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 will 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.
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 last week: 41Baht : UK£
Currency Exchange Office in Bangkok, same day: 42Baht: UK£
Where to check standard currency exchange rates? Use for example, FCexchange
Save on Every Electronic Payment
Always ask for funds to be withdrawn in Thai Baht. You can do this with Agoda, at ATMs or in any shop. The currency conversion rate will be better at your home bank. This goes for every country I can think of, charge in the local currency.
Prepaid Travel Money Cards
Every time you use a cashpoint (ATM) in Thailand you will be charged 200 Baht. Although some shops will accept them 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.
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: In 2017 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.
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.
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.
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 can 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. If you are a blogger you 100% need a Payoneer account.
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.
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
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!
We do not use any of the devices below, but you may feel safer with one or more.Concealed Neck Wallets Concealed Waist Wallets
We have a full post on anti theft bags and devices such as this one below.Travelon Anti-theft Heritage Hobo Bag, Pewter, One Size
Back to our complete Thailand Travel Guide page, we hope you have a great time in Thailand and can put our tips for handling your cash to good use in travelling cheaper and smarter.