Secure ATM use in Thailand

Money exchange in Thailand is like everywhere else – you get the worst rate at the airport.

There are lots of banks and standalone foreign exchange booths along popular beaches, which surprisingly give the best rate. You don’t even need to present your ID. However, in remote places FX booths are rare or even non-existent, but there are many ATMs, normally located near grocery stores. What’s peculiar about ATM withdrawals in Thailand? Two things. First, Thailand ATM networks charge fixed fee for any withdrawal. It has grown up a little and currently equals 180 baht, which is roughly 6 USD. This fee is added to the total regardless of the amount withdrawn, so it is best to take as much as possible to reduce ATM fees. So forget the ATM with 10000 baht withdrawal and find one offering 20000 baht, which currently seems to be the maximum amount allowed for one withdrawal. Take 20000 baht and you be charged 180 baht for this. The second peculiarity is Thailand topping worlds bank card fraud occurrences. That’s why any withdrawal in Thailand automatically triggers anti-fraud protection mechanism at your bank and your card will be blocked. My advice is – do not unblock it at once. You already have 20000 baht in cash, which should buy your dinner for at least 15-20 days. So just wait a couple days. Fraudsters are usually quick, and even if the ATM was equipped with a skimmer device, the threat will be gone in a couple days. When you get home, don’t forget to change your PIN. And by the way, bank operators normally request a lot of details to confirm your identity, so unblocking your card may take up to 10 minutes and more. So make sure your cellphone account can withstand at least 15 minutes in roaming.

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