Photo: Time for some larger notes we reckon.

Finance and money forum

Fee free UK debit card in Thailand / Laos / Cambodia?

Posted by Jeromeo on 26/6/2009 at 00:58

Hello all!

Advice please...

I'm due to fly into Bangkok in September to spend two months travelling through Thailand, Cambodia and Laos before heading over to Oz, NZ and Fiji. I'm trying to figure out which one of the UK banks let you withdraw money, or use it for transactions, for free (or at least the cheapest one out there). Any ideas?

I'm with Lloyds TSB currently and they charge a percentage of the transaction plus a fee for withdrawing the money. There's got to be better out there!

Failing that, am I better off taking cash??

All thoughts welcome and thanks in advance!


#1 Jeromeo has been a member since 26/6/2009. Posts: 2

Posted by BruceMoon on 27/6/2009 at 11:44

According to:

You appear to need to look for a Nationwide card (tho somewhere someone said they were introducing fees, but still low).

I don't know, I'm in Australia.

Elsewhere on Travelfish you'll learn that nearly all banks in SE Asia charge foreign customers a transaction fee to use the ATM.

Type in ATM fees Thailand in Search Travelfish (above) to see the 'latest' for Thailand: last was some charge, others don't. But all ATM's have a fee in Laos, Vietnam & Cambodia.

Not in Malaysia.


#2 BruceMoon has been a member since 27/12/2008. Location: Australia. Posts: 1,941

Posted by tails101 on 27/6/2009 at 17:31

Hi Jeromeo,

If you are after a fee-free uk debit card you are now pretty much out of luck these days... unless you go for a monthly fee paying bank account.

Nationwide are still the best value in terms of debit card - they don't charge any commission on the exchange rate (you get the bank rate) or a fixed extra fee for withdrawing the money, but they do pass the currently 0.84% visa fee (going up soon to 1% I think) on to you... so basically for every £100 equivalent you withdraw, it will cost you at most £1... In Europe, you don't pay this visa fee either.

However, I believe Nationwide do a cash card account which still currently offers completely free cash withdrawals overseas... however, it isn't a debit card, simply a cash withdrawal card.

Hope this helps...


#3 tails101 has been a member since 1/4/2006. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 105
 Send tails101 a private message   Twitter 

Posted by Jeromeo on 27/6/2009 at 17:48

Thanks alot guys, I was under the impression Nationwide was the one to go for and you've just confirmed my thoughts!

I'll be down there Monday to open my account....


#4 Jeromeo has been a member since 26/6/2009. Posts: 2

Posted by dkanalie on 29/4/2011 at 20:19

For anyone who is withdrawing cash from a EU country in Thailand usually has to pay 150 THB. Stop it! I spent thousands before I guess. Just got an account and VISA card for free (no FEES at ALL) and get the 150 THB refunded. Not only available for people from DE / A / CH, but for everyone speaking a little German or is willing to use a German Online Account interface.

FYI: All savings are INSURED by the German government! No fishy bank at all. Check it out:

Just my two cents ;)

#5 dkanalie has been a member since 29/4/2011. Posts: 3

Posted by sayadian on 29/4/2011 at 23:10

As far as Cambodia goes:
This is an entry taken from my Nationwide account (UK) from Feb. this year withdrawn in Phnom Penh .It was $400 and the statement reads £248.17 (that's the exchange rate $1.61) Pretty fair for the time.On top of that is a non-UK commission fee £4.96 and then non-UK cash w/drawal fee £1. So I paid about 2.25% commission all in.
Probably the best deal available.The statement reads Sun Simexco Co.
The machine is about 100metres down from the Phnom Penh hotel on Monivong Blvd. and across the road.It was recommended to me as some banks take more.
Thailand is a complete rip off.Take Travellers Cheques.High value ones are the best since they still only attract the 48 baht transaction fee and you get a slightly better rate than cash so it evens it out.

#6 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557
 Send sayadian a private message 

Posted by rledez1990 on 29/4/2011 at 23:34

The account you're looking for is a Nationwide Flexaccount by the way, just to save you time! And it definitely is the best- i trawled in and out of every bank on the highstreet last year before my trip and, although there is a minimal charge for some usage, its far and away better than what any other bank provides (ESPECIALLY Lloyds TSB!)

They don't let you open Flexaccounts that easily though- the application is subject to a credit check and you have to blag that its going to be your main account and that you'll have at least X amount of money going in there every month. If you get through that process though it's really good!

#7 rledez1990 has been a member since 12/3/2010. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 106
 Send rledez1990 a private message   Twitter 

Posted by stevejames00 on 30/4/2011 at 00:57

Check out Caxton FX card. It does not charge you fees and the exchange rate is pretty good.

#8 stevejames00 has been a member since 29/1/2009. Posts: 53

Posted by Nixxypie on 30/4/2011 at 23:27

Hi, I'm going to Thailand in August and September and have been wondering the same thing... I found this which might help. Money saving expert is run by this guy called Martin and it's so good (even just for restaurant vouchers and comparing prices of other things). He just tells you the cheapest and best way to do everything, it also has travel insurance on there too if you haven't sorted it yet.

I don't understand the interested associated with credit cards as I've never had one, but reading the article he suggests that the cheapest way to spend money is to open a Halifax Clarity credit card but make sure the bill is paid off in full at the end of the month, otherwise you're hit by the interest.

I hope this helps.

Also, I personally wouldn't recommend taking cash because for the length of time you'll be there you're going to need hundreds of pounds, and if it's stolen you're f*****. I'm going to take a bit in cash for each currency, and some british cash to exchange out there, but the majority of it I will be spending on a card. Yeah fees are annoying but surely you'd rather pay the extra few pounds per transaction rather than put yourself at risk and lose your money altogether.

#9 Nixxypie has been a member since 27/4/2011. Posts: 55

Please login to add a reply

You need to be a Travelfish member to be able to add a reply to this post. Please use the button below to log in. After logging in you'll be returned to this page automatically to add your post. Not a member? Join up here.