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Exchanging Money in Taipei – What to Expect

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Most people panic when they arrive to a foreign country if they don’t have a lot of the local currency on hand and run to the closest exchange office when they get off the plane to receive a bad exchange rate. Below we discuss what you need to know about exchanging currency in Taiwan and what types to bring.

Banks

Although Taiwan is known for its convenience it probably has one of the most inconvenient banking systems we have come by due to the fact that all banks close by 5pm, with most transactions stopping around 4pm. Additionally, all the banks we have encountered stop foreign transactions either in terms of money transfers or exchanging money by 3:30pm. For the working adult, this often poses problems even for locals and they usually have to scramble during lunch our or take an extended break to finish this task. Therefore, if you think by the time you get to your hotel and have time to look for a bank will be after 3pm or so you may want to consider getting cash at the airport for that day and then heading over the next day.

Currencies

If you can get past this holdup then exchanging money is pretty easy. All foreigners are required to bring their local ID card called an ARC or if you are a traveler a passport will do. Banks tend to give the best rates for US dollars but also except many currencies including the British Pound, Euro, and Australian Dollar. Contrarily, some banks do not necessarily have access to currency from Malaysia and Singapore, so for these currencies you should consider Bank of Taiwan. The same goes for people visiting from South Africa and New Zealand.

Traveler’s Checks

Most places do not have any problem cashing out traveler’s checks but for some reason this can be a hit or miss type scenario in Taipei due to various protocol that needs to be followed, which for many of the bankers who are newcomers may be a long process to finish. Most Taiwanese in fact rarely use traveler’s checks for raveling and almost always prefer cash. The banks reflect this behavior, and certain banks may not be able to cross-reference the checks with others abroad. Try your best to have cash or expect a long wait.

Cash is your best friend in Taipei

Because Taiwan is full of so many small vendors that are constantly interacting with other vendors for supply, cash is always the medium for exchanges. Only major corporations exchange with checks or transfers, otherwise major purchases for automobiles that need to be done in person are conducted with checks written specifically by the banks and not the consumer. Thus, you will not see anyone writing checks for groceries in places like Taipei and therefore you should not expect to do the same.

Credit Cards

Only medium-range restaurants like TGI Friday’s and higher-scale Western/Chinese restaurants accept credit cards. Grocery stores such as Welcome and Sogo all except cards as well. Avoid trying to use them for something like dumplings, mango ice or beef noodles etc. unless you want to have that awkward moment of “we don’t accept cards, duh.”

Cash Advances

Cash advances can be done at all major banks based on your credit card’s limit. Make sure to check this beforehand in your country of origin and also make sure to bring your passport to the bank in Taiwan to do this otherwise you will not be allowed.

ATMs

Like ATMs across the globe, exercise caution when withdrawing money and when possible try to withdraw from banks. Also, make sure to have your card setup in advance so that you can withdraw money abroad. Be careful of the exchange rates so you don’t go over your limit, and we always aim to withdraw 10$ lower than our max to avoid unfavorable exchange rates and overdraft fees.

Hotels

Most Taipei hotels and other hotels in Taiwan do not have currency exchange services but are always more than willing to direct you to the nearest bank that is suitable for exchanging your currency of choice.

Conclusion

If you need to exchange money in Taipei when you land make sure to have about $100 (NT$3000) worth when you enter the city just to ensure you will have enough for food and amenities etc. This can be done at the airport and the exchange rate will be less gruesome. Then, on your next day head on over to the nearest bank and expect to be out of there within 15 minutes, as the exchange process goes pretty quick.

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