Oct 06 2011

Avoiding ATM fees in Thailand

Published by at 7:28 pm under Money & costs


It’s a nasty surprise that most travellers only find out when they arrive, but bank-owned automatic teller machines (ATMs) in Thailand charge 150 baht per foreign transaction. The fee can add up to quite a hefty burden if you were planning on withdrawing money in small amounts, daily. It might not seem like much, but if you withdraw 10 times during a month-long trip to Thailand, that’s enough for a domestic air ticket within the kingdom. Planning and scheming to the rescue!

Gimme your cash monies, baby.

There are three ways to beat the man at his own game here: a money belt packed with some cash, traveller’s cheques, and using the few ATMs in Thailand that don’t charge a fee. If cash is king in Asia (and it totally is: an angry, vindictive king), it also gets you the best rates when changing money. Bring a money belt (a small, discreet one that lays flat against your butt, secured under your pants — not some fanny-pack monstrosity in which you also keep your camera, water bottle, and football) and pack it with as many large-denomination bills as you are comfortable carrying (US dollars are most widely accepted and have the best exchange rates, but sterling, yen, Aussie/Kiwi/Canadian/Singaporean dollars and euros are equally workable).

Traveller’s cheques require a stamp duty of around 30 baht to be paid on each physical cheque at the bank, so larger denominations incur a smaller percentage fee (e.g., 1 x 100 dollar TC costs 30 baht to exchange, while 5 x 20 dollar TCs cost 150 baht to exchange). Often banks, civic organisations, auto clubs and others at home offer their members cheap or free traveller’s checks. If you can find a good deal, it’s a great way to carry money virtually risk free.

Everybody loves monies without a fee! Sugoi! (It's the Japanese word for cool. Get into it.)

Finally, there is a brand of ATM in Thailand and one foreign bank that offer their ATM services for free (they still earn a fee from converting your money to baht, so let’s not feel too bad for them).

AEON is a Japanese credit company that has cash machines in large shopping centres (look for them in Central department stores, Robinsons, Big C Supercenters, and Tesco Lotus locations or see the handy locator function on their website). AEON ATMs accept all international cards on the Visa/Electon, Mastercard/Maestro, and JBC networks.

Citibank’s headquarters is located steps from the Asoke BTS Station, and its branch in Silom is close to BTS Sala Daeng. Citibank also offers fee-free withdrawals to all foreign bank cards utilising the Visa or Mastercard networks.

I mean, we all know we are just going to waste the money saved on ATM fees on ethnic pants, a thousand sticks of grilled pork, and an ill-advised tattoo, but it might as well go towards making travelling memorable rather than improving a bank’s bottom line.

Citibank Headquarter Branch: Interchange 21 Building, 399 Sukhumvit Rd. T: 1588
Citibank Silom Branch: 323 United Center Building, Silom Rd. T: 1588

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19 Responses to “Avoiding ATM fees in Thailand” ...

  1. Kevinon 06 Oct 2011 at 9:46 pm

    Very useful post. I’m nuts and always carry cash on my trips, stashing the bulk of it in some safe place. I do have a money belt but rarely use it. A nasty travel story waiting to happen. On a tangent, in Korea, Citibank is pronounced more like Shittybank. True story.

  2. Anonymouson 07 Oct 2011 at 7:37 am

    [...] [...]

  3. Charleson 28 Dec 2011 at 3:19 pm

    I found one more bank with two branches in Bangkok, that also doesn’t charge the fee: http://www.dontworryjusttravel.com/index.php/en/component/content/article/3-rss/45-avoid-the-150-baht-atm-fee.html
    Cheers, Charles

  4. Amit Somanion 02 Jun 2012 at 9:46 am

    Forget the 150 THB ATM fees, I got swindled by Krung Thai Bank (KTB) almost 20% in exchange rates at the Lebua State tower. Be very very careful. Wish I’d paid attention to this earlier. Sadly, never happened to me in another country. Now struggling to get this reversed.

  5. Joelon 18 Aug 2012 at 10:18 am

    Not so sure about fee-free withdrawals at Citibank ATMs.

    I had made a few fee-free withdrawals from Citibank ATMs in Thailand in May 2012. But I just made a withdrawal of 30,000 baht (to pay rent) from Citibank ATM in Asok (August 2012) using my Bank of America ATM card, and according to my bank statement, Citibank charged me a $5 transaction fee, in addition to the $9.54 fee that Bank of America charged me.

    On a positive note, the exchange rate was excellent, almost the same as the official exchange rate for the day.

  6. gordon greyon 08 Sep 2012 at 4:21 pm

    fee free at Citibank ONLY applies to using your CITIBANK card. i know this because that is what i use at ASOKE. DUH!

  7. Samanthaon 18 Dec 2012 at 2:01 pm

    Hi, You may be interested in the latest update from December 2012 because there are now banks in Bangkok that don’t charge the 150 Baht ATM fee. If you want to avoid this fee then you will find this blog post useful because it lists the banks for you.

    http://www.dontworryjusttravel.com/index.php/en/tips/travel-tips/45-avoid-the-150-baht-atm-fee.html

  8. Roger Rabbiton 07 Jan 2013 at 10:34 am

    Citibank Asoke is now charging the 150 baht fee AND giving a bad exchange rate (I got 30.07 instead of the fair rate of 30.47).

    HSBC doesn’t exist anymore.

    So that just leaves Aeon Bank. Unfortunately, they dont’ take my ATM card.

  9. TranceVibeson 30 Jun 2013 at 1:44 pm

    Hey guys,

    For your information there is an Aeon ATM inside MBK (National Stadium BTS station).
    As you may know already, Aeon charges no fee when withdrawing.
    It is located on level 2 near the escalator in front of the jewelery store with the following coordinates : 2C 33-34d.
    Hope this helps!

    Cheers,
    TranceVibes.

  10. […] Thailand is no stranger to so-called stealth taxes on tourists. In 2009 it introduced a 150 baht (US$4.80) government fee on all foreign ATM transactions. Some useful advice from Travelfish here on avoiding ATM fees in Thailand. […]

  11. Marcus Asellon 22 Jan 2014 at 6:08 am

    Hi,

    Citibank Update:

    I just withdrew money from Citibanks ATM located in their office at the United Center building just by Sala Daeng BTS station.

    NO FEE was charged and I got an exchange rate equal of the best ranked foreign exchange rates of Thai banks, see site:

    http://bankexchangerates.daytodaydata.net/default.aspx

    I use a swedish issued MasterCard.

    Hope someone finds this information useful.

    // Marcus

  12. Jacobon 24 Jan 2014 at 10:44 am

    Hey Marcus
    Thanks for that
    I also got a Swedish Mastercard from ICA banken and will try citybanks ATM next time.

  13. Charles Rahmon 06 Feb 2014 at 8:46 am

    I’d like to add, that Mastercard cards are charged with a 180 Baht fee meanwhile.
    Another point is, that using Citibank in Bangkok is not only good because of the exchange rate, but also because you can take out more than 15’000 to 20’000 Baht per transaction. Last time I withdrew 36’000 at once.
    This article is a good summary of the situation. I would just recommend to rely on ATMs only. Taking cash or cheques to Thailand is really not necessary. Plus you have to wait long time in banks sometimes and the banks have really short opening times.

    On my blog I have an article about the topic – a bit shorter – if you like a second opinion to compare the information: http://www.dontworryjusttravel.com/asiapacific/thailand/avoid-the-150-baht-atm-fee

  14. Zon 09 Feb 2014 at 7:41 am

    Citibank (I live here and always go to the one at Asok, though now the protesters have it blocked) lets you take out 30,000thb at a time. That’s good. Rate seems decent. The no fees thing though is inaccurate. Same $5 + percentage as other places. In Jan. 2014, I took out 30K and my bank statement said the following:

    $915.76 withdrawal
    $5.00 ATM fee
    $27.47 international transaction fee

  15. Jeffreyon 14 Feb 2014 at 1:18 pm

    Aeon atm’s just started charging 150 baht since a few days. ..

  16. richardon 18 Feb 2014 at 11:05 am

    Hi, heard the best thing to do is to go inside a bank and withdraw a much larger amount than the ATM machine allows, thus paying the 180B fee on a much larger withdrawal. However, some people have mentioned that the exchange rate on this type of withdrawal may be lower and that the fees may be higher.

    Any thoughts are really appreciated, thanks.

  17. Shericeon 11 Mar 2014 at 5:57 am

    Sorry guys, bad news, we may have to pull AEON off the list of no-fee ATMs. We were enjoying the benefits up until a couple weeks ago when we found out they have now instituted a fee. We’ve been using their machines in Chiang Mai so I’m not sure about Bangkok, but when I spoke to the bank rep, they mentioned it’s a new policy they’ve instituted recently. Boo! Oh well, can’t complain too much as everything else in Thailand is really cheap! Cheers.

  18. Lucianon 30 Mar 2014 at 11:34 am

    Hi guys,

    Yes, I can confirm the free. I was trying to withdraw money from the AEON ATM at Terminal in Bangkok 21 this mid March 2014, using my Visa Electron Debit Card and I couldn’t. This even though I used it 3 months previously and managed to withdraw the needed amount (10000 BHT+). The banks’ representative told me it’s not possible and that, on top, they have a 150 Bht fee.

    After, went to CITI’s ATM in World Central Plaza and managed to withdraw without being charged any fee. Now I’m in ChiangMai and, unfortunately I am tied to the other banks for withdrawals which is not really good, since my home bank is charging 1%+ already from any amount I withdraw.

    Now, the best solution when traveling here is Cash (EUR/Dollars) or Traveler’s Check.

    And well, personally, I don’t think Thailand is really cheap but hey, I’m coming from Eastern Europe where prices are quite the same :).

    I definitely consider India to be the cheapest in the region (and probably the world), followed by Cambodia and Vietnam. Enjoy!

  19. Chrison 10 May 2014 at 12:01 pm

    This is the problem with the internet. People post information and never take it down when things change. As of yesterday the Citibank ATM at Asok charges a 3% foreign transaction fee for ATM withdrawals. I took out 20000 ghat and got slammed for $18+

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