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Bangkok ATM and Money Exchangers
Where to Avoid ATM Fees in Bangkok
I have a lot of friends coming into Bangkok for both long and short holidays and of course in Bangkok or anywhere else in the word you'll need local currency. And in this case you'll need a fist full of Thai Baht.
Today you have a few options. ATMs and currency exchange services. Personally I don't know anyone who uses traveler's cheques these days anymore.
The most convenient way is getting cash through an ATM. Just pop in your card, punch in those 4 digits (ATM machines in Thailand only accept 4 numbers), enter the amount and just like magic Thai Baht appears, assuming you have money in your account.
Now we all know that one of the ways most banks make money is by charging fees. Especially through the use of their ATMs. This is very true in Bangkok whereas a tourist if you withdraw money from any major bank you'll get hit with a whopping 150 Baht fee / surcharge, about $5 USD. However banks that charge these 150 Baht fees will warn you beforehand and give you the option to decline the transaction.
A 150 Baht fee is one of the most absurd and expensive fees that I have ever seen. And I travel a often to different countries. So I know people want to know if there is any bank in Bangkok that doesn't charge fees for cash withdrawals. But before I answer that question let me give you an idea how much 150 Baht is by with a few real world examples in Thailand.
A McDonald's Big Mac meal complete with fries and a Cola cost 121 Baht. (10 Baht extra for super-sizing your french fries and soda. Which is still cheaper than 150 Baht)
150 Baht will get you 5 plates of Thai style chicken and rice with a bowl of chicken soup at a sidewalk restaurant.
150 Baht will get you 30 sticks of yummy marinated barbecued pork on a stick.
And this last example is a real head spinner. Most manual laborers in Thailand working long hard hours earns only 200 Baht per day.
Bangkok Aeon ATM Fee Free
But there's good news. There's one bank in Bangkok that doesn't charge fees for withdrawing money. It's called Aeon Bank, a relatively new bank and they have branches throughout the major commercial areas of Bangkok such as in Central branded malls and huge supermarkets like Big C and Carrefour.
Their presence is not as prevalent as their competitors who have machines on every block and 7 Eleven's. Here's the link showing all of Aeon's ATM locations. Too bad they don't have ATMs at Suvarnabhumi airport.
Currently there are 3 Aeon ATM locations that I use and are very convienent to get to in central Bangkok:
- MBK Mall - 2nd floor
- Siam Center - 2nd floor
- Siam Paragon - Basement Level
- Terminal 21 Mall - Ground Level
One of my buddies from USA just used Aeon's ATM recently for withdrawals and he did the calculations for currency exchange. Surprisingly it was quite good. He withdrew 1000 Baht which was equivalent to $30.01 USD. Divide that up and its 33.32 Baht to $1 USD at that time. On top of that his local US bank doesn't charge any fees either. He mentioned that the US bank he uses is called TD North, for all you readers from the USA.
Another Bank in Bangkok with Fee Free ATMs
You might recognize this Bank
***UPDATE - Citibank now charges 150THB withdrawal fee***
Located right in the Asoke and Sukhumvit road junction and opposite from the Terminal 21 shopping mall. This Citibank is the first major branch in Bangkok is very easy to find.
Personally, I prefer using Citibank's ATMs. Because their machines only require the customer to slide their card into the reader and pull it back out. Other bank's ATMs require the user to insert the card into the reader and holds in the machine and only returns it when a transaction is completed.
I can understand how that would make tourists nervous. After all, what happens if the machine malfunctions or loses power right in the middle of the transaction right?
Bangkok ATMs with 150THB Fees
Foreign Currency Exchange Services
People still travel with wads of cash stuffed in their pockets these days rather than use ATMs. Why? I don't know. My mother still does it when she visits me here. Why? Again I have no clue. My mother is old school and doesn't trust machines like an ATM. So I'm sure there are many other people just like her.
For whatever reasons you feel like bringing in your local currency into Bangkok there's one company I recommend called Super Rich. They are not a bank but they are authorized money exchangers.
Super Rich branches are located in the commercial and tourist zones. The one pictured on the right can be found at the Chit Lom BTS station near exit #1 heading towards Central World department store. There is also another one found at the Phrom Phong BTS station and you can find it if you head towards exit #6.
Last month an old college friend from USA had 5 $100 bills he wanted to exchange into Baht. Like any other bank in Bangkok, Super Rich will give you better rates when you exchange large denomination bills.
As of writing, he received an exchange rate of 33.21 Baht to $1 USD from Super Rich. A major bank such as Bank of Ayudhya offered 33.13 Baht to $1 USD. May seem like a small difference but I'd take Super Rich's rates any day especially when you are exchanging thousands of US dollars which long stay vacationers usually do.
Too bad Super Rich doesn't have a branch at Suvarnabhumi airport.
Money Tips on Arrival to Bangkok
As a first time visitor to Bangkok you're going need Thai Bahts. You can get them right after passport control at Suvarnabhumi airport. Head over to Bangkok Bank or Siam Commercial Bangkok currency exchange booths. You can find these booth between the luggage carousels.
Both of those banks offer you the best options for exchange rates though it's not better than Super Rich. As you know already ATMs other then Aeon bank's don't charge fees. However, Aeon doesn't have an ATM inside the airport.
Remember to keep some extra Thai Bahts with you when you leave Thailand so you can use it when you return.