Money in Thailand: Cash, Currencies, Debit & Credit Cards, Transfers & Bank Accounts
The Thai currency: Baht & Satang
The currency of the Thais are the Baht and the Satang. 100 Satang are one Baht (equalling about 2,5 Euro-Cent or 3,6 US $ Cents in August 2007). For one Euro you will get about 40 Baht, for one US $ about 30 Baht as exchange.
Vor- und Rückseiten der Münzen 10 Baht (ähnlich 2 Euro-Münze), 5 Baht und 1 Baht
There are five Baht coins in use: 10 Baht, 5 Baht, 2 Baht and 1 Baht coins. The 2 Baht coin is seen not to of and you also seldom you see the very small coins of 50 Satang – which equals half a Baht - and 25 Satang – equalling a quarter of a Baht. So you can neglect the Satang more or less in real life as a relic of former times. The 10 Baht coins look very similar to the two Euro coins but were minted first.
Furthermore six Baht bank notes exist: The brown 10 Baht note (nowadays seldom to be seen),
the frequent green 20 Baht note, the not so frequent 50 Baht note,
the blue fifty Bath note,
the reddish 100 Baht note,
the violet 500 Baht note and
der braun-grüne 1.000 Baht Schein. Die Scheine ab 100 Baht weisen einen ins Papier eingebunden Silberstreifen auf.
the frequent green 20 Baht note, the less frequent blue 50 Baht note, the red 100 Bath and the violet 500 Bath and finally the brown and green 1000 Baht notes including an imprinted silver line.
Currency rates: International currency speculation lead to moves of the Baht which can sometimes be strong. By clicking on the following links you can see charts of the development of the rates of the following exchange rates: Euro, US $, British Pound, Yen, Swiss Francs, Australian Dollar and New Zealand Dollar.
Even the Baht went down in value after 2003. The exchange rate went up again to many other currencies since 2005. However, prices in Thailand are a bargain for visitors from Europe, the U.S., Japan or Australia also today.
Thailand: Import and Export of Currencies
Import: You are allowed to import any currency in any amount to Thailand – including the Thai Baht! If you take foreign currency in value of more than US $ 10.000 US $ into Thailand an import declaration at the customs at arrival is recommended in your own interest. Otherwise you may run into problems if you take the amount out of Thailand again – see below.
Export: In case you export foreign currencies in value of more than US $ 10.000 US you have to proove the former import of the money at the immigration. In case you get searched – which is rather rare for tourists – the customs could confiscate your money as a provision against money laundering, etc. The export of Thai Baht is restricted to 50.000 Baht (about 1250 Euro or 1500 US $) per person. You are however allowed to export up to 500.000 Baht to Thailands neighbouring countries of Malaysia, Camboscha, Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar.
Where should you change in Thai Baht?
You do not have to go to change money into Baht outside of Thailand before entering the country in order to have a „starter kit“ on arrival. Changing outside the country mostly means that you will suffer a loss of about 20% of your money or more.
You better change your money into Baht at a bank counter or a certified exchange office when arriving at the airport in Thailand or when crossing the border by car or bus. Or you go to the next ATM in Thailand to withdraw some money form your account with your VISA or Master card or your debit card with a Maestro-sign – see below. In all these cases you will get a far better exchange rate for your money!
TIP 1: Change for cash in Baht only in Thailand. Exchange rates at the bank counter or the certified exchange offices are quite fair. Changing money at the hotel mostly means to get ripped. The same ist rue when changing Baht outside of Thailand.
Tip 2: Take foreign bank notes with you. In Thailand you can exchange all main foreign notes at banks in towns or tourist centers at a fair exchange rate. Of course also currencies of the neighbouring countries are accepted. So you might take foreign bills lying around at home on your trip to Thailand to cash them in to help your travel budget.
Tip 3: Take some Baht notes back home if you intend to travel to Thailand again. In this case you will be already equipped with „starter money“ in Baht when entering Thailand without the ugly exchange rates at home. If you later see that you do not need the Baht notes you will successfully auction the bills at Ebay at a nice price.
Tip 4: Try to keep 100 Baht and 20 Baht notes in your purse. It is conveniant for the bank to hand out your Baht in 1000 Baht notes. At the ATM you will also receive 1000 Baht notes. So it is no wonder that expecially in tourist places in Thailand like Koh Samui smaller change seems asways scarce: All tourists pay in 1000 Baht notes and want to get change! So it often happens that taxi drivers, restaurants or other smaller shops cannot give you change after you pay in 1000 Baht notes. Also outside tourit spots you should see to be always equuipped with smaller Baht notes and coins. Mind that the monthly minimum wage is just a little over 3000 Baht. For many Thais a 1000 Baht note is more than a weeks salary and a lot of money. So you better keep your small change of coins and 20 or 100 Baht notes and always try first to pay with the 500 and 1000 Baht notes. Also ask at the currency exchange that you get more small notes and not only money in big notes.
Better hoard a bit small change and small notes in your purse
Cash, Maestro-Debit-Card, Credit Card & Traveller Checks: Choose the right money-mix for Thailand
The right mix for a money strategy in Thailand for a foreigner depends on whether he plans to stay. If he only visits Thailand once in a while as a tourist the money recommendations below will be sufficient. If you plan to stay more often, for longer times, need an own Thai bank account or you have regular payments due in Thailand to friends just click on this article. Here are the money options recommended for all visitors to Thailand:
- Take standard foreign currency notes with you as a reserve you can always change into Baht at the next bank. It ist true that you get cash everywhere in Thailand at the next ATM with your Maestro debit card or credit card. But such plastic money could can also go on strike. For example if the magnetic stripe on the card is not working or your lost and forgot your code number for the ATM. In such cases a cash reserve in foreign notes is a first relief.
- Get cash in Baht at the ATM with your debit card with a Maestro sign. If your debit card shows the Maestro sign, you can easily get cash in Baht at the ATMs in Thailand you find at banks, supermarkets, airports and other plublic places. Most ATMs in thailand show the Maestro sign. Just enter your debit card into the ATM, choose English for the information menue (as you probably will not unterstand Thai in writing), choose „withdrawal“ and follow the information on the screens. The maximum amount per withdrawal and day is normally fixed to 20.000 Baht (about 500 Euro or 675 US $ in August 2007). In some cases the amounts are limited to 10.000 or 25.000 Baht. Please note that your banks will charge you fees for a withdrawal (in Europe probably about 4,50 Euro). For the exact amount have a look at the terms of service of your bank beforehand. If you forgot to look at home you mostly will find such information when surfing from Thailand online to the web site of your bank. These transaction fees for foreign withdrawals will be listed as an extra position in your account statement later. Your bank will also charge you an exchange rate which higher than the official exchange rate and will probably add 4%. Look at your banks terms of service again to find out the exact amount.
- Get cash from the ATM or payment with your credit card. With a credit card you can also geht Baht in cash from all ATMs in Thailand carrying the VISA or Mastercard sign. Watch your terms of service for your credit card regarding cash withdrawals in foreign countries. Regularly you will have to pay about 4% transaction fees plus 1% for foreign transaction plus about 2% as surcharge of the currencies market exchange rate. So cash withdrawals mostly are a bit more expensive with a credit card than with a debit card. Nevertheless a credit card is a good recommendation for Thailand – also as a second choice for security. You need a credit card also for online booking, for example for budget flights with AirAsia or Bangkok Air from Thailand of for online hotel reservations. A credit card can be also useful in stylish shops, restaurants or for car rentals. Sometimes the owner charges you with the credit car fee occuring to him. When shopping you may also benefit form your credit card: First you show the owner your card, Then you offer him to pay in cash if the price is lowered.
- Use traveller checks. Traveller checks are still the securest form to travel. You do not loose money even if you loose them or they get stolen and misused. And they do not outdate. Nevertheless the use of traveler checks is diminishing because the handling of these checks appears somehome time consuming in the age of electronic money worldwide. You will learn more about traveler checks at the web site of American Express or your bank at home.
If you want to know how to establish an own bank account in Thailand or regularly transfer money to friends in Thailand at low cost read this article about opening a bank account in Thailand.