I was wondering if some of you could tell me through experience whether or not, or just how serious the issue of exchanging "torn or damaged" bills can be. I'll be in Vietnam and Cambodia this winter and have read places that anything other than brand new bills will be hard to exchange. I understand tears, but almost every single US dollar has some sort of pen mark from a bank, or some small ink mark etc.
Is this really the case?
Yes, its generally correct (and it's not only Vietnam).
Harking back to long ago, ppl appear to think that any note that is damaged by a tear or otherwise is potentially crook. So, most refuse. If you inadvertently get one, just walk into a bank and change.
What strikes me as really funny is that Vietnam are using notes made of plastic (its an Australian invention) with a clear plastic 'watermark' symbol. Even with a tear, it's not possible for it to be a fake; only one factory produces, and the formula is a closely held secret.
Thus, the attitude continues past the need.
I've only found tears or parts missing to be an issue.
After I wrote above, I thought Hey, you've had some very old notes in your hands, and they've been OK meaning that there are still some old paper notes in circulation in Vietnam (as there are coins, up to 5000VNd).
If youthink something may be dodgy, just show the person giving it to you and ask for something more respectable.
I had issues in Cambodia last year trying to use a USD$100 note. It was one I got from a bank before leaving NZ and it was in very good condition (no tears, rips or wrinkles). But it wasn't the 'latest model' so no one would take it. I tried money changes, hotels, and banks.
It was very frustrating - and a bit worrying when no one will take your money and you have to eat!
As per lizzy, it's not just tears, but also certain years that won't be accepted. Admittedly they only bother to check the bigger notes ($100) for the years, but as far as tears go, forget about it (at least in Cambodia).
When we were living in Phnom Penh a friend was seriously considering starting up a business buying torn notes at 80% of their face value -- he'd then hoard them and ship them back to the US to cash -- as apparently there all you need is a bit of the note big enough to display the complete serial number -- or so the story goes anyway.
#6 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,789
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Try this little experiment in Cambodia with a torn dollar bill.Next time you take a tuk-tuk or motdop pay the fare then hold out the torn bill and offer it to him as a tip.Just as he reaches to take it pull it back saying.
'Oh, what a pity the note is torn so I can't give you a tip.'
If he speaks English he will tell you it doesn't matter and hold out his hand for it.
It's the only way to deal with this BS over torn notes.
Thanks guys for all your answers, I will keep that in my mind about old versions.
In the US, not only are tears and marks fine, but I can actually take a $100, rip it in half, then in half again, tape in back together with clear tape, and a store will take it lol they'll take anything. you have to burn the bill before its useless. :-P great business idea
Just returned from a month in Cambodia & Vietnam. Had the same experience as busylizzy where old(er) USDs sourced from NZ Bank were questioned - not just the bigger notes either. (The local actually asked me whether the notes were ok. I am just going to say no ...)
No questions in HCMC though.
With regard local currency I had one time where a worn 10000 vnd note I was trying to use had a small hole along a crease was refused. While i passed it to another vendor, it certainly makes one wary & i returned all notes that were dodgy or worn (2 or 3 times).
The people giving them to u also know instantly that you are wanting to exchange the note (without anything said) so I think it is a common ocurrence.
#13 nzlup has been a member since 1/2/2010. Posts: 22
I was caught be this local custom before. I'd gone to Kawthoung from Ranong for a visa run (It's been three years since - anyone know if this is still possible?) and tried to pay with a $100 note that, I hadn't noticed, had a tiny nick about halfway up the right hand side. They just wouldn't take it.
Fortunately I could scrape together enough Baht for the visa fee. Not sure what would have happened if I couldn't.
It's an odd custom, and I sometimes wonder whether the people who refuse these notes can remember why it came about in the first place.
#14 Rogue_Leader has been a member since 31/3/2010. Posts: 1
I know there are a million replies to this post and I'm also a bit late but I work for a foreign exchange company and the main thing to be careful of is definately US dollars, escpecially hundreds. I know as of recent that there is a lot of fraudulant 100 US currency going around Australia, but a reputable bank or exchange company will only sell you new and good condition notes. Unfortunately a lot of these companies and banks also wont buy damaged notes off of people as they have to recycle them.
Most people wouldnt bother making fraudulant copies of minor currencies.
The main feedback that we get from customers is about not being able to use USD in asia and africa in particular if it isnt in perfect condition, but I guess it also depends on the person you're trying to hand it to.
I don't know who started this BS, but I have gotten a $100 bill rejected by a restaurant before...tiny tiny cut too. I turn around and started examining VND carefully, rejected a VND bill from a store before and told them you guys does the same thing with USD...Revenge was sweet :P
#16 Vxh has been a member since 7/4/2010. Posts: 19
Refusing to accept money because of an insignificant fault is an annoying little habit for sure.
Make sure to do a good job of taping any tears. If the note has a piece torn off then (in Vietnam anyway) you can get it swapped for a new one at a bank.