Banks, ATM's and Currency Exchange
Before you head to Thailand, learn about:
- Changing money in Thailand
- Using credit and debit cards in Thailand
- ATMs in Thailand
- Banks in Thailand
- Travellers cheques (and why you shouldn't use them)
Changing Money in Thailand
Like we said, changing money when you get to Thailand can be a good idea. But having said that, there are still some things to consider and look out for if you decide to exchange currency this way. To find the best place to buy THB, you can read our guide here.
Here are a few things you should keep in mind if you are changing money in Thailand:
- If you're travelling into Thailand with $20,000USD or another currency's equivalent, you must declare it to the customs officials.
- Make yourself aware of what the exchange rate is before you make an exchange. This will help you get a fair exchange and make you aware of the fees they're charging you.
- While there are places in Thailand that allow you to exchange currency, it's a good idea to try and avoid such as international hotels and airports. You'll usually find it is expensive to do it in those places.
- Make sure you carefully count the cash you exchange, and make sure you get the correct amount in return.
- Use our currency converter to find out what the current rate is between the AUD and THB.
Using credit and debit cards in Thailand
A lot of places in Thailand will allow you to pay with card, unless you're going to more remote areas. Here is some information if you would like to try and use card:
- Firstly, if you're using your card overseas it's really important you let your bank know so they don't suspect fraudulent activity.
- Be careful of overseas ATM fees and currency conversion fees when you're making purchases and withdrawals.
- Bankwest Platinum Card and 28 Degrees Platinum Mastercard are examples of credit card accounts which waive the fee for currency conversion
- Citibank Plus Everyday Account has a debit card that isn't charged international ATM or transaction fees, and gives you the interbank rate for the exchange.
A couple of important things:
- If you're using your Australian card in Thailand, make sure you're opting to be charged in THB when you check out. You will generally be offered a very poor exchange rate if you opt to pay in AUD, so it's better to let your financial institution do the conversion.
- To find out the best travel cards to use in Thailand, read our article here.
ATMs in Thailand
There are ATMs throughout the popular ares of Thailand that will let you use your Australian cards, and they can be an easy way for you to withdraw cash while you're there.
Keep in mind that there are a few fees you'll probably be charged. Most banks will charge a foreign transaction fee if you're using your Australian debit card. And you might find there is an ATM access fee.
This means that if you are withdrawing cash from ATMs, plan ahead if you can. Instead of making multiple withdrawals, try and withdraw everything you need and minimise the times you do it.
There are some banks in Australia that let you withdraw money free of charge when you're overseas. Citibank and ING do this. If you travel frequently, it could be worth looking into opening an account with a bank like this.
ATM TIP: always choose to withdraw in Thai Baht (THB) to get the 'mid-market rate' which is the best exchange rate you can possibly get.
Banks in Thailand
Let's have a look at banking in Thailand. The largest bank in Thailand is Bangkok Bank and then a number of other banks available throughout the country. You can use these banks to exchange currency, but will probably find better rates if you go to a designated money exchanger.
You will generally find Thai banks open between 8.30am and 3.30pm, Monday to Friday. Before you leave Australia it is worth asking your local bank if they have a partnership with a bank in Thailand. You may find you can use their ATMs free of charge and avoid having to pay transaction fees!
The main banks in Thailand are:
Thinking of using travellers cheques in Thailand? Don't.
Travellers cheques are pretty outdated now, and it is rare to find places that will cash them. Having said that, if you already have some or are thinking of getting some for your trip to Thailand, here are some important things to keep in mind:
- They're expensive, and it's rare that the rates offered are competitive.
- They're inconvenient because they are not accepted in most places, and it's hard to find a bank that will cash them.
- The main advantage of traveller’s cheques is they can be replaced if they’re lost or stolen, and only you can cash them. But all travel cards will generally have provisions for this as well if you don't want to carry cash.
- We would suggest only using them if you really, really have to.