Currency, Credit Cards and Changing Money in South Korea

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If you're planning a holiday in South Korea, this is what you need to know about currency, cash and credit cards.

Money matters

The unit of currency is the South Korean Won (KRW) = 100 jeon. Bank notes come in: KRW1000, KRW5000, KRW10000; and coins as: KRW10, KRW50, KRW100 KRW500. Money changers will be able to give you the official rate of exchange and they are located at the airport, local banks, and other authorized foreign exchange dealers in commercial establishments.

Currency Exchange in South Korea

US dollars and other foreign currencies are not accepted in most places throughout South Korea. You will find money changers at most banks and major hotels, although it is highly recommended to exchange at least some of your money into KRW when you enter the country. If you are carrying foreign currency that is not particularly common in Asia be sure to exchange this at one of the several airport banks as they will carry a greater variety of currencies than other banks in South Korea. There are

plenty of ATM’s and money changers at the airport on arrival, so purchasing KRW before leaving home is not really necessary. If you do wish to change money before you arrive, be aware that the rates are not likely to be as good as those you will get in South Korea so it is probably worth changing as little as possible.

Banks & ATMs

ATMs are widespread throughout South Korea and cash advances can be obtained, but these can incur a relatively large fee so it’s best to check with your card issuer before travelling. You should also be aware that not all ATMs in South Korea accept foreign cards so need to find one with a ‘Global’ sign or the logo of your card company on it. Look for rows of ATMs on the premises of large banks; these ATMs will usually have an English language option. You may want to notify your bank before leaving home, as some will automatically cancel your card after withdrawals from exotic destinations as a fraud prevention method. The more remote areas have fewer ATM’s so it is worth planning your expenditure to ensure you have enough money to survive in these areas.

Private and government offices are open either from 8:00 am to 5:00pm or from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm. Most commercial establishments are open from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm daily. Banks are typically open from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, Mondays to Fridays.

Credit Cards in South Korea

Most major credit cards are accepted with Visa and MasterCard being the most widely so, but many shops and banks charge a transaction fee of between 2-4%. Amex is also accepted in a few places in the major tourist areas, but will not be quite as useful. Small stalls and restaurants often don’t accept credit cards so it is always a good idea to have some cash on you.

Find out more about our South Korea tours. To discuss your travel needs, you can complete an enquiry form or call our Asia experts on 020 7720 9285.