HOW TO OPEN A BANK ACCOUNT
Although some banks are stricter than others, the process is usually straightforward and for the most flexible banks (Contact us
for more information) you will only be required to bring the following documents:
- Original passport
- Address of residence in Thailand and:
- Original Lease Agreement if you are a tenant; or
- Original Sale & Purchase Agreement (condo) if you are an investor
Note that more often than before, many banks require a work permit to open an account.
IS A BANK ACCOUNT NECESSARY TO PURCHASE A CONDO IN THAILAND?
For foreign investors, having a bank account is not absolutely necessary for the process of purchasing a condo in Thailand itself – you
can use your lawyer’s account for all money transfers, however an account is necessary if you plan to receive rental income from your tenant.
Since every bank account comes with a Visa payment (debit) card, you will be able to cash out or pay by card all over the world
with your Thai card.
FOREIGN CURRENCY ACCOUNTS
If you need a foreign currency account (USD account) you might need to have a letter of recommendation issued by your embassy. Most banks also require a work permit to open a USD-denominated account. The requirements may differ from bank to bank.
LOCAL VS. FOREIGN BANKS
Local banks have been fully restructured after the Asian financial crisis in 1997 and have now a healthy balance sheet. The local banking system is solid and reliable.
Everywhere you look, even in small towns, you will easily find ATMs of many local banks. Most 7/11 minimarts and Family Marts have at least one ATM.
Expats are usually impressed by the excellent quality of service (call center easy to reach and extensive staff in most branches) and the advanced technology of most Thai banks, notably in terms of online banking – you can pay bills and make transfers directly from your phone using your bank’s application!
Among the most popular local banks we can list:
- Kasikorn Bank
- Siam Commercial Bank (SCB)
- Bangkok Bank
- Krung Thai Bank
- Krungsri Bank (Bank of Ayudyah)
There are only 2 foreign banks offering retail banking: Citibank, with local headquarters in Asoke, and Standard Chartered, with local headquarters in Sathorn. Other foreign banks in Thailand (JP Morgan, UBS, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Bank of America, BNP Paribas, etc.) only provide corporate and investment services and private banking.
Good to know – DEBIT CARDS VS. CREDIT CARDS:
A DEBIT CARD card is tied directly to your account, hence you can only spend what you have on your account. This is the card the bank will give you by default when opening an account.
A CREDIT CARD is a line of credit you can access with your card, with a grace period of 30 days on the interests. You will need
a history of at least 6 months of salary to be eligible to a credit card. Credit cards in Thailand are often necessary to rent a car or pay
a hotel reservation. They offer a wide range of benefits including miles on Thai airlines, free cinema tickets, discounts in many shops and restaurants, etc.