Travel money guide: Vietnam

Everything you need to know about using cash and cards in Vietnam.

From sailing trips to Halong Bay and guided hikes through Sapa to steaming bowls of pho on the streets of Hanoi and cooking classes is Hoi An, there's endless options in Vietnam, and although it's generally a cheap country to travel through, activities aren't free.

If you're not sure whether to pay by credit card, bring a pre-loaded travel money card, get cash or just use your debit card, we're here to help.

Compare travel money options for Vietnam

Rates last updated October 19th, 2018
Name Product Foreign Currency Conversion Fee Overseas ATM Withdrawal Fee Overseas Cash Advance Fee Annual fee Product Description
Bankwest Zero Platinum Mastercard
0% of transaction value
$0
2% of transaction amount or $4 (whichever is greater)
$0 p.a.
Offers a $0 annual fee, 0% foreign transaction fees, complimentary international travel insurance and a balance transfer offer.
28 Degrees Platinum Mastercard
0% of transaction value
$0
3% of the cash advance or $4 (whichever is greater)
$0 p.a.
No foreign transaction fees on international purchases including international purchases online, together with a no annual fee.
Bankwest Breeze Platinum Mastercard
0% of transaction value
$0
2% of transaction amount or $4 (whichever is greater)
$99 p.a.
Receive a 0% p.a. interest rate on purchases and balance transfers for 13 months, complimentary travel insurance and 0% foreign transaction fees.
ANZ Rewards Travel Adventures card
0% of transaction value
$5
$0
$225 p.a.
Receive 40,000 bonus Velocity Points, 2 yearly Virgin Australia lounge passes, plus enjoy $0 overseas purchase transaction fees.

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Rates last updated October 19th, 2018
Name Product Description Available Currencies ATM Withdrawal Fee Reload Fee Initial Load Fee
Hold up to 10 currencies and lock in your exchange rate. No load, reload or transaction fees on purchases and part of a worldwide ATM alliance.
AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD
AUD 3.50, USD 2.50, GBP 2.00, EUR 2.20, NZD 4.50, CAD 3.00, HKD 20.00, SGD 4.00, THB 95, JPY 260

0%
$0
Earn up to 15,000 bonus Qantas Points when you load foreign currency onto your Qantas Travel Money card before 31 October 2018.
AUD, AED, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD
AUD 1.95, CAD 2.00, EUR 1.50, GBP 1.25, HKD 15.00, JPY 160, NZD 2.50, SGD 2.50, USD 1.95, THB 70.00, AED 6.50

1%
$0

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Rates last updated October 19th, 2018
$
Name Product Product Description Debit Card Access ATM Withdrawal Fee Monthly Account Fee Overseas ATM Withdrawal Fee Overseas Eftpos Fee
ING Orange Everyday Account
Receive a rebate on any international transaction fees and international ATM fees when you deposit at least $1,000 a month and make at least 5 card purchases.
Visa
$0
$2.50
2.5%
NAB Classic Banking with Platinum Visa Debit Card
$10 cashback on contactless purchases, $0 foreign transaction fee and complimentary travel insurance.
$10 monthly account fee.
Receive $10 cashback when you spend $1000 on contactless purchases. Complimentary travel insurance, transport accident insurance, purchase protection insurance and more when you meet eligibility criteria.
Visa
$0
$5
0%
HSBC Everyday Global Account
No foreign ATM or transaction fees.
$0 monthly account fee.
Enjoy no minimum ongoing balance or transaction requirements and the flexibility to hold up to 10 currencies. Apple Pay and Google Pay available.
Visa
$0
$0
$0
Citi Global Currency Account
Hold up to 10 currencies.
$0 monthly account fee.
Enjoy one linked debit card to hold up to 10 currencies and receive foreign currencies for free. Earn up to 2.25% p.a. interest on your AUD balance.
Mastercard
$0
$0
$0

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Rates last updated October 19th, 2018
Name Product Description Minimum Order Amount Maximum Order Amount Delivery/Pickup Method Commission Fees
Order over 60 currencies online at the best price against the Australian dollar and collect at one of over 130 locations across Australia.
$500
$10,000
In Store or At Airport
$0
Travelex makes it easy to exchange and get the best rate on over 40 currencies so you can be prepared for your next holiday.
$500
$5,000
In Store or At Airport
$0
Order multiple currencies in one transaction and have it delivered directly to your door anywhere in Australia.
$9,000
In Store or Home Delivery
$0

Compare up to 4 providers

How much dong do I need to bring to Vietnam?

Vietnam is a budget destination. Compared to Australia, accommodation, food and tourist activities cost a fraction of the price. If you have expensive taste, it’s easy to find a 5-star experience with prices to match.

Hanoi Budget Midrange Expensive
sleep

Hostel dorm bed

$5 - $15 AUD per night

2 star hotel

$15 - $30 AUD per night

5 star hotel

$150+ AUD per night

food

Budget meals
at a cafeteria

$1.50 AUD

Western breakfast/lunch

$2.50 AUD

Western style steak

$25 AUD

cruise Sightseeing at
Hoan Kiem Lake and Turtle towerFree
Walking tour of Hanoi old town
$30 AUD per person
Halong Bay overnight cruise
$190 AUD per person

*Prices are approximate and are subject to change.

Exchange rate history (AUD to VND)

The Australian dollar has weakened against the dong in past years and sits at about pre-GFC levels. If you believe the trend of the weakening Aussie dollar will continue, you can lock in a rate using a prepaid travel money card or traveller’s cheques.

Year Average annual exchange Australian Dollar (AUD) to Vietnamese Dong (VND)
2012 21705.192425
2013 20312.858604
2014 19075.280590
2015 16634.405486
2016 17317.830256

*Exchange rates are accurate as of 4 September 2017

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Travel card, debit card or credit card?

Credit cards can be used for big ticket purchases in Vietnam. For example, in Hanoi mid- to high-end hotels, restaurants and retailers will take Visa and Mastercard branded products. American Express credit cards and prepaid travel cards are accepted in fewer places.

Everywhere else you’ll need to pay with cash. Compare travel money products to take to Vietnam based on the cost to withdraw from ATMs. Credit cards can be used to make purchases, they should not be used to withdraw cash from an ATM. Use a debit card or travel card to withdraw cash.

Travel money options for Vietnam at a glance

Travel money option Pros Considerations
Debit cards for travel
  • Can be used to shop over the counter, online and for ATM withdrawals in Vietnam
  • Protected by PIN & chip
  • Spending your own money means avoiding interest charges
  • International ATM withdrawal fees and additional currency conversion fees may apply
  • Not a credit product. No emergency funds available though a cash advance facility.
Prepaid travel money cards
  • Able to lock in exchange rate when you convert AUD to VND
  • Secured by PIN & chip technology
  • Emergency card replacement and backup cards
  • Easily reloadable via a secure online platform
  • Only 1 Australian product supports Vietnamese dong
  • Comes with back and front end fees such as card issue, initial load, reload and inactivity fees.
  • Some travel cards charge for inactivity fee
Credit cards for travel
  • Can be used for big ticket purchases in Vietnam
  • Protected by PIN & chip
  • Accepted worldwide
  • Some credit cards offer complimentary travel insurance
  • Interest-free days when you pay your account in full
  • Emergency card replacement
  • Interest fees and cash advance charges apply upon cash withdrawal
  • Card scheme zero liability guarantees don’t apply in a credit card with a positive balance
  • Higher spending limit (depends on your approved credit limit)
  • Attracts an annual fee
Traveller's cheques
  • Security is the main advantage - cheques have unique serial number and can only be cashed with photo identification
  • Availability to cash at banks
  • Secure and can be easily replaced if lost or stolen
  • Card schemes such as Mastercard give you a money back guarantee if you’re a victim of card fraud
  • Institutions charge a commission to cash traveller’s cheques
  • Fees for purchasing and cashing traveller's cheques may apply
  • Currency exchange rate varies over time
Cash
  • Greater payment flexibility
  • Convenience
  • More difficult to manage expenses
  • Higher risk of theft

This table is a general summary of the travel money products in the market. Features and benefits can vary between cards.

How travel money products work in Vietnam

Using credit cards

A travel-friendly credit card will waive the additional charge for currency conversion. Two financial institutions which provide products offering this feature: GE Money and Bankwest.

The 28 Degrees Platinum Mastercard is a favourite credit card product in the travelling community. This card doesn’t charge for currency conversion when you use it in Vietnam, and it doesn’t charge an annual fee. Similarly with Bankwest platinum credit cards, Bankwest also don’t charge a fee for international ATM withdrawals when you use their platinum products.

However, interest fees and cash advance charges apply when you use your credit card to withdraw cash. You can avoid the cash advance interest rate and the cash advance fee when you load your own money onto your credit card. But remember, the card scheme zero liability guarantees don’t apply if you’re using your card which has a positive balance.

Using travel money cards

The Commonwealth Bank Travel Money card is the only product available which supports spending in Vietnamese dong. Prepaid travel cards such as the Qantas Cash do not charge a currency conversion fee when you spend in a currency not held on the card. However, most other products will apply a fee in this instance, which is as high, if not higher, than the fee you’ll pay using a regular debit card in Vietnam.

Another benefit of using a travel card overseas is the supplementary card you can use if your primary card is lost or stolen. Being able to lock in your exchange rate when you convert Australian dollars to Vietnamese dong is another upside that comes with travel cards. These benefits come at the cost of back and front end fees such as card issue, initial load, reload and inactivity fees.

  • Tip: Financial institutions which provide a travel card also make money by applying a higher margin to the exchange rate. You can get a better rate using a debit card or credit card.

Using debit cards

A travel debit card could be a good travel money choice to take to Vietnam. You’re spending your own money, which means you avoid interest charges, and a travel friendly transaction account can waive the fees for currency conversion and international ATM withdrawals. The Citibank Plus is one such account. Citi waive the fee for international ATM withdrawals, the fee for international ATM withdrawals and don’t charge a monthly account keeping fee.

  • Tip: A debit card can be used to shop over the counter, online and for ATM withdrawals in Vietnam.

Using traveller's cheques

Security is the main advantage of using traveller’s cheques. Each cheque has an unique serial number and can only be cashed with photo identification. Price is the main disadvantage. Institutions charge a commission to cash traveller’s cheques — Vietcombank will not charge a commission to cash cheques, you’re better off using a debit card or travel card which lets you make cheap or free ATM withdrawals to get dong.

Taking cash with you

Cash is king in Vietnam, so you’ll need cash for most transactions. Make sure the VND banknotes you get back are not torn or damaged. VND is paper money and more fragile than Australian dollars. Many restaurants and shops won’t accept damaged banknotes, so it’s important to place your cash carefully in your wallet.

Exchanging cash

You can get Aussie dollars changed to dong at banks, Vietcombank doesn’t charge a commission. The money changing black market is easily accessible, and illegal, so always get your money changed at a licensed institution such as bank or money changer. The exchange rate is better than the black market and, more importantly, legal.

Using an ATM

Mastercard and Visa cards can be used to make cash withdrawals from the majority of ATMs in Vietnam. The maximum withdrawal limit varies depending on the machine. Machines from banks with a presence in Australia such as HSBC, Citi, ANZ and CBA have a higher daily withdrawal limit (6,000,000 - 10,000,000VND) compared to ATMs from Vietnamese banks. You might also be charged ATM operator fee. 50,000VND is a common charge; however, Vietnamese banks can charge a lower fee (for a lower withdrawal limit).

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Dean’s trip to Vietnam

Dean spent two months in Southeast Asia. His trip in the region included a 1 month adventure in Vietnam. He flew from Cambodia to Ho Chi Minh, he finished his trip in Hanoi and took a bus to Laos. He was there for the Tet festival in December, which Dean says is not to be missed.

Where did you go?

Ho Chi Minh City, Mui Ne, Nha Trang, Hoi An and Hanoi.

What cards did you take?

Why did you take these cards?

Dean says he took the Citibank Plus Visa card because it doesn’t charge a fee for currency conversion, it has no monthly account fee. Most importantly, there is no international ATM charge from Citi when he made ATM withdrawals. He took the Commonwealth Bank Low Rate because it offered interest-free days, as long as he paid the balance off in full by the due date on his statement. This gave him time to pay back some of his bigger purchases like flights.

Where could you use these cards?

Dean says Vietnam is a cash economy. He says that you can tell pretty quickly where you can and can’t use your cards, and if in doubt he says you can always ask. He used cash for most of his transactions in Vietnam. He says he used his card when he went shopping at department stores and businesses inside shopping centres. He also used his card to pay for a couple of nights stay in 2 and 3 star hotels too. The rest of the time he stayed in boarding houses, which were cash only. He also used his cards to pay for flights, but the bus ride out of the country was cash only.

Tell us about ATM withdrawals in Vietnam.

Dean says he made withdrawals from Vietnam bank ATMs when he could. He says there was a charge of about $3 - $4 dollars each time he made a withdrawal from a non-Citibank ATM. He says he didn’t have any trouble using ATMs affiliated with the following banks: CBA, ANZ, BIDV, Techcom and Vietcombank. Dean says he was charged the local ATM operator fee when he used his Citibank Plus Transaction Account to make an ATM withdrawal except when he used a Citibank ATM. Furthermore, he says Citibank had the highest ATM daily withdrawal limit of 8,000,000VND or about AUD$400.

What are your travel money recommendations for Vietnam?

Dean says the Citibank Plus is a traveller’s best friend. Regularly, ATM withdrawals can cost up to $20 each transaction. The $5 charge for international ATM withdrawals and a $10 fee for currency conversion (for withdrawals of a couple of hundred at a time) can be avoided using the Citibank Plus. He says a card with no currency conversion fee and no international ATM withdrawal fee is the best option.

Do you have any other travel money tips?

Dean says make sure you do the following:

  • Tell your credit card and debit card provider about your travel plans in Southeast Asia.
  • Make sure you’re covered by travel insurance.
  • You’re going to have a bit of cash on your person. Use a money belt when you’re out and keep any valuables in a safe (if your accommodation offers one).
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A guide to the Vietnamese dong banknotes

The Vietnamese dong is the major currency used in Vietnam. The dong comes in these denominations: 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000, 100,000 and 200,000. The notes are different colours. Double check to make sure you pay the right amount and you get the right change back. Familiarising yourself with how the currency works and looks (using the images below) will help you avoid confusion when handling your money on your holiday.

1,000 dongimage04 2,000 dongimage00
5,000image01 10,000 dongimage02
20,000 dongimage03 50,000 dongimage06
100,000 dongimage07 200,000 dongimage05

Buying Vietnamese dong in Australia

While you’ll get a better rate if you wait to get Vietnamese dong in Vietnam, you can purchase dong in Australia from your bank or a foreign exchange provider such as Travelex. If you’re flying into Vietnam directly, and you want to get a Visa On Arrival (VOA), you’re going to need to pay a fee when you pass through customs. There are ATM facilities at Vietnam’s international airports, so you’ll save time if you have some dong in your pocket when you land. Have a look at the following institutions if you want to exchange cash in Australia.

Australia Post and Travelex also have foreign exchange locations at international airports in Australia where you can pick up dong before you get on the plane.

Find cash, banks and ATMs in Vietnam

Click here for a list of Citi ATM locations worldwide

Why you’ll need a combination of travel money options

You’ll need a product which lets you withdraw cash from ATMs without too many added costs. Although card acceptance is on the rise in major Vietnamese cities, you won’t be able to use your credit card, debit card or travel card to make over the counter purchases in the majority of places throughout Vietnam. A credit card is an essential item to take with you on holiday to Vietnam. As well as the security of a line of credit, you’ll also receive peace of mind if you pick up a card that offers complimentary travel insurance and increased rewards earn rates when you use your card overseas.

Vietnam is a popular destination for Australian travellers. Hundreds of thousands of Aussies visit the country every year keen to experience the country’s natural beauty and rock bottom prices. If you have any questions about travel money in Vietnam, get in touch with us the form at the bottom of this page.

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2 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    ElbrayDecember 28, 2016

    What is the best currency to load onto qantas cash card for use in Vietnam?

    • finder Customer Care
      LouDecember 28, 2016Staff

      Hi Elbray,

      Thanks for reaching out.

      Since Qantas Cash with Qantas Card does not support the Vietnamese dong, you can load your card with AUD and still use it in Vietnam without incurring overseas transaction fees. AUD is the first default order of priority in case you are using this card in an unsupported currency.

      If you want to check your other travel money options to Vietnam, you may want to check out our Travel Money Guide to Vietnam

      Cheers,
      Anndy

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