In order to be elegible to open a Thai bank acccount, it all really depends on the type of visa that you have. If you have a tourist visa, it's a definite no-go. However, if you have one of the many long stay visas e.g. an education visa, a non-immigrant visa, a retirement visa or a marriage visa, then you are eligible to open up a Thai bank acount in Thailand. Some of the benefits of opening a Thai bank account, let's say I opened up a Thai bank acccount with Kasikorn Bank and I need to send money from my homecountry's bank account, using transferwise I can send money into my checkings or savings account into my Thai Kasikorn bank, no problem. The whole process will be completed in less than a minute, however, to caveat on this, this rule works best on weekdays between Mondays and Thursdays. I've heard many cases where people have used transferwise on a weekend and it would take three days for them to receive money into their accounts.

This may also be interesting to know. Let's say if you were to use your homecountry's debit card and you go to a Thai ATM and withdraw money, the ATM fees are 220 Thai Baht. That's roughly six or seven US$, and let's say you withdraw four times a month, that is going to be around 28 to 29 US$. Times that by another twelve months and you're going to be paying roughly a little over 330 US$ a year, which is a lot of money. 

Opening a Thai bank account as a foreigner presented me with a lot of challenges and obstacles in the beginning. For example, a few weekends back I tried opening a Thai bank account with the Bangkok Bank. I vsited four different branches, all four branches gave me different convoluting requirements. One branch asked me to pay a one year accident insurance for 6,000 Baht. While another branch asked me for a letter for approval from my Embassy in order to open a bank account.

Eventually I made my way to Central Festive Mall in Pattaya and successfully opened a Thai bank account with the Bangkok Bank there.

There are four things that you need to open a Thai bank account, a passport, a visa, a letter from immigration saying that you want to open a Thai bank account (not all banks ask for this though), and a copy of your rental agreement, and again not all banks ask for this. You will need to have a minimum of 1,000 Baht with you, 500 Baht is the deposit for opening the account and the other 500 Baht is for the Debit Card.

Here's my advice, if you sense any kind of red flag or your gut feeling is telling you that this isn't right, may be just hold off on proceeding on opening up a Thai bank account and try a different branch.

One of the best advice I can give you is that if you see a reputable mall in Thailand that has a bank branch, for example Terminal 21 Mall in Bangkok and Pattaya and Emquatier and the Emporium in Bangkok, or any of the malls belonging to Central Group or Robinson Malls; Lotus or Big C supermarket chains, they will have bank branches within these malls. Stick with those instead of bank branches off the beaten paths more suitable for locals. Branches within Thai malls are often more reputable and foreign-friendly. 

One of the added benefits of having a Thai bank account is cashless transactions, Siam Commercial Bank (SCB) is especially popular for this. All banks provide cashless transactions by the way of scanning your QR code say at a decent restaurant where you just had breakfast, the bank App will prove to be very handy. It is recommended to let the staff at the bank help you set up with the mobile bank App. Often they're in two languages, English and Thai, but hey, why the headache, the service is there, use it.

One more thing worth mentioning is that there is an ATM withdrawal fee if you withdraw money outside in the provinces away from the bank in which your account is located. The commission will be between 20 Baht and 30 Baht because you're withdrawing money outside of your respective province. It's a bit silly. I'm not a fan of it, but it is what it is, besides, bank are no humanitarian organisations, they're businesses out there to make a profit.

For new teachers in Thailand, it is generally a tad bit easier to open a Thai bank account as Thai schools often pay their teachers through one particular bank. An HR officer at your school will often tell you to open an account at that particular bank, sometimes you'll get a letter shoved in your hands to take with you to the bank, most often not, but simply telling them that you're a new teacher at XYZ school will suffice and of course you will need your passport. No further documents are required. These banks know that it takes time for a school to arrange a non-immigrant visa at immigration and are more than happy to welcome a new customer to their bank without asking too many questions.

It is not uncommon for foreign teachers in Thailand, who don't yet possess a Thai bank account to casually stroll into a branch of a Thai bank based on a university campus, tell them that they've just started working at that particular university and open an account right there and then with just a copy of one's passport, even though, in reality they aren't working there at all, nor do they plan to.

Not in a particular order, some of the biggest banks in Thailand are Kasikorn Bank, Bangkok Bank, Siam Commerial Bank (SCB), krungsri Bank, Kringthai Bank. There are others of course e.g. TMB, UOB and many more. Thai banks are just as good as foreign banks, so don't worry, your money will not go walkabouts.

Going to a Thai Bank is often a breeze. Your queue ticket is often issued in English and you will thus be directed to the right counter in English - how convenient! Thai bank employees are generally friendly and helpful, with many speaking basic English to communicate with you. If you need a problem solved or something a bit more complicated that need explaining, try bring a Thai friend with you to assist with translating. If something can't be done, it's not recommended to lose your cool as this can be counter-productive and instead of receiving the much needed help, you'll probably be witnessing to the bank employee simply walking away.

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Blog by Nigel Freedman

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Note that the author of the blog is expressing personal thoughts and musings, which do not necessarily reflect those of KruTeacher. Therefore, KruTeacher.com cannot be held responsible for any potential inaccuracies that may be present in the blog.

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