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Topping up a Thai prepaid sim from anywhere in the world

Updated on October 31, 2012

What are your top up options when roaming outside of Thailand?

In order to keep your Thai prepaid mobile sim alive, you need to keep it active. Keeping it active means using it occasionally adding credit. By adding credit and minimal usage, you can keep your Thai phone number active for years.

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While in Thailand with a prepaid GSM mobile phone, there are many options for putting additional credit on your SIM card. 7-11 scratch cards are just about the easiest. But what do you do when you are back home or away from Thailand for an extended period of time and you wish to keep your Thai SIM active for your next trip back.

How do I keep a SIM active?

Thai prepaid sims have 2 components - credit and validity. Just because you have credit doesn't mean your SIM will not expire. Also, you may have a SIM with 3 months of validity and no credit. In this case you would only be able to receive calls, not dial out. Every time you add credit, you extend your validity. The more credit added, the more validity. For example 10 baht credit may get you 1 day, while 800 baht credit gets you 100 days of added validity. Once your SIM runs out of validity days, you usually get a 15 or 30 day grace period where you can still add credit and reactivate your number. After the grace period is over and the SIM is really expired, that's it, it's dead. The number is no longer active and you will need to plead your case before the Call Center gods who may or may not be able to help.

So how can I add credit?

Here are a few suggested ways:

  1. Buy a few scratch cards to take with you on your trip. As long as your phone has roaming on and your Thai phone will have a signal, you can enter in your scratch card codes from anywhere. Just enter it the same way you would in Thailand.
  2. Use your Thai Bank account. SCB and Kbank both have a method for topping up from inside your online bank account. The amount will be deducted from your balance and the credit is sent near instantly.
  3. Online top up service. Online top up services will help you top up your number with PayPal or Credit Card.
  4. EBAY. Sellers on EBAY sell SIM Cards and scratch cards for topping up your phone.
  5. Ask a friend in Thailand. You can always ask someone on the ground in Thailand to send you the numbers on a scratch card, or send credit over the air.

Types of credit refill

The two main channels of refill credit are stored value top up cards and over the air refill service.

Top up cards come in denominations of 50, 100, and 300 baht. Rarely you can still find 500 and 1000 baht top up cards. Because the value is stored on the cards, venders don't like to keep high values of card around. Once you have one, you can use it any time by scratching off the hidden numbers. Following the instructions on the card, you enter in all the digits to get your credit. You get a SMS confirmation when done. You can do this from anywhere in the world your phone has service.

Over the air top up or called Refill on Mobile or Topup Online, this service is usually done on the spot with the vendors phone or POS machine. There is also a network of refill vending machines which use this same technology. You need to know your network and your phone number. Provide those to the vendor, choose your amount up to 1,500 baht they send the credit to your SIM. You will get a confirmation SMS. This works great for iPads and 3G modems, as there is no need to remove the SIM.


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