Thai Banks Really Are Different

by | Feb 11, 2022 | Thailand | 1 comment

Banks are banks, right? Well, almost because Thai banks can be a little different. What I mean to say is that they all seem the same. They all have that stark serious vibe; when you enter, take your number and sit down. But they are a little different from your good old hometown bank.

Thai Banks: Beginner Basics

Banks in Thailand are quite happy to open an account for expats. But they are suspicious, and they want lots of paperwork.

ATMs in Thailand by Rachel Devlin
ATMs in Thailand by Rachel Devlin

Thai banks are particularly interested in what visa you have. They avoid signing up people on tourist visas.

If you have a work permit, volunteer visa or long-stay visa like the retirement visa, you will have more success.

Strangely, you could get all of your paperwork organized and go back to the bank and the rules will have changed and new requirements loom.

This can be frustrating. But it can also work to your advantage. Here are two of my top Thai banking tips:

Thai Banks Top Tip #1: Another Day – a Different Rule

It may well be that you go back another day and your paperwork is just right. It is a pretty flexible model — if you have patience. Beware, though, a different teller could also mean a different ‘rule’.

Thai Banks Top Tip #2: Another Branche – a Different Rule

There is seldom consistency within a bank and its branches. That is because the banks operate something like franchises. This affects the rules. So, branch-hopping may lead to success. Patience is the secret.

Which Bank is the Right Bank for You?

Certain bank branches are more expat-friendly than others. It is best to ask around to find the one that others in your position prefer.

Some are better at managing a large overseas transfer than others. For example, if you wanted to transfer $40,000 to your Thai bank account to buy a condo, shop around for the best and most cost-effective system.

Personally, I used the Bangkok Bank to do this because I could open a special currency account where the transfer remained in the original currency, and I picked a day to change it over to the local currency. Naturally, I chose the day with an excellent exchange rate. *winning!

As a part of my visa, I need to keep about $25, 000 in a Thai bank account. I ended up closing my account at one branch and moving to a branch down the road where staff seemed to speak English better. It saves me a lot of time each year when asking for a bank letter to extend my visa.

It’s Like Going Back in Time, But Better

In Thailand, you will receive an ATM card and a passbook. Both are important. If you lose, say, your passbook, you cannot get a new one until you have filed a police report.

My Thai BankCard by Rachel Devlin
My Thai BankCard by Rachel Devlin

The best thing about the passbook/card system is that there are always a variety of bank machines that will basically perform any function you could wish for.

You can deposit money into other people’s accounts, pay bills, set up a text message notification system. It is actually pretty brilliant. Instead of lining up for a bank teller, these machines save time.

As I am not the savviest financial operator, I regularly throw my passbook in a machine for an update.

It works perfectly for me. (Oh, that is because I have not gotten around to setting up my account for internet banking.)

Internet banking works great here, too.

Fun Fact: Not for the Color Blind

Thai banks are also distinguished by color. There are pink, purple, light blue, dark blue, yellow and green banks. It makes it very easy to spot them, because some have really long names. Just as well I am not color blind.

Banking abroad can be challenging. We here are TCI have authoritative Expats in the know all over the world. Become a TCI member for free and let us know your best overseas banking tips.

by: Rachel Devlin