Thursday, 21 July 2016

money exchange

Money saving tips: Money exchange

Update Jul 2017: transferwise has lowered their fees to 2 EUR + 0.7% for conversions from EUR to THB, which makes it competitive with money exchange.

Summary:
Against the interbank exchange rate (from www.xe.com), I lose about 0.5% when I exchange cash at places with a good rate, about 1.5% with transferwise and about 2% when I withdraw at an ATM from my bank account in Euro in Germany (other currencies and countries may vary).

I have no experience with bitcoins, traveller cheques or Western Union, these are not covered in this post. My bank (comdirect) cannot wire money from Germany to Thailand, and even if they could losses would probably be higher than with transferwise.

Money exchange is a frequent topic on blogs and forums:
http://bangkokwalkingtours.com/where-i-change-my-euros-or-dollars-in-bangkok/
http://gaybuttonthai.com/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=7504
http://www.gaythailand.com/forums/topic/10153-exchanging-money/
http://sawatdeenetwork.com/forum/bangkok-bitcoin-bonanza-t35456-30.html

http://sawatdeenetwork.com/v4/showthread.php?18119-At-airport-arrival-ATM-s
http://www.gaythailand.com/forums/topic/10274-transfer-money-to-thailand/ 

Money exchange

The advantages are: smallest loss, you know the rate before you exchange and you instantly get the money. Banks give poorer exchange rates than places like superrich or vasu. If you exchange at the airport or in places on Silom that have long opening times, you lose even more. Disadvantage: you have to carry large amounts of cash.

The places with the best rates are Superrich http://www.superrich1965.com/ (rate varies with branch: http://www.superrich.co.th/rate.php, I go to Superrich Silom in Silom Plaza), Vasu http://www.vasuexchange.com/ (no personal experience), My exchange (near BTS Chong Nonsi, walk on Narathiwat Ratchanakarin towards Silom road). Jewelers with attached money exchange (e.g. Natty Gems on Surawong, one place in Soi Thaniya) have slightly poorer rates.

Superrich and My exchange have best rates for 100 EUR/USD notes, rate falls for 20/50 and again for 5/10. Jewelers usually match the 5/10 rate.

Exchanging at Superrich is cumbersome (personal experience: German ID card accepted instead of passport, I have to sign copy, total three people involved before cashier), similar for Vasu with queue number in addition: http://www.gaythailand.com/forums/topic/10153-exchanging-money/page-2. At My Exchange (just around the corner), I am usually the only customer and have none of this.

There are companies with similar name and logo to Superrich (e.g. The Richy in BTS Sala Daeng).

Selected numbers for exchange rates:

Sat 09.05.2015
09:00 SCB (Siam Commercial Bank) at airport (Suwannaphumi) 1 EUR = 35.04 THB loss 6.8%
18:30 SCB opposite Ibis Sathorn Hotel 1 EUR = 36.95 THB loss 1.7%
18:30 xe.com 1 EUR = 37.59 THB (reference)

10.09.2015
Xe.com 40.44 (7:30 UTC Universal Time Coordinated)
My exchange 40.48 (14:30 BKK) no loss/gain
Superrich Silom 40.45 (14:30 BKK) no loss/gain
Gain of less than 0.1% probably due to rate change on xe before exchange booths could update their rates.

08.10.2015
Airport (Suwarnabhumi) all banks 38.16 (time around 9 am) loss 5.7%
Xe 40.47 reference


09.10.2015
My exchange 40.05 (6 pm BKK) loss 0.8%
Superrich Silom Plaza 40.15 loss 0.5%
Xe 40.37 reference

15.12.2015 12:35 BKK
My exchange 100-500 EUR 39.60 THB, 50 39.55, 5-20 39.50 loss 0.5% for 100-500
Superrich Silom Plaza same rates
Xe 39.80 (5:30 UTC) reference

Fri 08.04.2016
My exchange or Superrich Silom Plaza 39.85 for 100-500 EUR notes
Natty Gems 39.50
C.K. exchange 39.55
(same rate for all notes, both places on Surawong road near Soi Twilight)
Bangkok Bank 39.34
Gold shop in Thaniya 39.70 (for 100-500 EUR)
Superrich Silom (under BTS Sala Daeng) 39.70 (for 100-500 EUR)

For an overview of all Thai banks see here:
https://daytodaydata.net/

Mon 15.04.2016
Superrich Silom 39.40 loss 0.3%
xe 39.50

Tue 12.07.2016 around 16:00
Xe.com 38.98 THB for 1 EUR (reference)
All banks in Suvarnabhumi airport 36.32 loss 6.8%
Superrich at ARL in airport basement 38.85 (for 100-500 EUR notes) loss 0.3%

Withdrawal at ATM

Advantage: instant money (but takes a few days until you get bank statement, my bank statement shows the exchange rate, but I don’t know when the exchange took place therefore difficult to compare with xe.com).

Fees on Thai ATMs have been the subject of many a post on various forums. Thai banks charge 150 or 180 or 200 Baht per withdrawal (maximum amount 20 or 30 kTHB, loss from that fee alone
0.5% in best case and 1% in worst case). 

AEON used to have free withdrawal until around 2014, now fee. 
http://christianpfc.blogspot.com/2014/05/aeon-aera-is-over-exchange-rates.html

Citibank is still free, I use the branch in Silom (United Center, opposite Bangkok Christian Hospital, however two friends – German and US-American – reported their credit cards were not accepted or a fee was displayed). 

Update 16jul2016: A friend recently tried China Bank and got free withdrawal with 2 out of 3 Mastercards (but not with Visa or Cirrus debit card).

Update 12dec2016: Citibank now 200 Baht fee when I withdraw with Visa card

Update 1apr2017: Now up to 220 Baht fee
http://gaybuttonthai.com/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=8383  

I have a credit card from comdirect (my bank in Germany) that allows free money withdrawal worldwide (i.e. no fees from my bank, but fees from other banks apply).

Loss against interbank exchange rate is about 2%. Numbers in following examples vary a bit as I don’t know when between withdrawal and appearance on bank statement the exchange took place. Loss calculated as a range based on min max rate on xe between the days.

Exchange rate is set by visa and can be checked here: https://www.visaeurope.com/making-payments/exchange-rates. However, real losses are consistently higher than losses calculated with visa rate: for 01.07.2016 I get 38.80, whereas xe min 38.79 max 39.12 loss 0.0 to 0.8%.

01.12.2015
Citibank Silom withdraw 10 kTHB at 11:40
Xe 37.90 (4:40 UTC)
01.12.2015 bank statement 269.35 EUR = 10 kTHB (rate = 37.13) loss 2.0%

Tue 01.12.2015
Bank statement 10,000 THB = 269.35 EUR rate = 37.13 loss 1.9 to 2.3%
Xe between 26.11. and 01.12.2015 min 37.86 max 38.01
Visa rate 37.75

13.05.2015
Withdraw 10 kTHB from Citibank Silom, Visa rate 1 EUR = 37.50 THB (loss 1.5%)
xe.com 18:00 and 24:00 1 EUR = 38.07 THB reference
14.05.2015
Bank statement comdirect 270.92 EUR = 10,000 THB (1 EUR = 36.91 THB loss 3.0%)
Visa 1 EUR = 37.47 THB
15.05.2015 Visa 1EUR = 37.77 THB
Xe.com between 13.05. and 18.05.2015 min 37.95 max 38.51 (loss min 2.7% max 4.2%)

01.07.2015
Citibank Silom 23:45 withdraw 10 kTHB
Xe.com 37.46 (01.07.2015 16:50 UTC)
Visa for 02.07. 37.22 loss 0.6%
Visa for 03.07. 37.21 loss 0.7%
02.07.2015
Bank statement 10 kTHB = 272.07 EUR, rate 36.76 loss 1.9%

16.08.2015
Citibank Silom in the morning withdraw10 kTHB
17.08.2015
bank statment 10 kTHB = 259.27 EUR, rate 38.57
16.08. xe.com 39.12 loss 1.4%
17.08. xe.com 39.31 loss 1.9% 


Peer-to-peer money transfer services

Advantage: no need to carry cash, no need to go to a place.
Disadvantage: takes some days, final exchange rate is shown, but I don’t know when the exchange took place which makes it difficult to compare to xe.com.

I used Transferwise several times, others similar services are Azimo, Worldremit, HiFX.

Exchanges involving THB are the most expensive at 1.5% fee, for other currencies fees are as low as 0.5%.

Copyright 2016 ChristianPFC

9 comments:

  1. 1.the exact amount that Thai banks add to ATM varies as per card-type used.
    2.there are actually 3 different SR-companies: orange, green and blue/white, close together near BigC, ONLY the orange one is now wide-spread over town in about all touristy places and also out of BKk (at least ChMai and Pattaya).
    3.for old-style TC (Ive read somewhere that even AmEx does not sell these anymore): ONLY possible to change at Thai banks, never at such exchanges, and rate is about same or differs slightly from cash-rate (can be either negative or positive-its certainly NOT true that its always better, and even if, that it compensates the high fixed extra rate) AND there is also a 100/120/150/200+3 bt stamp fee withdrawn from total. Last time in TH I noted that 1 bank had a special deal on it.
    4.it may also be worth to note that the SAME Thai bank may have different xc-rates at different places-amazingly in/around KhaoSarn rates are often better as around Silom.
    5.again: basement at ARL- in Swampy has now 4-5 private excahnges, incl the orange SR-other places may offer near same or even better rates, but SR always has long Qs-the others not. Just walk around and compare.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Do not use Citibank ATM for withdrawals. They use internal network for currency exchange and provide terrible exchange rates. Find a bank in Germany which makes wire money transfers. Transfer funds once in a year or so. to your bank account in Thailand. Keep couple of thousands euro in cash in case you need to travel outside Thailand. The only way you can lose if Euro suddenly appreciates strongly versus Thai baht after you made transfer which is highly unlikely.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Nice to see someone analysing forex costs properly.
    My preferred method is still bringing a large wad of cash and exchanging at Superrich.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I tried skrill.com ( I have 2 acccounts, 1 connected to German bank, the other to Thai bank.) The exchange rate is little better than PayPal but still much worse than local money exchange. Not recommended.
    Bitcoin: You can buy with SEPA from Europe on Bitstamp.net and then sell with localbitcoins.com instantly for Baht to major Thai banks.
    It works fine but you have to wait for a good time to buy , wait until bitcoins go up and sell them then. With the same Bitcoin/Euro exchange rate you will make a loss because Thai local bitcoin exchange rate mostly is not good. That is because buyers and sellers make their own rates. May be you could use localbitcoins also to buy with Euros. I never tried this.

    ReplyDelete
  5. An easy way to find out how good the rate is, is to check the difference between buy and sell for a currency pair, here for EUR <-> THB:
    8sep2016 at Suwarnabhumi airport (same rate at all banks)
    Euro buy 36.38 sell 39.64 difference 9.0%
    14sep2016
    http://siamexchange.co.th/
    Euro (100-500) buy 39.05 sell 39.20 difference 0.4%
    http://www.superrich1965.com/ (head office or Silom same rates, other branches poorer rates)
    Euro (100-500) buy 39.05 sell 39.20 difference 0.4%
    20sep2016
    http://www.scb.co.th/en/personal-banking/others/foreign-exchange-services
    Euor buy 38.17 sell 39.61 difference 3.8%
    In Berlin Tegel airport difference between buy and sell about 28% for EUR <-> USD.

    I just learnt http://www.desiyatri.com/2012/01/best-money-changer-in-bangkok.html that there are two superrich, but with same rate:
    green http://superrichthai.com/exchange and
    organge http://www.superrich1965.com/
    (update: there are even three superrich see first comment)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Almost got short-changed in My Exchange. Took advantage of the post-US-election spike in exchange rate and exchanged 500 EUR at 38.6. Leave the THB on the counter and count: 16,300. Count again: 16,300. Before I can say anything, cashier moves over 3,000. Now it's 19,300.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I will avoid My Exchange in future

    ReplyDelete
  8. Citybank Silom ATM withdraw 20 kTHB with Visa card from comdirect account in EUR on 12dec2016 16:45. Message about 200 THB fee is displayed. (Same for 30 kTHB, but an error message appears, probably above my daily limit). Check the same day and the following day by online banking: not booked. Only on 14dec2016 it appears on onlinebanking (dated 12dec2016), rate was 36.8953. Compare with XE: rate from 37.70 to 37.90. That means I lost over 2.1% from exchange rate and 1.0% from fees.

    ReplyDelete
  9. A friend recommended ICBC, but they, too, charge 200 THB for withdrawal at ATM. Running out of cash, I went back to transferwise and was pleasantly surprised that their fee is down to 0.9% from 1.5% last time I used it. Money arrived within two days on my Thai bank account.

    ReplyDelete

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