Banking in South Korea

Updated 2011-01-12 12:36

You need to have an alien registration card or a valid passport for all banking transactions in Korea.  

To open an account, follow these steps:
STEP 1. Take a ticket from the queue machine and wait for your number to come out.
STEP 2. Fill out an application form, available at the bank's lobby.
STEP 3. Hand in the application form together with your identification. You may need to deposit a minimum amount of about 1,000 won to open an account.
STEP 4. Register your Personal Identification Number (PIN) by entering the number into the PIN pad and confirming it.

The three usual types of cards are available in Korea:

Check cards enable deposits or withdrawals within the balance of the account, using ATMs. This card cannot be used to make purchases. If you intend to use your card to pay in shops, etc. make sure to get a debit card.

Debit cards can be used to make deposits, withdrawals, and purchases at vendors and restaurants, but spending is limited to the amount of available funds in the account.

Credit cards are available for foreigners after a screening procedure. Credit cards can be used to make purchases within the user's credit limit. Korean credit cards differ from Western credit cards in that the balance must be paid in full every month on a designated day. Failing to do so would make the credit line unavailable until the balance has been fully paid off.

Most banks provide internet banking service in English. Apply for internet banking at any branch of your bank and follow their instructions to registering at the website and obtain a certificate. In most cases online banking will work only with Internet Explorer. Other options provided by some banks are telebanking and mobile banking. Ask for details at any bank branch or download the 'Financial transactions guide for foreigners in Korea' from the websites of major Korean banks (or just search for it using any popular search engine).

If you are enrolled at a Korean university you will be able to apply for a bank account when applying for a student identification card. In fact, your student identification card will be also your debit card. The bank and the type of account in this case are designated by the university and provide various benefits, as fee-free withdrawal on campus, etc.

Keep in mind that transfers of funds from a foreigner's bank account in Korea to an overseas bank account or withdrawal from such an account overseas are limited. You may actually withdraw up to USD 5,000 a day and 10,000 a month and that only if you have designates a primary foreign exchange transaction bank before leaving Korea. In all other cases you may find yourself helpless overseas with your Korean bank card. If you plan to take a short trip, probably the best thing to do is to withdraw the amount you expect to need and take it with you in cash.

Bank business hours: Weekdays 8:30 ' 3:30
Note: Be prepared that debit cards will not work for about an hour between 12 p.m. and 12:30 p.m. every day and from 12 p.m. and 6:30 a.m. every Monday (next working day if Monday is a holiday) for some banks.

List of major Banks in Korea. Unfortunately English service is not always available.

Bank WebsiteContact Number


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