It is very easy to set up a bank account as an expat in Bangkok, although as a foreigner you are only allowed to set up a savings account. All you need is a passport, a visa and proof of address may also be required; even a tourist visa will work. There are a number of banks to choose from, but it is important to make sure that you open an account with one which is in easy reach as many transactions can only be completed at the original branch. Most personnel speak English and you will always be seen by someone who can understand you.
You will most likely find it most convenient to open your account at a branch that is used to deal with foreigners. Also remember that appearance is very important in Thailand and bank employees may be more positively inclined towards you if you ‘dress up’ for the occasion. It’s not usually necessary to make an appointment in advance, but it is good idea to go during less busy hours or visit the main office where more staff is available.
There is no limit on how much can be transferred into Thailand, as long as you have some money to open up an account, usually as little as a thousand Baht, there will be no questions. It is, however, much harder to take money out of the country so this should always be considered; the limit for taking money out is 50,000 baht at one time.
With a savings account, expats get a debit card and a bank book. Your ATM card is issued immediately (for a 300 baht charge) and can be used in any ATM machine. If, however, you use a different bank from your own to withdraw money you will have a 20 baht charge. Chequebooks are rarely used in Thailand and are restricted to company accounts. For large purchases, it is possible to arrange a bank cheque from your bank which you can use to pay. As a foreigner you will not be entitled to apply for a credit card, even with a work permit, so it is a good idea to keep hold of any credit card that you have in your own country. Loans are also forbidden for foreigners except in very rare cases where a foreigner has worked for many years in Thailand and has Thai family. In this case it’s usually required that the Thai spouse signs on as a guarantor.
If you need to use your Thai bank account for online purchases you should know that most Thai ATM cards cannot be used online. Bangkok Bank’s BE1’st card, on the other hand, can be used for online purchases as well as be used with Paypal, which is convienient if you want to set up your own internet-based business.
Most banks offer e-banking and direct debit services.
Bank statements are not printed; bank books are used instead and can be updated at your bank or at an independent machine which are found in abundance throughout the city. ATMs have a 20,000 baht daily limit so you will need to visit your branch if you want to withdraw more. You will need your passport to do this.