Practical Life in Bangkok

Bank services in Bangkok

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Banking in Thailand is a relatively stress free process. English is usually spoken in all branches. Banks in Bangkok are generally open from 9:30 to 15:30 from Monday to Friday with larger high street branches and branches in shopping malls staying open later (usually around 22:00). Note that branches that are open later may close from 17-19:00.

It is also possible to pay most household bills at banks in addition to paying your rent into your landlord's bank account if you are renting property.

Currency in Thailand

The currency used in Thailand is called baht (B) and it is divided into 100 satang.

Notes come in denominations of 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1000B. There are then 1, 2, 5 and 10 baht coins in addition to 25 and 50 satang coins - these are rarely used as they are quarter fractions of 1.

Using ATM and Credit Cards in Thailand

At ATMs, it is possible to withdraw Thai baht from visa debit, mastercards or American express cards. ATMs are very easy to locate around Bangkok and there is usually one outside every 7-11. The majority of ATMS in Thailand provide both English and Thai instructions for customers. If you use an ATM that does not belong to your bank then you will be charged 150 baht per withdrawal.

Exercise the usual caution you would when withdrawing cash, and be mindful that ATMs are often on a busy street corner. Also note that the cash is released before the card and many an expat has been caught in the trap of taking their money, and walking away leaving their card for the next user to collect.

Credit cards are widely accepted, and most business displays stickers and signs confirming they are accepted.

Exchanging Money in Thailand

Money exchange counters are readily available in Bangkok, and can be found at the airport, on street corners, in shopping centres and in banks. Rates of exchange tend to be better at authorized counters or banks rather than in hotels and department stores.

Current exchange rates can be checked in daily newspapers, in banks and at money exchangers. It may not be possible to exchange all currency, such as Scottish or Northern Irish bank notes.

Transferring Money in Thailand

Besides banks, many companies offer an international money transfer service. Try Western Union, Paypal or My Currency Transfer.

Transfer Money into Thailand

Banks in Thailand do not have an IBAN number, but you will need the bank's address and SWIFT code number to transfer.

The best way to transfer without incurring fees is by setting up a Bangkok bank account which has a Baht account and a foreign currency account. This allows you to send money in your local currency and then choose the day to convert the money into Thai Baht once you are in Thailand and can get a better exchange rate.

Transfer fees may also be waived between banks that have an agreement. Ask at your bank about partnerships.

Transfer Money out of Thailand

Transferring money out of Thailand can be complicated. For sums over US$50,000 you may need to supply proof of how these funds were earned as well as the taxes paid on them.

To avoid paying fees, many people open an offshore bank account. Places like Guernsey or the Isle of Man are UK regulated, but not UK taxed. Keeping money in an off-shore account allows you to transfer money to a local account at any time, withdraw money, and allows your money to grow tax free at a higher rate of interest than in a Thai bank account.

Opening a Bank Account in Thailand

Many local banks require foreigners to hold a work permit or long-term visa before opening an account. Non-residents may only be able to open a foreign currency savings account, subject to Thailand's foreign exchange regulations.

It is advisable to visit a branch in person and confirm their criteria. Terms and conditions vary between banks. There are several types of bank accounts you can open in Thailand.

  • Current Account - Used for everyday banking needs and offer customers easy access to funds and a range of services.
  • Thai Baht Savings Account - Generally offer a more competitive interest rate than current accounts, but may have more limited access to funds, and interest penalties may be incurred if account withdrawals are beyond an agreed limit.
  • Foreign Currency Deposit Account - Offer the most competitive rates of interest, with many offering a fixed rate of interest in return for customers depositing funds for a fixed period of time. Access to funds before the account matures is limited, so deposit accounts should be viewed as a long term savings vehicle.
  • Business Bank Account

There are a few documents you will need in order to open a bank account in Thailand:

  • Passport
  • Work Permit (although Bangkok Bank will accept a letter from your employer explaining a work permit has been applied for on your behalf)
  • A minimum deposit of 500 baht

A letter of reference from an employer, a letter of reference from your existing bank and recent bank statements can help support your application.

Make sure you tell the bank teller that you would like an ATM card - one will not automatically be given to you. Most banks in Thailand offer internet banking if you ask when setting up your account.

Banks in Bangkok

The main banks in Bangkok are:

Branches are located all around Bangkok.

Update 15/09/2013


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