Best Ways to Take Money to Thailand in 2023
Thailand is a must-see destination for any tourist in Southeast Asia. And the good news is that if you’re considering a trip to Thailand from Australia, 2023 is the perfect time. While visitor numbers are still relatively low, the tourism industry is back in business following the pandemic, and offering great deals to entice visitors back.
Thailand can be a great choice, no matter what budget you’re working with - but you’ll still need to pay for things while you’re there. This guide covers 4 popular ways to take money to Thailand, so you can pick the one that suits you best.
Best ways to take money to Thailand
In this guide we’ll walk through 4 of the most practical and popular ways to take money to Thailand, including our top picks for providers to look at, pros and cons. Here are the common ways to pay overseas that we’ll investigate:
Prepaid travel cards to use in Thailand
Ideal for: convenient top ups in AUD, and cheap spending and cash withdrawals in THB and a selection of other currencies when you travel
Prepaid travel money cards can be picked up online or in person, with specialist services like Wise, and more established physical stores like Travelex or the Post Office offering their own unique cards. Once you have a card you can add money in AUD and - depending on the card you have - switch to THB in advance, or leave your money in dollars for automatic conversions whenever you buy something or make a withdrawal.
Prepaid travel cards are typically very convenient to use and easy to top up. As they often support lots of different currencies, it’s worth looking for one with no inactivity fee and no ongoing charges, so you can just top up and use it again on your next trip.
You’ll also want to double check the exchange rate used by the card you pick. Getting a card that offers the mid-market rate or as close as possible to it usually means you get the best available deal.
Learn more about our picks for the 6 best prepaid cards - there’s more on our top choice, Wise, next.
Wise - our pick for prepaid travel card
With this card:
- Hold and exchange 40+ currencies in your linked Wise account
- No annual or monthly fees to pay, and no minimum balance requirement
- Currency exchange uses the mid-market rate with no markup
- Some free ATM withdrawals available every month
- Virtual and physical cards available
|Wise card pros||Wise card cons|
|✅ Currency exchange uses the mid-market rate
✅ No foreign transaction fees apply
✅ Free to hold and spend 40+ currencies
✅ Receive payments to your Wise account in a selection of global currencies
✅ No minimum balance or ongoing fees
|❌ 10 AUD fee to get a card in the first place
❌ Free ATM withdrawals are limits to 2 per month, to the value of 350 AUD. Fees of 2% + 1.5 AUD after that
❌ Express delivery fees if you want to get your card as soon as possible
Pros and cons of taking money to Thailand with a prepaid travel card
- You can either convert to THB in advance and lock in the exchange rate, or let the card convert for you when you buy something
- Cards often support multiple currencies for holding and exchange
- Safe to use, as your prepaid card isn’t linked to your main everyday account
- Cards are available with no minimum balance or ongoing fees to pay
- Currency exchange may have better rates than a bank will offer
- Exchange rates may include a markup on the mid-market rate
- ATM fees may apply, depending on the card you pick
- Some cards have inactivity fees which apply if you don’t use them regularly, or cash out fees if you close your account
Travel debit cards to use in Thailand
Ideal for: interest free spending which can also unlock extra benefits like lounge access or free insurance
Travel debit cards are usually available from specialist services like Revolut or in some cases from banks. They’re optimised for spending in foreign currencies, which might mean you get extra perks and benefits, like global wifi, insurance or airport lounge access, plus low or no foreign transaction fees.
If your bank offers a debit card with travel benefits it’s worth considering it as it’ll be convenient. But don’t overlook the option of getting a travel debit card from a specialist provider, as this can give you instant access to a multi-currency digital account which can hold and exchange dozens of currencies. Plus, your card isn’t linked to your main AUD account, so even if you’re unlucky enough to have your travel card stolen you can simply freeze the card without worrying about anyone accessing your primary AUD funds. We’ll go into more detail about our top pick for a travel debit card - Revolut - next, and you can also read more about the best travel debit cards in Australia here.
Revolut - our pick for travel debit card
With this card:
- Hold and exchange 25+ currencies
- Choose the account plan that suits your needs and spending, including some with no monthly fees
- Some no- fee ATM withdrawals and currency exchange with the mid-market rate, based on the account tier you choose
- Extra perks like accounts for under 18s, plus cash back on card spending for top tier account holders
- Travel benefits offered for some account plans
|Revolut card pros||Revolut card cons|
|✅ Hold and exchange 25+ currencies
✅ Choose from different account tiers to suit different customer needs
✅ Get some no fee ATM withdrawals every month, depending on the plan you pick
✅ Get some currency exchange every month which uses the mid-market rate - limits vary by account plan
✅ No card order fee
|❌ Ongoing fees apply for some account tiers
❌ Out of hours fees push up currency exchange costs on the weekend
❌ ATM fees of 2% apply once you exhaust your no fee withdrawals
Pros and cons of taking money to Thailand with a travel debit card
- You won’t run into interest or penalty fees and won’t need to clear a bill at the end of the month
- Many cards have extra travel perks like free airport lounge access or insurance
- ATM withdrawals are cheaper compared to a credit card as there’s no interest or cash advance fee
- Many cards from specialist services are linked to multi-currency accounts you can use on future trips too
- Not connected to your main AUD account, adding a layer of security when you’re overseas
- Some transaction fees usually apply
- You may pay a fee when converting from one currency to another, which may be split out transparently, but which is often just rolled up in the exchange rate you get
- Some cards have monthly fees to pay to get full feature access
Taking cash in Thailand
Ideal for: lots of day to day spending - cards may not be accepted in markets, tuk tuks and in many other common tourist situations
Cash is heavily used in Thailand. While you’ll find tourist venues and hotels may accept card payments, smaller merchants and anything off the beaten track can usually only be paid for in cash. That means that carrying some cash in baht is essential.
How to arrange your Thai cash for spending will depend a lot on where you’re going. If you’ll be sticking to tourist resorts and cities you can probably get by with a mixture of ATM withdrawals and card usage. But for peace of mind having a few different payment options at any one time is a good plan.
Carry some THB cash, make ATM withdrawals when you’re in cities and tourist areas, and have some AUD cash to convert too, and you should be covered for all eventualities.
|Cash pros||Cash cons|
|✅ Cash is the only accepted payment method in smaller places
✅ Convert in advance so you know exactly what you have to spend
✅ Use travel debit cards to make cash withdrawals when you can, which often offer better rates than buying cash
|❌ Carrying a lot of cash isn't particularly safe
❌ You’ll struggle to find exchange services in many more remote locations
❌ Not all ATMs accept foreign cards - look out for machines marked as international
❌ Exchange rates vary widely and usually include a markup - an extra fee
Do I need cash in Thailand?
Yes. Having cash in THB is essential. Cards are OK in major retailers in cities and in large resorts, but cash often is the only accepted payment method in many smaller stores and restaurants, for shopping in markets or for hopping in a tuk tuk. Generally having more than one payment option with you is a smart plan, so taking some cash in THB and AUD, plus one or more cards should mean you’re prepared for anything.
How to buy Thai baht on arrival in Thailand?
You might choose to take Australian dollars in cash with you when you travel to Thailand, to exchange on arrival at currency exchange stores in cities and popular tourist areas. Bear in mind that the exchange rate you’ll get in the airport or your hotel is not likely to be the best available - using an exchange service in the city centre where there’s more competition will usually get you the best overall deal.
How to buy Thai baht in Australia?
If you’d prefer to be organised in advance you can also choose to exchange AUD to Thai baht in cash in Australia before you travel. Options like Travelex often let you order THB online and collect your cash later in a branch. Fees and exchange rate markups may apply.
Best place to get Thai baht from
There’s no single best place to get your travel cash. For many travellers, carrying some THB and AUD in cash, and making some cash withdrawals when you’re in the city and can find a convenient ATM works well to balance security and convenience when travelling in Thailand.
Pros and cons of taking cash to Thailand
- In many situations, cash will be the only accepted payment method
- Convert in advance so you know exactly what you have to spend
- Use travel debit cards to make cash withdrawals when you can, which often offer better rates than buying cash
- Carrying a lot of cash isn't particularly safe
- You’ll struggle to find exchange services in many more remote locations
- Exchange rates vary widely and usually include a markup - an extra fee
Travel credit cards to use in Thailand
Ideal for: secure and easy spending where cards are accepted, often with options to earn rewards, miles or cash back
You can use a travel credit card just as you would any other credit card, but the benefit is usually that you can get extra travel perks like low or no foreign transaction fees or extra reward points, cashback or miles when you spend in foreign currencies. The downside - as with all credit cards - is that you may rack up interest - and potentially penalty fees - if you don’t clear your bill regularly. You might also need to pay an annual fee to get the card in the first place, so it’s worth weighing up all the likely costs before you apply.
It’s also good to remember that using a credit card at an ATM is a very expensive option, with cash advance fees and interest mounting up quickly. As you’ll need cash in Thailand it’s definitely worth having an alternative card with lower fees as well as your credit card so you can avoid some of these costs.
Learn about the best travel credit cards in Australia here, and read on for more on our top pick.
28 Degrees - our pick for travel credit card
With this card:
- Order online and start spending with your virtual card instantly if approved
- No annual or monthly fees
- No foreign transaction or currency conversion fees
- Make ATM withdrawals overseas - fees apply for this service
- Unlock perks like discounts on travel bookings and internet roaming packages
|28 Degrees pros||28 Degrees cons|
|✅ No annual or monthly fees
✅ No foreign transaction fees - your payment is converted to AUD using the Mastercard exchange rate
✅ Repay your bill in full monthly to avoid interest or penalty fees
✅ Travel perks and partner discounts available
|❌ Cash advance fee of 3% or 4 AUD (whichever is greater), plus interest, when making an ATM withdrawal
❌ Interest charges apply if you don’t repay your bill in full monthly
❌ Subject to eligibility and credit checks
Pros and cons of travel credit cards to Thailand
- Cards issued on major networks are usually accepted anywhere international card payments are supported
- Earn rewards and discounts, or get travel perks - depending on the card you pick
- Some cards have low or no foreign transaction fees
- Credit cards are useful as a payment guarantee in some situations
- Interest and fees usually apply if you don’t pay back your bill immediately
- Using your card at an ATM is expensive - and you’ll definitely need some cash while in Thailand
- Eligibility rules apply
Travel requirements from Australia to Thailand
If you’re flying to Thailand you’ll usually be able to enter as a tourist for up to 30 days with no visa. If you’re heading to Thailand as part of a broader Southeast Asia trip, and crossing a land border, it’s important to remember you’ll only get 15 visa free days. You can only get the land border visa waiver twice per calendar year.
Entry requirements can change rapidly, so checking before you travel is always advised. Check the government’s Smart Traveller website to learn more.
Does Thailand accept Australian dollars?
No. You won’t be able to spend AUD anywhere in Thailand. If you’re carrying dollars with you you'll need to exchange them for Thai baht when you arrive.
Best currency to take to Thailand
You’ll only be able to spend in Thai baht in Thailand, so you can choose to either carry AUD in cash with you and convert on arrival, or to order your travel cash in Thai baht before you leave. Bear in mind that exchange offices will be hard to find in more remote areas.
How much money do I need per day in Thailand?
As a major tourist draw, Thailand has an excellent choice of accommodation price points wherever you go. As accommodation is often the most expensive part of planning a travel budget, that’s good news as you can design your trip to suit the amount of money you want to spend.
Once you’re in Thailand, a 3 course lunch for 2 will set you back under 30 AUD on average, a cheap lunch for one will be around 3.5 dollars - and a domestic beer about 3 dollars. Public transport can be around 1.3 dollars for a single journey, although bartering for a decent fare on a tuk tuk is probably more common.
Do some detailed research to see how much things are likely to cost based on your plans and where you’re headed, so you can set your budget. Get more detailed cost information by city, from Numbeo.com.
How much does it cost to fly from Australia to Thailand?
Flight costs vary widely depending on where in Australia you’ll leave from and the time of year you’ll visit Thailand. At the time of writing (September 2023), you can find flight deals starting from about 500 AUD return flying direct from Melbourne, for example - or you can find a cheaper deal with a budget carrier like Scoot which will involve at least one stop along the way.
Top travel money tips to Thailand
Here are a few final tips to help your money go further while you’re away:
- Cash is king in Thailand - make sure you have some cash on your at all times, to avoid unnecessary problems
- Have several different payment methods in case one isn't accepted wherever you are
- Get a travel money card before you leave to make it easier and cheaper to spend and withdraw in Thailand
- Avoid common travel money traps in Thailand with this handy guide
There’s no single best way to take money to Thailand. In fact, quite the opposite - having a variety of ways to pay is definitely the smartest move.
You’ll definitely need some THB in cash for smaller purchases, tuk tuks and tipping - but carrying lots of cash isn’t a smart move for safety. That means that for most people, taking some cash in either AUD or THB, and carrying one or more cards makes sense.
Consider getting a travel card - such as a prepaid travel card from Wise or a travel debit card from Revolut - to use alongside your regular debit or credit card, and make ATM withdrawals as and when you need cash. Using your specialist travel card can mean you get a good exchange rate, plus many have some free ATM withdrawals overseas. They’re also a safe option as you won’t have to carry too much in cash at any given time, and can always freeze the card if you run into problems.
Use this guide to decide which option to take money to Thailand will work best for you, based on your own preferences and needs.
FAQs - Best ways to take money to Thailand
Should I exchange money before I travel to Thailand?
You’ll need to have some cash in Thailand, so you can exchange in advance or make an ATM withdrawal on arrival at the airport. Using an ATM can also be cheaper than advance exchange, particularly if you have a travel card from a provider like Wise or Revolut.
Can I withdraw Thai baht from a local ATM?
You can’t withdraw Thai baht at an ATM in Australia, but you can use a travel card to make an ATM withdrawal on arrival in Thailand. This is often one of the most convenient ways to arrange your travel cash for Thailand.
Are prepaid travel cards a good way to take money to Thailand?
Travel prepaid cards from services like Wise are a safe way to spend when abroad. With Wise you’ll also get mid-market exchange rates and low, transparent fees which can bring down the costs of your trip.
Can I use cash in Thailand?
Yes. Cash is unavoidable as it’s the only payment method accepted by many smaller merchants.Carry a small amount of cash at all times, and make ATM withdrawals as and when you need to so you never run short.