Shinhan Bank’s Services for Foreigners
It was a crisp, sunny morning as I made my way out to Seoul’s Euljiro district, known as the city’s hub for business and finance. Like many foreigners upon arriving in Korea, I didn’t know a whole lot about what types of services banks offered specifically for international clients. Despite having been in the country for six months, I’d been happily using my student account (which was set up automatically through my university in Korea) without comparing it to products at other banks. Today, however, I was on a mission to compare the Global Centers and expat-targeted services of two of Korea’s largest banks: Shinhan Bank and Korea Exchange Bank.
Shinhan was the first stop on my list. Its national headquarters, located in the ground floor of the Seoul Finance Center, was easily accessible by the blue city bus I took. Using the subway, Shinhan’s headquarters are a short five minute walk from both the City Hall (Lines 1 and 2) and Gwanghwamun (Line 5) Stations.
In addition to housing a regular branch, Shinhan’s Seoul Finance Center location also offers a “Global Center” branch exclusively for expats (the only one of its kind in the nation, they claim). As I walked into the building and went to open the door to the Global Center, the friendly doorman smiled, bowed and offered an enthusiastic “Welcome!” as he and his female colleague quickly ushered me into the main area. Since it was still in the morning, I was the only client there and thus did not have to wait before being served. Immediately, I was taken to a smiling teller who – in nearly perfect English – began to assist me with the questions I had. However, she quickly suggested that I speak with the branch’s manager.
I was then led to a small meeting room, complete with a flatscreen TV and a perfectly-arranged set of English newspapers on the table in front of me. “Can I get you anything to drink?” the teller asked with a smile.
This VIP-style treatment only continued with the Manager, who was eager to answer each of the questions I had in fluent English. I was given a folder of various brochures detailing each of Shinhan’s services targeted towards expats. When I asked about investment options, the Manger disappeared briefly to print out a sheet with all the information I needed on the matter.
Brochures in hand, I made my way out the door as the reception staff all bowed and said “thank you!” in sing-song voices. In short, I was surprised by the exceptionally high level of service I was given at Shinhan’s Global Center.
Global Branch Features
Shinhan offers all of the same services it does to its Korean customers in English and Japanese at the Global Center branch. They also offer free consultation services for private and corporate banking solutions.
Each teller at Shinhan’s Global Center can speak English or Japanese fluently. Additionally, at the rest of Shinhan’s national branches, at least one teller can speak English fluently.
Shinhan also provides online banking in nine languages (apart from Korean): English, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Indonesian, and Taiwanese.
Phone assistance is offered in English, Japanese and Chinese. Operating hours are 9:00 to 17:00, Monday to Friday.
àFor calls within Korea, dial: 1577-8380
àFor calls outside of Korea dial: +82-2-3449-8380
Credit and Debit Cards for Expats
At Shinhan, expats can apply for any card, and assistance will be provided in English or Japanese.
However, two cards in particular are recommended for expats. Both offer significant rewards for customers:
To find out more about cards offered by Shinhan, visit their website here.
Using Shinhan Bank Overseas
If you sign up for a Shinhan card in Korea, you can use it overseas. Different charges will apply based on which ATMs you use.
You can get cheaper fees if you use one of Shinhan’s partner banks or overseas subsidiaries, which area listed online (click à “Global Network”). Fourteen countries are represented in Shinhan’s Global Network, which is made up of six branches, 10 overseas subsidiaries, 34 branches of subsidiaries, and two representative offices.
International Wire Transfer
Using your Shinhan card, you can make an international wire transfer (or “overseas remittance”) either in-person at a bank branch, online, over the phone or through an ATM.
A limit of 50,000 applies to all international transfers.
If you choose to make the transfer through an ATM, the fee will be 8,000KRW.
Additional ATM international transfer fees are:
à You will be given a 50% discount for sending through an ATM on exchange rate fees.
A limit of 10,000USD is enforced when using an online overseas wire transfer. Online transfers can be done through Shinhan’s online banking service (offered in nine languages).
You can register for phone banking in-person at any Shinhan branch. However, in order to perform an international phone transfer, you will need to speak Korean.
à Want to learn more? Visit WorknPlay’s article on Transferring Money Domestically and Internationally in Korea.
Shinhan offers two accounts geared specifically towards students:
Web and Smartphone Banking
As mentioned before, Shinhan offers online banking in nine different languages. However, it has been a little late to the game in terms of offering a smartphone application, as I was told that it is “still being developed”.
You will need to bring your passport and Alien Registration Card (ARC) into the branch to create a new account. However, Shinhan can make you an account without an ARC. In this case, you’ll need to bring some other secondary piece of ID (ex: student card, driver’s license, or business card) to go along with your passport. The catch is that you’ll need to bring your passport into the branch for each future transaction. It is highly recommended that you also take your ARC (Alien Registration Card) at this time, as it makes the process go much smoother.
Shinhan offers a variety of investment services, including: time deposits, installment accounts, real estate investments, tax advice, and asset portfolio management. However, the details for each will vary based on each individual client. It’s recommended that customers interested in investing in Korea visit a Shinhan branch, so a custom investment plan can be tailored to their individual needs.
à To learn more, visit WorknPlay’s article on Investing in Korea.
Gabrielle interned as a Content Creator for Work'n'Play during her exchange trip to Chung-Ang University in 2012-2013. She graduated from Vancouver Island University in May 2014 with her BA in Global Studies. She is now a Master's student at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs in Ottawa, Canada. The things she misses most about her year in Korea are: going for makgeolli + jeon with friends, exploring Seoul's new and old hidden treasures and getting to practice Korean every day. You can connect with her on Twitter at @MsGabrielle or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.