How To Get All Of Your Atm Fees Refunded in Thailand

The best way to get money in Thailand is though the ATM which takes pretty much all ATM cards from around the world without any hassle. There are ATMs everywhere, so you will never have to spend more than a few minutes or walk more than a block to find one in most towns. The conversion rates are virtually identical to the exchange rates you get for cash, so aside from the 150 baht ($5US) fee there is no reason not to use ATMs – for everything. There are two ways, though, to avoid paying a lot in ATM fees: The first, and easiest, is simply to withdraw your maximum limit each time, which is generally 10,000 baht ($333US) – sometimes up to 15,000 baht ($500US) – that way you are only withdrawing money two times a month (on average), so your monthly fees will only be around 300 baht ($10US) which isn’t too bad.

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I time my withdrawals to pay my rent and gym fees at the same time, so I never have too much cash on me. For most places, especially if you use your own lock and hide your cash, having a few thousand baht in your room isn’t that big of a deal – remember, just don’t have bar-girls over! The second way is to find a bank that refunds your ATM Fees. I use Charles Schwab – a U.S. based investment bank – that automatically refunds all ATM fees, no matter what. Instead of my bank charging me $3 to withdraw from a ‘non-bank’ ATM and the other bank also charging me $5 for the privilege, I get zero fees but still a really good exchange rate. Best of all the bank account was absolutely free to open and I did it online. To open an account you first need to open a free brokerage account, which is what you would use if you wanted to trade stocks. With that, you can open a free high-yield investor’s checking account. None of them have any fees, or minimum balances, making it the perfect bank.

The only catch is if you are traveling for more than 6 months they may close your account. The trick would be to make a U.S. based purchase online with that card before your six months are up or, maybe, use it for five months and switch to another ATM card for the rest of your trip. Fidelity Cash Management Account also refunds you all ATM fees just like Schwab without any fees. There are a total of 49 banks in the US that refund ATM fees so, do your research, as some of them come with direct deposit requirements and minimum balances. Schwab is the one I use as I’ve found their customer service is excellent. If you live in the U.K. look into Caxton FX. They won’t refund you the 150 baht that the Thai bank charges you but, at least, they won’t charge you a fee themselves. If you live somewhere else in the world, do a quick Google search in your own language or country, and see what comes up. Alternatively, try to open a US based account, if possible. Whatever you do, make sure you have (at least) two separate ATM cards, as this will be your main way of withdrawing money and it’s very easy to misplace or lose one. I have three ATM cards – just in case – and all of my online banking linked to each other, so I can easily move money from one account to another.

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