How to open a bank account in Thailand as an American

Gabriela Peratello

If you’re moving to Thailand for an extended period of time to work, study or retire, you’re probably thinking of opening a Thai bank account to avoid excessive bank and ATM fees.

This guide walks through how to open a bank account in Thailand with the biggest and most popular Thai banks.

Plus we’ll introduce Wise, a non-bank alternative with a multi-currency digital account you can open from the US, to hold, send, spend and exchange THB alongside USD and 40+ other currencies.

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Can you open an account in Thailand if you're not in the country?

To open a bank account in Thailand, you generally must be physically present and have a bank official witness you signing the papers.

Can you open a Thai bank account online as a US citizen?

Generally Thai banks require you to be present in order to open an account. You’ll be able to use online banking services as soon as you open an account - but you’ll not be able to get the process started online in most cases.

What documents do you need to open a bank account in Thailand?

Depending on whether you already have the required documents, opening a bank account in Thailand may take some time. To get started, you’ll need:

  • Non-immigrant visa or proof of your purpose of being in Thailand (such as a work permit if you’re working, or a letter from your school if you’re studying)
  • A passport
Some banks may ask for more:
  • Proof of Thai residency (Thai residence permit, utility bill, rental agreement etc.)

  • Proof of residency in your home country (utility bill, bank statement, driver’s license, etc.)

  • Proof of property ownership in Thailand

  • Letter of reference from your embassy, your home bank, or a Thai educational institution

Generally you’ll need to open your account in a branch, so picking a large branch where staff are more likely to be familiar with the documents needed for a foreigner opening an account is a smart plan.

It may also be worth taking along a friend to translate if your Thai isn’t up to scratch yet.

Which Thai banks are there?

Many expats feel more secure when choosing an account from a larger bank or banks with a longer history.

Though Bangkok Bank is the largest and one of the most reliable banks in Thailand and serves thousands of expats, many of the main banks in Thailand - Kasikorn Bank, Siam Commercial Bank (SCB), and Krungsri Bank - all have branches throughout the country.

Most have strong reviews in terms of customer service in addition to offering various financial packages.

The following are popular banks to consider banking with:

Bangkok Bank®¹

  • Extensive network of local branches and ATM machines serving 17 million customers
  • Largest Thai bank, offers largest overseas branch network
  • Well-reviewed customer service and English language website
  • Debit and credit cards available - some overseas fees apply for debit cards
  • Current account, savings account, fixed deposit account, foreign currency deposit account

Kasikorn Bank®²

  • Strong network of branches throughout Thailand, plenty of ATMs to choose from
  • One of the largest commercial banks in Thailand
  • Focus on sustainable development and Green initiatives
  • Savings accounts, fixed accounts, current deposit accounts and foreign currency deposit accounts
  • Debit and credit cards available

TTB Bank®³

  • Formerly known as TMB Bank, rebranded as TTB after a merger
  • Good network of ATM locations and branches
  • Transactional accounts, savings accounts
  • Credit cards, loans and insurance products available
  • Mobile and internet banking - some web pages are in Thai only

UOB Bank®⁴

  • Thousands of ATMs, and a good branch network, with a presence throughout many Southeast Asian countries outside of Thailand
  • Savings accounts, fixed deposit accounts, current deposit accounts and foreign currency deposit accounts
  • Debit and credit cards available, plus loans and other similar services
  • Online banking

Krungsri®⁵

  • 605 domestic and overseas branches and over 5,000 ATM machines
  • 5th largest bank in Thailand, previously called Bank of Ayudhya
  • Current accounts, savings deposit, time deposit, payroll account, foreign currency deposit
  • Debit cards

Looking for an easy way to hold, send, spend and exchange Thai baht? Try Wise

Open a Wise account to manage your money across THB, USD and 40+ other currencies, with convenient spending, options to send payments to 160+ countries, and currency exchange which uses the mid-market exchange rate and low fees from 0.43%⁶ every time.

Wise isn’t a bank - but it’s a registered Money Service Business in the US and regulated wherever services are offered around the world. That you can hold, exchange and send payments - and to spend with your linked Wise debit card in Thailand and elsewhere.

Get a Wise Account
in minutes

Please see Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise Fees & Pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information

Costs and fees of banking in Thailand

Fees will be different in every bank and can include a variety: yearly account fees, account cancellation fees, in addition to card replacement fees. If your bank of choice offers it, interest earned per year will also vary.

ATM and conversion fees

ATM withdrawal fees are typically waived if you use your bank’s ATM. If you’re using a card overseas, you’ll usually pay both a withdrawal fee and a foreign transaction fee which could be around 2.5% of the total withdrawal or payment.

Sending money overseas

Fees for transferring money outside of Thailand vary bank to bank, but most banks charge both a commission and what may be called a communication expense fee - a cable charge.

These charges are largely unavoidable if you use banks to transfer money abroad, but if you transfer money often you’ll want to research which banks offer the best rates. Or, pick a non-bank provider like Wise which specializes in low cost cross currency transactions.

If you’re receiving money in Thailand, rather than sending it, charges for incoming foreign transfers may cost around 500 THB from your bank, and there are often additional fees with the original sending and intermediary banks when they send these international transfers (generally via a method called SWIFT).

Ongoing fees and charges

Don’t forget to also check for other ongoing and unavoidable fees, such as an annual account maintenance fee or a yearly charge for your credit or debit card.

All in all, if you’re already a resident, opening a bank account in Thailand should be a fairly straightforward process. Have the right documents ready, and you can hopefully open an account without too much hassle.


And don’t forget, if you’re trying to open an account that can hold and handle THB before you’ve moved to Thailand, a Wise account could be just what you need. Open your Wise account with your phone or laptop from the US, and get ready to send, spend and exchange THB before you even arrive in Thailand.


Sources:

  1. Bangkok Bank
  2. Kasikorn Bank
  3. TTB Bank
  4. UOB Bank
  5. Krungsri
  6. Please see Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise Fees and Pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information

Sources checked on 09.12.2023


Please see terms of use and product availability for your region or visit Wise fees and pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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