Fabled as The Land of Smiles, Thailand is a popular digital nomad destination with Singaporeans and others around the world to live and work. With a lower cost of living, foreigner-friendly culture and a population that can communicate in English, Singaporeans can easily call Thailand home for a few months or longer in their digital nomad journey.
For those interested in becoming digital nomads and working remotely while travelling abroad, the thought of having to set up bank accounts, doing cross-border transactions while incurring hefty fees and just finding a way to pay locally can feel cumbersome.
The good news is that the options for digital nomads to set up bank accounts in Thailand have been increasing over the years. There are now many banks offering to set up bank accounts for foreigners with a valid visa and are staying for at least a month in Thailand.
However, the process of applying for a bank account in Thailand is unlike in Singapore, where the systems and processes are generally the same for each bank and there is a standard set of forms and documents needed. Each Thai bank branch (even the big ones) operates a little differently than the others, with their own set of customs and practices, which is something that can be a little confusing for the uninitiated.
3 Main Benefits Of Opening A Local Bank Account In Thailand
Once you open a Thai bank account, you will enjoy multiple benefits such as:
#1 Lower ATM Withdrawal Fees
If you are using your Singapore credit card to withdraw money from local Thai ATMs, you can expect to be charged extremely high fees, from THB200-THB350 ($9-$13) per ATM withdrawal. With a local Thai bank account, you will be able to withdraw money cheaper than using your overseas card and be exempt from ATM fees at select ATMs.
#2 No Conversion Fees
By having a Thai bank account, you can get paid and receive bank transfers into the account using local currency. This way, you will avoid currency conversion fees that you would otherwise incur when paying or being paid in a foreign currency to your home country bank account.
This is useful if you intend to take up local gigs or just to get transfers from your friends and contacts in Thailand.
#3 It’s Easy to Make Local Purchases
By far, the most important reason for having a local bank account in Thailand is to buy items locally especially with a debit card. You can also make local online purchases with your Thai debit card and making local payments using a debit or credit card is better and safer than carrying cash around, especially when making large transactions.
You are living in Thailand, and you will need to spend in Thai Baht on a daily basis. This can be for your daily living essentials to paying for rent to online spending.
Here are some of the local bank saving accounts you can consider opening in Thailand:
|Bank Name||Bangkok Bank||Kasikorn Bank||UOB Bank||CIMB||Siam Commercial Bank (SCB)|
|Type of Bank Account (Best for Foreigners)||Savings |
|Savings Account||Savings Account||Savings Account|
|Documents Needed||Passport, Visa or Work Permit, Financial Statement (proof of bank records from home country), Rental Contract||Passport with Visa||Passport, Visa or Work Permit, Financial Statement, Rental Contract||Passport, Visa or Work Permit, Financial Statement, Rental Contract||Passport, Visa or Work Permit|
|Minimum Deposit (THB)||500 THB||NA||50,000 THB||1000 THB|
+ debit card fee
|About the bank||Thailand’s biggest bank, most foreigner-friendly with the best exchange rate||Easiest bank to apply for a bank account, but a bit tedious when cashing foreign currency cheques||Good for Singaporeans or Malaysian PRs who travel often to Thailand, inactive account charges (more than 12 months)||Easier to open a bank account with a tourist visa, allow foreigners to use internet banking services||Thailand’s first bank, Bangkok Bank’s main competitor, large ATM network and good customer service|
Other Types Of Bank Accounts Can Be Equally Important
However, you can also choose to open a multicurrency account in Singapore before heading overseas. Compared to opening a local bank account in Thailand, you may not enjoy as much convenience if you only have a TransferWise multicurrency account and you might have to incur higher transaction costs for minor transactions, but if you are not planning to stay for long (in the spirit of a true nomad) then perhaps what you need is ease of transacting between many different currencies.
Here are some of the bank accounts you can consider when fulfilling your dream of being a digital nomad in Thailand.
|Type of Bank Account (Best for Foreigners)||Savings |
|Multicurrency Account||Multicurrency Business Bank Account In Singapore|
|Example(s)||Local savings account in Thailand||DBS MCA, TransferWise, Revolut||OCBC, DBS|
|Currencies||THB||Most currency pairs||Few main currencies such as USD, SGD, JPY, GBP, AUD convertible into THB|
|Minimum Deposit To Open An Account||500 THB||Free to open, with no minimum balance||Typically no minimum deposit|
|Main Features||THB deposits and withdrawals only. Earn interest on your monies. Low initial deposit required.||Swith between various currencies and make international transfers with ease.||Business banking.|
The 3 main types of bank accounts differ in their usage and types of transactions. It is important to understand the benefits and drawbacks of each type of bank account before deciding which one best suits your needs.
#1 Savings Account
Usually the easiest type of bank account to set up abroad, a simple savings account will make do for a lot of digital nomads, especially if you just need a place (other than your wallet) to store your money in local currency.
The minimum deposit required is usually much lower than other types of bank accounts, but it will also depend on which bank you are opening with. For example, Bangkok Bank, allows you to open a savings account with a minimum deposit of 500 THB (~SGD 22).
Best Suited For… Digital nomads who do not need to make a lot of local transactions and are not conducting business in Thailand.
#2 Multicurrency Accounts
Being a digital nomad working overseas, the projects you take up will be varied from around the world. This means you may have to pay other or get paid in various currencies – not just Thai Baht or Singapore Dollars. To transfer and accept these currencies and incur low fees while doing so, having a multicurrency account useful.
At the same time, living in Thailand, you will also want a multicurrency account provide convenience and ease of making daily transactions in THB, while using your debit card.
Banks such as OCBC, DBS, and UOB offer multicurrency accounts in Singapore. For Singaporeans who already have a local account with the respective bank, setting up the additional multicurrency account can be a fuss-free process and an add-on to your default savings account.
Simply transfer SGD into your multicurrency account when needed and you can make transactions in THB overseas. Do note that not all multicurrency accounts offer Thai Baht as a transaction currency.
Fintech platforms such as TransferWise and Revolut have a user-friendly interface and more currencies for you to choose from, which is a great option for those who are not intending to stay in any one country for too long. Do note that other than currency conversion fees, you might also incur transaction fees in platforms like TransferWise and Revolut, so it is always wise to have multiple types of bank accounts at hand so that you can figure out the best accounts to use for different types of transactions.
The main benefit of using a TransferWise or revolut account over traditional accounts is that you can avoid getting charged international transaction fees or exorbitant exchange rates, especially while charging expenses to a debit card.
Best Suited For… Digital nomads who do not intend to stay too long in one country and need the ease of transacting between many different currencies.
#3 Multicurrency Business Banking Account In Singapore
For digital nomads who are running a larger set-up and want to separate their personal and business bank accounts, having a multi-currency business banking account can be useful as well.
While THB may not be a common currency that all the multicurrency business bank accounts in Singapore offer, they have the feature to receive other major currencies. This can be beneficial if you have to regularly pay or receive in some of these currencies.
For example, the OCBC Multi-Currency Business Account offers 13 currencies: USD, EUR, AUD, JPY, GBP,CNH HKD, CAD, NZD, CHF, SEK, DKK, and NOK. There is also no initial deposit or minimum balance that you have to worry about.
Moreover, having a business bank account gives you access to other business banking tools, such as business dashboard, trade financing tools if you may require it and others.
Best Suited For… Digital nomads running Singapore-incorporated companies, and managing international vendors and clients, who they have to pay and bill in foreign currencies.
Before embarking on that journey to become a digital nomad, one of the key considerations you should have is setting up a bank account to facilitate overseas transactions, as well as being able to receive funds in multiple foreign currencies. Having different types of accounts can help you to switch between different types of transactions, minimising your costs and risks and ensuring that your nomadic journey will be a smooth one financially.
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