As an expat planning or already living in Phuket, you are going to have to tackle the issue of finances. While in life simply making money has its own set of challenges, handling cross-border transactions and wrapping your mind around the differences in financial systems becomes a fact of life. This issue was forced to the forefront of people’s minds after Russia invaded Ukraine. Due to sanctions and companies starting to distance themselves from the Russian government, it all of sudden became very difficult for Russian citizens to access money they had in Russian banks. While many of our Russian friends had no choice but to pack up and head home, others inevitably found ways around the issue through cryptocurrency and other means.
Banking and opening a bank account in Thailand Cr: Chiang Mai Locator
Of course, everyone’s situation is unique in many respects, but the majority of expats relocating to Thailand usually simply withdraw money from an ATM at first. While the bank gives you an ok conversion rate, you are charged a foreign transaction fee which can be in excess of 200 baht. It’s not the end of the world, but adds up if you have to make withdrawals often. To ease this pain, there are banks, such as the US bank Charles Schwab, that refund these charges.
Bangkok Bank Cr: www.prachachat.net
To get around these issues, you will eventually want to open an account at a Thai bank. Unfortunately, many banks will only allow a foreigner to open an account if they hold a work permit. Strangely, this isn’t necessarily a company-wide policy and some branches may be more lenient than others in this respect. Many branches of Bangkok Bank will allow a foreigner to open an account if they buy a cheap insurance policy through the bank.
It’s important to know that while it is fairly uncomplicated to bring money into Thailand, it’s not always so simple to move it out of the country. Especially if you bring in a large amount of money, you need to think ahead as to what the process will be to bring it back out should that be your plan. For sums over US$20,000 you will need to fill out the foreign currency transaction form (FCT). You will have to claim what the money's for, i.e. property purchase, living expenses, etc.
Credit card Cr: www.businesstechafrica.co.za
If you want to use a credit card in Thailand, you can do so in certain situations. First, you will need to notify the issuer of the card that you are traveling abroad or they will likely flag and freeze your card. In some cases, you may just need to login to your account for the card and there will be a setting you change so the system doesn’t automatically flag your card. In other cases, you’ll have to call them to make the formal notification. You’ll be able to use the card at most hotels and higher end restaurants, spas, and retail shops.
Having a Thai bank account simplifies many processes. If you end up working for a Thai company, they will require you to open an account at their chosen bank. Whatever the case when opening an account, choose a branch near your neighborhood as should you need any paperwork you will only be able to get it from the branch at which you originally opened the account. Transferring money from one Thai bank to another is free, instant, and extremely easy. No external financial apps are necessary as is the case in many other parts of the world. Thai banking apps offer a ton of useful features making sending or receiving money and paying for bills as easy as it gets.