Why do you need a Thai bank account?

If you are in Thailand for a short Holiday only, you probably don’t need a Thai bank account, but if you are planning to stay longer, the local account could be pretty useful. Every time when you use a Thai ATM with a foreign card you need to pay a 200 / 220 baht fee to the ATM owner.  Additionally paying by card is not that popular in Thailand, instead many places accept payment with QR codes, and the most popular standard of them is PromptPay, which can be used with mobile apps from Thai banks. Additionally, all local transfers are much cheaper and easier with a local bank account.

Which account to choose?

The choice of Bank pretty much depends on the visa type. The good thing is that one bank allows opening a bank account on a tourist visa (with some additional documents) rest don’t allow it to open for tourist visa holders. A few banks allow quite easily opening a bank account for working/student visa holders, whereas the rest only accepts people with working permit in hand. You can read some stories that someone just walk around many bank branches and managed to open a bank account with a passport only, of course, it is possible, but I asked in around 30 places in Bangkok and everywhere workers had a list of the requirements and they knew what I should present to them according to the regulations. So I believe that this way is not working that good anymore.

Bangkok Bank

Easiest bank to open a bank account for non-residents, just a document from the embassy is needed.

  • can open on a tourist visa
  • debit card for 400 baht (can pay online)
  • the minimum deposit for account opening – 500 baht
  • everything available in English
  • QR code PromptPay payments
  • can transfer more than 50 000 baht from wise (link)
  • 3.8 ⭐ in google play for the mobile app

Thailand’s largest bank – Bangkok Bank is the most expat-friendly bank in Thailand. They have listed all necessary documents on their website and officially allow to open a bank account on a tourist visa. The bank website is fully translated into English and there is no problem contacting in person in English. The app allows paying by QR codes and receiving money, maybe the design of the mobile app is not super new, but it allows one to do all the necessary stuff there.

To open an account you need a letter from your embassy, you can’t really find an example of such a document. I created such a document myself and went to Polish Embassy and asked for legalisation of (my) signature under the document. Finally, I went to Bangkok Bank and tested if the document is ok for them. I managed to open an account with the document. You can download my document file for 1 EUR here.

You can open an account in the branch – Bank website: bangkokbank.com (list of requirements for foreigners on this page)

Recommended branches for account opening in Bangkok:

  • Head Office – 333 Silom Road
  • Exchange Tower Sukhumvit Road Branch – 388 Sukhumvit Road
  • The Emquartier Branch – 689 The Emquartier (3rd Floor)

Kasikornbank

After Bangkok Bank, Kasikorn is recommended as the second most friendly bank for foreigners.

  • can’t open on a tourist visa, can easily open on other types of visa
  • debit card for around 300 baht
  • no minimum deposit for account opening
  • everything available in English
  • QR code PromptPay payments
  • can transfer more than 50 000 baht from wise (link)
  • 3.5 ⭐ in google play for the mobile app

Kasikorn is one of the largest banks in Thailand. Many people and blogs recommend it as a good place to open a bank account for foreigners. Bank has a lot of branches and ATMs. Bank offers mostly the same functionality as others, so if you have other than a tourist visa, could be a good choice.

On the same day I went to Krungsri bank in Emquartier (04/10/2022) I also went to Kasikornbank. I asked workers about the requirements for account opening. They didn’t have a list, but when we talked their requirements were pretty similar to the list from Krungsri (below). They don’t accept tourist visas, for other types they want supporting documents, like a student – letter from the school, and for a working person – a working permit. So shouldn’t be hard to get these documents and open a bank account there.

You can open an account in the branch – Bank website: kasikornbank.com

Recommended branches for account opening in Bangkok:

  • Sukhumvit 33 Branch
  • The Emquartier Branch
  • other branches in expat areas: Sukhumvit, Silom, Siam

Krungsri (Bank of Ayudhya)

It is not that often recommended as the banks above, but when I went to the branch in EmQuartier, workers gave me really nice list of requirements that is quite easy to pass if someone has any other visa than a touristic one. So I have decided to also add it here.

  • when have working/retirement/student visa needs a passport and other document issued by home country (ID, driving licence) (list of documents can be different in other branches)
  • debit card for free or a few hundred baht (depends on the card)
  • the minimum deposit for account opening – 500 baht
  • everything available in English
  • QR code PromptPay payments
  • can transfer maximum 49 999 baht from wise (link)
  • 3.3 ⭐ in google play for the mobile app

I am attaching below the list of documents needed for account opening in the Krungsri – Emquartier Branch (04/10/2022).

Krungsri - Emquartier Branch - requirements for foreigners

You can open an account in the branch – Bank website: krungsri.com

Recommended branches for account opening in Bangkok:

  • The Emquartier Branch
  • other branches in expat areas: Sukhumvit, Silom, Siam

Other banks

In Thailand also a few different banks are popular, mostly you will need to have a work permit to open a bank account there.

Easy and costly way to open a bank account

If you are afraid of bank requirements or you don’t have enough time to collect documents, some visa agencies offer help with it. The only thing – it is not cheap – the minimum price I could find is 5000. Siam Legal can issue a reference letter for Bangkok Bank that you can use instead of a letter from your Embassy.

Digital wallets

When you will walk around food places or shopping malls, you will see at checkout that most stores offer a few ways of payment. Mostly with QR codes – some for digital wallets. Unfortunately, not all digital wallets are available for foreigners (registration for some of them requires a Thai ID number).

Wallets available for foreigners:

How to send money to Thailand?

After opening a bank account you want to top up it with some money. Or if you rent an apartment, but you don’t have an account yet, you need to pay with a transfer for it. After some research, I found only one good solution. Quick, reliable and with small fees.

Wise

Wise is another virtual wallet company similar to Revolut. But with one difference, Wise is more focused on international transfers than on storing money there.

  • can open an account in many countries
  • easy to top up
  • you got bank account numbers in a few countries for popular currencies (USD, EUR, GBP, etc.)
  • transfers to Thailand arrive immediately
  • can order a debit card

What is super cool, Wise cooperates with local banks/companies in many countries, and because of that transfer sent through wise to Thailand arrives immediately in Thai bank accounts. Important thing is that Wise have a limit of 50 000 baht for a single transfer to some Thai banks. I also checked the provision and it is definitely the cheapest way to send money to Thailand.

You can open a Wise account here – on the website: wise.com

How to send money from Thailand?

So what if you want to take out money from a Thai bank account? In that scenario, only one good service exists in Thailand – DeeMoney. It is a service that allows sending money from Thailand to other countries, for a relatively low fee. Many people on the internet recommend the service.

But I thought about one more thing, I can top up my Revolut / Zen account with another card. So I did a small test. It is not really worth topping up Revolut like that because I wasn’t able to select Thai Baht for card top-up, so I would lose money for a bad conversion rate. But I tried with Zen and I managed to top up the account with Thai baht (with my Bangkok Bank debit card) for free. So I transferred my Thai bath to a European wallet for free. (Zen added a small fee for top upping with card 27.10.22, so it is no longer free, but still a really cheap option).

Useful links

 

The article is also published in Polish on my blog.

Categories: Thailand