Money matters in Chiang Mai

Apr 8th, 2015, 11:40 AM
  #1  
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Money matters in Chiang Mai

We will arrive to Thailand to the Chiang Mai airport at around 9 pm on a Friday. May I assume that here is an ATM at the airport for getting some BHT?

Do you know what's the limit on getting money from an ATM in Thailand?

Is it practical and less expensive to have $s and exchanging them vs. taking money out at ATMs?

Can one pay w. $s at restaurants or local shops and if so, is that a good option?

Do restaurants and shops take a Mastercard or Visa and if so, do they charge an additional fee for that?

Thanks for the help.
Suzanna is offline  
Apr 8th, 2015, 11:53 AM
  #2  
 
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Paying in (presumably US) dollars is not a good option. Pay in baht, use ATMs, do not exchange currency. Yes, credit cards accepted in many places, no extra fee that I recall.
MmePerdu is offline  
Apr 8th, 2015, 01:15 PM
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The rules in Thailand are the same as for elsewhere: pay in the local currency, get money from ATMs. There are ATMs in the airport. Most places do accept credit cards - perhaps not stalls in the night market, but regular stores and restaurants accept credit cards (Visa is most widely accepted). I've never been charged a fee for using a credit card in Thailand.

One caveat: ATMs in Thailand now have a per-use charge of approx US$5. My brokerage reimburses me for any local ATM fees, so it makes no difference to me. But if your bank charges you $5 per use for foreign ATMs, plus adds on 3% foreign exchange fee, the additional local fee can make getting baht expensive. In that case, bring US$100 bills and change them. Change just one at the airport, as you'll find better rates in town.

If you have an ATM crd with high fees, now is the time to start looking for a place to open an account where they won't gouge you on foreign use of ATMs. Often, Credit Unions have favorable rates, as do brokerages and some small banks. The big banks in the US have the highest fees.
Kathie is offline  
Apr 8th, 2015, 02:16 PM
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Thanks for the advice. Based on it I plan to use credit cards where possible, particularly since we will not be going to any remote places.

I asked the questions because when looking at Laos I found the following: "Take cash! – Euro or USD will get you by far the best exchange rate. If you rely on withdrawing cash from ATMs, keep in mind that you will be fairly limited in each withdrawal – generally less than 200 USD. This might be expensive if you have fix fees on your card, as it is more often than not the case".

Similarly, for Vietnam I found that: "Beware that you can only withdraw 2.000.000 VND at most ATMs (90 USD). This can be costly if your bank charges fixed fees for each withdrawal. A few ATMs allow withdrawals of 3, even 4.000.000, but these are the exception. So bring some cash in USD.".

Obviously each country has different rules.
Suzanna is offline  
Apr 8th, 2015, 02:44 PM
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Even that advice is outdated. I was able to withdraw the equivalent of several hundred dollars each time from ATMs in VN - and that was well over a decade ago. Often, those kinds of caveats keep getting re-published without anyone doing any on the ground research. So good for you for asking!

I can't tell you what the limits in Laos are for ATMs (there were no ATMS when I was there) but you don't need a lot of cash. When we were there, we exchanged US$20 at a time, and that bought us a brick of kip that completely filled our waist packs! I'm sure someone here can tell you the current ATM limits in Laos.

Yes, do use credit cards when you can. I'm assuming you have one or more cards that does not charge a foreign exchange premium (usually 3%).
Kathie is offline  
Apr 8th, 2015, 03:13 PM
  #6  
 
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atm's in Thailand do often have different limits. the service charge now is 180 per transaction so I always w/d plenty each time--$300-500. atm's are on every corner.

I have often been charged a credit card fee of 3-5% when using cards in shops, especially for large purchases.

many restaurants and small shops only take cash.

don't plan on using dollars
rhkkmk is offline  
Apr 8th, 2015, 04:01 PM
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In VN it depends on the ATM you use. Neighborhood ones can have low limits, ones at banks are higher, at least in my experience. So everyone is right.
MmePerdu is offline  
Apr 8th, 2015, 09:12 PM
  #8  
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Thanks, I will try to further look into potential ATM withdrawal limits particularly for Laos as I get closer to my trip, as things keep changing.

I plan to take credit cards that don't charge a foreign exchange fee. 3-5% charged by the shop for using a card is a quite lot, it discourages one to use a card. I will try to compare this to the fees my bank charges for cash withdrawal. Not an easy comparison because they might use different exchange rates (that one learns about only after the fact).
Suzanna is offline  
Apr 8th, 2015, 10:21 PM
  #9  
 
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Last month in Thailand I used ATms exclusively. Max withdrawl limits, as mentioned above do vary between machines and banks. The lowest max I encountered was 10k baht ($300), the highest 40k baht ($1200). All had a flat rate 180baht fee for withdrawal regardless of the a mount withdrawn.

Try to use ATMs attached to banks where possible as they do occasionally eat the cards for no apparent reason. Only happens once to me in Chiang Rai, luckily, even though the bank was closed, I banged on the window and someone kindly came to open up the machine to retrieve my card!
crellston is offline  
Apr 13th, 2015, 04:29 PM
  #10  
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Thanks, good advice re. card eating ATMs....
Suzanna is offline  

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