28 thoughts on “Thailand Money Matters: An In-Depth Guide for Expats”

  1. Hi Karsten,
    Great article but i am left wondering what the ramifications would be of purchasing Thai real estate if you could not sell your condo and get your money out of the country if you decide to move on to another location?

    I have seen mention of said issue on some expat forums where expats were warning that buying Thai real estate was a mistake because you will have a hard time getting your money back out of the country.

    Cheers,
    David

    Reply
  2. Hi I lived in Thailand for 5 years then return to UK when in Thailand had a kbank credit card. Last year i found out i still owe an outstanding amount plus interest . my question is do Kbank except offers of full and final as due to health issue I can’t afford the whole lot but want to offer them a settlement amount to finish this chapter in my life

    Thanks Lee

    Reply
  3. Lots of comments here on funds and regressing from there. How about on this core money subject: getting beyond banks, money remittance, investing in condo’s and nice houses and start direct invest in the SET. i.e. consider financial assets through direct share ownership…not using middlemen. It is possible to beat the market here as most all funds and so called ETF’s mostly consider large capitalized (cap) stocks for investing. Consider, the Thai brokers advocate large cap. stocks for trading and institutions must be obsessed with large cap stocks for liquidity. Hence there is a vacuum of value on many smaller and mid cap stocks which all but get ignored. It is possible to find this through reputable others. The founder E. Ferrari once remarked “I know nothing about engines, for that I have my engineers”.

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  4. Hi Karsten, very nicely put summary, thank you very much! I’ve been living in Thailand for a few years now and am tempted to buy an LTF before the end of this year so as to get some interesting tax deductions. Do you think it makes sense to fork out say 500,000 THB in an LTF this year, knowing that in 7 years I’ll almost certainly be back to France, where the resulting money out of this LTF will probably be taxed at a hefty rate in France? What’s your opinion? Thanks

    Reply
  5. Hello @karstenaichholz:disqus !
    The thread is old now but I think this is still the best place to ask: would you recommend any financial advisor you might have been working with in Bangkok?

    Reply
    • Nope. In 12 years I haven’t encountered a single one I’d feel comfortable recommending.

      My recommendation would be to hire a fee-based advisor based in a nearby financial hub (SG, HK) with a client base operating in Thailand or one in your home country that specializes in expatriates.

      Reply
  6. Hi Karsten
    i quote “the teller turned to my secretary and asked, “Does he have a girlfriend?”
    What is gonna happen if assume you have a girlfriend at same time ? and why they asking about this?
    thanks

    Reply
    • That was the teller being flirtatious in a joking way. It doesn’t really have an impact on the actual account opening. Just showcases a cultural difference as this kind of thing isn’t exactly uncommon here whereas back home that would do more than just raise a few eyebrows.

      Reply
  7. Hi Karsten,

    Many thanks for sharing. This is a very useful article.

    I would like to ask, if we are sending our Bangkok salary to home country via Bangkok Bank (or any other local bank) – what range of fees to expect?

    How much does it cost to send funds out of Thailand using SWIFT?

    There are two fee options when remitting funds:
    Charge BEN – Pay the sender fee to Bangkok Bank (400Bt), and have the receiver pay the correspondent bank fee (fees may vary)
    Charge OUR – Elect to pay both the sender and receiver fees before sending the funds (1,150Bt for all currencies, except JPY*). Please note, recipients may not receive the funds in full if foreign banks charge extra fees.

    * For JPY – 400Bt plus 0.05% of the funds transfer (min. 2,100Bt) per transaction

    I am not sure which option is better? BEN or OUR, I plan to send back money to Singapore in SGD currency only.

    If the fees are high, i may consider sending back money our a quarterly basis instead. Thank you for your input.

    Best,
    jwny

    Reply
    • Hey Jon – Bangkok Bank will charge you THB 1,150 per transfer. The exchange rate loss is the same, regardless if you do lots of small or one big transfer. The fees of the receiving bank vary. You might want to ask them about it (which can be a hassle) or just do a transfer for the first salary to see what fees show up. There is a chance you might be better off sending it in USD instead of SGD.

      Reply
  8. A reader sent in the following comment by e-mail. While I don’t necessarily agree with the points, I think it adds another perspective on the topic of investing, especially when it comes to ETFs vs LTFs/RMFs, that others might find helpful.

    Here’s the original unedited comment:

    “You may want to review what you wrote on LTF’s and RMF’s though. Yes, average fees of around 2% are a lot higher than the low cost index funds we’re used to back home, but have look at the performance of those fund vs. the SET index and you’ll find that the management fees are well worth it.

    For example:

    5-year annual return:
    Set index: 4.51%
    Krungsri Dividend LTF: 7.48% (fee: 2.22%)
    Krungsri LTF50: 5.20% (fee: 0.72%)

    Remember those are annual returns so a difference of more than 2% per year over 5 years is huge

    Looking at 3-year cumulative return:
    Set index: -12.22%
    UOB Good Corporate Governance LTF: 14.01% (fee: <1.76%)

    Sure I've cheery picked those examples, but you'll find ALL Krungsri and UOB LTF's outperformed the SET Index for 3 and 5 years returns.

    We have to change our thinking in less developed and less liquid markets like Thailand. Active management has a much easier time here outperforming the index than actively managed funds in the US and European markets. That's why there isn't really any index funds or passive ETF's here.

    So it's probably not the best advice for everyone to pull their money out of LTF's and RMF's as soon as possible. And the fees haven't eaten up any return compared to the index.

    The management fees are well worth it and in general LTF and RMF funds regularly outperform the index by a wide margin."

    My take on this:

    My personal opinion is that it's not possible to outsmart a 'working' market long-term. I can see however how there might be an argument that the Thai stock market isn't as transparent and equal as required to make that statement entirely valid. In other words – there might be insider trading going on that favours managed funds.

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  9. Good post @karstenaichholz:disqus !

    I’ve found whenever I apply for a credit card, business or otherwise, they always want me to open a fixed-term deposit for the same amount. Is this your experience?

    Reply
    • Nope, never had that problem.

      My first personal credit cards were with Kasikorn Bank. At the time I already had a current, savings and company accounts with them. Credit card was the last thing they gave me.

      I also have a credit card with Citibank. I don’t have an account with them or anything else. The first card they gave me had a rather low limit, though without my doing they increased it up to four times the original amount.

      At Krung Sri I have a credit card and a savings account.

      Our company credit cards are at Bangkok Bank. They don’t collect points (unfortunately), but also no requirements.

      Reply
    • The purpose for fixed-term deposit is to avert credit risk. The Bank of Thailand does not allow foreigners to owe anything to the bank as its part of efforts against currency manipulation by anyone but the BOT’self. So, in case you swipe the card and do not pay at the end of the invoicing cycle, the fixed-term deposit funds will serve as payment.

      Reply
  10. I’ve been looking to get some information on investing and savings options in Thailand so this article is a great help!

    LTFs sound interesting but 5 years without access is quite a long time especially, as you said, many expats don’t know how long they will stay in Thailand for.

    I know many people who have had problems getting approved for a credit card here. My own bank ( SCB ) told me I can only have one if I deposit the amount of credit I would like with them as a guarantee which defeats the object really. I have read that a salary of 100K + Baht per month is needed for some banks to consider approving an expat.

    Reply
    • Hi Richard,

      I work for one of the worlds largest offshore financial consultancies if you wanted to give me a quick call I would be more than happy to arrange a time for you to pop into our office to go over some of your options.

      +662260 6830

      Br – Cameron

      Reply
    • You could always set up the LTF and let it sit (can stop paying in any time). But yeah, it definitely means you don’t have access to that money for 5 years. Unless you make enough to be in a high tax bracket though, it might not be worth bothering with.

      In my experience as little as THB 50,000 is okay for credit cards in terms of a monthly salary. I never had anything lower when I applied, so not sure if they have offers for less than that. Your best chance is probably Kasikorn Bank – they tend to have the lowest requirements and are easiest to work with.

      Reply
    • Of course, your investment is not locked for 5 years. LTF and RMF give you personal income tax shield. They are very good if you earn your income here in the Kingdom. The condition is that the investment is held for 5 years to achieve 2 targets: stimulate activities in the SET and prevent short-term speculation. Should you withdraw before the required term, you have to pay back the tax shield. The minimum purchase depends of the unit cost of each fund. Please check the terms of each fund. They are usually well indicated.

      Should you require better liquidity but want better return than the average saving account, maybe you would consider other funds that do not have this condition attached. Given the current downward trends, I think it not a bad idea to invest because when things are down, they usually go up afterwards.

      Reply
      • Todd, thanks for chiming in and adding some additional points!

        From what I understand is that if you withdraw from an LTF/RMF before the required term you not only have to pay back the taxes you saved, but have to pay interest on them as well (at a rate of 1.5% per month). That makes it a possible, though expensive withdrawal.

        Reply
  11. hi, thanks for your always interesting infos. My question: i live here many years now .. is it also possible with any Thai bank to do the same investments as i do in Europe, meaning i want to buy and sell US or European equities, i want to buy Eurobonds or US bonds, and sometimes listed derivatives, for example in Germany or in Switzerland. Cause i also see you only refer to buying Thai equities, in which i do not have any interest. Thanks for your reply

    Reply
    • I use a brokerage account with a German bank for international investments. To be honest, I’m not sure what the process is with Thai banks if you want to purchase equities outside of the country. My guess is, it’s possible, but maybe not online or with all banks. I’ll look into it.

      Reply
    • Hi Vince,

      You cannot trade International market with a brokerage in Thailand.

      Set up shop with brokerage in your home country or you can opt to open a brokerage account in Hong Kong or Singapore which are sound financial cities. The major brokerages have offices there.

      Reply
    • Depends a bit on who is sending it (private individual, company…), where the funds are originally from (e.g. domestic, abroad), what it is for (e.g. dividends, salary) as well as where it goes (e.g. a EUR account, a USD account) and who the recipient is (yourself, a company, etc.).

      If you just transfer your own salary home, you can send yourself a THB check if your home bank has better exchange rates than that offered by Thai banks.

      For my company (e.g. payments to US companies) I usually do Bangkok Bank wire transfers. It’s not as cheap as checks, but it’s reliable and quick (plus, the company gets invoiced in USD, so sending a THB check is tricky).

      Reply
      • Super Rich gives significantly better exchange rates than Bangkok Bank. Is it possible to change THB cash at Super Rich to USD, then take the USD cash to Bangkok Bank and have them do a wire transfer to a US bank account?

        Reply
        • Once you deposit it into a ‘standard’ account at Bangkok Bank, they’ll convert it into THB. If it’s a foreign currency account (e.g. in USD), they’ll charge you a 1% deposit fee.

          I’m not aware of any possibility to pay cash for a foreign currency transfer (it might exist, never asked). Of course the main issue would be what happens when the transfer doesn’t go through for some reason (it takes a few days to clear). I thus suspect they’ll only allow transfers from actual accounts (possibly also to avoid money laundering issues).

          At this point the only way I see to take advantage of this, is to physically transport the cash yourself. If anyone knows of another way to make use of SuperRich exchange rates, I’d be interested in hearing about it as well.

          Reply

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