ATM service

How to avoid ATM fees in South East Asia

When you travel around in South East Asia in countries like Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, you can end up using alot of your money on ATM fees. It can cost you over 5 dollars per transaction (besides the amount your own local bank may take per transaction), but it is possible to reduce or even avoid the cost on your next trip to South East Asia, here is how to do it!.

The research is based on data collected in Mid 2015 and I used a Danish visa payment card :

ATM fee in Vietnam:

HSBC: Max withdrawal limit 5.6 mill. Fee 110.000 VND.
Sacombank: Max withdrawal limit 2 mill. Fee 40.000 VND.
VietnamBank: Low withdrawal limit. Didn’t work with my credit card.
SeABank: ATM was not in English. Didn’t work with my credit card.
Techcombank 2 mill. withdrawal limit (others reports of no fee) I can’t confirm it, I didn’t use the machine  because of the low limit.
VietCapital Bank: Max withdrawal limit 5 mill. VND, didn’t work with my credit card, I didn’t used it.
Citibank With max withdrawal limit of 8 mill. VND and no fee it’s the winner!.

1 mill. VND = 45 US dollars

Read also: 15 useful tips to reduce your travel cost

ATM fee in Cambodia:

ATM machines abound, although most charge a hefty $4 or $5 fee for international cards like Visa and Mastercard. The exception I found was Canadia Bank, which charges no fee on ATM transactions for European bank accounts (forums Online reports that they are no longer free for Americans, unfortunately, I cannot confirm that). You can find Canadia ATMs at the airports or ‘Google it’ where to find them.

ATM fee in Thailand:

Most ATM machines around take a fee of 180 bath (around 5 dollars per transactions) for international cards. The exception I found was Citibank. ATM operated by Citibank can only be found in Bangkok so make sure you use it the last day before moving north or south in Thailand.

General Tips:

– Always take out as much money you can per transaction so you reduce the number of times you need to pay the fee. Remember it can cost you up to 10 dollars per transactions (usually your own banks take 5 dollars as well)

– Citibank has no fee in all countries where they operated. I used Citibank as often I could. Use their own service called “Find My Citi” to find the nearest ATM.

– Beware that your bank often take a higher fee on your Mastercard then your Visa per transactions. My bank takes 8 dollars instead of 5 dollars on my Mastercard

3 thoughts on “How to avoid ATM fees in South East Asia

  1. Thank you Steffan, (mange takk!) The info is useful, as I have Thailand, Laos and Vietnam on my travel list later this year. Regards, Ronell

  2. This is written from the experience as a resident of the US.

    After many years of trial and error, the only way I found to get cash completely free of fees is to open a Charles Schwab account (no, I do not work for Charles Schwab). You have to open a brokerage account (free) and an online checking account (also free). You do not have to fund the brokerage account, mine’s had a zero balance for years.

    Here’s the deal. Unlike other banks who rebate fees (hello, Wells Fargo), there is no minimum balance requirement and they refund ALL ATM fees. They do not charge any fees of their own (unlike my primary bank, Chase), and, at the end of the month, I get a lump sum credit for any ATM fees I’ve incurred. I’ve used my card all over the world, Europe, Asia, Mexico, Canada, all with no problem (let them know you’re traveling ahead of time). Even the most usury fees (i.e. Cambodia) were automatically refunded. I did not find one ATM that rejected my Schwab card.

    Yes, it takes a little bit of work to set everything up, but that’s a one-time thing, and it can all be done online.

    Another benefit is that you can take smaller amounts out of the ATM which reduces the exposure from loss or theft, and lessens the chance you’ll end up at the airport with the equivalent of hundreds of dollars in currency from a country to which you may never return.

    For some reason, I don’t mind paying $25 for a martini at the Bamboo Bar at the Oriental Hotel, but ATM and credit card fees used to drive me nuts. This card, combined with my no-foreign transaction fee Visa, means I really can avoid 100% of the fees banks charge to access my own money, I urge your readers to look into it.

    1. Hi Paul, Thank you for sharing your knowledge on this topic, very informative. I will for sure investigate more into that area before my next trip. Cheers!

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