Thai / Indonesia currency exchange

Old Jun 2nd, 2009, 10:30 AM
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Thai / Indonesia currency exchange

We're about to leave for a first trip to Thailand/Bali. When calling our bank to inform them of the trip, I was informed the Wells Fargo acquisition of Wachovia has resulted in the international ATM withdrawal fee increasing from 1% to 3%! Plus you have the new Thai ATM fee...

I would think I can do better by converting US$ at the BKK airport - thoughts? What about in Bali?
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Old Jun 2nd, 2009, 10:53 AM
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Sounds like time for a new bank account.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2009, 11:16 AM
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I do not use ATMs in Thailand. My debit card remains safely stashed. I take cash (US 100s.. new style with large face, and those that show very little wear)... and exchange it for baht. The rate at the airport isn't as favorable as at some other places.

I like to use Vasu on Sukhumvit Road (right underneath the Nana skytrain station.. at about soi 7 or 9?). Rates at Vasu are better than at banks or walk-up windows (which are everywhere) I have found.

Enjoy your trip.

Carol
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Old Jun 2nd, 2009, 11:23 AM
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With bank charges like that - and Wells Fargo also charges a transaction fee of $5 per foreign withdrawal, you are better off taking $100 bills and exchanging them.

You might consider opening a bank account just for your foreign travel. Some credit unions, for example only charge 1% foreign exchange fee and no charge for the use of a foreign ATM. At that rate, you are better off using an ATM, as the bank rate for exchange is better than even the best money changer (though we are talking about very small percentages here).

As I understand it, not all Thai ATMs have the ATM charge, only some. I will be checking on which ones do and do not have the added charge before my next trip to Bangkok in November, as I prefer to use ATMs, though I always carry some "emergency" US$100 bills.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2009, 02:21 PM
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vasu is about 20 yds from soi 11, going towards soi 9 on suk. good place to get b for usd.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2009, 03:38 PM
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Oh, it's definitely time for a new bank - this just sealed the deal.

Thanks for the feedback!
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Old Jun 2nd, 2009, 06:04 PM
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So far, I've only heard of one Thai bank not charging the ATM fee (I think it was UOB).

In Bali/Indonesia, you can easily exchange cash, but these days I generally use my Thai ATM card to get local currency. I usually get a good rate, and no fees.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2009, 06:18 PM
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some USA banks will also reimburse your fees to you up to a certain limit...

look at any TD Banks in your area or open a card through the mail.

thge other thing to do is to charge as much as you can...charge all your meals, your hotels, and as many purchases as possible...they may charge you a 3% fee but you still would be ahead and then just pay the cards off when you get home...

personally i do not like the idea of carrying cash but if i had to think of two countries where i would least fear doing so, it would be bali and thailand...

if i have a lot of cash i leave most of it in my room safe or even at the front desk safe and just take with me what i suspect i will need for the day...
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Old Jun 3rd, 2009, 06:43 PM
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For Bali, we just took crisp $100 bills to change as we went along. Things are so inexpensive there that any difference between ATM vs. money changer exchange rates had a minimal effect.
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Old Jun 3rd, 2009, 10:14 PM
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In Bali, you do need to shop around rates, as not all of them will offer the same rates - and of course the worst rates are the ones at the airport. Change as little as possible at the airport.
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Old Jun 4th, 2009, 12:19 PM
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For BKK, there is no problem changing US dollars at one of the airport money changers. The rate is okay. In Thailand most of the money changers you will see are run by banks, the rates change every working day. So, the rate you get on arrival one day will be a little different the following working day - either up or down. I don't find much difference in what the banks offer, maybe a few satang difference. The rate is clearly posted on a signboard and there is no commission for changing cash. Larger US bills like $100 and $50 denominations will get a hair more than smaller sizes. Bank money changers usually give you a better rate than hotels and stores.

Like the other post mentioned, there are some banks that pay your ATM fees and a probably a lot more credit unions. My credit union pays for my ATM fees, even overseas! Not all banks have imposed the 150 baht fee. I use cash, big head 100's in good shape and every now and then a debit card. With a debit card in an ATM only take out the maximum you can at one time to cut down on lots of fees for small withdrawals. The ATM's I use at Kasikorn "K" Banks only had the normal charges and didn't have the extra fee the last time I used them.

I can get travelers checks from my credit union free of commission fees, I always have a few of them available, only the larger $100 sizes though. Thailand is one of the better Asian countries for cashing TC's because they get a little more in return than cash. There is a 33 baht commission fee to cash a TC but that fee is much cheaper than using an ATM and taking out the same amount. I feel if you can get your travelers checks free of charge from your bank or credit union that for THAILAND it is no big problem cashing them. (You must produce your passport and in the city know what hotel and room number you stay at - pretty easy!)

In Indonesia when I was there I used cash, U.S. dollars. I always use the safety box provided by the hotel and when walking around only keep enough cash with me to see me through a couple days purchases. I never use a credit card for cheap purchases or meals in restaurants - I use cash only! But I only eat in cheap places so this works for me. I think I would stand a greater chance of having a credit card exposed to fraudulent charges using it a lot in place of cash. I have done it this way for over 12 years without any problems.

Good luck.
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