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Thailand - Banking
There are many different national and international banks in Thailand. Citibank, Deutsche Bank and HSBC are the most common banks for foreigners. HBSC is quite popular with expats because it does not require an annual minimum salary. Big Thai banks such as the Bangkok Bank, Siam Commercial bank and Krung Thai bank dominate the banking sector. A minimum salary of between 50000 and 150000 Baht per year is required before opening an account.
Banks are open from 8:30 to 15:30 from Monday to Friday except on public holidays. Some branches open on weekends too.
How to open a bank account
It is very simple to open an account in Thailand. Although a work permit is required, it is possible to open an account with just a passport. You will also be required to pay a non-refundable fee of around 500 baht. Once you open a bank account, you will be provided with a debit card allowing you to withdraw money at ATMs and other cash machines. The initial ATM fee is 300 baht. A monthly charge of 50 baht is paid if you do not make transactions for a while and your account balance is below the minimum. You will have to consult your bank for statements because they are not usually mailed out to clients. It is not easy to get an overdraft facility in Thailand.
This is not a very common service in Thailand even though most banks offer it. Internet banking services are very limited compared to those of developed countries. An ID and password is required when accessing an account online. TAN numbers are rarely available.
Rules on the withdrawal amount using an ATM card vary depending on the banks. An extra fee is charged during withdrawals using ATMs that are not in one’s province or when using a different bank. Over the counter cash withdrawals inside the bank require a passport.
Checks, credit cards, and debit cards
In Thailand, most credit cards are accepted including Visa and MasterCard. You can also apply for a credit card in Thailand though the conditions vary and the incentives for having one may be less attractive. Many stores, restaurants, and hotels accept credit cards at a charge of about 3 to 5%.
Using a credit card is beneficial to many expats because it does not require them to pay the foreign exchange fee normal for foreign credit cards. Getting a credit card from a Thai bank is difficult, especially for foreigners.
You will be required to provide your work permit, proper visa documentation, and history and proof of income when applying for a credit card from a bank in Thailand. Foreigners with retirement and spouse visas may not be able to apply. Regulations for applying for credit cards differ between banks and branches.
A minimum monthly income of between 50000 and 150000 baht per month is required by the big banks before they issue credit cards. The withdrawal limit of most banks is around 2000 to 4000 baht per day. Monthly limit and interest rates exist and vary depending on the bank.
These are received after opening an account. They allow the holder to deposit and withdraw funds from their account at ATMs and cash machines.
Most Thai hotels, shops, and restaurants accept traveler’s checks. You can convert your traveler’s checks to Baht at banks or other foreign exchange facilities. Be sure to carry your passport.
Differences between Thailand’s banking and other countries
Bank policies are branch specific. While this may be good in terms of leniency it is bad because bank managers and employees follow rules strictly. In addition, some banking services can only be carried out at the branch one opened their account from.
Guidelines on documents required for specific procedures may be published or offered via phone calls. Consider these as the minimum requirements and bring all your documents.
Choosing a bank
Traditionally, many foreigners choose Bangkok bank or Kasikorn bank. They are reputed for being easy to work with and are more lenient. However, it is important to choose to bank with an institution that will cater to your specific needs.
This is the largest and most foreigner-friendly bank. The main office is located on Silom Road. It is also known to have good exchange rates when it comes to international wire transfers.
The main office on the corner of Sukhurmvit and Asoke road is one of the most popular branches of this bank. It is a worthwhile option for cross border banking.
Many expats open bank accounts with this bank because of their favorable credit card policies. However, it may be a bit difficult to cash foreign currency checks with this bank.
Siam commercial bank
This bank is popular because of its internet banking services.
Account types and opening procedures
This is the easiest type of account to open because it does not require a work permit. You can even open an account as a tourist with some banks. You may be required to provide your address in Thailand and passport when opening a savings account. The following documents are also acceptable:
• A driving license
• House registration
• A reference letter from a reputable Thai person
• A message from one’s home bank to the Thai bank
You may also be required to provide passport size photos and other documents, especially if you intend to stay in Thailand for a prolonged period. The process for opening a savings account in Thailand varies from one bank to another.
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