What is the Best Bank in Thailand for Foreigners? 🏦 A Complete Guide

There are quite a few factors to consider when it comes to picking the best bank in Thailand for foreigners. Convenience probably plays the most important role. Is there a branch near you? Can the staff inside speak English well? Do they have plenty of ATMs around the places you regularly visit? This is largely down to what’s around your home, your local supermarket and your place of work. Most of the major banks have very good coverage when it comes to branch and ATM placement, so you should have a choice of two or three banks, depending on where you live.

A close second in priorities will be the services each bank provides. Can you use their ATM card for online purchases (yes, that’s something you actually have to consider)? Do you need mountains of paperwork just to open an account? Do they have an app for mobile banking? Can they do international bank transfers? Do they charge withdrawal fees? What are their insurance perks like? This is where even the big players start to stand apart from each other, and where it becomes important to pick the best bank in Thailand for foreigners from the many available.

Conveniently, most of the banks in Thailand have chosen very bold and distinct colours for their branding, leading to some people identifying them more by their colours than their names. So, let’s start with “the Dark Blue Bank”.

Bangkok Bank 🏦

The Dark Blue Bank

bangkok bank

Despite its name, Bangkok Bank is actually the largest bank in Thailand, with over 1,200 branches and nearly 10,000 ATMs across the country, as well as over 20 branches overseas. It ranks among the best banks in Thailand for foreigners because its range of services available to expats is among the best. This includes overseas money transfers via SWIFT and the ability to open a current account – a surprisingly rare feature among Thai banks.

Accounts of exactly what you need to open an account vary drastically, but this is true of every bank in Thailand. You can walk into any two branches of the same bank on the same day and the documents they require from you just to open a basic savings account can be completely different, and neither will match what it says on their website. At one end of the spectrum, Bangkok Bank has been called one of the easiest to open an account at, needing only a passport. At the other, some expats have reported needing a certified letter from their embassy and proof of their address in Thailand.

While you’ll need a work permit to use some of the really helpful services like internet banking and online international money transfers, those extra features are certainly worth the paperwork. Different versions of the Be1st smart cards can be used for online purchases, contactless payments and even as a Rabbit Card for use on the BTS in Bangkok. The Bualuang digital banking service – in the form of the internet banking and an app – is very convenient.

Beyond basic banking services, Bangkok Bank can handle loans, investments, property sales, currency exchange and insurance. They can arrange life insurance through both AIA and Bangkok Life Assurance – their own, in-house service. They can also do health, motor and property insurance, with different levels of coverage for different circumstances.

Pros:

  • Huge number of branches and ATMs
  • Excellent mobile and online banking services
  • Convenient bonus features on some bank cards
  • Can do international money transfers
  • Good choice of insurance policies

Cons:

  • Some reports of needing a certified letter from your embassy to open an account

    Kasikornbank 🏦

The Green Bank

kasikornbank
A close second in terms of foreigner-friendliness, Kasikornbank is also very widespread around the country. They have over 1,000 branches and just under 10,000 ATMs to choose from in Thailand as well as five overseas branches. They also have quite a few services handling foreign currency, including the option to send money overseas through their app (during office hours).

Their app is generally excellent – well-designed, highly capable and with security at its core. They were the pioneers of mobile banking services in 2011 and continue to lead the field. They were also the first to issue credit cards (in 1973) and the first to become an escrow agent for property deals.

The convenience offered is probably what makes Kasikornbank among the best banks in Thailand for foreigners. Everything about the banking experience is made as simple as possible. They’re one of the easiest banks to open an account at, with customers reporting that they managed to open a savings account with just a copy of their passport and an education visa, a marriage visa or a work permit. The debit card comes as standard and can be used for online purchases, and you can even get a cheque book.

Their choice of other services is comparatively limited, but includes loans, investments and insurance. Their life insurance policies are provided by Muang Thai Life Assurance and include endowment, retirement, annuity and life coverage. The same company also provides travel, motor, home and health insurance through Kasikornbank.

Pros:

  • Large number of branches and ATMs
  • Excellent online and mobile banking services
  • Can do international money transfers
  • Very easy to open an account

Cons:

The Purple Bank

siam commercial bank

Commonly known as SCB, Siam Commercial Bank is Thailand’s oldest domestic bank, first opening around 1907. They were also the first to operate ATMs in the country, introducing them in 1983. They now have over 9,000 of them around Thailand, as well as over 1,100 branches and overseas offices in seven nearby countries. However, as they shift to a greater focus on digital banking, they are planning to close quite a significant number of branches.

Unfortunately, this is one of the cases where age does not automatically translate into wisdom and, as much as they may be focussing on digital banking for the future, they’re a little behind the curve when compared to Kasikornbank and Bangkok Bank. Their app and website, while functional, are a little retro and comparatively lacking in services.

Even so, SCB remains among the best banks in Thailand for foreigners because non-residents can open an account with just a passport and funds to deposit. These Non-Resident Bank Accounts (NRBAs) are limited in various ways, including the amount of money you can keep in them, but the limit is quite generous. For a full savings account, you’ll require a work permit. While the card that comes with the account can be used for online purchases, you need to specifically ask for this feature to be activated (why exactly you wouldn’t want this activated is a mystery). You can use the card at physical stores as standard and a lot of Thai-based companies offer the option to pay by bank transfer from an SCB account.

Being the elder statesman of the Thai banking scene, SCB naturally offers a good range of services beyond just banking. This includes overseas transfers (DeeMoney is much cheaper), loans, investments, property services and insurance. Their range of insurance policies is especially varied and covers life, savings, health, travel, loans, motors, property and more.

Pros:

  • Large number of branches and ATMs
  • Easy to open an account
  • Can do international money transfers
  • Excellent choice of insurance policies

Cons:

  • Outdated digital banking services
  • Bank card can’t be used for online purchases (without activation)

    Krungsri Bank 🏦

    The Yellow Bank

    krungsri bank

Also known as the Bank of Ayudhaya, Krungsri Bank has a couple of helpful services that earn it a place among the best banks in Thailand for foreigners. Their mobile app is very capable and can be used for cardless cash withdrawals and making purchases using QR codes (scan to pay), as well as more common functions. On the other hand, Their number of branches isn’t great, with only about 700 in Thailand and three overseas, and only about 6,200 ATMs around Thailand.

Once you’ve found a branch, actually opening an account could potentially require more paperwork than most of the other banks need. At the very least, you’ll probably be asked for proof of your address in the form of either an apartment lease of at least a year or house registration documents. If you’re staying in Thailand on a marriage visa, you may also be asked to provide documents to prove that you’re married, too. On the other hand, some expats have reported needing nothing more than a passport and a winning smile, so it really does boil down to picking the right branch and a healthy dose of luck.

Once you have an account, Krungsri’s helpful services include the exceptional app, overseas money transfers (DeeMoney is much cheaper) through Western Union or SWIFT and a debit card that you can use for online purchases. They can also provide loans, investments and insurance. Their range of insurance policies is relatively limited, but cover your life, retirement, health, motor and home. They even have a specific policy to protect your mobile phone from accidents and theft, which demonstrates their devotion to mobile banking.

Pros:

  • Good number of branches and ATMs
  • Can do international money transfers
  • Excellent digital banking services

Cons:

  • A lot of documents [may be] required to open an account
  • Limited choice of insurance policies

    Krungthai Bank 🏦

The Light Blue Bank

krungthai bank
Krungthai Bank is perhaps a little old-school, which is a little ironic when you realise that they’re actually one of Thailand’s younger banking institutions. They only formed in 1966, when two government-owned banks merged. They do have among the largest number of branches around the country – about 1,200 – which is helpful because their app and online services are a little limited, so you’ll be needing to use branches a lot.

A point that acts more significantly in the bank’s favour and gains it a place among the best banks in Thailand for foreigners is the ease of setting up an account. As with most of the banks in Thailand, some people have had the experience of just needing a passport and a few hundred baht to deposit, but even the official requirements are very forgiving. Other than your passport, you may need only the endorsement of a credible company or a visa that’s valid for at least three months. International students can even set up a Krungthai account with just their passport and a certificate issued by their school.

Sadly, the old-school attitude returns with the very short and unremarkable list of features that come with the standard savings account. It doesn’t even come with a debit card as standard and, while you can get one that you can use for online purchases, it costs a small annual fee. Their banking app has a few helpful features, like a bill splitting function that generates a QR code for easy payment, but it isn’t as capable as some of the competitor apps.

The other services available are fairly standard and include loans, investments, foreign exchange and overseas transfers (DeeMoney is much cheaper) using SWIFT and Western Union. While insurance policies are available, the choice is extremely limited, covering only travel, health, home and motor insurance, with only a couple of choices of policy for each category at the most.

Pros:

  • Huge number of branches and ATMs
  • Can do international money transfers
  • Easy to open an account

Cons:

  • Comparatively basic digital banking services
  • Savings account doesn’t come with a card as standard

    TMB Bank 🏦

The Red, White and Blue Bank

TMB Bank
TMB stands for Thai Military Bank and, as the name suggests, was devised by an army officer who wanted to provide financial services for military personnel. In 1973, about a decade after their first branch was opened, they became a commercial bank that the general public could also use. However, they remain remain one of the smaller Thai banks, with only about 400 branches and fewer than 3,000 ATMs. How can they earn the title of best bank in Thailand for foreigners? Because they’re award-winningly well managed. If you have trust issues surrounding money, these are the folks for you.

Unfortunately, that’s effectively where their list of positive attributes ends. They’re not the most user-friendly of banks, least of all for foreigners who can’t read Thai. Their mobile app covers the basic level of functionality and their internet banking services are adequate, but opening even a basic account takes a lot of documents and doesn’t even include an ATM card as standard.

TMB does provide a good choice of additional services, including loans, investments and international money transfers using SWIFT, but good luck figuring out the details since even the English section of their website shows only Thai text. Their insurance offerings are fairly broad, with a good choice of health and life insurance policies as well as motor, home and travel insurance options.

Pros:

  • Can do international money transfers
  • Good choice of insurance policies

Cons:

  • Limited number of branches and ATMs
  • Basic digital banking services
  • Savings account doesn’t come with a card as standard
  • A lot of documents required to open an account

    Thanachart Bank 🏦

The Orange Bank

Thanachart Bank
While Canada’s Scotiabank owns about half of Thanachart Bank, that doesn’t translate into any particular preferential treatment for expats, which is how it comes ranks in the lower half of this list of the best banks in Thailand for foreigners. The two companies operate entirely independently of each other, so there’s no cross-compatibility of services and accounts. With only about 600 branches and 2,100 ATMs around Thailand, finding your local branch is the first challenge when it comes to opening an account.

Your next challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to get the right documents together to open an account. You’ll need at least your passport and work permit for a savings account. You don’t need a work permit for an NRBA, but you will need to go to one of two very specific branches – Tonson branch in Bangkok or the one in Nong Khai province.

Thanachart is regarded as the leading bank for car loans and also do property loans and a number of insurance options provided through Prudential. However, there’s next to no English-language information available about them online, beyond the advice to go into a branch and ask – and indication of how far they are behind the banks higher on this list when it comes to internet and mobile banking.

Pros:

  • Easy to open an account
  • Excellent reputation for car and home loans

Cons:

  • Limited number of branches and ATMs
  • Basic digital banking services
  • Very little information about other services available online in English

    CIMB Bank 🏦

The Red Bank

CIMB Bank
As we get further down the list of the best banks in Thailand for foreigners, we start to encounter more foreign-owned banks. As with Thanachart, that doesn’t translate into them being any more foreigner-friendly, mostly because they tend to have fewer branches and facilities in Thailand than the home-grown banks. CIMB may be among the largest banks in Malaysia, but are only about the 10th largest in Thailand, with only about 150 branches and 530-ish ATMs.

One unique benefit to CIMB is that, being a Malaysian company, they offer Islamic banking services, and they can also handle international money transfers (DeeMoney is much cheaper) through both SWIFT and MoneyGram. However, their other services are relatively limited. The debit card that comes with a basic savings account can’t be used for online purchases, you can’t make international transfers through their app their online banking site is a little outdated.

Aside from loans and investments, CIMB offers a fairly comprehensive range of insurance policies. The choice of life insurance packages is particularly broad, though they also do home and motor insurance.

Pros:

  • Can do international money transfers
  • Islamic banking services available
  • Good choice of insurance policies

Cons:

  • Small number of branches and ATMs
  • Bank card can’t be used for online purchases
  • Basic digital banking services

    UOB Bank 🏦

The Other Dark Blue Bank

UOB Bank
The whole “each bank has a unique colour” thing starts to fall apart as you get this far down the list of the best banks in Thailand for foreigners, but so does the number of branches and ATMs that these banks have, so the risk of confusion is still quite low. The United Overseas Bank has just over 150 branches in Thailand, though their Bangkok headquarters in the aptly-named Robot Building is pretty easy to spot.

When it comes to banks for foreigners, UOB is for high-rollers only. The minimum initial deposit for a foreigner to open a basic savings account is a whopping 50,000 baht, and it doesn’t even come with a debit card. You’ll also need a passport, Thai phone number and a work permit, though some expats have reported being able to open an account without the latter.

In terms of services, the fact that it’s an international bank naturally means that they can handle international money transfers (DeeMoney is much cheaper), both through Western Union and SWIFT. Their online services are quite modern and user-friendly and their app is unusually advanced. Styled as a “lifestyle banking app”, it allows you to book restaurants and make contactless payments, on top of a comprehensive list of typical banking functions. While UOB offers loans, investments and insurance, their choices for each are extremely limited.

Pros:

  • Can do international money transfers
  • Good internet banking services
  • Exceptional mobile banking services

Cons:

  • Small number of branches and ATMs
  • Massive initial deposit required to open account
  • Very limited choice of insurance policiesCitiBank 🏦

The Other Light Blue Bank

Citibank
CitiBank is the largest of the foreign banks in Thailand in terms of assets, belonging to the American-based Citigroup. They offer a credit card linked with the Thai Airways frequent flyer programme, Royal Orchid Plus, so you can earn air miles with purchases on the ground. On the downside, while their assets are formidable, their number of branches is tiny, numbering just over 30.

They typical savings account comes with an ATM card and requires only a passport and work permit to open. A rare bonus, for a Thai bank, is that you can withdraw cash without fee at any Citibank ATM in Thailand or around the world (barring a few exceptions). Many of the big companies towards the top of our list charge a small fee for cash withdrawals, even if you use the bank’s own ATMs.

The range of services available to CitiBank customers is one of their big strengths. They can handle international money transfers (DeeMoney is much cheaper) through their website and mobile app, which definitely earns them a place among the best banks in Thailand for foreigners. They also offer loans and investments, but not insurance.

Pros:

  • Can do international money transfers
  • Easy to open an account
  • Can use ATM card at [almost] any CitiBank machine without fee
  • Can earn air miles with credit card
  • Great digital banking services

Cons:

  • Tiny number of branches and ATMs
  • Zero insurance policies available

    Final Verdict 🏆

Bangkok Bank is the most solid choice for foreigners, with Kasikornbank as a close runner-up. If you work in Thailand as a foreigner then you will almost always be asked to open either a Bangkok Bank or Kasikornbank account for your salary to be paid into.

These banks may offer international money transfers however they are by far the most expensive means of sending money abroad. If you are not already registered with DeeMoney it only takes a couple of minutes to register and you will save a fortune on unnecessary transfer fees.

Regarding insurance, DeeMoney are in partnership with AXA and are offering the chance for customers who register and transfer money monthly to be protected for 1 month against loss of life, dismemberment, loss of sight or permanent disability due to accident, including accident for riding or travelling as passenger on motorcycle with a principal sum up to THB 50,000.

If you are already registered with DeeMoney, you can sign up for the AXA insurance scheme here.