5

It turns out that Thailand now has some of the highest international ATM fees in the world! ฿220 baht ($6.50 USD, €5.70 EUR, $8.30 AUD)

In searching the internet for info on how to avoid or minimize these costs, I have read that withdrawing inside a bank branch using the same card should incur no fee.

But is it straightforward? What is the process? Will I need my passport?

Will it depend on whether your card is an ATM card, debit card, credit card, Visa, Mastercard, etc?

Will it depend on the Thai bank? Do some do it and others not? Do some make it easier than others? Do some still charge a fee, even at the counter?

(I am fully aware that my home bank also charges various fees and that using credit cards incurs interest as well, etc. So no need to post comments along those lines.)

  • I can second this observation. For every 2K baht withdrawal from ATM i have had to pay 200 as fee – Hanky Panky Jul 18 '17 at 6:28
  • 1
    For every 2000 baht - are you sure? I tried every ATM in the small town I'm in. They all wanted to charge a 220 baht fee for a 7100 baht withdrawal. So the fee seemed flat, not per 2000 baht. At least for me in this town with this card (-: – hippietrail Jul 18 '17 at 6:33
  • 3
    Then I think that 200/220 baht fee is probably a standard transaction fee there for upto a certain amount. I withdrew 2K baht multiple times and had to pay 200 each time so I assumed it was 10% of the amount. But if its 220 even for 7100 then in retrospect I could have saved 200 baht by withdrawing 4k in one go – Hanky Panky Jul 18 '17 at 6:38
  • 5
    The atm fee is flat rate, not based on amount wothdrawn. – user13044 Jul 19 '17 at 1:07
5

You want to request the "counter withdraw".

Some banks will do it, some will not. Several reasons:

1) The staff may not understand the request.
2) They may not have the machine necessary to do it.
3) They may not want to be bothered with it.
4) They will point to ATM anyway (kind of a summary of points 1-3).

Let's assume that they do understand the request and have the machine to do it, and it is working, and they express a willingness to help. Then you have a couple of more hurdles:

1) some may only do it with credit card (if they see the word 'debit', they might not do it). You can politely coax them into attempting it.

2a) Yes, you need your current passport.

2b) You need a 'branded' card (e.g. Visa, Mastercard, maybe American Express, etc). You cannot have just a plain ATM card; not sure about UnionPay.

3) find out from your home bank what the counter withdraw limit is. Do some math ahead of time to get an idea as to how much you can withdraw each time (or per day). Sometimes you can request a temporary limit increase depending on your relationship with your bank.

4) They may have a maximum # of times per day in which they will attempt the withdraw. Usually it is once, but that can vary from branch to branch. So if it is declined for any reason, you have to try a different branch (that can/will actually do it), or try the same branch on a different day.

They will likely make a couple of copies of the passport and you have to sign them. You will sign a slip printed out from the machine. And a couple of other standard forms.

You can email or call each of the nearby banks (the main customer service #) and ask which one has the machine. Also ask other expats in your area. Larger branches in tourist areas or hubs are much more likely to have the counter withdraw machine than small branches. If the request is less than the ATM maximum withdrawal limit (20k-30k depending on which ATM), they may just point to the ATM machine.


Additional notes

The now 220 baht ATM fee applies to all foreign [non-Thai bank] debit cards. Back in 2010, it was 150 baht. I understand in 2002, it was 50 baht. This does not seem to be regulated by Bank of Thailand as most fees are. Instead, the Thai Bankers Association sets this fee. It only works if all the banks agree (de-facto enforcement. If only 1 bank did it, then you would just avoid that particular bank's atm).

AEON Atms used to be fee-free and allowed up to 40k baht per pull, but now it is 150 baht and only 20k baht per pull. And they only do increments of ฿1000. CitiBank also charges 180 baht now.

Only foreign ATM cards that do not charge foreign transaction fee AND reimburse the atm fees would allow you to get your funds for free. Good luck finding a bank that will do this.

Remember that there is gas/taxi to factor in here.

What are the other options?
- Swift Wire Transfer (need local bank acct, fast, cheap if it is large fund transfer)
- transfer via Bangkok Bank (can be cheap, but take a couple of days)
- Western Union (quick but expensive, although it has gotten cheaper in the last few years)
- TransferWise or 3rd party transfer service
- Bring cash (how much cash do you trust yourself with?)
- Bring travelers checks (fees to make them, and fees to cash them [153 baht minimum per check, regardless of denomination])

Read more here: What is the best way to get Baht in Thailand?

It's ultimately a question of immediacy. ATM's provide quick, no-nonsense immediacy to your cash. Try to insist that you prefer the counter withdraw; but the amounts that you discussed in OP (7k) might not help. Since the 220 baht fee is fixed regardless of the amount, pulling out more at once (20-30k max depending on bank ATM and your own home bank debit card limit) is a cheaper strategy.

  • 1
    Jon's own example of "counter withdraw" is a perfect example of his example 1 - staff may not understand your request. Different countries use different terms, the UK "counter withdrawal" being what Visa calls a "cash advance". I myself have never had a language understanding issue calling it a cash advance, but using your home country colloquialisms might. – user13044 Jul 21 '17 at 5:10
  • 2
    @Tom: My bank uses "cash advance" to refer to withdrawing money on a credit card, whether that's done at a counter or at an ATM. – hippietrail Jul 21 '17 at 5:26
3

You can only get cash advances on branded cards, ie Visa credit card or debit card, Mastercard credit card or debit card, etc. You can not use an ATM only card, and you cannot use a card marked with "electronic use only".

I know Bangkok Bank does it without a fee, not sure about others.

Many banks want you to withdraw more than the ATM allows otherwise they will point you to the ATM.

You will need your passport.

One thing to keep in mind cash advances on credit cards start paying interest the momemt you get the advance, no grace period to pay it back.

  • Also, on most accounts a cash advance will carry a fee. 3% with a $5 minimum is common, which doesn't save anything compared to ATM. For this to work out in the consumer's favor, it's essential to have a debit/ATM card branded for the credit network. – Ben Voigt Jul 19 '17 at 2:51
  • @Tom: Yes fully aware of the credit card interest rules as I tried to point out in the question. At this point I'm on my way home with no money left on my debit card so trying to avoid expenses I can figure out how to avoid while putting up with the ones I already know I can't avoid. – hippietrail Jul 21 '17 at 5:29

protected by Community Oct 26 '18 at 19:38

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.