When you are staying in Thailand for more than a few weeks, you soon come to the realization that getting access to your overseas money is costing a fortune in fees. The bad news is that most banks will require you to have a work visa. The good news is that you can get a Thai bank account pretty easily, with a tourist visa. But (more bad news) as found in many forums posts on the topic, there is no consistency. It is up to the discretion of the Bank manager and staff on any given day. Sure, anyone with a work permit and a passport can get an account at any bank, but what about the person who is here for 3-12 months that wants to save in overseas fees and have the convenience of being able to purchase items without being charged that 3% credit card fee.
No ATM Withdraw Fees
I personally had a credit card (Capital One) that sold me on it’s no overseas Conversions fees. But they stung me on using an ATM. Having a Thai bank account almost everything is free but not much will cost more than 150 Baht.
No Conversion Rate Fees
You lose a good percentage when withdrawing overseas funds in Thailand. In addition using an overseas credit card will usually incur an additional 3%
You get a Thai Debit Card
Not just an ATM card but as is the practice now days, it can also be used as prepaid Visa credit card. But more importantly you do not have to carry cash around with you, all major stores, takeouts and facilities accept this payment.
Transfer Funds In and Out of Thailand
Your Thai bank account (especially if you attach it to a Thai PayPal) is the easiest way to transfer money in and out of the country. It is a little slow, taking 7-10 days to complete – but it cost 50 baht for amounts over 5000 baht.[callout style=”royalblue” font_size=”13px”]AND NOW YOU KNOW: It is mandated in Thai law that, credit card merchants companies processing foreign credit cards or currency – have to charge a minimum of 3.6%. This fee is in addition to the normal bank fees of accepting credit cards in a business. Usually when using your Credit Card in Thailand you are charged an additional 3% on top of your purchase. [/callout]
Each Bank in Thailand officially has similar criteria for obtaining a bank account. Mostly these involve a work permit or wife or Condo ownership. What the banks are looking for here is some form of proof that you are worth going through the massive amount of paperwork in the application process. Most westerners are only here for a couple of months, and Thailand is still using a huge amount of paper in the application process. You will be signing documents for about 20 minutes as they print them out for you one at a time. The Banks Criteria are listed below.
Requirements: Passport (with non immigrant ‘o’ yearly visa) and Driver’s License (basic savings account). Work Permit, or own a condo, they have better options of accounts
Requirements For a joint bank account: Passport. Wife’s ID card & House Book used as proof of address. No non-immigration O visa and no work permit required.
Requirements: Passport and Work Permit. Condominium ownership proof and a passport (non-immigrant ‘0’ visa), or Marriage certificate to a Thai National.
Requirements: Passport and Work Permit
Requirements: Passport and Work Permit, or a minimum 1 yr apartment contract.
Requirements: Passport and Work Permit
Two Banks, (Bangkok Bank & Kasikorn) have a reputation for being a little more farang friendly than the others. Indeed Bangkok Bank has a special account for non Thai residence, that is a basic savings account with an ATM (Visa) card
Obtaining an account without: being a resident, having a work permit or a retirement visa, only requires a valid passport, and ONE of the following documents:
1). An identity card issued by a government institution or university such as: Your driver’s license, Foreign Identification Card, University Student/Professor Card
2). A letter of recommendation from Embassy, International Organization, Customer’s home bank to Bangkok Bank via the SWIFT message, a person acceptable to Bangkok Bank (such as BBL staff, customer, government officer, company executive, private firms), or home country institutions (such as pension receipt)
3). Other documents showing your name such as:Bank Statement, lease agreement, utility bill, documents showing owners of a fixed asset or Condominium Sale/Purchase Agreement
All you need is a someone in the Thai Police, Army, or a Monk. But did you notice in with all those requirements was a utility bill? Having the electric or water in your name is the easy way.
The Bangkok Bank Savings Account A savings account can be opened with a minimum deposit of 500 Bt. Interest is calculated daily and will be credited to your account every six months. Accounts which become dormant with a balance below 2,000 Bt will attract a monthly service charge. When you open a savings account, you can opt to receive a handy Be1st Visa Debit card. You can use your card to withdraw cash, pay bills, or shop online or anywhere displaying the Visa sign. The Be1st Visa Debit Smart card is the first debit card in Thailand to use the latest EMV chip technology to keep your cash secure! This card can be used at Bangkok Bank ATM’s showing the Be1st Smart identification and online or at stores showing the Visa sign.
Many westerners staying in Thailand are doing it with renewed tourist visa’s, and have taken the time and steps involved to obtain a one year lease agreement or drivers license. Having these documents does not guarantee (although it should) that a bank will give you a bank account.
As with many situations in Thailand, sometimes it is who you know rather than what you know, and sometimes it is how lucky you are on the day. It is up to the managers discretion as to who they will allocate accounts too. Often it is also up to the manager to sign off on a credit card cash advance. You can greatly increase your chances of hearing the words “Yes we can open an account for you” if the manager or senior staff recognize you. Another great benefit is to have a local person or business vouch for you and introduce you to the bank manager. You can try several banks and see what happens, but when you do not fully fit the requirements sometimes a little sneaky planning is in order.
Preparing your request
Go to the same branch of the bank you want to have and account with (and we suggest Bangkok Bank and Kasikorn), a couple of times over a couple of weeks and get a cash advance on your credit card in person (Not via the ATM). If you are told you can use the ATM machine you can say that you have tried, but you are not so clever and think it better to have a professional do it for you properly. This also gives you the opportunity to gauge how well the staff speak English which will be of benefit on your future visits.
When the manager or senior staff come out to look at you to make a judgement on how much help they will be today, (and you will have dressed nicely to do this because you want to show the Bank staff respect). You say “Kor Toad Na” Khrap/Ka (meaning I am sorry with the males saying ‘Khrap’ and females saying ‘Ka’ as a polite sign of respect), “I am confused and think you can do this better for me”. Thanking both the manager and the staff for you cash. Do this 2 times, and then go to the bank with your credentials in hand and request opening a bank account.
While it is only required that you deposit 500 Baht to open an account, the more money you are prepared to deposit, the higher the chance of success. Do NOT forget to dress nicely for the occasion .
[callout style=”royalblue” font_size=”13px”] AND NOW YOU KNOW: Thailand is going through revision of it’s policies and procedures (especially Immigration). There is a underlying rule of thumb to remove undesirable foreigners from the country. Class structure is still alive and kicking in Thailand, and there are tell tale signs of being low class (even if you are from the west). The typical backpacking and tourist clothing (flip flop, shorts or wearing Thai clothes) are clear indications to Thais you are low class. No bank want’s to have to deal with someone who potentially might be a problem financially[/callout]
Chiang Mai Buddy Advantage We have a solid business reputation with a local bank in Chiang Mai located at The Habour complex. For a one off fee of 500 Baht, you can take one of our Thai staff representatives along with you to help ‘grease the wheels’ of commerce and assist in the process.
You will need your passport and a history of living here for more than 3 months, and/or visa’s showing you have made the financial commitment to staying longer. A utility bill in your name and/or a copy of a year long condo contract is helpful.
Office Visit: Book an Appointment
Want to come into the Office and talk to us face to face? No problem at all, just book an appointment online. For initial consultations we have 15 or 30 minute time slots available.