Thailand is one of the more tricky countries for travellers to handle their travel money at minimum cost. We normally tell our readers just to get money out at ATM s or cash points, but in Thailand, that costs a lot. Just withdrawing cash from an ATM in Thailand can cost you half a day’s budget, so you need a little insider information and a trick or two up your sleeve which we’re happy to share with you here.
There is a way to get Thai Baht, without the fees from local Thai banks. A round-up on money in Thailand, how to take money into Thailand and the best travel tips on travel money and exchange. See our video below, then read the tips down the page.
The Best Way to Get Thai Baht?
Bring some cash in your home currency with you. Changing pounds or dollars in a currency exchange office on almost any street in Thailand gives you a better rate than most anywhere else. Airport rates are lower, don’t exchange all your cash at the airport.
You will get a better exchange rate in Thailand than in your home country, almost without exception.
Travellers’ cheques do give you a better rate in Thailand than cash and they’re easy to exchange, but these days they’re rarely used.
Airport Rate in Bangkok Airport on our last visit: 41Baht : UK£
Currency Exchange Office in Bangkok, same day: 42Baht: UK£
Where to check standard currency exchange rates? Use for example, FCexchange
Fees on Cash Withdrawal at ATMs in Thailand
Every time you use a cashpoint (ATM) in Thailand you will be charged upwards of 200 Baht, about $7 US. Some now charge 220 Baht and of course, this may increase. Shop around for the best ATM. Don’t stress too much, you’re unlikely to find a cheaper one because, of course, they all increase their fees in unison.
Save on Every Electronic Payment
Ask for funds to be withdrawn in Thai Baht. You can do this with Agoda when you book your hotel, at ATMs or in any shop. The currency conversion rate will be better at your home bank. This goes for just about every country I can think of, charge in the local currency.
Prepaid Travel Money Cards
Some shops will accept prepaid travel money cards with no fee, so they’re worth bringing as back up. They are a good buy if your home currency is experiencing a real high that you expect to drop for your holiday period. Lock in that good rate! Check with your own bank to buy these or take a look at this guide to independent prepaid travel money cards, some have fees, some don’t.
More Useful Thailand Information and FAQs
- Can you book trains and buses before arriving in Thailand? Yes, absolutely you can. There is a site called 12 Go Asia which allows you to do this from your home country. That way you have reservations, everything is paid for and you won’t be disappointed by a full train.
- Can you book tours in Thailand in advance? Again, yes. We are big fans of this site for booking all sorts of tours and transfers. This allows you to pay online with your card, have the backup of a big company with guarantees, and avoid all local scams, rip-offs and haggling.
- Can you pay for many things using your credit card in Thailand? Yes, in Thailand we often use modern shopping malls, restaurants, hotels, 7-11 convenience stalls and so on. They will often accept your credit card, no problem whatsoever. For markets and street food you will need cash.
- Is card skimming a problem in Thailand? Nothing like this has ever happened to us in Thailand in over 20 visits.
- Are pickpockets a problem in Thailand? We have never had any problems of this kind in Thailand either. However, it pays to be sensible. Take a look at a few clever anti-theft devices, we give you a link at the bottom of the page.
Free Cash Points or ATMs in Thailand
These existed up until a few years ago. We would use the internet to search ” free ATM machines near xxx” and usually find a Thai machine with zero local charges. To the best of our knowledge this no longer works. EVERY cash machine in Thailand now seems to charge a flat 200 Baht fee per cash withdrawal and that’s a lot, around £5 or $8 per transaction.
On top of that fee you’ll pay your home bank’s fee for international cash withdrawals, plus lose a fraction in currency conversion.
Withdrawing Cash Without Fees in Thailand.
There is a way, and we can share it with you!
Go to any bank and ask at the counter for a cash advance. You will need your passport and your card. The bank official may only accept a card with your full name printed. The official will take a potocopy of card and passport, you will sign this along with the withdrawal slip. You then take these documents to the cashier to pick up your cash. It’s a 5-10 minute job and everywhere we’ve tried, it’s been fine.
UPDATE: They’ve changed everything around again. Cash advance is no longer free for Visa, only for Master Card credit cards. This is what they’ve told us in several banks now and as we only have Visa, we’re being stung with a 200 Baht ( $6) fee every time we get a cash advance. But this method does still save you your own bank’s fees last time we visited.
Limit Cash Usage
You will need cash in Thailand for most markets, tuk tuks, taxis, songtaews and small food outlets. Try not to use it for the big purchases. Book accommodation and pay for it online, we normally use Agoda for Asia as they are reliable specialists for the region.
It’s annoying to have to find a bank and withdraw cash when you’re travelling, so use your card where you can.
Should You Tip in Thailand?
There are no hard and fast rules about tipping in Thailand but it’s always nice to give something to a service provider doing a good job. Aim for around 10% and tip in Thai Baht, cash.
You’ve got it lucky! Certain US bank accounts refund cash withdrawal fees in foreign countries, including Thailand. I believe, but don’t know for sure, that you need to submit proof of fees. We’re not American, so this isn’t something we can fully cover here. Investigate Charles Schwab.
British Credit, Debit and Bank Cards That Give You Zero Fees in Thailand
The UK’s Halifax bank has a card and account that can help you avoid foreign transaction fees.
Cumberland Building Society’s Plus account offers no fees on SOME ACCOUNTS ONLY.
NatWest and RBS Reward accounts offer a summer fee waver for a limited time.
Obviously these banks and accounts change all the time, so double check.
Starling Monzo and Revolut
At the time of writing, Starling had no foreign fees whatsoever on foreign transactions and pays interest on your balance.
Monzo and Revolut allowed cash withdrawals and transactions of up to £200 a month without fees.
There is also Loot card, it gave your first 2 transactions free in 210 countries worldwide.
Source : Guardian Money 2018 Please double check for current information.
Payoneer Works Well in Thailand ( It’s a blogger thing!)
My new best friend, my Payoneer Card, serves us very well in Thailand.
What is Payoneer? A Payoneer card is the ONLY way we bloggers used to be able to collect our international affiliate earnings. Income from, for example, Amazon, goes straight onto the card so that you have, effectively, a pre-paid debit card.
Sign up to Payoneer here for a $25 cash bonus. The good news? I get a $25 bonus too. I wouldn’t suggest you use one if I didn’t have one myself and use it regularly. However, Transferwise is also a good option these days. Payoneer is still a good choice for some circumstances and we do still have one and use it.
We’ve used our Payoneer card in 7-11 stores, in restaurants, shops and to pay for accommodation in Thailand. There are no fees and the exchange rate is good. Do not use it to withdraw cash, ever, you’ll pay for that service.
There is more information on Payoneer and affiliate income in this post.
The Old Rule, Don’t Carry Too Much Cash – Theft Prevention and Safety
It’s the oldest piece of travel advice out there, don’t get a big wodge of cash out of the bank and stick it in your pocket, it could be stolen or, more likely, you could lose it.
We always feel very safe in Thailand, we don’t worry about theft, but if you’re heading to the big beach tourist spots and enjoying the nightlife, this could be more of an issue. You could consider some of the money concealment devices below.
If there are 2 of you split the cash between you, some in wallet, some in bag, some elsewhere, is always a great idea. Just remember where you put it!
You may feel safer with one or more anti-theft travel devices during your time in Thailand. We have a full post on anti theft bags to keep your money, passport, phone, and more, safe in Thailand. These bags normally offer RFID blocking, slash-proof internal mesh, wire enforced straps, lockable zippers and mechanisms to secure the bag to a fixture ( for instance your chair or table in a restaurant). Take a look at those in the post above.
Hotels and Hostels We Can Recommend in Thailand
A few places we use regularly. The hostels and guest houses are for flying visits, budget stays and transits, for more luxury stays ( perfect with kids) try the Novotels mentioned.
For Phuket, and a more luxurious holiday, try the Novotel hotels, Novotel Karon Beach is their flagship and we loved it. Novotels usually have amazing kids/ facilities.
If you’d like more information on touring Northern Thailand ( we did it by car) click through, it’s fantastic up there!
Back to our complete Thailand Travel Guide page or suggested itinerary page, we hope you have a great time on your vacation or holiday and can put our tips for handling your money in Thailand to good use in travelling cheaper and smarter. If you wanted to check out anti-theft bags and devices, they’re here.