With the lunar new year approaching, the scramble for low-denomination currency notes has begun.

People around the country want the bills, crisp and new if possible, to give "lucky money" to children and older people, a traditional custom during Tet just like visiting someone's home on the first day of the new year, worshipping ancestors, and others.

There are two places for people to get them — banks and the market.

But this year it is not easy for most people to get access to change at the banks.

Representative of a commercial bank in District 1 said volumes of new change of different kinds particularly 1,000 VND, 2,000 VND and 10,000 VND were less than last year.

Many banks even have no plan to help customers to change, he added.

Hoang Thuy Ha, a resident of Tan Binh District in HCM City said: "To get change, I deposited money in a bank, and withdrew it after one or two days."

Shops selling these small bills are usually located near pagodas.

They have new bills of all value but demand 10-50 percent commission for the money, according to Tran Quynh Nga of District 3.

This year websites selling low-value currency notes have sprung up making it easy for people to buy it.

Phan Thuc Tran of Binh Thanh District said: "Perhaps because of the fierce competition internet sellers demand between 3 and 5 percent [commission]."

Nguyen Thi Minh Huong, who sells change online, said she was getting more orders compared to last year.

"At this time people are busy. Buying online can help people save time and money, so this method is preferred by more and more people."

Some people want local authorities to set up points that sell small bills at a reasonable commission to ensure people are not fleeced./.