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Thailand Travel FAQ | Banking | Bank Accounts | Thailand Opening Bank Accounts

▶ Opening Personal Thai Bank Accounts

Thailand Personal Banking Checking Accounts: Personal banking in Thailand is easy and helpful if you plan to visit Thailand frequently and if you prefer to travel without exessive amounts of cash and/or using your personal credit cards. The largest Thai financial institutions are the following: Kasikorn Banking Group | Krung Thai Bank | Bangkok Bank | CIMB Thai Bank | Bank of Ayudhya | Siam City Bank | Siam Commercial Bank | Thanachart Bank | TMB Bank | UOB Bank |

All of the above Thai Banks are offering foreign accounts in THB - including Regular and Gold Mastercard or VISA Debit Cards - for nationals of other countries and online banking access in English. Withdrawls may be made at any ATM with your debit card. If you use the ATM Card from your own bank the withdrawl is generally free of charge. The MC/VISA debit cards are accepted at hotels, shops, airlines, car rental companies etc.. All cards have the "Plus" or other sign to withdrawl funds overseas as well. Cash withdrawls may be made at any bank branch and all you'll need is your passport and bankbook. Bank statements and other information will be send to your email address. Transfers in US$, CAD$ or Euro etc.. are easily arranged through your bank at home and the transfer cost is very moderate. The transfer may take up to five business days. In order to open an account you'll need the following:

  • A valid passport
  • Local Mobile Phone # for Online Banking Transactions e.g.: PIN Transfer Authorization
  • Local Address  - this can be a Hotel Address in Bangkok, Pattaya etc..
  • eMail Address
  • Minimum Deposit of THB 1000.00

International Banking: Is available mainly for foreign nationals with extensive financial resources. The minimum deposit for example at any Citi Bank - or HSBC Bank in Bangkok is THB 100.000 for a checking account. Thus, transfers from a corresponding bank are free of charge. Citi Bank | HSBC Bank |

Technically, foreigners are required a work permit to open a bank account. However, in practice, many branches will open an account for a foreigner without a work permit. If one branch turns you down, you'll probably find that the next branch will accept you. Most people get it on the first branch. Very few foreigners have had to try more than 3 branches. They may ask you for your work permit, but if/when you say you don't have one, they will say never mind and proceed. (This Is Thailand!) If you have a problem, then maybe you need to tidy up your appearance and change your demeanor. Also, bring a good amount of money to open the account.

▶ Transferring Money within Thailand by ATM

If you already have a bank account in Thailand, it's quick and easy to send money to someone else's bank account in Thailand, or to some company's bank account. This is a common method of payment. The only trick is that you must go to an ATM machine owned by your bank. For example, if you have an SCB (Siam Commercial Bank) ATM card, and your girlfriend has a Kasikorn Bank (KBank) then you must go to an SCB bank ATM to transfer the money. You cannot use a Krung Thai Bank ATM or a Kasikorn Bank ATM or anything except an SCB Bank ATM. Likewise, if you girlfriend wants to send some money to you, then she must go to a Kasikorn Bank ATM, not an SCB ATM. The ATM machines vary, but the process usually goes like this:

  • Put in your ATM card and enter your PIN number.
  • Choose English language
  • Choose "Transfer"
  • Choose the receiving bank
  • Type in the recipient's account number
  • Type in the money amount to send
  • Wait a moment. The ATM will retrieve and display the recipient's name for you to verify it's correct.

It's very easy and quick. The money is instantly available to the other person. Keep the receipt. If you need it for tax records or any other potential reason for future reference, then you should photocopy or scan it, because most of the receipts fade very quickly (thermal paper). The receipt will have the sender's and receiver's account number, transaction number, amount, date and time. It won't have any names on it. Notably, interbank transfer usually fails after 9pm, though transfers within different accounts of the same bank usually work 24/7.

▶ Credit Cards

It may be best to not bother to carry too much money into Thailand, or even carry on you while traveling around within Thailand, because you can get Thai baht from the ATM machines using your major credit card, even in most small towns around Thailand. The exchange rate is automatic and roughly as good as you'll find. Withdrawal fees are usually around 150 THB per transaction and you can withdraw amounts up to 20,000 THB from some bank ATMs, more from others.

You should always keep a good bit of cash on you at all times in Thailand. One reason is that the ATM machines often crash late at nite, and aren't reset until the morning. Another reason is in case your credit cards are stolen or lost. While Thailand is a relatively safe country, theft can happen anywhere in the world. The vast majority of ATM machines offer both Thai and English, and some offer Chinese and Japanese.

You may be better off paying cash than using a credit card. While it's technically against the law for the Thai vendor to pass onto you the fee that the credit card company charges them (approximately 2.25% to 3.5%, depending upon card type), it's quite common for them to do so, and it's usually not negotiable - you either pay the surcharge or don't use your credit card. They often want to charge 4 or 5% instead of the 2.25% to 3.5%. (Their profit margin may be just 10%, so if you use a credit card it takes a bit bite out of the margin, plus they take other risks with a credit card.)

You should also be aware that many vendors use a third party to bill your credit card. Thus, your credit card number may not be safe. Any time your credit card number goes down on paper, or somebody walks away with your card, you could possibly be at risk. If you lose your credit card or have other problems, you can reach the credit card companies in Bangkok at the following numbers (drop the leading 02 if called from within Bangkok, but keep the 02 if called from a mobile phone or a province):  Mastercard 02-2608572  Visa 02-2731199

▶ Exchange Rates

There is no black market exchange rate, so you should only exchange money at a bank or similar foreign exchange facility, which give the best rates. ATM's accept foreign ATM cards on the Plus, Cirrus, and other networks, and of course accept VISA and MasterCard, which is the quickest and easiest way to "convert" your money into the local currency. The international airport in Bangkok has currency exchange facilities which give fair rates, and are always open, 24/7. Practically all banks located around Thailand give very nearly the same, standard, fair rates - though in remote locations the staff may be clueless, with you as their first ever currency conversion customer -. After banking hours, there are also Currency Exchange outlets in tourist nightlife centers.

Most of the major European and Asian currencies are accepted in Bangkok, though many are not. For example, it seems nobody will exchange Chinese Yuan/RMB or Indian rupees. If you're not sure, then bring U.S. dollars.

There's no limit to the amount of money you can bring into Thailand. However, there are limits to how much money you can leave with per person, unless you have special authorization (this exact amount seems to change from time to time). You can carry out any amount of foreign currency, but there are restrictions at banks on how much Thai baht you can convert into foreign currency at one time, and for large amounts you will need to show your airplane ticket and passport, and maybe provide an explanation for very large amounts. (These restrictions are mainly the result of currency speculation surrounding the 1997 currency crisis, and again in 2007 due to "capital controls" which were discontinued in 2008. From early 2008 onwards, no problem.)

▶ Visiting other Countries

Certain regional currencies including China, Malaysia, Burma and Vietnam have an official exchange rate which is set by their governments, not set by the free market, so that the in-country and out-of-country (on/offshore) exchange rates differ significantly. This means that you need to make a decision on whether to exchange your money in Thailand before you visit those countries, or whether to exchange money after you arrive in the destination country. In some cases, it's better to exchange inside the country, not in Thailand, because the currency is seen as less worthy/less useful outside the country. However, in other cases, the government or banks rip off the tourists, whereby to get the best exchange rates, if it's worth your time / effort / transit, then you may want to find vendors in Thailand who will sell you these currencies in exchange for dollars, at rates similar to the black market rates in the destination country, but I can't attest to the safety or legitimacy of the currency of these vendors. You can find these vendors along Silom Rd. and Charoen Krung Rd. However, you should change back to dollars before you leave the destination country.) In Laos, the currency is pretty much set by the free market, and you'll have no problem getting currency converted at banks for approximately the same as you'll find in the best black market. Laos is very similar to Thailand in culture and language, unlike the other neighboring countries. (The Lao culture is peaceful and charming, albeit ultra relaxed.)

Tuesday, October 15, 2019