Chip Credit Cards, Banks & Exchange Rates
For many Soldiers and families they will find themselves on the economy for travel, entertainment, and dining. While most businesses will accept bank debit and credit cards, some vendors operate on local currency, cash only. Typically, larger box stores and shopping malls will accept debit and credit cards while smaller shops, restaurants, and street vendors will be cash only. It is recommend carrying some cash in local currency if you plan to shop on the economy. During your PCS into Korea, there is not a direct need to interact on the economy, as you will be moving from airport directly to a military installation.
- Financial Institutions
Several major financial institutions support Soldier and families throughout South Korea that include:
- Navy Federal Credit Unions
- Branches & ATMS along with services and hours can be found at: www.navyfederal.org/branches-atms/korea.php
- Community Bank, operated by Bank of America
- Branches & ATMS along with services and hours can be found at: www.dodcommunitybank.com/home/locations/korea
- USAA Bank
- Foreign Transaction Fees
When deployed or with a copy of OCONUS PCS Orders, some banks will eliminate the foreign currency transaction fee on credit and/or debit cards (usually 1-2% of purchase price). Contact your bank to learn more.
- Exchange Rates (USD to WON)
Most ATMs on US installation will dispense USD or WON. You can select that option from the on-screens menu. You will be accepting the ATM Banks currency exchange rate. You can elect to withdraw USD and exchange currency on the economy. Most based have well known off-post vendors that provide currency conversion at a reduce exchange rate than larger financial institutions. Many websites and applications provide real-time exchange rates.
- Chip Credit or Debit Cards
Chip credit cards are more convenient for you when traveling overseas because some merchants and kiosks no longer accept traditional magnetic-stripe credit cards. However, most merchants can still process your magnetic-stripe card manually by swiping the card.
You always can use an ATM to withdraw cash if the merchant doesn't accept the magnetic-stripe cards. Chip-and-PIN technology provides stronger protection against "skimming," a technique in which criminals copy the data from a card's magnetic stripe and use it to create a duplicate or counterfeit card. When a retailer uses a chip-enabled terminal, the chip technology helps prevent theft of account information.
NOTE: Most retail establishments and hotels in South Korea accept traditional magnetic credit cards. However, some stand-alone kiosks, shops, and street venders may be cash only.