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Best exchange rates with your ATM debit card

Phuket Business | How to make the most out of currency exchange rates on Phuke

The upside of using the ATM to withdraw cash is the Exchange Rates. Currency exchanges via an ATM use the inter bank exchange rate which is normally 2 or 3 percent better than you'd get at an exchange or with travellers cheques.

However you do need to be aware of other charges you may incur when using your cash card in Phuket (or anywhere else in Thailand). ATM fees will vary from bank to bank and Thai banks may also charge a small fee for using their machine although it is in fact far more likely that you'll be charged by your own bank for using the ATM card in another country.

Charges on your withdrawals are based on a percentage of the money withdrawn or a flat rate (or both). The ATM's in Thailand will charge 150 THB as a flat fee for each transaction. This may be avoided if you have an account with HSBC or Citibank who are part of the Global ATM Alliance bank network and should not charge for the use of their cash points.

Before leaving home you should call your bank to check the charges incurred for using their debit card overseas. You should also ask them to make a note on your system that you will be travelling to Thailand and that you intend to use your ATM card during your holiday. This avoids the risk of your bank disabling your ATM card just in case your card has been stolen. Also it wouldn't be the first time people have had their cards frozen after making more withdrawals than their usual activity because the bank may deem this as suspicious and irregular.

In addition to the fluctuations in the exchange rate, your bank will charge a fee for performing the currency conversion. This will most likely be in the form of a percentage or flat rate (whichever is greater).

For example it may be 2% of the total amount withdrawn or 2 Pounds, which ever is greater. (The example charges are fictional and are only used to help illustrate the point below). If you draw a small amount you will pay a higher currency conversion rate.

Small Amounts

500 THB (aprox 10 GBP) 2% = 10 THB (aprox 20 pence) Therefore you would be charged 2 GBP (as the flat rate is higher than the percentage). 500 THB would therefore cost you 12 GBP deducted from your home bank account.

Larger Amounts

10,000 THB (aprox 200 GBP) 2% = 100 THB (aprox 4 GBP ) Therefore you would be charged 4 GBP (as the percentage is more than the 2 pound flat rate).

10,000 THB would therefore cost you 204 GBP deducted from your home bank account.

I'm sure you can see where this is going. If you were to withdraw 500 THB each time you would need to visit the ATM machine 20 times to withdraw 10,000 THB and it would cost you 20x12GBP = 240 GBP

For the same 10,000 THB amount in a single withdrawal the amount deducted from your bank at home would be 204 GBP Saving you 36 Pounds (Approx 1,750 THB or almost 30 bottles of beer!)

The ATM's in Phuket where you will be making your withdrawals may also charge a flat fee of 150 THB per transaction. If you add this into the mix it's even more cost effective to withdraw larger amounts les frequently.

Once you have spoken to your bank and know the figures you're working with you can make your own calculations. If you do decide to use your ATM card in Phuket then give our Tips for using ATM Machines in Phuket a quick read before you arrive.


Last Updated: 18 Oct 2011