Bank accounts in Thailand: how to open, costs, features
March 21, 2019
I opened my first bank account in Thailand in 2013. Since then, I have gained some experience in using bank cards and accounts in Thai banks. This experience I want to share in this article.
If you have any questions, or you see that some data is outdated, then write about it in the comments.
What you need to open a bank account in Thailand
In any bank in Thailand, you will open an account without any problems if:
- you have a visa with work permission
- you have a contract to buy real estate in Thailand
Most likely you do not even need my advice: the employer himself will refer you to the bank with which he works. And when buying a condo, the agency or the seller will also prompt you through which bank it is more profitable to work.
The following are the options under which you can open an account not in any bank. To make the situation clearer: in different banks, even in different offices of the same bank, the rules for opening an account may differ! This is unusual, but it is a fact. That is, if you were refused to open an account in one bank, then just go to another bank or other offices of the same bank – in the end, you will almost certainly find a branch where the rules will be quite soft and you will have an account.
So, the options under which in some banks may refuse you to open a bank account, while others may open. You have:
- student visa (ED visa)
- family visa
- annual rental contract
With the options listed above, it will be quite easy for you to find a bank office where you can open an account.
It is possible that you have nothing at all except your passport – this is the most difficult case, but there are stories that foreigners still opened a bank account. Anyway, you will need to confirm your address somehow – for example, a receipt for payment of electricity. And try to look for banks with softer rules closer to tourist places.
Can I open a bank account in Thailand with a student, student (ED) visa
Yes you can. But you may need an additional document confirming that you are studying in the exact city where you are trying to open a bank account.
Such a document may be:
- “certificate of residence” from the Immigration Office;
- letter from school. An example of a letter that was made for me:
What is Passbook, bankbook for?
When you open an account in any bank, they will give you, besides a plastic card, Passbook. Which is a small book where all the operations performed are recorded. To update the records in this book, there are special ATMs, or it can be done with the help of a bank employee.
In some Western countries, such books (passbooks) also existed before, but now they are not used. Therefore, by analogy, you might think that this is some kind of anachronism, a relic of the past, which will soon disappear. But Passbook is not issued to support tradition: it is the most important document, more important than the bank card itself!
Without a Passbook you cannot:
- reissue a new plastic card (due to loss or expiration)
- change phone number to receive SMS to confirm bank transfers (when using online banking)
Perhaps there are some other cases when Passbook is required.
Conclusion: Store your Passbook as the most important document of your bank account!
How to open a bank account in Hua Hin
I went to Market Village (one of the largest shopping malls in Hua Hin) at 2 banks with questions about the possibility of opening an account: in Kasikorn and Krungsri. In the first one, they told me that, in addition to the ED visa, I needed another document confirming that I was studying at Hua Hin (apparently, there was meant a ‘certificate of residence’). I did not have such a document at that time.
After visited Hua Hin school, on the first day I asked them to write a letter for the bank. They made a letter (photo above) and with it I went to the bank, however, instead of Kasikorn, I decided to try Krungsri. Just in case, I took with me a contract to rent a room in my name (albeit only for a half of a year). An employee of the bank took my passport and went to consult with the manager. Then the bank employee took my letter and again went to the manager. Then I lost sight of her and waited for her to return for a while. I thought that my letter did not come up, since I knew that the corresponding confirmation was the relevant certificate from the Immigration Police (‘certificate of residence’). But the employee had already returned with the photocopies of the pages of my passport and my letter – she did not even look at the rental contract for the room.
After that, I chose the card type (in fact, tariff plan of the bank account) – about them a little lower. Then everything went very simply, the only thing that caught me by surprise was the question of my monthly income. IMHO, this is an indecent question.
Before receiving the card, I was asked to enter a PIN code. Unlike the usual PIN in 4 digits, here the PIN code is 6 characters long! You also need to come up with a username and password. The PIN is used when working with the card at ATMs, as well as to enter the Krungsri online application. And the username and password are needed to enter the online bank.
By the way, Krungsri is a transliteration of Thai writing, according to the rules of the Thai language, the second letter “r” is silent, therefore the name of the bank is read “Krunsi”.
How to open an account in a Thai bank in Pattaya
You need to pay for opening an account – the sum depends not only on the selected bank, but also on the office. For example, in the Central Festival at the bank Kasikorn as a compulsory service, I had to buy insurance – it cost me an additional about 4,000 baht.
The order of opening also depends on the bank and the specific office – at least, it used to be so. For example, in the Kasikornbank office in Big C Extra, they asked me for an additional document, which can be obtained from the Immigration Police, showing the rental agreement (‘certificate of residence’). I did not want to go there, so I tried my luck in another office of Kasikornbank – as I said, at the Central Festival in Pattaya. There, it was enough for me to have a passport (just in case, bring along a rental agreement or paid electricity bill).
How to open an account in a Thai bank in Bangkok
In Bangkok, just for information gathering, I asked a friend to ask at the banks' offices whether I (a foreigner) can open a bank account. We went to a large shopping center, where the offices of almost all banks were right in a row on one floor. We just went through them one by one and asked. At each office, something like the following was answered: in order to open a bank account I need a work permit and a corresponding visa OR contract for the purchase of real estate. So they answered everywhere except Krungsri. They said in this bank: a contract in my name for renting a room for 1 year is enough – that's all! In general, if you were refused in one place, then just go to another branch – even in the same bank, but in different offices, the “rules” may be different.
Can I use a bank account in Thailand for AdSense?
Yes you can. But in your AdSense account you must be initially registered as a resident of Thailand. In this AdSense account, as a means of payment of remuneration, you can specify only a Thai bank account.
Is it possible to accept payments from other countries to an account in a Thai bank?
Yes you can. But when transferring, for example, using PaySend (by the way, I have a promo code CODE which lets you send money without any commission for the first time), as well as from other similar payment systems, Thai banks charge a fee of 300 baht regardless of the amount of transfer! That is, you can send 500 baht, and in fact 200 baht will remain on the account.
When payments are received from AdSense, there is no notice of a commission charge – it is possible that there are special arrangements with some large organizations. Although it is hardly possible to talk about the complete absence of a commission – in my opinion, it is included in the exchange rate, or is charged quietly.
Using and withdrawing cash from a Thai card in other countries
You can pay with a Thai plastic card in stores of your country without any problems (of course, if they accept cards for payment). At the same time, there are no commissions from both “our” side and the Thai bank. The conversion rate is normal (not predatory).
You can withdraw cash from the card! But the withdrawal sum can be restricted by your bank. For this service Thai bank usually charge 100 baht for one operation. In my country, local banks do not charge any money for service.
We are all used to the fact that we receive text messages about plastic card operations. It is clear that SMS come to the Thai SIM card. As a prudent person, returning to your country, you, of course, took the Thai SIM card with you. And … by default on Thai sims (at least on some) international roaming is disabled! And it's not about the size of the balance. The only option is to return to Thailand and contact the mobile operator where you bought the SIM, so that he enables to you international roaming. In order not to forget to do it – I highly recommend to enable international roaming immediately upon receipt of a SIM card!
Kasikorn mobile application
At the time of writing (2019), the Kasikorn bank says that the Kasikorn mobile app is available on the Google Play (Play Store) only if the phone was purchased in Thailand. In fact, the Kasikorn mobile app is available on the Google Play (Play Store) if the country of the account is set as Thailand. That is, you do not need to buy a new phone.
The country of the account can be changed, however, this can be done no more than once a year and you need to specify a valid Thai plastic card for the shift. To change the country, tap the menu icon → Account → Country and Profiles.
There will be an option to go to another country, when clicked, a notification will appear:
Then you will need to enter the card number and postcode of the place of stay.
After installing the mobile application, you need to contact the bank office to configure it. Unfortunately, I don’t have this application, so I can’t say anything specific about it.
Krungsri mobile app
Unlike the Kasikorn bank, the Krungsri bank's mobile application is accessible to everyone and is called KMA. Application screenshot:
There are different services there, pay attention to Krungsri Cardless – with it you can get money from the Krungsri ATM, even if you do not have a card with you.
There is a separate item for activating the SMS service – see below instructions.
Through the application, you can pay bills, send money, check balances, keep track of all your bank accounts and much more.
To enter the application, you use a six-digit PIN from a plastic card.
In the mobile application, you can see the history of operations:
Online banking Kasikorn
Kasikornbank has good online banking, where you can control your balance and view transactions. There is a Thai and English interface. Through online banking, you can send money to other bank accounts, or transfer them between your accounts.
There are sections dedicated to investing.
Online banking Krungsri
Krungsri has very functional online banking. In addition to all the usual functions of money transfer and payment of bills, there you can also link your account to Western Union and send and even receive Western Union payments. You can also open trading accounts, participate in investing and so on.
About Western Union, I have an article on how to transfer my money cheaply from a bank card of another country to Thailand, perhaps using this option it will be possible to use Western Union to send money to yourself cheaply and get it without ever leaving your home!
Honestly, I did not familiarize myself with all the functions of mobile applications and online banking Kasikorn and Krungsri. There are many of them and they are very diverse.
OTP and SMS alert
For serious actions, such as online transfers, adding a new payee, changing the settings of the online banking profile, you may need to confirm it via SMS. This is very similar to the confirmation via SMS in banks of another countries.
In Thai banks, such confirmation is also available, but it is called OTP or SMS-OTP. The question may arise, what is the difference between OTP and regular SMS? The fact is that in Thai banks these are two different things. Moreover, one phone number can be chosen as an OTP number, and you can choose another phone number and even more than one for SMS alerts.
OTP and SMS alerts have other differences. OTP is always free and always enabled by default, because otherwise it will not be possible to use some of the most basic functions of Internet banking. SMS notification is usually paid and can be disabled by default – you need to turn it on yourself if you want.
Another major difference is the different rules to change number numbers for OTP and for SMS alerts. The number of SMS alerts can be changed in the online office or in the mobile application. I got the SMS alert number for Kasikorn Bank changed directly via phone. It was like this: I came to the bank office to change the number, but there was queue. An employee of the bank went around all those who waited and asked what question they came up with – if the question could be resolved without waiting for the queue, she would help. In my situation, she dialed the number of the support center on her mobile phone, asked me a few questions (where I opened an account, what recent account transactions) and I changed the SMS alert number right on the phone – I did not even show the documents.
The problem is that at that time I did not know the difference between OTP and SMS notification. Only then I noticed that the SMS about receipts to the account come regularly, but SMS-OTP for online translation does not come at all. I went to the bank, they explained to me there, what I now explain to you: OTP and SMS notification are different things. To change the phone number on which SMS messages come from OTP, I need to come with a passport and Passbook.
This is really important – remember this!
How to enable SMS alert in Krungsri
After I opened a bank account in Krungsri, I found out that the SMS alert does not work for me (but OTP works).
To enable SMS notification via the mobile application, go to the All Menu section. There, find Apply SMS Banking:
Accept the Terms and Conditions:
Choose SMS Package:
Service cost – 19 baht per month.
Enter and save your mobile phone number:
A message will appear that the service is connected and information about it.
Also, there will be an SMS message with the information that the SMS alert is enabled.
Please note that 19 will not be charged immediately – apparently, they are paidf at the end of the the first period of the service, or the first month is free.
Commissions and maintenance fees at Kasikorn Bank
Unfortunately, the paper describing the tariffs has long been lost, and I didn’t really find something sane online at Kasikorn tariffs.
Based on my experience, I can say that for the year there are the following payments for a plastic card:
- 199 baht for transaction notification
- 229 baht annual service charge
When withdrawing cash at ATMs, even Kasikorn itself charges me 15 baht for any operation, since I opened an account in Chon Buri (Pattaya), and use the card in other cities. A friend says that actually it is illegal (to charge a cash withdrawal fee). But, apparently, I have some kind of super old tariff plan at which it is legal.
Fees for online money transfers within the bank and to other banks were canceled by law. That is, if earlier I paid 25 baht for an online transaction, now there is no such payment at all. Although I have not checked.
In general, Kasikorn is greedy for a commission – a friend wanted to send money through an ATM of Kasikorn, but the bank wanted to take a commission from her. As a result, a friend sent money through an ATM of another bank without any fees.
Krungsri fees and service charges
I have a Jad Hai card – so I will speak on the example of this tariff. There is a slightly cheaper rate tariff plan, but it charges fee for using ATMs in other regions of the country. At Jad Hai tariff, I can withdraw cash at any ATM of any bank in Thailand for free.
Minimum initial deposit for opening an account: 500 baht
Interest on the amount that is on the card: 0.1% per year
- transfers to other banks and other regions, including using ATMs
- payment for products, services, bills
- cash withdrawals at ATMs of any bank in Thailand
Annual maintenance: 400 baht
Card Replacement: 100 Baht
If there was no activity on the card for 12 months in a row and the account does not exceed 2,000 baht, then there is a charge for maintenance of 50 baht per month.
There are other restrictions, so if it’s interesting to someone, then read the details under the spoiler:
How to withdraw money without a card
If there is such an option in your mobile banking application, then you can withdraw money from an ATM from your bank account even if you do not have a card with you – this is an opportunity present in many banks in Thailand.
I will show with the example of Krungsri how to get money without a card.
- In the menu, select the option with Cardless, for example in Krungsri it is called Krungsri Cardless.
- Then select the account from which you want to withdraw money.
- Next, select the amount – you can choose from the proposed sum or enter your own one.
- Make sure everything is entered correctly.
- The app will show you a code that is valid for 5 minutes.
- Go to the ATM (you need an ATM Krungsri), select there the option of receiving money without a card.
- Enter your phone number.
- Enter the amount you want to receive.
- Enter the code that showed the application.
- Take the money.
Krungsri and Western Union
In online banking Krungsri has the ability to integrate with Western Union. As far as I understand, Western Union performs some operations with the help of Krungsri Bank, since some Western Union transfer receiving offices are located in Krungsri.
Note: If you want to send money to your Krungsri bank account, then you don’t need to do anything in online banking, just make a regular Western Union transfer and enter your bank account details here.
Online banking Krungsri has the following Western Union options:
- Send Money
- Receive Money
- Sending Status
In the first menu you need to register:
Please note that some data may not be completely correct, recheck everything.
I registered there and I received an SMS to approve my registration, but when I try to go to the Send Money item, I get an error:
66 - UNABLE TO PROCESS
Receive Money – receiving Western Union transfers:
If I understand this correctly, it works like this: someone sent you a regular Western Union transfer, which you need to receive at the service center. But you don't want to go anywhere. Then here you enter all the payment data and the money is credited to your bank account. Perhaps I am mistaken – I did not check this service and did not find any information about it.
Which bank to choose to open an account in Thailand
If you read the article, then you noticed that I considered only two Thai banks – Kasikorn and Krungsri – and even that is rather superficial. And at the same time, the information about Kasikorn is even more incomplete: it is quite possible that I am still on the old tariff plan, I have not yet installed a mobile application and so on – that is, I simply don’t know part of the potential of its functions.
If now I need to chose from two banks: Kasikorn and Krungsri, then I would choose Krungsri according to the following arguments (based on the information I have):
- free cash withdrawals from ATMs of any banks in the entire country (in Thailand)
- possibility to withdraw cash even without the card itself
- the ability to link a bank account with Western Union and optimize the fee for commissions
- to install the mobile application Krungsri do not need to change the language in Play Store
If you are also a resident of Thailand and you have something to add to the ‘aggregate experience’, then please share your ideas or information in the comments. Everything is interesting: what bank do you use, what features are there, how did you open an account, what interesting features are there and so on.
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