When travellers enjoy their Thailand travel trip, they don’t want to take too much cash with them to reduce loss in case of theft: Common sense, isn’t it?
Unfortunately the Thailand banks take advantage of this. They charge their own additional ATM fees: I call it the 200 Baht ATM fee. Once home, these ATM charges in Thailand will not show up on your bank statement as a fee, but as an extra cash withdrawal. Hence if you withdrew 20’000 THB, the statement will show you, that you withdrew 20’200 THB. The normal withdrawal ATM fees, that your bank charges you anyway, will be on top of that.
I think, that this fee for all Thailand tourists using an ATM is a real nuisance! And that is why I want to give you tips, how to reduce its effects. Perhaps you think, that this 200 Baht fee is not a problem for you, as you want to enjoy your holidays and do not care about those 6 USD you loose each time. But then you perhaps wouldn’t have ended up here reading this article anyway.
Since about August 2016 it is no longer possible to avoid the 200 / 180 / 150 Baht ATM fee. Citibank now charges an extra fee of 180 THB to all foreign cards as well.
Exchange your own money from home in Thailand. It’s cheaper, if you go to the right place
The solution to avoid the 200 Baht ATM fee, that works for everybody, is to exchange your own currency in Thailand. I know, that this is against common sense as said above. But money exchange offices in Thailand offer very reasonable rates. If you visit from Europe, North America, Australia or New Zealand it is very likely, that you will get much better rates for money exchange in Thailand than at home. So why not take as much of your home currency with you as you feel comfortable with and later go to a Thai currency exchange office?
There are some really good money exchange offices in Bangkok. I prepared the document “Surprise! Exchanging money in Thailand is cheaper than withdrawing if from the ATM!” for download, where you will see, that you can save 2 to 3.5% compared to ATM withdrawal. For example: If you exchange 13’000 Baht instead of withdrawing them at an ATM, you could afford 14 yummy Bangkok street-food dishes more with the saved money!
Get the give-away “Surprise! Exchanging money in Thailand is cheaper than withdrawing if from the ATM!” and more give-aways for free!
As a last trick you can reduce the effects of the 200 Baht ATM fee by withdrawing cash or money in Thailand, but more than 20’000 Baht per transaction.
Worrying trend of refusing some debit cards?
On November 13 again on November 20 and one last time on November 22, 2015, I could not withdraw money at Citibank and Krungsri bank with my Visa Plus debit card. I hope, that this is only a temporary glitch of not having the possibility of using my debit card in Thailand. Withdrawal with my Maestro debit card still worked on November 27.
Banks, that no longer offer a withdrawal without the 200 Baht ATM fee
Citibank: See announcement above.
There are no longer any HSBC ATMs in Bangkok or anywhere in Thailand for that matter, because they have given up their retail business.
Aeon, that has Thailand wide branches, is now charging the 200 Baht ATM fee as well since about the beginning of 2014. It is possible, that they still only charge 150 Baht. I didn’t check recently. So unfortunately this means, that if you’re looking for ATMs in Thailand with no 200 Baht ATM fee – except Bangkok for some – you’re out of luck.
Exchange your own currency in Thailand
So with all this confusion you might ask yourself about the best way to take money to Thailand? It’s easy: Take your own currency with you – if it is a “good and hard currency” – and take as much with you as you feel comfortable with.
Many people don’t know, that Thailand money exchange offices have some of the best exchange rates for Thai Baht with the lowest spreads in the world. They don’t take 6 to 10% from the Baht exchange rate like it would be in my home country. Instead most take 1 to 3% of the exchange rate in Thailand and don’t charge any fees on top in most cases. That makes them more attractive than Thai bank ATMs. It’s just, that hardly any tourist or traveller knows that. I hope I can change this with this article.
The last three times I withdrew Thai Baht, I compared the cost I had to pay with what I would have paid if I would have used a money exchange office.
And – here it comes – the money exchange option is about 2 to 3.5% cheaper depending on the amount of money. If we talk about just 10’000 Thai Baht and the 200 Thai Baht ATM fee on top of it you can save more than 3% by just exchanging your own home currency at a place with excellent rates.
I created a free give-away document where I will prove my point to you.
How to determine, whether an exchange rate for Thai Baht is good
I you’re in front of a money exchange office and want to know, if they have a good Thai Baht exchange rate proceed like this:
Find out on Yahoo finance, how many Thai Baht one unit of your currency is (this link goes with USD).
In my case – on November 27, 2015 – one CHF was 34.9844 THB.
The margin on the Thailand exchange rate for Baht should not be more than 3%. This means, that in above case the minimum amount of Thai Baht I should get for 1 CHF is 34.9844 / 1.03 = 33.97 THB
In the K79 exchange office near On Nut BTS in Bangkok the exchange rate of November 27, 2015, was 34.74 THB for 1 CHF. That is clearly more than 33.97 THB, hence a good exchange rate.
Actually it is not even 1%, that they take for themselves. But, this is a busy location with many clients each day. Don’t expect this kind of competitive exchange rate in a sleepy Thai province town.
Always take your passport or a copy of the particulars page of your passport with you, as such identification is required for exchanging money in Thailand by law.
Money Exchange Security Issues
So if you really want to avoid the exorbitant Thailand ATM fees, you need to be aware of your personal security. Here are some tipps based on my own travel experiences:
To reduce the risk of theft always go for the official taxi queues at Suvarnabhumi airport or any other Thai airport.
Only check in to hotels, that have an in-room safety box and read the online reviews to make sure, you don’t pick one of the rare hotels, where the staff steals out of the safety box. Read more about booking a hotel room here.
Only bring as much of your home currency to be exchanged to Thailand currency with you as you feel comfortable carrying around.
Reduce the effects of the 200 Baht ATM fee
The maximum withdrawal limit from ATMs in Thailand sometimes is just 20’000 THB, there are even ATMs, that just allow a maximum of 10’000 THB. The following banks allow Thailand ATM maximum withdrawals over 20’000 Baht at once, which is useful if you want to pay your tailor or someone else in cash. Keep in mind, that you probably have to increase the per day withdrawal limit of your own card-issuing bank. Contact your bank in your home country to adjust it.
How to withdraw money in Thailand and more than 20’000 Thai Baht per transaction?
Use these banks1
Citibank: Maximum withdrawal limit 50’000 THB
Krungsri Bank: Maximum withdrawal limit 30’000 THB
Thai Military Bank: Maximum withdrawal limit 30’000 THB
CIMB Bank: Maximum withdrawal limit 30’000 THB
Bangkok Bank: Maximum withdrawal limit 25’000 THB
Money in Thailand – More helpful remarks
What about credit cards?
Do not use credit cards for money withdrawal in any country! Depending on the bank, that issues your credit card, you would have to pay a fee of 2 to 5% on your withdrawal amount. Let’s say, the fee would be 2% and you withdrew 20’000 Baht: That would sum up to 400 Baht, which is about 12 USD. And then you still have to pay the 200 Thai Baht ATM fee on top of this! So please don’t use a Mastercard or Visa credit card to withdraw money.
Don’t become a victim of this ATM Thai currency scam
The ATM will suggest to charge you in your home currency instead of Thai Baht. What happens is, that you will receive a very bad exchange rate. Don’t accept this option. The ATM will then either charge you in Thai Baht or return the card. If you are charged in Thai Baht, the screen will not show you the exchange rate. But don’t worry, it will be better than the one you just said no to. This is a globally applied scam! Read more about it and the same phenomenon with credit cards in hotels and shops here!
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