Whether you’re in Seoul for a job, visit or extended trip, you’ll need to deal with money. Today’s guide is all about money and where you can exchange, withdraw or deposit it.
How to Exchange Money in Seoul
The first place you’ll see a money exchange booth or shop is the airport. They’ll always be labeled by money signs for different currencies such as the American $ dollar sign. There should also be a sign that tells you the exchange rate with currency name and how much Korean won they’ll exchange for that currency. These shops are scattered all around Seoul, mostly in tourist areas such as Myeongdong, Hongdae, Ewha, Gangnam, Dongdaemun, etc. Personally, I’ve seen the best rates in Myeongdong.
The rule of thumb is not to exchange at the first shop you see. Go around and check out the different rates because some shops have better rates. Make sure to download an application to check the current exchange rate in your home country.
All you have to do is walk in, hand the store owner the currency you want to exchange to Korean won. He or she will put the bills through a counter and show you how much Korean won they will give you. If you’re good with it, simply nod and they’ll give you the won along with a receipt of your exchange. That’s it!
Note: I noticed that the exchange rate on the signs were only exactly honored when I used $100 bills (for American currency). When I used $50 or $20 dollar bills, even if they added up to 100, the shop usually gave me slightly less for my dollar.
Using an ATM
You can find ATMs at banks, subway stations and on the street. The busier the area, the more ATMs there will be. If you’re in a major station where many tourists go or at a university with many foreign students, the ATM will have an ENGLISH button you can press.
Many Korean ATMs will be able to do withdraws for foreign cards. The fees for foreign cards will be higher, possibly around 3,000 won and up.
They also give you the option of viewing your balance, withdrawing, transferring and depositing. If you use an ATM with English options, then just follow the directions to complete the process you want.
If the ATM doesnt include English options, here are translated vocabulary to help you decipher.
Confirm – 확인 (hwak-in)
Cancel – 취소 (chae-soh)
Close – 닫기 (dad-gi)
Balance Inquiry – 예금조회 (ek-geum-jo-hee)
Transfer – 이체 (ee-chae)
Withdraw – 출금 (chool-geum)
Deposit – 입금 (eeb-geum)
Passbook Update – 통장정리 (tong-jang-jung-li)
Cash – 현금 (hyun-geum)
Check – 표 (pyo)
Passcode / Pin – 비밀번호 (pi-mil-beon-ho)
You must put in your check card before anything.
– Withdrawing will consist of you first putting in your pin, then the amount to withdraw and then confirming. You’ll receive the amount in 10,000 won bills.
– Depositing can be done by putting in your pin, choosing between check or cash, putting your money into the slot and closing it. Your money will then be counted and shown on the machine.
If you’re using a Korean bank account, you’ll want to use an ATM owned by your bank to avoid any fees. If you have to, you can use another ATM but there will be a fee (my last fee was 1,300 won).