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This is going to be a quick post to help you with currency exchange in Thailand.
If you’re planning a simple visit ranging from a night to a couple of weeks, you don’t need to worry about opening a bank account or doing any sort of wire transfer.
Below are your two best and easiest options:
1- Exchange Cash
If you bring your local currency, you can always exchange it for Thai Baht at the Bangkok airport. It’s fast, easy, and the exchange rate is okay.
You’ll see currency exchange stations throughout the airport, I recommend that you use, Siam Bank (The purple bank.)
Even after years of living in Thailand, this is my preferred method. Swipe your card and take out money in the Thai currency.
If you are American, there is usually a 500usd limit on how much you can withdraw per day. This is about 15,000 baht.
Every ATM machine in Bangkok charges a 150 baht (5usd) fee for international withdraws. In addition, your bank will probably charge you a couple dollar fee as well.
My advice, withdraw the maximum of 500usd. This way the fees are pretty minimal compared to withdrawing a hundred dollars at a time. Use your credit card, not debit card at the ATM (see below for details).
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1- Exchange local currency at the airport
2- Use ATMs when in Thailand
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We recently received an email from an avid reader that explored this area even more. Below he has some great advice on how to maximize currency exchange when in Thailand:
I live in Canada and I did some looking. My bank here converts 1 CAD to 27 BHT and I noticed almost all currency converters showed 1 CAD to 29 BHT which is a huge difference when converting a lot of money.
I finally contacted my credit card company and was told, if you use your credit card (not debit) on an ATM in Thailand, you get MasterCard’s or VISA’s exchange rate and not the bank’s exchange rate. After looking MC and VISA’s exchange rate is 1CAD to 29BHT which is MUCH better, but they did say a $500 limit per day which sucks but still. So your ATM method is the one I’m going to go with but with a credit card not a normal debit card (the normal debit card will convert at the bank’s crappy 1:27 rate).
The other thing with taking money out on a credit card is you get charged interest instantly so it’s VERY important to transfer and pay the credit card off same day. 21% annual interest on one day @ $500 = around 30 cents so it’s minimal if you can do electronic banking. The banks and credit card companies I guess charge a default 2.5% fee for converting and they say that everyone charges it, but I have a friend in the US that says his Capital One MC doesn’t charge it and is designed for currency exchange, so maybe that’s the best way to go.
Hope this helps!