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Life in Korea

Hands down the BEST way to transfer money home from Korea

Originally posted on my first blog. This post is slightly modified and updated.

Want to transfer money home?

So, you want to transfer money home do you? You’ve really only got 3 options:

  1. Go to your “home” bank (set up by your school), fill out the paperwork (every time) and transfer money home.
  2. Set up online banking with your “home” bank, and transfer money online.
  3. Open a new account: Korea Exchange Bank (KEB)’s “easy-one”.


  1. The problem with option 1 (in-person bank transfers) is that you’ll probably need to take a Korean friend with you every time to help translate.
  2. The problem with option 2 (online transfers) is that you’ll probably need help with the Korean language site AND you’ll be forced to use Internet Explorer every time.
  3. The problem with option 3 (KEB’s “easy-one”) is… well… nothing (beyond the initial account setup).

What is the “easy-one”?

KEB’s “easy-one” is “easy-one 외화송금전용통장” or “easy-one Foreign Currency Remittance Service” and it is specifically foreigner-friendly and targeted toward making bank transfers home a piece of cake. Here’s how it works:

  1. Setup the account.
  2. Step over to the ATM.
  3. Do an “Account Transfer” into this account.
  4. Step away from the ATM.
  5. Receive a text message saying “KEB has transferred XXX Won equaling XXX Dollars to your bank in America” a few minutes later.
  6. Receive an email message with the same message at the same time.


Make an “Easy-One”

1. Locate the KEB

First of all, you need to locate the KEB in your city (assuming there is one). Ask other foreigners in town if they know where the local branch is. In Jeonju, it is downtown (Gaeksa) just across the street from StarBucks (near Dunkin Donuts). Or do a Daum Maps search for “외환은행”.

2. Investigate KEB’s services

KEB is specifically targeted toward foreigners and as such has many things that are very useful for non-Korean speakers including:

  1. The “easy-one Foreign Currency Remittance Service
  2. Specific accounts for expat banking
  3. GOOD English use (here’s the homepage)
  4. English Internet banking (here’s the guide for PC)
  5. A MAC specific application (you’ll need Java 1.5+)
  6. Android apps for mobile banking (many to choose from)
  7. iPhone apps for mobile banking (the same as Android)

3. Prepare your materials

In order to apply for a KEB account, you’ll need to gather the following materials and information:

  1. Your Foreigner Registration Card
  2. Your passport
  3. (Know) your address and phone number in Korea
  4. Transferring bank information (in your home country). This includes:
  5. –> Bank Account #
  6. –> Routing # and SWIFT Code (or BIC Code)
  7. –> Address of your bank in your home country
  8. –> Receiver’s name

This should be all you need (unless I forgot something), but in any case, it will get you started. You’ll have to check at the bank branch to see if there are any other necessary materials.

4. Recruit the help of a Korean friend

This step is not completely necessary as many KEB reps speak passable English. However, it is always nice to have “back-up” for help with the language and a little extra peace of mind.

5. Apply at KEB

Go to KEB and ask for the “easy-one 외화송금전용통장” or “easy-one Foreign Currency Remittance Service.” After you request that account, they should bring out the paperwork for you to fill out. When you’re done with that, they’ll probably take your passport and Foreigner Registration Card to make a photocopy, then do some work on the computer, and set you up.

6. Keep your first bank account, too

Of course, you’re going to want to keep the first bank account. Use that one for receiving your paycheck because ANYTHING that is transferred into this new KEB account gets automatically, instantly transferred to your bank abroad.

7. But, you’ll no longer be able to transfer money from that first account

Korea only wants you to use ONE bank to transfer money home. So, if you used a different bank to transfer money first, KEB will call that bank and change your transfer information (and legal stuff) over to their bank when you set up your account.

From that point on, you won’t be able to (easily) transfer money from the first bank again, as KEB should be the only bank you use to transfer. Although I’m sure that you could change your “transferring” bank back to the original, why would you want to?

KEB’s “easy-one” service is so simple, you can literally go to any ATM in town (in any town) at a moment’s notice and transfer money home instantly.

8. Make your first transfer

Immediately after setting up my KEB account, I walked over to my original bank and made a transfer to the KEB account. (Although it is possible to transfer funds from any ATM, I wanted to save a possible ATM fee by using my first bank’s ATM – and that bank was close by anyway).

After my transfer, I turned, opened the door, stepped outside, and received a text message on my phone that told me the exact amount of US dollars I’d just sent home. Nice!

Any other bank advice?

I did also stumble upon this “Expat Banking Guide” PDF from KEB that talks about all their services including things like credit cards. Check it out if you have the desire.

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21 thoughts

  1. Any tips for figuring out their website for making transfers home? I’m worried about getting my last paycheck and severance pay sent home before I fly out.

    1. Sure. When are you leaving? I checked out their websites this morning, and it looks like it’s doable. But I’m on a Mac right now, and in typical Korean fashion, you MUST install some kind of Windows .exe in order to work it. So, I’ll have to do it in Windows in a little while.

      I can go through the whole process and write up a new blog post about it. If you let me know when you leave, I’ll try to publish something a week or two before that.

  2. What are the cost with KEB?I haven’t had a problem with my local bank, but the cost seems pretty steep, but that could just be the standard in Korea. Thanks

    1. Here’s the KEB site that points out their fees:

      Looks like if you transfer less than USD 5,000, the fee is KRW 3,000 per remittance. If you send more than USD 5,000, the fee is KRW 5,000 per remittance.

      I’ve never had a problem with the KEB fees. My home bank used to charge more to RECEIVE the money than KEB charges to SEND it.

      1. Hello, thanks for the post was a huge help setting up my account. The link above does not work, I was just wondering if the cost from KEB for transfers is still the same, thanks again.

  3. How long does it take for KEB to transfer money in the Philippines? The sender was already notified that the money was sent home. The transfer was done on Saturday, August 30, 2014, but when I checked my account yesterday and today, the current balance is still the same.

    1. Have you checked again recently? Usually when I send money to the US, it takes between 3-5 business days for the money to be deposited into my account and for the online statement to reflect the actual account amount.

      Actually, the online statement takes longer to update than the account balance itself. If you need money sooner, perhaps call your bank to confirm their receipt of the funds. Otherwise, I’d say it could take up to a week for the online statement to show the change. At least, that’s my experience with the US banking system. I assume the Philippines would be similar.

  4. I use the easy-one but feel like i’m being ripped off. 1,000,000krw transfers to my bank back home at around 940usd. my bank at home then charges a 16usd fee. I just transferred money again, this time 2,000,000krw and my bank at home received 1820 usd. granted the won is weaker than it has been, does this math seem right?? thanks

    1. In that case, your bank is probably charging you a PERCENTAGE-based fee rather than a FLAT fee. I’d investigate with your bank in the US and possibly consider changing banks.

      The money is ALWAYS less than what we send here because of the exchange rate and there ARE occasionally fees at the receiving bank. However, I switched over to a Credit Union a few years back that (I can’t remember off hand now) charges either NO fee, or a FLAT $15 fee. I just remember that it’s a MUCH better deal than I HAD had. I’d definitely investigate how your bank charges fees if I were you.

      1. I am considering opening a citibank account. I know they do free global transfers but all these hidden fees are scaring me. If I cant find a citibank in Daejeon I will do KEB but Im wondering if you know anything about citibank fees? Is it smart to open an account now before I move from San Francisco or am I better off keeping my BOA account open and just wiring KEB to BOA? Thank you very much!

        1. I have no experience with Citibank though some of my friends do. You might check the comments here or Dave’s ESL cafe to see if you can find any more info. From what I’ve heard though, the fees are relatively the same and some people had complaints about Citibank’s customer service from what I can remember.

          For convenience sake, it’s probably better to just stick with what you have now and wire direct to that bank – but again, double-check that elsewhere. I personally have found Korea to be far advanced with their banking services and systems compared to America.

  5. Hello.
    Thanks for your article. Right now I’m currently banking with NongHyup and I just recently moved to Korea. I was considering joining KEB for transferring my money home, but both of my banks in the USA don’t accept KRW and require that it’s changed to USD before it’s transferred internationally. Does KEB Easy One have this option? Also, do you know much about the NH One account?
    Any information you have would be valuable to me.

    1. That’s strange that it must be changed to USD first… I’m not sure about NongHyup, but have a few friends who like it a lot (though I seem to remember it might be slightly more expensive than KEB to transfer – but again, not sure).

      Actually, since many people have finance questions like this, I think it would be great to open a forum addressing this issue. I’m planning to create forums for Key To Korean this summer, so please stay tuned.

  6. Hi. I opened an account in Keb n registered for Pay easy. But there is a problem when i use internet remittance. I need certificate code.

    1. You can probably get that from your bank. Or it’s on the code card your bank gives you with a series of 4-digit codes. If it’s that, you’d need one with the first 2-digits and one with the last 2-digits.

  7. I use easy-one to transfer money go to malaysia..but the keb bank asking me must change the money go to USD first because their cannot change the money using malaysia curency (MYR) ok with their advice so i opened new account and make deposite on monday also receive message that my deposite is successful in USD currency…but the problem is after waiting 5 days i check my malaysia account and the balance still same…can i know why?? Please help me resolve this problem..any information very valuable for me..thanks..

    1. I’m not sure why that is. But these days, Woori bank and NH bank both provide pretty good “easy-one” type international transfers as well. And I recently read some news that Woori bank is waiving international transfer fees for foreigners. So, if you have problems at KEB/Hana bank, you might look into Woori bank or NH (Nong Hyup).

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