For a short trip, exchanging money before departure or at the airport is quite sufficient. However, if you are looking to stay in Thailand for medium to long term – whether it would be for work, work remotely or be a digital nomad in Thailand – you might consider transferring your money from your banks overseas. If you are working overseas and want to transfer money to your family or for investment in Thailand, you may need to transfer money into Thailand as well.
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Transfer money to Thailand: 3 important factors to consider
- Exchange rate/exchange margin: This is the most obvious one, and is easiest to watch out for. Exchange rate is usually available on all transfer pages of banks or third party service providers. Many platforms would charge some exchange margin. Therefore, you should check the rate against other banks/platforms. You can also simply check the rate against Google’s data “Search convert USD to THB for example” to get a rough understanding of the margin you are paying for
- Transfer fee: Transfer fee varies by a large amount across different banks and platforms. Some fees are also hidden, and the banks/vendors might charge the recipient for receiving your transfer. That is, the recipient would receive less money. They might charge the transfer fee as a flat fee or as % of the transfer
- Speed: Another factor which can vary by a large amount. We have seen transfer speed of within a day to a few business days. This will depend on the bank or platform that you are using. Some of the digital platforms (which we will be talking about in next section), are very fast in their processing of the transfer
Some digital platforms are offering full details around rate, fee and speed so that you can make an informed transfer decision. Source: Wise
Cheapest way to transfer money to Thailand
There are many ways to transfer money like using your banks, Paypal, Westernunion or digital platforms such as Wise, Instarem, OFX and many more.
Key reasons why we are a fan of their services:
- Transparent pricing: Both platforms offer full transparency of their pricing (exchange rate and fee) before you decide to do the transfer. This allows you to easily check their pricing against other platforms or your banks. Based on our experience, the transfer fee is usually less than 1% of transaction value even for cross-continent transfers
- High speed: the fastest we have seen is a few hours (within-Asia transfer). To and from North America transactions usually take 2-3 days at most, based on our experience. If you are using Wise, they are also providing some estimate time in which the fund would arrive
- Excellent user experience: You can use Wise and Instarem both on websites or you can download their mobile applications – both methods are quite intuitive. We have tried their customer support as well. While you do not get instant reply every time, their staffs usually reply you within the same or next business day
Digital money remittance platforms
To clarify, while we are a fan of Wise and Instarem, we are recommending digital money remittance platforms in general. Keep in mind that we have never tried some of them. You can check out other platforms like OFX, MoneyGram and others listed here.
How do these platforms work? First time users will need to set up an account and undergo a short KYC. After that, you just need to log in, add a recipient, make a transfer instruction on the platform, choose and make payment. The payment can be via direct debit, wire transfer, debit or credit card. Then, you just need to wait for payment to take place.
Mobile application of Instarem allows you to initiate a transfer in a few steps. Source: Instarem
Other things to keep in mind when transferring money
If you are not familiar with overseas transfers, it can get complicated as different banks and platforms would require different information. Apart from standard bank account number, they might ask for branch code, bank address, SWIFT code, routing number, and the list goes on.
When transferring to a new recipient or using a new platform, we highly recommend doing a small test transfer first. This is important to avoid any mistake in transfer and the headache of trying to get your money back. Subsequent transfers are usually easier to do.
Another consideration is around tax. We have previously talked about tax residency in Thailand. If you are staying longer than 6 months in Thailand within a year, there might be tax implication. That is, the government might check the amount of money you bring into the country for tax purposes.
Pro tip on money transfer
You may be able to use a combination of digital remittance platform and credit/debit card with cash back on online transaction to earn cash back and offset any transfer fee.
For example, debit/credit cards offered by virtual banks in Hong Kong offer cash rebate on all online transactions!
So, what is the best way to transfer money to Thailand?
In general, we use digital remittance platforms to transfer money online to Thailand (our experience is limited to Wise and Instarem). They are transparent, cheap and fast.
However, to some people, the best way might be the way in which they are most comfortable with. If traditional bank transfer is your thing, then go with that. It would be very frustrating if anything goes wrong just because of lack of familiarity with the transfer process.
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