Best Banking Option for Americans in HCMC

Hi everyone!

So my boyfriend and I just moved to HCMC and we're looking to open a bank account. My question is, which international bank provides the easiest and cheapest transfer of money? We want to avoid being ripped-off as much as possible. It's been a huge headache trying to sift through the offering of banks here.

Here's what we're working with so far:

- Citibank
- ACB (Asia Commercial Bank)
- Shinanbank

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Might want to try some of these threads:


HSBC and Citibank both offer free transfers internally, that is from HSBC account to HSBC or Citi to Citi.  I think free is the cheapest.  The problem is that you need to set up a US account before you come to Vietnam.  I considered this before I went to Vietnam.  As neither bank was in my state, I settled on Citi as they let me set up an account by mail while HSBC would not.  It still took about a month.  I see you are from Boston where HSBC has a branch so you might try there.  It looks to me like HSBC may be the best bet overall, but as I said, I couldn't open the US account from Hawaii. … -transfers … =InterCiti

The other problem is can you open an account in Vietnam?  I don't know about HSBC but Citi plays strictly by the rules.  I don't think they will let you open an account with a tourist visa.  We had to wait until I had a VEC to open a joint account with my wife.  A business visa is probably OK.

If you want to send money out of Vietnam, that is another ball of wax.  There are plenty of gray ways to do it, but legally you may be required to show the bank a work permit and evidence of payment of taxes.

I see that there is a Shinhanbank USA too.  Perhaps you had an account in Korea.  However, I don't see any evidence of free internal transfers on their website, just the usual $50 a time.

Wow, thank you so much for such a helpful answer. You are the only person who has given me a detailed write-up of the pros/cons. We've visited both banks and have found them to be a bit strict on their bureaucratic needs but we both have a work visa here so it doesn't feel like jumping through hoops. I didn't know that Citibank allows you to open an account remotely so this feels like great news! Citibank is closing all its Mass branches but you are correct, there is definitely an HSBC in Boston. I just feel so much better having this insight. Thanks a million! :D

Thanks for the link! I've been looking for this thread!

I have a question. The job that I just landed requires me to have an American bank account, but I've been out of The States for quite some time now. If I were to open an account with CITI Bank, as they are also in The States, do you believe this would count?

I recently visited Citi Bank to open an account here in HCMC and they told me that Citibank Vietnam is a completely different organization and Citibanks in the USA are simply affiliated with them. If you opened up a Citibank here, it would still count as a Vietnamese bank nonetheless. Its an international name but governed by Vietnamese rules. Hope this helps!

As an update, when I tried to open an HSBC account over the internet, it was 2011.  Apparently internet based applications are now available. … pp-details

Caspermac:  Although HSBC is technically a British bank, as long as you applied through the US branch it should be considered a valid US account.  HSBC in the US is a wholly owned subsidiary.  This is not the same as the situation at Citi VN correctly noted by abcdefghizzy above, which may be necessitated by VN rules about ownership.  I expect that Citi US some ownership stake in Citi VN but less than 50%.

I have been very happy with ANZ for several years.   Also I like Vietcombank as a local...have a US dollar account at VCB as well.   Friends who gave 3 month visas have opened accounts at VCB.

My only frustration with VCB us that they just stopped accepting US Treasury checks and they had become
very slow crediting the account prior thereto.

I used HSBC, great intl. transferability, safe.

It is looking to me more and more that HSBC is the way to go.  The process to set up with Citibank is time consuming and while remote, is not online.  It involves a fair bit of mailing back and forth.  You also must have a US address, which may or may not be true with HSBC.  I set my Citi account up before I went to Vietnam.  Is there anyone out there who has set up an HSBC US account online?  zhscott:  do you have a US account and did you set it up online or walk in?

I walked in and set up, did not have a HSBC US account.

I think this depends on where you are from.

I am from San Francisco, so Citibank and HSBC are the first that come to mind.

Right now, I have an account with Citibank, but it is a huge headache to withdraw money at the bank itself and initial set-up of the account was a 2 1/2 hour ordeal!!! Also, don't get swayed by the credit card offer, this is an account where you need to put money into and not a real credit card!!!

I am not sure about HSBC.

In my own interest I investigated opening an HSBC US account remotely.  I first called with some questions and found out the following:

1) Least expensive checking account is $3/month with a limit of 8 transactions.  International transactions are $35 each even to HSBC non-US banks.
2) Premier checking allows for free transfers to HSBC VN but has a $50 monthly fee or $100K minimum balance. 
3) Advance checking has a $20/month fee and free transfers if your non-US HSBC account in also Advance.   Checking the HSBC VN website, I found only regular accounts and Premier, no Advance.

Based on the above, I see no advantage to maintaining two HSBC accounts in order to have free transfers.  Citi remains the best option for free transfers despite the problems in opening an account remotely.  Citi has a monthly charge but it is easy to avoid with either direct deposit, bill payment or over 62 years old.

I also checked with Citi again.  They confirmed that you must have a US address to open a US account although you may change it to a foreign address after opening.  To open an account you will need someone at your US address to forward your mail.  It also may be best to mail things to them first and have them re-mail them to Citi from the US.  For those of you who truly have no US address or contacts, I have no solution.  If you are still just planning to move to Vietnam, best to open the US account now.

I'm doing this same research myself. I will be in the US in June for a visit and would have time to set up an account then in person if needed. 

What did you guys decide to go with? Shinhan has been getting rave reviews on some of the Facebook groups in HCMC.  Thanks!

I have live in AP for almost 10 years with extensive travel. HSBC works best for me. The best rate is ATM. They skim 1-3 cents off the rate for bank to bank transfers. They will provide the rate in the process and prior to submitting. Many ATMs in AP.

Wanted to share my experience since I'm going through the process now.  Was debating between HSBC and Citibank since they have branches in Vietnam and in the US.  Ended up going with Citibank since they do not charge any fees to transfer money between Citibank US and Citibank Vietnam.  HSBC also has an option to transfer without a fee, but you'll need to have an HSBC Premier Account, which requires you to maintain a $100k US balance to avoid monthly charges.

Your choice was the same as mine.  I ruled out HSBC not for the VN side but because the US side had a lot of fees.  Citibank fees are easier to avoid with auto bill payments, direct deposit or age.  Just a warning, although you may know this if you have opened the VN account, but Citi VN is raising the monthly fee from 100,000 VND to 200,000 VND and raising the deposit required to avoid the fee from 50 million to 100 million VND.  You can use a time deposit to cover the fee but they are down to 2.4%.  Citibank has few ATM's but they have a long list of other banks, including all the major ones and more, that you can draw funds at without fee.

thanks THIGV - you're always very helpful.  I'm still in the US and didn't think about fees that the local Vn Citibank would change.  I've been mainly concerned with making sure that my US/Vn month transfers are solid while I'm still here!  Regarding the deposit required to avoid fees, is the 100m VND the actual monthly direct deposit amount that you would need to have? Or is it the average balance that you would have to maintain in the accounts?

I think at Citi VN it is the minimum (not average) balance required.  We did it before by putting it in a 50 Million VND certificate of deposit linked account but that was when interest was 7.4%.  That way we did not have to watch the balance.  Now they have doubled both the monthly fee and the required balance.  So if you pay it, the fee is 2,400,000 per year and the interest earned on 100 million at 2.4% is the same so the net gain on the deposit is 4,800,000 per year.  By contrast if you pay the monthly fee at Citi and invest 100 million in say Agribank at 6.5% but your net value would be only 4,100,000 VND (6,500,000-2,400,000).   Have I thoroughly confused you now?  We are probably going to send over another $2300 to convert into another 50 million deposit.  Even if you pay the fee it is $8.97, a lot less than the monthly fees at HSBC-US.

Direct deposit comes in to avoid the fees on Citi US.  You indicated that you will be paid by your US company so it seems that you can manage that one.

that makes sense.  i didn't realize that the interest rate is so high over there!

ksr2x :

that makes sense.  i didn't realize that the interest rate is so high over there!

Current core inflation in Vietnam is 1.83.  Consumer prices rose 2.57% for the year ending Aug 15.  Longer range, from 1996-2016 average inflation was 6.68% with the high spot in 2008 of 28%.  Bank rates are barely keeping up with inflation.  Expats sometimes write about moving their money to Vietnam for the rates but many US blue chips cut dividends over 2% with little downside risk and close to no inflation.  We live barely beyond retirement poverty but we have some money on both sides.  I tend to think that with just a little investment acumen, you can do better in the US.

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