I recently opened a bank account in Cambodia and I want to share my experience here. Maybe it will help some of you who are thinking of moving to Cambodia or somewhere close by in the region.
Why Open A Bank Account in Cambodia?
I’ve been living in Vietnam for several years and I have two bank accounts here. But banking in Vietnam is a total pain in the ass. First of all, Vietnam has some serious currency controls in place so it’s very difficult getting money out of the country.
I connected my PayPal account to my Viet bank account and it didn’t work. Twice I tried to transfer money to my account and it was denied by the bank. Fucked up part was the money disappeared from my PayPal and never made it to my Viet account. So it was just floating around in space for three weeks. And of course, nobody could tell me why. Most of the bankers here never heard of PayPal. The ones who heard of it said it was an issue with PayPal and not the bank. When I contacted PayPal they would say it’s an issue with the bank and not PayPal. Fuck them both.
You can wire money into Vietnam but you can not wire it out. You can withdraw dong and spend it all day but it’s useless outside of the country. Which means you need to exchange the cash prior to leaving. This can be a hassle and you can get raped on the exchange rate if you’re not careful. Many people turn to shady places such as gold shops to change dong to dollars.
Another annoying thing about banking in Vietnam is the ATMs. The most you can pull out is 3 million dong at a time. ($133) I’ve heard rumors of machines that allow larger withdrawals but I’ve never seen one. Thankfully, I have a Schwab account that reimburses me for ATM fees from anywhere in the world. But it’s still annoying having to do four withdrawals in a row just to get $500 out.
Things are much more relaxed in Cambodia. You can wire money in and out with no problems. They use US dollars as the currency. My bank in Cambodia has no ATM fees if I use one of their machines and I can withdraw $1,000 in one pull. They have a great mobile app and online banking. Which bank is that?
The Best Bank in Cambodia For Foreigners
And the winner is…. ABA Bank. I did some research online and everyone was raving about ABA Bank. They have excellent customer service. Branches and ATM machines all over the country. Excellent online banking. I was able to open a savings account with $50 and it took about fifteen minutes. A week later I went back to pick up my Visa ATM card which can be used for shopping online or at ATMs anywhere in the world.
Good Interest Rates
I opened a simple savings account so the interest rate is shit. I don’t plan on keeping a lot of money in there so I don’t care. But if you’re looking to park some cash somewhere then you might want to look into a fixed deposit account at ABA. They pay up to 5.5% on a fixed US dollar account. Or 6.25% if you’re dealing with Cambodian Riel. But I’d rather stick with dollars.
How To Open A Bank Account in Cambodia
If you want to open a bank account in Cambodia, I highly recommend ABA Bank. Here’s what you will need to open an account.
When you go to Cambodia, be sure to get the “ordinary visa.” The one for long stays. I read that I needed the extension to show I was staying for a long time, but I was able to open the account with just the initial visa. I hadn’t even paid for the extension yet.
I read that you need to bring an apartment lease and have a phone number in Cambodia. I had neither. I wrote the address of my guest house on the form and I gave them my email address instead of a phone number.
I’m not sure if you will have it this easy. But it might help to show up dressed smart and be polite. When I walked into the bank it was packed. I was hung over and nauseous as fuck. I took one look around the crowded room and said fuck this shit. I started heading for the door and I was just going to try again the next day.
Some Khmer lady walked over, greeted me and asked how she could help. I told her I wanted to open a bank account and fifteen minutes later I was walking out with my new bank book in hand. Now that’s good service. 🙂
Is ABA Bank Safe?
ABA Bank is 90% owned by The National Bank of Canada. This inspires confidence since it’s not just some sketchy third world organization running the show.
I still have my Schwab account in America. But I wanted something for back up in the SEA region. I have been going to Cambodia 3-4 times a year for a few years now so it’s a convenient place for me to stop in and pull some cash. No ATM fees, crisp hundred dollar bills and I can wire money in and out of the account hassle free. Gotta love Cambodia.
Another day in paradise…