do not usually pay attention to the withdrawal limits in banks as I do not reach more than 7,000 Baht transaction/week.
Once you arrive at any airport in Vietnam, I recommend you look first for the SeA Bank ATM because it has the highest withdrawal limit of 5,000,000 Vietnamese dong per transaction.
Should you encounter a problem with the card not being accepted by SeA Bank, you can move on to either Sacom Bank, Vietcom Bank and Maritime Bank as these three’s withdrawal limit is 3,000,000 Vietnamese dong per transaction.
If you see a Techcom Bank ATM, just know that you can only withdraw 2,000,000 Vietnamese dong per transaction. Each transaction will incur a fee of 66,000 Vietnamese dong.
Sometimes you might get unlucky with other ATM machines. In my case, PVCom Bank, OCB Bank and Exim Bank, unfortunately, would not accept my GCash MasterCard.
When traveling overseas we may overlook the fact that not all debit cards can be used in a lot of ATM machines. I would always recommend to bring two or more debit cards. I currently have the GCash MasterCard and RCBC MyWallet for the meantime.
I also have my PayMaya physical card which is already linked to my verified PayMaya virtual card account but I am excluding it for now because of the Ph500 roaming fee my Smart postpaid account would automatically charge me once I insert my SIM to a working phone here while being overseas. As PayMaya now requires a text verification upon logging in to the PayMaya mobile app, I don’t think it’s worth it using my Smart postpaid SIM when I have two other debit card alternatives.
In Thailand, I could withdraw funds from my GCash MasterCard in most ATM machines. Most 7-Eleven stores in Thailand have ATM machines outside the premises but you have to also make sure the ATM machine is not that of a local bank. As for the RCBC MyWallet, I have tried withdrawing cash from it in both Siam Commercial Bank and Krungsri ATM machines and have been able to transact successfully.
I should also like to mention that solely depending on GCash MasterCard is not a good option because of the monthly withdrawal limit. There were times when I’ve reached my limit in GCash on the last day of the month and I had to wait for the next day, the first day of the next month, to do a withdrawal. In case waiting might pose a hassle for you, it’s good to have other options too.
It gets tricky here in Vietnam for the RCBC MyWallet. Techcom Bank, BIDV Bank, Lienviet Post Bank, Vietcom Bank and Maritime Bank are the most common ATM machines I could run into and GCash would be accepted in all of these. The only ATM where I found I could use my RCBC MyWallet is that of VP Bank. Unlike Vietcom and Techcombank, you won’t come across VP Bank ATM machines in most big malls. I had to research VP Bank ATM locations online.
I do find my travelling situation to be unique but I hope this has helped anyone who has trouble finding a bank in Vietnam they can withdraw their funds with using RCBC MyWallet.