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Money Exchange Rates - ATM vs. Bringing Cash


Sylvester
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Pdoggg suggested I start a thread about exchange rates when bringing cash or using ATMs in LOS/SE Asia. I was debating whether to bring cash into Thailand vs. using my ATM once I arrive for my upcoming trip.

 

You get the best bang for your buck by bringing cash and having it converted to Baht at the best money exchange merchants. But you have to bring clean and crisp bills in large denominations to get the best exchange rate, and you run the risk of losing a lot of money--and ruining your vacation--by traveling with a large amount of cash and having it in your room.

 

With ATMs, you pay the ATM fee for each withdrawal ($5.00 US ?), the exchange rate is not as good as what you'd get at an exchange merchant, and you pay a 1% to 3% international transaction commission (or whatever it's called), depending on your bank's fees.

 

Being from the USA, the best option for me is to use my ATM because my bank, Charles Schwab, has very favorable international banking fees. It refunds all ATM fees worldwide and it charges a low commission of 1%. To open a checking account with Charles Schwab you also have to open a brokerage account, but there is no minimum balance requirement. Charles Schwab is a great bank for an international traveler. I have two other accounts connected to my Schwab account and transfer funds into it as needed. Sure, I could save maybe a few thousand Baht if I brought cash, but for me that's not worth the hassle and risk of traveling with a large amount of cash.

 

What do you guys do? Do you know any tips or tricks to getting good exchange rates? Can you recommend a good bank from your home country?

 

Feel free to correct or expand on anything I've written. I am by no means an expert on this stuff.

 

Note to Mods: Feel free to move this thread or change the title if you wish.

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American are fortunate to have access to banks like Charles Schwab. Canadians have nothing like it, bank fees are excessive, and they really ding us for foreign ATM use - especially when countries like Thailand add additional charges like the 180 Baht fee now.

 

The Thai banks have increased the Traveler's Cheque fee to 153 Baht from 33 Baht, so that makes them a poor option. Cash is the best option other than having a Thai bank account and wiring funds over, and then using the Thai bank ATM card to draw cash.

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American are fortunate to have access to banks like Charles Schwab. Canadians have nothing like it, bank fees are excessive, and they really ding us for foreign ATM use - especially when countries like Thailand add additional charges like the 180 Baht fee now.

The Thai banks have increased the Traveler's Cheque fee to 153 Baht from 33 Baht, so that makes them a poor option. Cash is the best option other than having a Thai bank account and wiring funds over, and then using the Thai bank ATM card to draw cash.

Sure looks like our gov goes out of its way to make it super expensive to travel abroad so we will spend our hard earned money at home
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Sure looks like our gov goes out of its way to make it super expensive to travel abroad so we will spend our hard earned money at home

 

Actually globetrotter, it's the Canadian banks wanting to increase their profit margins that is causing the problems for us.

 

For cash, in Bangkok the best rates come from a money changer called Vasu Exchange on Sukhumvit Soi 7.

 

Vasu's rates for CAN$ today was 27.4 Baht, while Bangkok Bank was 26.79 Baht.

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Actually globetrotter, it's the Canadian banks wanting to increase their profit margins that is causing the problems for us.

 

For cash, in Bangkok the best rates come from a money changer called Vasu Exchange on Sukhumvit Soi 7.

 

Vasu's rates for CAN$ today was 27.4 Baht, while Bangkok Bank was 26.79 Baht.

Any idea where the best place is in Pattaya, as I don't usually spend any time in Bangkok till end of my trip

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i bring cash and use the ATM... i had three cards go down on me at once and it was a real bummer

 

With Lloyd's and HSBC banks, who i am with, you are supposed to tell them your travelling far east so they mark the account .... otherwise the software algorithm might assume your some Albanian low life whos stolen ones identity and buying a Sony 50" to send back to his wife and 10 kids... when in fact you are trying to pay the Hotel Bill

 

In Bangkok i always pay the Bill the day before i leave in case this happens

 

As far as rates go .. i look for the smallest queue as i have no patience... none ..id rather loose a $100 a week than stand in a line

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Any idea where the best place is in Pattaya, as I don't usually spend any time in Bangkok till end of my trip

 

One place that offers a good rate is the antique store which is also a legit moneychanger on 2nd Road between Soi 16 and Soi 17.

 

If changing a large amount of money you can ask them if they can do better than their posted rate and they might check and maybe adjust it a bit in your favor.  But their posted rate will always be better than the banks.

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One place that offers a good rate is the antique store which is also a legit moneychanger on 2nd Road between Soi 16 and Soi 17.

 

If changing a large amount of money you can ask them if they can do better than their posted rate and they might check and maybe adjust it a bit in your favor.  But their posted rate will always be better than the banks.

Thanks PD, that must be near WS, no?

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Any idea where the best place is in Pattaya, as I don't usually spend any time in Bangkok till end of my trip

The funny thing about Pattaya is that even branches of the same exchange appear to have different rates at times from what I have observed. Now that may be down to the fact that the rates change by the time I stroll from one to another, who knows. The place PD mentions is good but can be easy to miss, I have done so myself and I know where it is. There is a booth on Soi Diana opposite the New Orn bar that seems to have competitive rates also if you are staying in that area.

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I use a "zero" credit card.....zero interest if you pay the balance off in one hit.I preload it before I come to LoS,pay £2000 onto it and drip fed it while I'm on holiday.....I still have to pay the 180 baht fee from the atm,but there are no hidden bank charges to contend with....I'd hate to bring a load of cash with me and lose it /have it stolen.....

 

What i'd like to know is ,which bank atm gives the best exchange rate.....?...Ive googled it a few times ,but its hard to unravel which actually gives the best rate(depends whicjh website you use)...Any of you brainy chaps know?

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The funny thing about Pattaya is that even branches of the same exchange appear to have different rates at times from what I have observed. Now that may be down to the fact that the rates change by the time I stroll from one to another, who knows. The place PD mentions is good but can be easy to miss, I have done so myself and I know where it is. There is a booth on Soi Diana opposite the New Orn bar that seems to have competitive rates also if you are staying in that area.

Thanks BB the last 2 trips I have stayed about a minutes walk from there, will have a look

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Ca$h is king.  I bring cash.  The couple of times where I had to move larger sums, I did so via a bank transfer.  My situation is different than most of you guys.  I dont stay in a hotel so really dont have to worry about a maid/hotel employee stealing it.  You get the best rates by far with cash.  The best rates I have seen are at Super Rich.  The one I use is right across from the Central World shopping mall.

 

I dont even have an ATM card even in Farangland.  I refuse to pay money to access my own money.  180 baht a throw to get money out of a Thai ATM??  What a freaking rip off.  Not going to happen to me. Back in Farangland I visit the bank once every two weeks or so, get the cash I need and use that.  If I run short, I have a small stash in the condo or I start using the credit card.  Easy peasy.

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ATM cards in the US and Canada don't incur fees, unless you use a non-branch ATM to draw cash.

 

You situation is unique as you travel between LOS and the US quite often and don't have to worry that much about security (although it still is possible for someone to break into your place when your not in - you probably have a secure place to stash you cash)

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The baht has fell through the 36 baht/USD rate at both Vasu and Super Rich.

 

You still can't get 36 at Bangkok Bank, Kaiskorn, and other Thai banks.

 

Vasu seems pretty straight forward.

 

Super Rich is not.

 

It seems there is Super Rich 1965 and other Super Riches.  Not sure if the airport Super Rich is even a real Super Rich.  And the Super Rich prices vary whether it is a headquarters, a branch, or a kiosk.

 

Arch, is your Super Rich at Central World a branch or a kiosk?

 

The Buy-Sell spread for USD 100 dollar ntes is extremely narrow at Super Rich Headquarters and Vasu, only 50 baht on 1000 USD.

 

The spread is wider for other major currencies and wider still for the non-majors.

 

Great info by RX and Archie below:

 

 

 

 

For cash, in Bangkok the best rates come from a money changer called Vasu Exchange on Sukhumvit Soi 7.

 

 

http://www.vasuexchange.com/index.php

 

The best rates I have seen are at Super Rich.  The one I use is right across from the Central World shopping mall.

 

 

http://www.superrich1965.com/rate.php

 

http://superrichthai.com/exchange

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In my experience Kasikorn gives the best rate. Cheapest is to open an account, that will facilitate free withdrawal if in the province where your bank branch is located, or 15 Baht fee in another province. You can send from your home country direct by telegraphic transfer, which also provides the best rate of exchange. Good luck.

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How can I tell if its a branch or a kiosk, the size??

 

 If so the Super Rich of which I speak is large so best guess its a branch.  The spreads between the buy/sell are EXTREMELY low.

 

 I changed a couple of weeks ago and got 35.8.  Will go back tomorrow and will tell you what I get.......

 

Point to her crotch and say Branch or Size?    :crazy:

 

Thing is on one of the Super Rich sites it even says rates can vary from branch to branch.

 

The kiosk spreads are pretty tight too.  So tight that it wouldn't be worth making an effort to travel to a branch if changing a hundred bucks.  For a thousand it would be worth the effort,   When you satrt getting into the 5000 range their are security concerns.

 

If you let us know the Buy and Sell rate it'd be useful.

 

Headquarters has a spread of only around 0.05 baht while a kiosk around 0.20 baht. 

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