Currency Exchange Question (urgent)

I've mentioned it a few times already...we're leaving!  This Thursday, to be more precise.

We're cleaning out our accounts, and obviously we need to do an exchange for two different currencies, Canadian Dollars and New Taiwan Dollars.

In the past I've gone to Kookmin or Busan Bank for smaller exchanges for things like vacations (so, exchanging a couple million won at a time)...but sometimes they don't even have enough of the specific type of currency that we need.  This time we're exchanging a lot more.

So, question, which is the largest exchange bank in the city?  Which one is guaranteed to have large amounts of currencies available? 

Has anyone exchanged 10-20 million won at one time?

Re: Currency Exchange Question (urgent)

I'm hearing that Korea Exchange Bank is our best bet.  I also understand that AMEX Traveller's Cheques are the best way to go.

Can I go to any KEB, or does it have to be the one in Jungang-dong?

Re: Currency Exchange Question (urgent)

I think the Jungang branch is your best bet because it is the biggest KEB branch in Busan. I don't know if they have a lot of Taiwanese Dollars on them, but with the number of Canadians in the city, I can't imgaine they don't have Canadian dollars. The Jungang branch is huge. Go to the second floor. All the women up there speak English pretty well.

AMEX travelers cheques are OK if you don't mind paying the commission (2%?). That way if someone picks your pocket, you don't lose your life savings. If the peace of mind is worth it, then go with the cheques. If you think you can hang onto the cash without any problems, the commission may seem too steep. If I had $20,000, I'd probably do the travelers checks because I view the commission as a type of insurance policy...$400 to protect $20,000 is pretty reasonable.

I hope this has been helpful. Sorry I didn't see your second message yesterday. Good luck with your move back home.

Re: Currency Exchange Question (urgent)

If you're moving back home why don't you transfer the bulk of your funds to your account in Canada? 10 to 20 million is a lot of cash/cheques to be carrying with you on your travels home.

Re: Currency Exchange Question (urgent)

Hey SolidChamp, as the previous person mentioned, why not wire your money to your Canadian and/or Taiwanese bank account(s)? I don't really understand why a person sound of mind would carry $20,000 cash on him and exchange that amount to another currency, to then fly with that money on himself. KEB can also, by the way, receive your Korean money and deposit it for you in a foreign bank account.

I have done wire transfers in the past from Australia to Canada, as well as Australia to Korea and Canada to Korea if I remember correctly. I have dealt with XETrade, you can visit and open a trade account. It's fairly simple and totally free. The only charges that you might get charged will be the wire fees that your own bank will charge. This can be around $20-25. They make their money with what is called the spread, but you will get a quote different from mid-market rates at any location anyway.

Hope this helps

Re: Currency Exchange Question (urgent)

Hey all! 

The very informative and helpful info is much appreciated!  If you guys say that KEB in Jungang is the place to go, then it sounds like I have some traveling to do by subway.

Some of you have raised a very good point:  What idiot wants to carry a large sum of cash with them?  Why not just wire it?

The response is, we didn't think ahead.  I don't know if anyone here is Canadian, or if those Canadians have experience with the criminal enterprise known as Royal Bank of Canada...but unfortunately, that is the bank we've been with.

Over the past five years, we've rarely had cause to use our accounts back home.  We actually have no plans to return to Canada anytime soon.  The problem with Canadian banks is, they PELT you with all kinds of hidden service charges.

If an account goes years without any regular activity, it becomes dormant and inaccessible until the person who owns the account walks into the branch of origin, clears any accumulated service charges, and verifies to have the account activated again.

I realize this is bafflingly inane, but we just didn't have the forsight to prepare for this.  It's only when we get to Taipei that we will be given help with setting up our bank accounts there.

So, right now we're "in limbo", so to speak...and traveling with cheques/cash seems to be the most convenient route to take.

I recognize it's really quite stupid...but I'm also mulling over other options at the moment.

Thanks a lot!

Re: Currency Exchange Question (urgent)

I   have bought TC s at KB bank  and they did not   charge any service charge . However with TC you have to go to a bank to exchange them in Asia and at that time you may have to pay a service fee . Buying Gold would be a good option too   

Re: Currency Exchange Question (urgent)

Much obliged to the (mostly) fine people of the Koreabridge community!  The swift responses have definitely helped!  To the manager (Jeff)...thanks a million!


Re: Currency Exchange Question (urgent)

Hey SolidChamp,

This might be too late already, but I'm pretty sure you could simply open a bank account by phoning any bank in Canada. Just give them a Canadian address, and tell them you would like to deposit X sum of money in the bank account even though you do not have the debit card in hand already.

I have done this in the past because I was planning to go to New Zealand and I wanted to wire my money there and have the debit card waiting for me upon arrival. I contacted ANZ and they told me there wouldn't be any problems, and I got my bank account number with everything else I needed to deposit money by wire transfers.

I personally think this is worth the shot, rather than carrying large sums of money on yourself and risking loss or theft, or incurring large commission fees from banks for exchanging your currencies.