Payment methods in Vietnam

Hello everyone,

Once you’re settled in Vietnam, you will need to make some basic purchases, like groceries or pay bills. Hence, it is essential to know the payment methods available in your host country.

Which are the most common payment methods in Vietnam? Why would you prefer some forms over others?

Does the amount of money or the type of paid services (groceries, bills, rent, etc.) determine the choice of payment methods?

Are there any apps at your disposal which make the payment process easier in Vietnam?

Can certain foreign currencies be used to make payments?

Have your habits in terms of payment methods changed since moving to Vietnam?

Thanks for sharing your experience,

Priscilla

VN is very much so a cash-based country. ATMs are everywhere. Credit/debit cards can be used in supermarkets, for online shopping (Lazada, Shopee...), in electronic stores...

Hi. Best pay by cash in Vietnam currency..
I think do not pay by credit card interest Charge and fee . That’s too costly. All way exchanges your money to local currency and that’s what I found.

We pay cash for almost everything, including rent.  We use credit card at supermarkets but we don't shop there often.  Even shopping online doesn't mean credit card is needed because COD is available for everything here.

None of our cards has annual fee or foreign transaction fee.  Only one of them still has a balance but its interest rate is very low, the kind of APR which Americans haven't seen for decades (and will never increase either), plus points and redeemable cash (I lucked out big time when I accepted the bank's offer) so it doesn't bother us to use them for all travel related transactions.

Ciambella :

None of our cards has annual fee or foreign transaction fee.  Only one of them still has a balance but its interest rate is very low, the kind of APR which Americans haven't seen for decades (and will never increase either), plus points and redeemable cash (I lucked out big time when I accepted the bank's offer) so it doesn't bother us to use them for all travel related transactions.

Ciambella.... Sound like you have a great deal! Would you like to share more details about these cards? I would like to take advantage of it... Thanks.

Rahj_Devon :

Ciambella.... Sound like you have a great deal! Would you like to share more details about these cards? I would like to take advantage of it... Thanks.

Cards with no annual fee and no foreign transactions fee are not difficult to find.  We have 8 cards; none of them charges annual fee, all of them have built-in rewards, and 7 of them do not charge foreign transaction fee  -- we travel extensively so that's the top requirement for us. 

Our best card is from BofA but I've never read about it in any review so I don't know whether it's still available.  It's a dull brownish greyish colour with only the words BankAmericard Rewards on the front.  The term Rewards is on just about every card nowadays so I can't tell which is which, but this one will definitely win first place in a contest for the homeliest and most boring card of all time.   

BofA offered it to me in 2007 when we returned from Italy and found out that our excellent credit history disappeared (I had an Italian bank account and credit card so we didn't touch American card or had any credit-worthy transaction in the States for 7 years).   With a blank slate to start again, we walked into a BofA in CT, opened a checking account and deposited the sale of our home in Italy in it.   The bank suggested that we put the money in CDs but my husband declined.  Then they offered this card. 

The APR was a fixed 7.49%, with no annual fee, two percent rewards in airline miles, hotel points, or cash, and no foreign transaction fee.  The only requirement was that we could not go over the credit limit and never be late on the payments (we never did either anyway).  If we violated those requirements, the low APR would be cancelled immediately.  Even 12 years ago, that was an excellent APR so I accepted.  The limit has been increased a few times since then; with the present one, we can buy a good car and pay in full with the card.  The APR has been the same except one minuscule increase some 5 or 7 years ago.

N26 doesn't charge anything for payments or withdrawals abroad as well

Ciambella :
Rahj_Devon :

Ciambella.... Sound like you have a great deal! Would you like to share more details about these cards? I would like to take advantage of it... Thanks.

Cards with no annual fee and no foreign transactions fee are not difficult to find.  We have 8 cards; none of them charges annual fee, all of them have built-in rewards, and 7 of them do not charge foreign transaction fee  -- we travel extensively so that's the top requirement for us. 

Our best card is from BofA but I've never read about it in any review so I don't know whether it's still available.  It's a dull brownish greyish colour with only the words BankAmericard Rewards on the front.  The term Rewards is on just about every card nowadays so I can't tell which is which, but this one will definitely win first place in a contest for the homeliest and most boring card of all time.   

BofA offered it to me in 2007 when we returned from Italy and found out that our excellent credit history disappeared (I had an Italian bank account and credit card so we didn't touch American card or had any credit-worthy transaction in the States for 7 years).   With a blank slate to start again, we walked into a BofA in CT, opened a checking account and deposited the sale of our home in Italy in it.   The bank suggested that we put the money in CDs but my husband declined.  Then they offered this card. 

The APR was a fixed 7.49%, with no annual fee, two percent rewards in airline miles, hotel points, or cash, and no foreign transaction fee.  The only requirement was that we could not go over the credit limit and never be late on the payments (we never did either anyway).  If we violated those requirements, the low APR would be cancelled immediately.  Even 12 years ago, that was an excellent APR so I accepted.  The limit has been increased a few times since then; with the present one, we can buy a good car and pay in full with the card.  The APR has been the same except one minuscule increase some 5 or 7 years ago.

Thanks Ciambella..... I really appreciated for the info!

Rahj_Devon :

Ciambella.... Sound like you have a great deal! Would you like to share more details about these cards? I would like to take advantage of it... Thanks.

I've had a Capitalone no annual fee, no foreign transaction fee, 2_% cash back card for years, I use it in supermarkets Lottemart, Coopmart, mall stores, and online.

Paypal is offering a 2_% cash back card now

Nerdwallet website compares various cards and checking accounts

If you are American you want Charles Schwab checking for the best ATM account

gobot :

I've had a Capitalone no annual fee, no foreign transaction fee, 2_% cash back card for years, I use it in supermarkets Lottemart, Coopmart, mall stores, and online.

Paypal is offering a 2_% cash back card now

Nerdwallet website compares various cards and checking accounts

If you are American you want Charles Schwab checking for the best ATM account

Thanks Gobot.... I do have investment account with Charles Schwab... Def get a checking account sign up with them....

FYI:  Please replace the  " /!\ I AM A STUPID SPAMMER /!\ "  in Gobot's comment with "two percent."

Before traveling in any country you need to convert money to suit the currency of the country you need. For example, if I'm traveling in Vietnam, I will convert the dollar into Vietnam Dong. The most common form of payment in Vietnam is cash.

My Credit cards work fine, but, it does add a bit of expense

Jewelry stores tend to exchange USD to VND cheaper than Banks

Automatic payments from the Bank work fine at least at my bank.

All in all, banks are a lot more useful than they were 10-20 years ago

70 years old :

...

Mr. E !   << Hug >>

Preferably cash and for big payment by Bank debit card

Like everyone else said, "Cash is King" in Vietnam. We do have credit cards for large purchases but, generally speaking, we pay cash for everything.

It is cash all the way for everything. Giant used to accept debit cards but owner Auchan stopped acceptance. Wife has local credit card which we use for restaurant meals. Every other payment, utilities, management fees etc strictly pay in dongs. Also as foreigner, you cannot deposit cash into your own account, someone else can deposit into your account ONLY. Strange,,

LSP123 :

It is cash all the way for everything. Giant used to accept debit cards but owner Auchan stopped acceptance. Wife has local credit card which we use for restaurant meals. Every other payment, utilities, management fees etc strictly pay in dongs. Also as foreigner, you cannot deposit cash into your own account, someone else can deposit into your account ONLY. Strange,,

Not quite true, I deposit into my account all the time due to the fact that the bank knows where my funds come from. People can only deposit into your account only if they prove where the funds came from. I sold a block of land and my partner wasnt allowed to deposit into my account, I had to have it deposited into my wifes account.

LSP123 :

It is cash all the way for everything. ... Every other payment, utilities, management fees etc strictly pay in dongs. Also as foreigner, you cannot deposit cash into your own account, someone else can deposit into your account ONLY. Strange,,

Although we use cash , 98%, 99% of the time, it's preferred but not "strictly". 

Supermarkets (Lotte, Coop, Big C, Mega, EMart, Annam Gourmet)  convenience stores (VinMart, Family Mart, Circle K). specialty stores (Vinamit, BlackMarket) clothing stores, beauty stores (cosmetic, skincare, etc) all accept credit cards. 

We ALWAYS use credit card at supermarkets and convenience stores, and our is not a local card.  We ALWAYS pay the bill for both cell phones by credit card because we prefer to pay several months in advance so we wouldn't forget about it when we're on a trip.

Rent can be paid from your account to the landlord's account.  Same with utilities. 

I no longer have a local bank account, but 2 years ago, I could (and did) deposit money in my dollar account.  To deposit into my Vietnamese account (of the same bank), the bank simply transferred from the dollar account.  A bit of a roundabout but they need paper trail to show where the fund comes from, as Colin said (ours is from the States).

dbrutter :

Like everyone else said, "Cash is King" in Vietnam.

Y'all don't forget gold! Gold is king in Vietnam.
Dollar* is queen.
Dong is only prince. Government devalues dong to dollar all the time.

Fun fact:
1. Vietnamese dong is currently the 2nd least valuable currency unit in the world
Bottom 10 currencies

Devaluation:
1 dong = 1 dollar in 1960. Then dong started going down.
Historical chart I just discovered

Bringing C notes:
Family member tried to change old style $100 bills last week, nope, gold shop only wants new style now.

* There is only one dollar. HK dollar, Australia dollar, Jamaica dollar, Namibia dollar, etc.
Those aren't dollars.

gobot :

* There is only one dollar. HK dollar, Australia dollar, Jamaica dollar, Namibia dollar, etc.
Those aren't dollars.

:top:

BTW, thank you for both links.   They're fun to read.

I could post some story's about Vietnam money in the late 60's and early 70's that you wouldn't believe. Any you old timers remember "MPCs", or "C" day?
Rick

Budman1 :

Any you old timers remember "MPCs", or "C" day?
Rick

MPC:  Đô-la đỏ (red dollar, as opposed to đô la xanh or green dollar, the real thing ).  Still don't know why it's called red when there were green, brown, and purple on it.  One particular serie had portrait of a different woman on the front, depending on the denomination.  My mother was one of those people who bought and sold đô-la đỏ until a C day happened -- I don't remember which one.  Fortunately she didn't lose her money, but that sideline business ended soon afterwards.

There are MPCs being sold on eBay now for very big money.

Well, in 2012 when I first moved back to VN, the Australian dollar was worth US$1:09 - on my then girlfriends advice we did a far bit of 'horse trading' - exchanging my savings for gold - then some of that into VND and some US dollars.
That worked out very well indeed.  Except, since then several things have happened. 
Firstly the trading value of the Oz dollar has now dropped to only a little over US 60 cents per US dollar.
That worked out quite well, especially later on when my then girlfriend decided that she wanted to get married !
Back to the money side of things - the biggest problem for us here is that all our  government payments go directly into our ANZ Bank accounts in Australia.
The major problem with that is that all the ANZ Bank branches in Viet Nam are privately owned ! 
That means I can't borrow any money from the banks here. Can only draw a limited amount out of the ATM and even that was reduced a while back, plus the extra banking fees as well.   ;- (   
Damned good thing that all the money I had back at the start of 2012 was converted, mainly into gold.  That has enabled us to purchase our residence, car, and still have enough over to invest in businesses.
However, it's still a bit of a pain being so limited by the banking restrictions.  Can't win every time I guess.
These days, wish that I'd brought all the MPC that I collected during the American war while I was serving here !!!   Have a LOT of it stashed in a shoe box back in Australia !!! ;-(

Yeah. Was here in 68/69. It was fun changing MPC on the blackmarket for 'P' or Dong. One MPC could buy me two 333s but after exchanging, I could buy three.

pogopop :

Yeah. Was here in 68/69. It was fun changing MPC on the blackmarket for 'P' or Dong. One MPC could buy me two 333s but after exchanging, I could buy three.

Back then, the beer was called Bia 33.  The third 3 was added after 1975.

Flip465 :

These days, wish that I'd brought all the MPC that I collected during the American war while I was serving here !!!   Have a LOT of it stashed in a shoe box back in Australia !!! ;-(

Sell them on eBay if you have no use for them.  Depends on the series, some of them are worth $250 - $300 (US, not AUD).

Ciambella :
pogopop :

Yeah. Was here in 68/69. It was fun changing MPC on the blackmarket for 'P' or Dong. One MPC could buy me two 333s but after exchanging, I could buy three.

Back then, the beer was called Bia 33.  The third 3 was added after 1975.

Why is that??

Ciambella :

Back then, the beer was called Bia 33.  The third 3 was added after 1975.

WillyBaldy :

Why is that??

In 1875, Victor Larue, a retired French maritime officer opened the first brewery in VN and named it Brasseries Glacières d’Indochine or BGI.  In 1954 when Indochina no longer existed, the name was changed to Brasseries Glacières Internationales, still with the same abbreviations.  The two most popular beer that BGI produced were Bia 33 and Bia Larue, both in bottles.  Bia 33 was the smaller of the two, contained a liquid volume of 33 cl, thus the name.  Bia Larue, named after Victor Larue, was 66 cl in volume. 

In 1975 when the war ended, BGI became nationalised.  Sabeco (Saigon Alcohol Beer and Beverages Corporation or Tổng Công ty Cổ phần Bia, Rượu, Nước Giải Khát Sài Gòn), under Ministry of Trade and Industry (Bộ Thương mại và Công nghiệp Việt Nam) took over the company.  Sabeco continued to produce Bia 33 Export but could not used the original brand name because it was a global registered trademark, so another 3 was added.

Bia 33 Export became Bia 333, but the older generation still calls it Bia 33 to this day.

Your knowledge knows no bound, Ciambella  :D

WillyBaldy :

Your knowledge knows no bound, Ciambella  :D

It comes with age, my dear.  I've lived through most of it.

I like the old tiger picture on LaRue and wanted to like the beer, but Singapore Tiger tastes better, more body, less watery.

https://pixen.netlify.com/pix/tigers400.jpg

gobot :

I like the old tiger picture on LaRue and wanted to like the beer, but Singapore Tiger tastes better, more body, less watery.

That's my sentiment also. 

Larue was a mediocre beer right off the bat, or at least it was back in the mid '60s when I had my first taste of beer.  Between 33 and Larue, 33 was a better beer, the amber colour of the glass was brighter, the bottle was nicer looking and fit into a person's palm perfectly.  Larue's bottle was too thick set, too heavy, and too dark.  To drink Larue directly out of the bottle, a person would have to lean his head all the way back.  It's also too tall when placed on a low table at a sidewalk eatery.  People who ate at those places often put Larue on the ground next to the table so it wouldn't be knocked over.

I must admit that I got limited finesse when it comes to beer taste, and I like light (or Lager) beer in general so any of the Saigon, 333, Tiger, La Rue and other brands pretty much taste the same to me. I usually go for Tiger for some reason, or whatever the cute lady in blue is selling because when she looks at me with her beautiful eyes the only words that come to my mind are "dạ có"  :unsure

About the same in '67 - '68.  However not being overly fond of beer - it used to make me very punchy after the first two or three glasses.  So I tended to grab several bottles of the Japanese 'Red Label 45 rice whiskey'. (black market in Ba Ria usually)  :top:   
After or during the late afternoon shower, used to mix it 50 / 50 with the dreaded Coca cola in a large mug, chilled down with that wonderful Vietnamese 'carbide ice'   :(   
Drink about half then top it up with more whiskey - - kept doing that until the whiskey ran out.  :huh:

Following that, one of two things would happen - somehow I'd manage to stagger back to my tent and collapse onto my bunk - wake up the next morning with a REALLY rotten taste in my mouth, but no hangover at all.  :cheers:   
Second alternative - - from the showers to my tent, I'd bump into one of those things called a 'commissioned officer' - - result - I'd belt him as hard as I could - - - and wake up the next morning in the stockade.  :sosad: 
What a fun life we used to lead !!!!    :lol:  :lol:  :lol:

Lived for eight years using ATM, or take my debit card and passport to the ACB bank and draw 20 million dong out, never a problem, paid cash for everything including rent. I still have an empty ba moi ba bottle at home with a stack of mpc and now drink San Miguel Light, what a life, Something mystic about Vietnam!

Yes Cash is King in Vietnam. But someone wrote that ATM's are everywhere,... and that might be so in cities and larger towns, but in rural areas you won't find an ATM's everywhere, especially in the smaller communities strung out along minor roads. Therefore  you may well have to travel to a largish community to find an ATM or get onto a major route where there are sometimes Banks in amongst the shops and businesses along the highways.

The thing to keep in mind if you go to a bank to exchange your US dollars is that they’ll only take the bills if they are in perfect shape (no wrinkles, scratches, marks). The bills have to be crisp brand new bills.

Use cash everywhere but big stores accept cards.

Local banks requires at least one year visa for account opening. The staff do not speak good English, sometimes they don't understand what you are talking. Google translation is a good choice.

My colleague refer TIMO Bank as most domestic transfer is free of charge. However, it is kind strict than previous for a foreigner to open a bank account. My working visa is less than 1 year (short of couple of days) and they reject my request unless I get a temporary residence card.

I did open an account with VIB. Kindly remind that VIB account charges monthly fee of VND10,000 + 10% of VAT, each transaction with other banks' ATM charges VND5,500, transfer also charges (if I remember correctly). Charges everything!

Meanwhile, deposit with interest rate is not available until you save for more than VND10,000,000.

The most common is cash, then credit or debit card, Vietnam is cash base country. However, they started to use other online app payment and the most common is momo wallet.

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