A short post on buying plane tickets, Forex and banking
After collecting your Visa, you are good to go! Start by emailing your recruiter and checking the date of arrival. When it has been confirmed, buy your plane ticket. Don’t get a heart attack when your recruiter tells you to arrive a week prior to the starting date of your contract. Many schools prefer to have you in Korea earlier in order to sort out the Medical Check, ARC and other nitty gritty stuff before you have to start teaching. We bought our plane tickets online, and had the option of going with either Qatar or Emirates. Choose the one which suits your budget and schedule best. Our tickets were about R8000 give or take, so R16 000 in total for the two of us.
Next step; Foreign exchange. You have a couple of options here. In RSA you can go to just about any Mall and you will find either a Bidvest, American Express, or one of the Big 5 Banks with Forex services (Capitec does not offer this service). For my husband it was easy, he already banks with Nedbank, so he just walked in with his Visa and plane ticket and walked out with 1000 USD – or that’s what it felt like to me. I had to go through a bit of effort to exchange my money. Bidvest did not have larger denominations on hand, and had to pre-order the currency amounts I wanted. I settled for smaller denominations, just to find out that I cannot be help without proof of residence. Since I already gave up my house, I only had an affidavit from my mother in law stating that I reside with her until leaving for Korea. Attached to this were both our ID’s and an utilities bill. Bidvest did not want to accept this as a proof of residence. I tried American Express next, an Viola! no problem- until I had to swipe my card just to have it declined. Luckily the lady at American Express reminded me of swiping limits and could direct me to the nearest Capitec Bank to temporarily change the limit on my card. After about 2 hours of waiting in different lines and almost giving up I finally had my 1000 USD in hand. The exchange rate at the time was about R15.75 to 1USD, and with the service charge it turned out to roughly R16 000 each.
Last, but not least, we had to go to our respective banks to check on the procedures for transferring money from Korea to RSA. Again, hubby just walked into Nedbank and emerged 5 minutes later with a piece of paper containing the IBAN and Swift code for Nedbank. Done. Me? A whole different story. Since Capitec does not offer Forex services, all moneys must come to your Capitec account via one of the other RSA Banks. It sounds very complicated, but you don’t have to worry about that. What you need to know is: 1) the Capitec Banking App will not work in Korea, since it is linked to your South African phone number, 2) The Banking Token will work in Korea (Yeah! for small victories) 3) You have to complete the following form. After completion you email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. I skipped this step, and went straight to my local branch, asking them to complete and email the form from the branch itself. Ask the consultant to make you a copy of the form, and to give you a printout with the Swift code. Capitec does not have an IBAN number, but on the printout there will also be instructions speaking to this subject.
Happy spending! As you see your Bank account balance shrinking, just think about all the money you will be able to save in Korea, and remember that you will be reimbursed for your plane ticket 🙂