What are the Preferred Payment Methods when Traveling to Korea?

What are the Preferred Payment Methods when Traveling to Korea?


A few years ago, when we traveled to another country, it was quite common to exchange currency before the trip, by doing so, we avoided unfortunate situations where our country money was not accepted or even our credit/debit card, in most cases debit cards were only possible to use in the country of expedition and not internationally.

Nowadays and in a more globalized world, exchanging currency is not that necessary with most credit/debit cards being accepted globally, and some other options like prepaid cards some countries offer.

(Image: Credits to the rightful owner)

To make it easier for you, if you are about to travel to Korea, we have gathered the best payment methods when visiting the country. In Korea cash is becoming less frequent and exponentially using on their daily life the use of credit and debit cards without a problem; only 20% of financial transactions in Korea, according to the Bank of Korea, are made in cash. With the widespread use of T-money cards, credit cards, and debit cards, South Korea is swiftly transitioning to a cashless society. By doing so, you can say it has made its citizens and tourists lives easier.


(Image: Credits to the rightful owner)

The T-money card is used in South Korea to simplify paying for buses, taxis, and subway rides and expanded such payments to some restaurants and retailers, making it a well-liked method of payment. Like a debit card, it is linked to your bank and automatically deducts funds whenever you make a payment and can also be used with a few taps on your smartphone.


(Image: Credits to the rightful owner)

Wise is a multi-currency account, formerly known as the Transferwise. Personally, I’ve use it and so far, it works as a charm when travelling abroad, when necessary, you can instantly swap your money thanks to its capacity to store more than 50 different currencies. You will need to have a checking account at another financial institution to fund your account and you will need to pay a one-time cost of $9 to obtain a debit it if you wish to use an ATM, although not entirely necessary to make purchases since you also get a virtual card.

Wise always chooses the most affordable converting method and if you visit a nation where you don't have the local currency, you can use your Wise debit card at an ATM and Wise will convert your cash to the local currency.

Visa, Mastercard, American Express

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Almost everywhere in South Korea Visa, Mastercard, and  American Express cards are accepted, however, not all ATM’s accept foreign cards, even though debit cards can be used to make purchases. When trying to use an ATM, make sure the word "Global" is present.

Having one of the world best connectivity and a technological country, mobile payments are pretty popular in Korea, therefore you’ll have no problem adding your cards onto your smartphones and leave your physical credit cards at the hotel or Airbnb, but when using these cards take in consideration the fees and interest for cash withdrawals and many cards charge 3% currency conversion fees.

Korea’s Prepaid Travel Cards

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These Korean travel card, which costs around $4, offers discounts on attractions and retail purchases, travel insurance, and the ability to pay for lodging, transportation, and entertainment. You can find this cards available in denominations of 100,000, 200,000, 300,000, and 500,000  won at convenience stores, and can be reloaded with any desired amount on subway machines as well. To reload these cards, cash will be necessary. A mobile version of the cards is also available.


(Image: Credits to the rightful owner)

Although card payments are the norm in Korea, some small businesses wouldn't accept cards for purchases under 10,000 won, or $10, including street food, tiny restaurants, and several forms of public transportation, so for these cases it is always a good any to have some spare change in your wallet, you know, just in case you are craving for some delicious street food, I mean, who can say no to tteokbokki or Korean fried chicken right? Among many other delicious street foods.

(Image: Credits to the rightful owner)

If you have traveled to Korea and know about another payment method you might have used, feel free to share it with un on the comments! We hope you find this information useful for your next trip!

Author: Aldo

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