Thailand Money Matters
A foreign vacation is one of the most exhilarating and exciting decisions you can make in your life. It is also the most stressful when not properly planned. This points especially to the challenge of budgeting for your vacation. The headaches can mount as you confront exchange rates, exchange centres, and access to sources of the local currency.
Thailand is truly one of the top destinations when it comes to Southeast Asian countries, and the nation does not disappoint. It has established its place well in the international community with its stable economy and tourism policies. With proper information and planning, you will not have any financial problems during your visit.
Therefore, here are important information you should keep in mind:
Thailand’s national currency is the Baht, internationally denoted as THB. The Baht, as with most of the countries’ currencies, are issued in coins and notes. Thai Baht coins have denominations of 10, 5, 2 and 1 Baht. The Satang are coins with much smaller denominations and are regarded as nearly worthless, but you can still get them from stores and supermarkets. You can keep them as souvenirs, though. The banknotes issued are denominated in the amounts of 20, 50, 100, 500, and 1000 Baht. Make sure to double check when paying transactions under poor lighting, or you might confuse your THB 1000 bills with the THB 100 ones. The Baht, both coins, and banknotes have the recently deceased King’s picture, treat it with respect as the Thais do.
As of writing, the exchange rate of the US Dollar with the Thai Baht is USD 1 is equal to THB 32.75. Most of the time, the exchange rate will fluctuate throughout the year, but it would sit well within the THB 30 to THB 35 range.
Should I Convert My Money In My Home Country?
No, because you will not find an exchange centre in your home country that will give you a more favourable exchange rate compared to those in Thailand.
Where Should I Convert Money?
The practical decision is to have a buffer and an amount to use as you travel to your accommodation destination. Therefore, you can exchange around USD 10 in the Airport, even though the Airport exchange centres most often offer you disadvantageous rates. After settling down, the wisest decision is to search the area for local exchange centres.
Fortunately, Thailand’s healthy economy and booming tourism industry also brought a number of established foreign exchange centres catering to tourists. Most tourist areas have a money exchange centre, a currency exchange chain, or bank branch, either of which is perfect for you to exchange your foreign currency.
Bangkok is the heart of everything in Thailand – history, culture, amusement, and finances. This city has the most intense competition when it comes to finances. Though throughout Thailand, there are a lot of touristy areas, competition is not as evident and as such, you cannot negotiate much to your advantage. Plus, most tourists’ entry point is Bangkok, therefore, we will concentrate on the capital.
Bangkok Money Changers
These are the ones with the absolute best rates: Super Rich Thailand, Super Rich 1965, Vasu Exchange, SIA Money Exchange, and X-ONE Currency Exchange Centre.
All five of these are strategically stationed in touristy areas around the capital, especially in Bangkok’s big shopping centres. Their names hold a huge command over the market of currency exchange services. The first two are rumored to be owned by brothers, but one thing’s for sure – green is the colour of Super Rich Thailand, and Orange is for Super Rich 1965. Both offer good rates, but not the best, though their service, comfortable locations, and their front-line staff’s hospitality made huge impressions for first-time money changers. The next two, Vasu and SIA Money are truly the exchange rate leaders, both vie for the position of offering the best rates, and is patronised by avid Thailand vacation-goers. X-ONE Currency is known for its excellent rates for the Great Britain Pound – the best among all exchange centres. The good news between all 5 of them is that travelers’ cheques are accepted in all of their branches.
Banks With The Lowest Exchange Fees
Bangkok Bank, Kasikorn Bank, and Siam Commercial Bank are the three banks that charge the lowest exchange fee in these amounts, respectively: 0.87%, 0.97%, and 1.05%.
Going to the counters of these banks to change money would yield you better exchange rates than just settling for ATM machines. Just don’t look for them in popular tourist areas since their exchange fee rates drastically increase, as they also want to make use of the human traffic.
Additional Exchange Tips:
Thailand’s exchange centres love the US Dollar. Almost any transaction involving the US Dollar is smooth and quick.
Banks would require you that you only exchange the crisp and in-the-best-condition currency you have. Exchange centres would be more lenient, but they won’t accept truly defaced and worn out ones.
Credit and Debit Card
Visa, MasterCard, and American Express are the top three credit cards recognised and accepted in many establishments such as supermarkets, department stores, shopping centres, resorts, hotels, and restaurants. But, small establishments and many street-level transactions and services can only be done in cash – so it would be wise to bring a sizeable amount.
Precautions and Warnings:
Some establishments add a 3 to 5 percent surcharge for payment via credit card beyond the interest you incur on such a credit card. Put that in mind and use wisely your credit card – or, better stick to cash.
If a credit card terminal offers you an option of paying in your home currency, always select NO. Select payment in Thai Baht (THB) and your credit card will provide you with the best possible exchange rate. If you select YES, you’ll fall for the Dynamic Currency Conversion where you’ll get a poor exchange rate and get charged more by your bank as it is considered a foreign transaction. Lastly, When you sign the sales slip, be sure you’re signing in Thai Baht (THB) currency.
Do not leave your cards with others for safekeeping. Keep them in a hotel safe if you don’t want to bring them. Otherwise, you might deal with unauthorised charges.
Banks are well-established in Thailand, that means that Automated Teller Machines are also abundant. Automated Teller Machines mostly recognise cards tied with Visa and Mastercard. Your ATM card would get charged with a flat transaction fee your home bank enforces for withdrawals away from home. Some banks might also add an additional “conversion fee,” which is a hidden surcharge. While the ATM is a convenient way to get Baht, you might also shoulder a foreign ATM fee of THB 200, charged to foreign cards. Otherwise, stick to bringing in a sizeable amount of foreign currency and exchange it at the currency changers.
Maximum withdrawal limit depends on the banks but the best ones to maximise the fee charges are Bangkok Bank with a THB 25,000 limit, CIMD Bank, Thai Military Bank, and Krungsri Bank with a limit of THB 30,000, and Citibank with the highest limit at THB 50,000.
Thailand’s ATM machines use a 4-digit PIN scheme, if you’re using the 6-digit one, get it changed before you go.
Never forget to inform your home bank that you’re going on an international vacation and you might use your cards there, or else they might lock you out of it for fear of identity theft.
Always remember the golden rules when withdrawing: not in dangerous times – nighttime, not in dangerous places – always be inside the bank premises, and not in isolated towns – card skimming is prevalent there.
Only American Express traveller’s cheques are accepted in Thailand by banks and money exchange centres and some established institutions. Before it had a fee of THB 33 per cheque, now it’s at THB 153 per cheque. The best way to save money from the high fees is to get your cheques in larger denominations.
These are the tips you should remember when dealing with your finances in Thailand. Remember that the biggest headache on a vacation is the headache of not having money. Knowledge is power – remember this guide and have an enjoyable trip!