2019 update: I learned how to open a Thai bank account a few years back (when I first wrote Digital Nomad Escape Plan) and have since closed my Bangkok Bank account because I started using Transferwise and Payoneer.
Before You Open a Thai Bank Account
I’m a big fan of the Transferwise Borderless account for international expat banking because they solved a lot of the problems I was trying to mitigate by banking with a local bank here in Thailand:
- Create a “virtual” bank account in several countries and get a debit Mastercard for them
- Accept payments in 28+ local currencies
- Ship your cards anywhere in the world, even your apartment in Thailand
- Destroys PayPal in terms of fees, features, and support
- Works outside Thailand; you’re screwed if you lose your card in another country with a Thai bank
You can learn more about Transferwise by reading a post I wrote here, or you can keep reading this one to figure out how to get a Thai bank account.
Why You Might Want a Thai Bank Account
- No ATM withdrawal fees
- No conversion rate fees
Combined with PayPal, it’s the easiest way to transfer spending money in and out of the country (this is why I switched to Transferwise)
How to Open a Bank Account in Thailand in 2019
Getting a Bangkok Bank account is simple although if you don’t succeed the first time, try, try again. It’s like phoning a call center; sometimes you need to try another representative.
Bangkok Bank Account Requirements
It is possible to acquire a bank account with the following paperwork although I was turned away on my first attempt.
Requirements to get a bank account at Bangkok Bank on a Tourist visa:
- An identity card issued by a government institution or university such as: Your driver’s license, Passport, Foreign Identification Card, University Student/Professor Card.
- A letter of recommendation from Embassy, International Organization, Customer’s home bank to Bangkok Bank via the SWIFT message, a person acceptable to Bangkok Bank (such as BBL staff, customer, government officer, company executive, private firms), or home country institutions (such as pension receipt).
- Other documents showing your name such as: Bank Statement, lease agreement, utility bill, documents showing owners of a fixed asset or Condominium Sale/Purchase Agreement.
The key: Utility bill, which is easy to get when you get yourself an apartment.
Bangkok Bank Savings Account Information
- Minimum 500-baht deposit
- Your plastic bank card will cost 200 baht
- Calculated interest paid every 6 months
- Dormant accounts with less than 2,000 baht suffer additional monthly fees
- Be1st Visa debit card can shop online, pay bills, withdraw cash, and has greater security features
Have you tried another Thai bank?
Let our readers know about your experience or link to your related post in the comments. We’ve got more Chiang Mai digital nomad posts, check ’em out!