Cash point, cash machine, ATM, or hole in the wall. Whatever we name them we all frequent them to withdraw cash from our mass amount of money stashed away that’s in the care of our loyal banks.
In Thailand they’re named ATM’s that are dotted all over the place, especially in cities, towns and most tourist areas.
Before Your Trip & Your Bank
First off, let your bank know you’re going abroad to prevent unusual activity showing on your account and the fraud activation blocking its use until you contact them. This can be a real pain and has happened to me numerous times in Thailand. It still may happen even when they’re notified, if any activity triggers the banks automated fraud system.
Check your withdrawal limit. Some are set for a lower amount of say £300, when you may want to withdraw more, which saves money. Larger withdrawals can save money which I will mention shortly.
Credit cards of course vary in charges for each card company that you’ll need to find out before using ATM’s in Thailand. There are possible ways to work your credit cards better in Thailand, which I wont go into within this article.
Using ATM’s & Charges
Most of the ATM’s can be used in Thailand with foreign bank debit and credit cards. They all have the initial ATM fee of 220 THB (yeah, keeps going up, quickly) as well as your banks charges.
I worked it out that doing multiple withdrawals not only increased the obvious ATM fee but also my own bank charges. The less withdrawals the more money I saved before considering the ATM fees. However, there is a need to be cautious and make the best choice for ourselves, just in case a problem occurs and we lose that money.
These are the popular bank ATM’s available and the maximum withdrawal amounts.
Citibank: Max withdrawal 50’000 THB. These are a good option if you’re in Bangkok for a period of time and need to do a large withdrawal. The only problem with these is the lack of ATM’s. The great thing about Citi bank if you open an account within your home country is there is no ATM fee.
Krungsri – Bank of Ayudhya: Max withdrawal 30’000 THB. These are the yellow front ATM’s and banks. This is the ATM I would use mostly, and conveniently they have an ATM in many places.
Bangkok Bank: Max withdrawal 25’000 THB. Bangkok bank ATM’s are all over the place, but I have found certain ATM’s wont allow the max 25’000.
Siam Commercial: Max withdrawal 20’000 THB. SCB (Siam Commercial) is probably the most commonly used banks for Thai people. For tourists it’s a popular purple signed ATM with plenty available.
Others: There are a few others including TMB and Kasikorn that all allow a maximum withdrawal of 20’000 THB, if your home country bank permits that amount.
Important – Dynamic Currency Conversion
I fell for this ripoff on a couple of occasions until I checked online the rates I got and realized I got much less for my money.
How it works. You go to an ATM in Thailand or anywhere else and the ATM provides an option to convert your currency from your home currency. This seems like something of value as it’s our home country and we might save a few quid. Click NO…unless you want to pay an extra 5% for your withdrawal and up to 18% in some countries.
These are third party guys in on a legal scam and your only benefit is seeing the amount it costs to make the withdrawal. More about dynamic currency conversion ripoff at wikipedia here.
Remember To Collect Your Card
It might seem obvious to pick up your card from the cash machine before leaving, but I have forgot my card on a couple of occasions and many others have too.
The problem I realized was that in the UK (not sure about other countries) the money comes out last and the card is already out and in the wallet before cash is dispensed. In Thailand the cash comes first and then you await the card, and if you’re in a rush it could be easy to forget it. If you’ve recently lost a card then maybe think back to the last ATM you visited.
Have Another Option
It’s always best to have other banking options or access to money easily enough. I have three accounts and if I ever have an issue with one card I can transfer between them online. I keep cards at home or in a hotel room and one with me while I’m out that covers me if someone gets my room cards and if I lose one while out, or the issuing bank puts a stop on a card.
There are other options such as a traveling buddy helping out or Western Union transfers, but the above is good practice and fixes the issue as soon as you can get online and make a transfer.