Open a Bank Account @ Bangkok Bank

I am constantly surprised by the amount of Farang I meet who do all their Thai banking using their western bank account ATM Card. When they need money they just pop their card in a local ATM and pay the charges to take whatever they need out.

Obviously if your a short term tourist there is nothing wrong with this and it's far easier than carrying bundles of cash around with you. However, if your staying in Thailand for a longer term there are far easier and cheaper ways of getting hold of your money.

The easiest is obviously to open a bank account with a Thai bank, my personal recommendation being Bangkok Bank, because they are the only truly international Thai bank with branches in a number of foreign countries including the United Kingdom, the United States, Japan and Singapore.

Regardless of what you've heard or read on the internet, opening a Thai bank account could't be easier, especially in Korat. Just pop along to one of the larger branches, my recommendation would be the Bangkok Bank branch on Atsadang Road just off Yamo, and they'll sort it out for you.

I'm aware that in a lot of Thailand's mass tourist areas such as Pattaya and Phuket the banks have quite strict policies with regard to opening a new account in the name of a foreigner. However, in my experience no such restrictions seem to exist with the banks in Korat.

Just turn up with your passport at any major bank and tell them you want to open an account. They'll fill the forms in for you, ask how much you want to deposit in cash (at least a few thousand Baht will be enough if you intend to top the account up from a foreign account) and issue you with a savings account book. 

You can also request a ATM and VISA card if you wish. This is issued within about 10 minutes after a few additional forms are filled in, so the whole process shouldn't take you more than 20-30 minutes.

After the account is set up you can authorise your foreign bank to transfer whatever you need to your Thai bank account. The charges imposed by your foreign bank will obviously vary but they tend to be the equivalent of between 600 and 1200 Baht per transfer. The Thai bank will also charge you a handling fee which is normally between 300 Baht and 500 Baht. 

Another bonus is that a bank to bank transfer will ensure you get the best possible foreign exchange rates, especially if you transfer in your home currency, unlike the ridiculously biased exchange rates used by companies such as Paypal, Western Union and Moneygram.

It's then just a case of taking exactly what you need out of your Thai account via your Thai ATM card with zero charges per withdrawal whenever you need some cash until the account runs dry and you need a refill from your foreign account.

You'll end up taking the right amount out of the ATM every time, as opposed to taking much more than you actually need to try and save on withdrawal charges. You'll also end up paying a monthly (or even longer) single transfer cost instead of a high fee per withdrawal using your foreign ATM card.

So get your finances in order, save yourself some hassle and more importantly some money and open a bank account at one of the local branches today.

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