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Opening a Bank Account in Thailand

As a foreigner living or working in Thailand, opening a bank account in Thailand is both a convenient and necessary part of your new expat life. Naturally you would think the process should be simple, but reality often has a different story. Requirements and regulations are different from bank to bank and even from branch to branch. In this guide, we’ll cover the basics of banking in Thailand, requirements for opening an account, and some interesting differences between the banks.

So which banks are the really the best for foreigners? What do you need to open an account? And what do you need to know before applying?

Kasikorn (K-Bank)

Summary:

Easiest and friendliest for foreigners in terms of requirements for opening an account. Great service and helpful, English speaking staff. Also the most common ATM machines around with the lowest rates for withdraws.

Savings Account Requirements:

  • Copy of Passport and House Registration. (Work Permit/Student Card also accepted)
  • Minimum deposit is 500 baht

Credit Card Requirements (foreign applicants):

  • Minimum monthly income of 50,000 Baht.
  • Passport, visa, and work permit
  • Income evidence: Letter certifying monthly salary issued by employer within the past six months

Other Notes:

  • Maximum daily withdrawal at an ATM is 200,000 Baht
  • ATM Card, Debit Card or Credit Card linked to your savings account
  • Members can request a “virtual credit card” online, which can be used for online payments. (Note: Thai debit cards have very limited functionality beyond ATM withdraws.)

Relevant Links:

Bangkok Bank

Summary:

Probably the largest bank in Thailand if you don’t mind waiting around for hit-and-miss service. However, they are constantly improving their online banking services and are probably the easiest to use in terms of making online fund transfers and payments.

Savings Account Requirements:

  • Passport and work permit
  • Minimum deposit is 500 baht

Credit Card Requirements (foreign applicants):

  • 20 years of age
  • Average monthly income of 15,000 Baht
  • Passport and work permit or copy of house registration
  • Proof of your income such as: a payroll slip; a letter certifying your income; a tax withholding slip; or the latest receipt for your annual personal income tax.
  • A copy of your savings or fixed account statement for the past six months from a bank or financial institution.
  • Monthly statements from your current credit cards, if any, for the past three months.

Other Notes:

  • A Foreign Currency Deposit Account can be opened with as little as a passport and drivers license plus a minimum deposit of $1000 or equivalent.

Relevant Links:

Siam Commercial Bank (SCB)

Summary:

The first bank in Thailand and arguably the safest as well. They also have the highest restrictions on accounts however and it’s not easy to get an account as they are sticklers for policy.

Savings Account Requirements:

  • Passport and Work Permit or Student Card
  • Minimum deposit is 500 baht

Credit Card Requirements (foreign applicants):

  • Details not listed on SCB website

Other Notes:

  • Maximum daily withdrawal at an ATM is 200,000 Baht

Relevant Links:

Krung Thai Bank

Summary:

Krung Thai is another popular bank both in and outside of Bangkok. They offer most of the same services as the other banks and also have an online banking and other privileges. One issue I’ve found when using this bank is that English is not a priority for their staff. This may or may not be an issue for you depending your Thai language skills. The reason I’m including this bank on the list is their interesting exception to the Word Permit requirement.

Savings Account Requirements:

  • Passport and Work Permit or visa which is valid for at least 3 months

Credit Card Requirements (foreign applicants):

  • Details not listed on Krung Thai website

Other Notes:

  • Easy to set up automatic direct debit to pay utility bills

Relevant Links:

Things to Know About Banking in Thailand

  • Savings/Checking Account: In the western world those are two very different accounts. The savings account provides a decent interest rate and usually comes attached to a credit card. A checking account is attached to a debit or ATM card and is used to frequently withdraw money, hence a very low interest rate. In Thailand, a checking account is called a savings account and since nobody here uses checks, checking accounts are almost non-existent.
  • Paying with debit cards: Thai debit cards can rarely be used to make a payment in stores or online. They are used primarily for ATM withdraws. To make online payments a credit card is required, which can be very difficult to obtain as a foreigner. However, Kasikorn Bank members can request a “virtual credit card.” Once the card is requested, users receive a digital card number, expiration date, and security code within the online banking system. The card number can be used for website payments or linked to Thai PayPal account.
  • ATM machines: Don’t be surprised if you see 8 or more options on an ATM machine. These one-stop financial genius will let you transfer money to a friend, purchase phone credit, change your pin number, pay your bills, and they even have commercials and plenty of fun animations to keep you from getting bored while you pay your rent.
  • Additional Fees: Most banks charge a fee of 20 Baht for withdrawing outside of the city you registered the bank account with, and 100 Baht for withdrawing from another country. To avoid added withdrawal fees, try to only withdraw from your bank’s ATM machine.
  • Expiry Date: Most Thai banks are much more generous with their expiry dates and most ATM cards last almost forever – or at least 10 years.
  • Most people like to refer to banks by their colors. Bangkok Bank is blue, Siam Commercial Bank is purple, Kasikorn is green, Krungsri is yellow, and on it goes.

Loopholes in the Thai Banking System

Different banks have different policies on opening accounts. The main mantra of foreigners opening accounts in Thailand is if you don’t succeed at one bank, try and try again! Here are some interesting loopholes encountered in the past by determined expats.

  • Student Card: If you are studying in Thailand and have a student card, you can use this to open an account although some Universities sign you up for an account automatically. Assumption University is an example of this – all student cards are in fact, Krungsri ATM cards.
  • House Registration: This is for permanent expats living in Thailand who don’t have a work permit. House Registration is usually considered proof of residency and can sometimes be used to open an account.
  • Non-Immigrant O Visa: If have a Thai spouse, then a copy of your visa together with a residency letter and/or house registration is often good enough for most banks.
  • 3-month Tourist Visa: As far the rumour of the legendary tourist visa account goes, there’s only one bank that I found who supports this myth. Krung Thai bank is apparently willing to open a Savings Account for foreigners with as little as a Passport and a valid 3-month visa.

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