Let’s be honest: you’re probably spending more time thinking about how you’re going to furnish your brand new apartment than about where your money will spend its time during your stay in South Korea. Choosing the right bank is often the last priority for English teachers in Korea. Dealing with things like remittances, swift codes, and credit cards in a foreign language sounds downright intimidating.

However, with over 1.4 million expats currently living and working in South Korea, don’t think that you’re alone. Many other expats share the same frustration when trying to find a bank that’s right for them.

“What is the best bank for English teachers in Korea?”

At Korvia, we get this question just about every day. So much so, it prompted us to write this article in an effort to hopefully reduce the size of our inbox. Therefore, we’ll say this:

If you plan to send money home regularly, want to easily keep track of what you’re spending, and be able to use your MacBook Pro in Korea to check your online banking, then KEB (Korea Exchange Bank) is hands down the best choice.

So what makes KEB the best bank for English teachers in Korea? We’ve compiled a list of KEB services that teachers enjoy the most.

 

1. Global Desks | Specialized English Service

KEB doesn’t expect you to become fluent in Korean by your first paycheck.

Its Global Desks and Foreign VIP Centers provide specific banking locations for expats in Korea that guarantee quality English service. While most KEB locations do have staff on hand to help you in English, Global Desk branches specially train their staff to answer those tougher questions and help you accomplish whatever banking needs you may have in a language familiar to you.

Global Desks and Foreign VIP Centers are currently available at 22 locations across Korea including in Seoul, Incheon, Daegu, Daejeon, Busan, and more.

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2. English Online & Mobile Banking | A Feeling of Security

Sometimes it just feels better to be able to check your account whenever you want.

Being able to check your balance and make transfers online is one of the most crucial banking features in today’s world. However, most Westerners agree that Korea isn’t known for having the most user-friendly online interfaces, which makes most banking apps a pain to use.

Luckily, KEB has online banking options in English for both desktop and mobile platforms, with mobile apps appearing for both iOS and Android. While online banking will take a bit of getting used to, KEB’s go at it is definitely the best of the bunch.

3. We forgot one thing . . . Mac Support!

No, seriously, this is a deal breaker for patrons of other banks.

In a world of ActiveX and Internet Explorer, it’s not hard to see that Korea is very Windows oriented. This leaves Mac users with little to no options when dealing with anything transaction-based online. KEB on the other hand was one of the first banks in Korea to build Mac support and compatibility into their online banking services as well as provide documentation and instructions for those with the computers.

So if you’re currently reading this article on your MacBook Air or iPhone 6 (or plan on buying one soon), rest assured, there is hope!

 

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4. Easy-One Package | A solid banking option just for expats

Some people prefer to be told what to do. So we’re going tell you right now: Get the KEB Easy One Package. You’ll thank us later.

You don’t need to get stressed out about researching and making sure you signed up for the right plan. KEB has designed a plan specifically for expats that includes everything you’ll need and want to start with.

The starter kit that comes with a basic checking account, a debit card, an easy-one remittance account (more on this later), as well as an online banking account. It’s everything an expat needs to become a full-fledged resident. The best part is, when you go to open an account, you can just say “Easy One Package” and the staff will know exactly what to do.

Crisis averted!

5. Easy-One Remittance | Send money home from any KEB ATM any time

Let’s face it: most English teachers coming to Korea have student loans they’re looking to take a considerable stab at.

KEB’s Easy-One Remittance service allows expats to register their banking details from back home to a special remittance-only account. Actually, two accounts will be created: a basic checking account and the remittance account. Whatever you deposit or transfer into that remittance account (whether at a branch, an ATM, or online) will then be automatically wired to your bank account back home.

No need to visit a branch and give them all your home bank details each time. It’s always ready after the initial setup.

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6. Sunday Banking Locations | Don’t use your vacation time to rush to the bank

FYI: On weekdays, public school teachers get out at 5:00 PM but the banks close at 4:00 PM.

In Korea, banks are not typically open on Saturdays or Sundays. This means that public school teachers usually have to use vacation time to leave school early to make it to the bank. This is where Sunday Banking comes in.

KEB has a number of locations around Korea that stay open on Sundays for customers who can’t make it during the regular work week. With a great number of these Sunday Banking branches being in Gyeonggi Province, it’s especially convenient for teachers in the GEPIK program.

7. Credit Cards | Special advantages for public school teachers

You might have heard a rumor that English teachers in Korea are never eligible for a credit card. This is not true.

In fact, with KEB, public school teachers are eligible to apply for a credit card after a year of working in Korea, or as little as 6 months if they keep an average of 1,000,000 KRW (approx 1,000 USD) in their accounts during that time.

Private institute (hagwon) teachers are also eligible for a credit card, but since they are not a government employee like a public school teacher, they will be subject to a different credit review.

8. Incheon Airport 24-Hour Banking | Exchange money upon arrival

Catching the red eye into Incheon International Airport?

Teachers don’t need to make sure their plane lands between certain hours in order to exchange their money for Korean won. KEB is the only bank at Incheon Airport to offer a 24-hour, 365-day-a-year currency exchange service to help you get enough Korean won in your hands before leaving the terminal.

Korvia Tip: Korvia recommends that you exchange at least a couple hundred dollars into Korean currency at the airport, as teachers tend to spend most of their suggested $1,000 during their first week in Korea. So exchange a couple hundred dollars to start off. Then, to get the best rate, head to a KEB branch in your destination city and exchange the rest.

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9. The Little Things that Matter

To finish our list, we should honorably mention the following other benefits that KEB offers expats:

English Statements
English billing statements make it easy for expats to keep a record of their spending each month and are sent straight to your email inbox. Now you don’t have to ask your Korean friends to translate each line for you.

Banking Smarts Newsletter
KEB’s expat-oriented “Banking Smarts” bimonthly newsletter gives expats a great way to stay in the know about happenings at KEB as well as answering common questions they have about banking in Korea.

KEB Expat Events
Since KEB started in 1967, it has focused on sharing Korean culture with the international community. From Templestays to DMZ biking tours, they provide free excursions for expats that sign up and want to maximize their time in Korea.

KEB Facebook Community
If making inquiries via phone or email is not your thing, prospective and current KEB members can get the latest news and as well get their questions answered on the KEB for Expats Facebook page. The page is updated frequently and gives regular forecasts of the Korean won to US dollar exchange rate.

 

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Phew. Hopefully this list will decrease our stacks of banking related email that we get each day. We hope we convinced you that if you’re going to teach English in Korea, choosing to bank at KEB will make your life a whole lot easier. It’s safe now to go back to thinking about what color towels and bedding you should bring with you to Korea.