Travel Money Guide: Thailand

Compare the travel cards, debit cards, credit cards and other travel money options that’ll see you through your holiday of shopping and beach-hopping in Thailand.

Many Australian tourists choose to travel to Thailand, and it’s easy to see why. Crystal clear beaches, colourful nightlife and magnetic culture combine to offer a great holiday at a budget price. But even if it’s cheap, picking the right travel money can make a trip to the Land of Smiles even more affordable. Major brands such as Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted in Thailand, although don’t expect to fund your holiday with your card alone. There are many businesses which operate on a cash only basis. ATMs are common and take Australian issued cards. Find out how to spend with your card and make withdrawals for cheap below.

Which option is right for your next trip?

Qantas Cash

Qantas Cash

  • Earn up to 1.5 Qantas Points per eligible $1 spent
  • 11 currencies on one card
  • Lock in exchange rates

Qantas Cash

The Qantas Cash allows you to earn Qantas Points on all transactions including local and foreign transactions.

  • Choose from 11 currencies on the one card: USD, GBP, EUR, THB, NZD, SGD, HKD, CAD, JPY, AED and AUD
  • Ability to load money and convert currencies 24/7 on the secure customer portal.
  • Locked-in exchange rates for multiple currencies and low and transparent fees.
  • Accepted electronically – at over 35 million locations in over 210 countries worldwide.

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Compare travel cards for Thailand

Rates last updated January 23rd, 2018
Name Product Description Available Currencies ATM Withdrawal Fee Reload Fee Initial Load Fee
Hold up to 11 currencies on the card and get a locked-in exchange rate. Use at home and overseas to rack up Qantas Points on eligible purchases.
AUD 1.95, CAD 2.00, EUR 1.50, GBP 1.25, HKD 15.00, JPY 160, NZD 2.50, SGD 2.50, USD 1.95, THB 70.00, AED 6.50

Hold up to 10 different currencies and lock in your exchange rate. No transaction fees on purchases with a backup card in case one is lost or stolen.
AUD 3.50, USD 2.50, GBP 2.00, EUR 2.20, NZD 4.50, CAD 3.00, HKD 20.00, SGD 4.00, THB 95, JPY 260

You can load and hold up to ten currencies on the Multi-currency Cash Passport with a locked-in exchange rate. Pay no transaction fees for purchases or withdrawals and access emergency cash through 24/7 global emergency assistance.
Overseas: $0

Domestic: 2.95% of the amount withdrawn


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Rates last updated January 23rd, 2018
Name Product Foreign Currency Conversion Fee Overseas ATM Withdrawal Fee Overseas Cash Advance Fee Annual fee Product Description
Bankwest Zero Platinum Mastercard
0% of transaction value
2% of transaction amount or $4 (whichever is greater)
$0 p.a.
Offers a $0 annual fee, 0% foreign transaction fees, complimentary international travel insurance and access to a 24/7 concierge service.
Bankwest Breeze Platinum Mastercard
0% of transaction value
2% of transaction amount or $4 (whichever is greater)
$99 p.a.
Receive a 0% p.a. interest rate on balance transfers for 24 months, complimentary travel insurance and 0% foreign transaction fees.
28 Degrees Platinum Mastercard
0% of transaction value
3% of the cash advance or $4 (whichever is greater)
$0 p.a.
Designed for travel, benefit from 0% foreign transaction fees on purchases, a $0 annual fee for life and a personal concierge service.
ANZ Rewards Travel Adventures card
0% of transaction value
$225 p.a.
Receive 40,000 bonus Velocity Points, 2 yearly Virgin Australia lounge passes, plus enjoy $0 overseas purchase transaction fees.

Westpac Lite Card
0% of transaction value
$108 p.a.
Keep credit card costs low with a maximum credit limit of $4,000, a 9.9% p.a. purchase interest rate and no foreign transaction fees.
Bankwest Qantas Platinum Mastercard
0% of transaction value
2% or $4, whichever is greater
$160 p.a.
Enjoy 0% foreign transaction fees, complimentary travel insurances and earn 0.5 Qantas Points per $1 spent on eligible purchases.
Bankwest More Platinum Mastercard
0% of transaction value
2% of transaction amount or $4 (whichever is greater)
$160 p.a.
Earn 2 More Rewards Points per $1 spent, 75,000 bonus points when you meet the spend requirement and save with 0% foreign transaction fees.

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Rates last updated January 23rd, 2018
Name Product Product Description Debit Card Access ATM Withdrawal Fee Monthly Account Fee Overseas ATM Withdrawal Fee Overseas Eftpos Fee
Westpac Choice
Take advantage of Westpac's Global Alliance and save on overseas ATM fees at over 50,000 locations worldwide with fee-free cash withdrawals.
St.George Complete Freedom Account
Part of the Westpac Global Alliance, save on overseas ATM fees at over 50,000 locations worldwide with fee-free cash withdrawals.

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How much baht do I need to bring to Thailand?

Although prices in Thailand are increasing steadily each year as a result of tourism, it’s still a budget destination for Australian travellers. Example holiday expenses in Bangkok are outlined below.

Some of the daily costs for a Thailand holiday

$10 - $20 AUD per night
2 star hotel
$40 - $80 AUD per night
5 star hotel
$150 - $300 AUD per night
to-eatKhao Gang (curried rice/street food)
$1 - $3 AUD
Gaeng Kiew Waan (Green curry with fish balls/restaurant)
$10 AUD
5 star restaurant
$100 AUD or more for 3 courses and drinks
shopMarketing shopping on Koh Sahn RoadBangkok food tour
$40 AUD per person
Rent a Lamborghini
$1,800 AUD for a day

*Prices are indicative and subject to change

Exchange rate history

Between 2014 and 2015, the Aussie dollar dropped in value compared to the baht by about 5 baht to the dollar. If you think this trend will continue, you can purchase traveller's cheques or a travel money card to lock in a rate during your trip.

YearAverage annual exchange Australian Dollar (AUD) to Thai Baht (THB)
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Which travel cards, debit cards and credit cards?

Visa and Mastercard branded travel cards, debit cards and credit cards can be used for over the counter purchases and ATM withdrawals in Thailand. You can use a Visa or Mastercard card to pay for hotels and some hostels, for food at medium to large restaurants, when shopping at department stores and retailers, and, of course, when you want to withdraw cash from ATMs. American Express is accepted on a case by case basis, you’ll need a Visa or Mastercard too if you plan on travelling with an AMEX card. If you’re venturing outside the cities, you will need cash to pay for your expenses. Smaller guesthouses and restaurants (often family run) are cash only, as are markets. Make sure you have a stack of baht for the times when you’ll need cash, which will be often.

Travel money options for Thailand at a glance

Travel Money OptionProsConsiderations
Debit cards for travel
  • Most places have ATMs
  • Convenience: Citibank Plus Transaction Account allows instant global transfers to any other Citibank account you own
  • Charge a currency conversion fee when you use the card to make a purchase or withdrawal in Thai baht
  • Citibank Plus Transaction Account is the only debit card which waives currency conversion fee
Prepaid travel money cards
  • Locked-in exchange rates
  • A safe way to carry money – protected by pin and signature and can easily be cancelled
  • There are issue fees, reload fees and inactivity fees to compare as well as ATM and currency conversion fees.
  • Not all travel cards support baht
Credit cards for travel
  • Accepted everywhere
  • Some credit cards offer complimentary international travel insurance when you charge the cost of your return travel ticket to your card
  • Some credit cards need a pin to access which gives you extra security
  • Overseas ATM fees and currency conversion fees
  • Cash advances accrue interest from the moment of withdrawal
  • American Express can be used in less places and Diners card even fewer
Traveller's cheques
  • Security
  • Traveller’s cheques can be easily cashed in Thailand
  • There’s a fee of about 150THB charged for each cheque you try to cash
  • Greater payment flexibility
  • Convenience
  • More difficult to manage expenses
  • Higher risk of theft

This table is a general summary of the travel money products in the market. Features and benefits can vary between cards.

How travel cards, debit cards, credit cards and traveller’s cheques work in Thailand

Using a prepaid travel card

Travel cards offer value if they allow you to convert funds into the currency of the country you’re visiting. You load aussie dollars and convert the funds to Thai baht via the card provider’s online portal. However, not all travel cards support baht. You’ll also need to consider the currencies of neighbouring countries if you’re travelling around Southeast Asia as well. If you pick a travel card which can’t hold baht, you’ll pay a currency conversion fee when you make a purchase or withdrawal in Thailand.

In this case, a travel money card will cost you more to use than the cards you already have in your wallet. Some travel cards don’t charge for currency conversion; however, these cards will certainly charge you to make an ATM withdrawal. There are issue fees, reload fees and inactivity fees to compare as well as ATM and currency conversion fees. Travel cards can charge a premium for the benefits on offer: a dedicated travel dual card travel account separate from your savings.

Using Australian debit cards

Most debit cards will charge a currency conversion fee when you use the card to make a purchase or withdrawal in Thai baht. The Citibank Plus Transaction Account is the only debit card on offer which waives these fees. The other major advantage of using a Citibank Plus Transaction Account is that it allows instant global transfers to any other Citibank account you own. So if you are an Aussie with an account in Thailand, all you have to do is transfer money into your Thai account.

  • Tip: You can avoid the local ATM fee by using the Citibank Plus account at Citibank ATMs in Thailand (there are only a couple in Bangkok).

Travelling to Thailand with an Australian credit card

Credit cards have a reliable acceptance rate in Thailand, especially Visa and Mastercard branded products. Similar to Australia, American Express can be used in less places and Diners card even fewer still. Travel friendly credit cards waive fees for currency conversion when you make a purchase in baht at the point of sale in Thailand. There are a few financial institutions which waive this fee. When comparing cards, weigh up the additional benefit on offer, such as complimentary travel insurance or an increased frequent flyer points earn rate when you spend in baht.

  • Tip: Some credit cards offer complimentary international travel insurance when you charge the cost of your return travel ticket to your card.

Using traveller's cheques

Unlike other countries, traveller’s cheques can be easily cashed in Thailand at exchange offices and banks. However, debit cards and travel cards have largely replaced traveller’s cheques. Although you can get a better rate transferring funds using traveller’s cheques, there’s a fee of about 150THB charged for each cheque you try to cash.

Getting a refund if you’re the victim of a fraudulent transaction

Paying with cash in Thailand

Make an ATM withdrawal when you arrive or exchange Australian dollars at an exchange office or bank to get Thai baht. You won’t pay a commission to get cash changed, but avoid exchange cash at hotels, hostels and guesthouses as you’ll get a bad rate. As always, avoid changing money at airports.

  • Tip: Treat Thai banknotes and coins with respect. It depicts the royal family.


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Interview with Justin about travel money in Thailand

Justin T.

Justin visited Southeast Asia with his friends. Thailand was the only country they visited. They flew into Bangkok and spent some time temple-spotting and exploring Koh Sahn Road before jumping on another plane and heading south to Phuket. He spent three weeks in Thailand.

What credit cards/debit cards/ travel money cards did you take with you?

Justin took these cards with him to Thailand:

Why did you take these cards?

  • Velocity Global Wallet. Justin took this prepaid travel money card to Thailand because he could convert Australian dollars to Thai baht and spend in Thailand without paying additional fees for currency conversion.
  • Bankwest Debit Card. This account was linked to his savings. He transferred money between his Bankwest and Velocity accounts when he needed to top up his Global Wallet with additional funds.
  • CBA Low Rate. He took this card with him to use as a backup.

What about ATM withdrawals?

Justin says he got charged ATM fees when he used the Velocity travel card to withdraw baht from ATMs in Thailand. He says he paid about 210THB ($7.80) per withdrawal, which was the total charge from both the ATM operator and Velocity. He says he paid a fee every time he made an ATM withdrawal.

Were there any places that you found your cards weren't accepted?

Justin says he had trouble using his travel card at certain ATMs. He says to look for the Mastercard or Visa logo at the ATM machine for an indication of whether your card will be accepted. He says there were instances when Mastercard was preferred over Visa, particularly merchants in Phuket markets. He says when he shopped in Phuket, the businesses owners would add a tax to the price of the item for using a Visa card.

How much cash would you need for a ten day holiday?

Justin says it depends on where you’re going and what you’re doing. He says he spent about $2,000 on tours, shopping, food and going out over three weeks.

What money tips do you have to anyone travelling to Thailand?

He says be realistic about how much you’re going to buy when you calculate your travel budget and how much money you’re going to bring. He says also be conscious of travel card reload times. A BPAY payment can take up to 3 days to clear (even longer if you try and reload over the weekend or a public holiday). He also says you’re going to need cash, especially if you want to do some market shopping. Finally, Justin says Monday is cleaning day in Bangkok, many of the street food vendors take the day off so you’ll have fewer choices for cheap street eats.

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Buying baht in Australia

It’s best to wait till you arrive in Thailand before buying Thai baht. The best way to get baht is to make an ATM withdrawal using an account which doesn’t charge an international ATM fee or currency conversion fee. You can do this at the airport as soon as you arrive as well as throughout your trip when you need more cash. You’ll pay a couple of dollars each time you withdraw baht from a Thai ATM. However, this will be cheaper than paying the exchange office commission and Visa and Mastercard give you one of the best rates on the market.

If you do want to purchase baht in Australia, you can buy foreign cash at these financial and foreign exchange institutions:

ATM withdrawals in Thailand

Thai ATMs charge a 180THB fee when you make an ATM withdrawal using your Australian issued credit, debit or travel card. Aeon ATMs charge 150THB per for each withdrawal. Using a Citi card and a Citi ATM is free.

  • Tip: Currently, there are no ATM machines on the island of Ko Lipe near the Malacca Strait, so make sure you’re carrying more than enough cash when you travel there.

Finding cash and ATMs in Thailand

Why you’ll need a combination of travel money options

As they say, you should never carry all of your eggs in one basket. The same runs true for your travel money. No one product will be the ‘best’ option for your holiday, so using several methods will give you greater accessibility and security.

For example, a line of credit could give you the peace of mind that you won’t be stuck without money in an emergency. Plus, the additional perks such as complimentary travel insurance and rewards could come in handy. A travel card can be valuable if it allows you to load Thai baht; however, you’ll pay ATM withdrawal fees charged on both ends. A travel debit card such as the Citibank Plus will let you withdraw money for cheaper. Spread your travel budget across a couple of cards so you have multiple ways to spend and access your money depending on the situation.

More than half a million Australians visit Thailand every year and it’s mind boggling to think of how much we’re paying to the banks for international transactions. Be savvy with your budget and apply for a product which saves you at least the currency conversion and international ATM fee. If you have any questions about travel money products for Thailand or using travel money in Thailand, ask a question using the form below.

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10 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    August 5, 2017

    I will be making a large purchase while visiting Phuket ($5000+) as well as general holiday expenses. What would be the best options for me?

    • Staff
      ArnoldAugust 5, 2017Staff

      Hi Helen,

      Thanks for your inquiry.

      For credit cards, you have to take note of 3 charges. Foreign transaction fees, Annual fees, and ATM withdrawal fees. For travel money cards, you need to be mindful of conversion rates and the time it takes to reload the card. Travel money cards can take up to 3 days to make funds available when you transfer more money onto your card in a reload. This is not ideal because it can leave you stranded if you do not have another payment method with you and you have run out of money on that card. For convenience, I would opt for a credit card. You may check a list of overseas travel credit cards here

      Hope this information helped.


  2. Default Gravatar
    RickAugust 17, 2015

    Can I use Australian travellers cheques in Thailand instead of a Travel Money Card?
    This way should be able to get a better exchange rate at the currency exchange booths?

    • Staff
      SallyAugust 18, 2015Staff

      Hi Rick,

      Thanks for your question.

      Using travellers cheques are another travel money option, and the best alternative will always depend on your individual financial situation and preferences.

      You may wish to visit our travel money card vs travellers cheques page for further information.

      I hope this has helped.



  3. Default Gravatar
    john1953July 1, 2015

    Do you need a visa prepaid travel card with in and chip and if you do please advise?

    • Staff
      SallyJuly 1, 2015Staff

      Hi John,

      Thanks for your question.

      Both of the suggested Visa prepaid travel cards suggested on our Thailand Travel Money Guide, the ANZ Travel Card and the Westpac Global Currency Card, are chip and PIN protected cards.

      Depending on what suits you best, there are also some chip protected prepaid travel MasterCards available for use in Thailand.

      I hope this has helped answer your question.



  4. Default Gravatar
    SuzanneMay 26, 2015

    A global currency card – is this accepted to pay accommodation in Thailand

    • Staff
      SallyMay 29, 2015Staff

      Hi Suzanne,

      Thank you for your question.

      The Westpac Global Currency Card supports Thai Baht (THB) and is accepted wherever Visa is. Visa is accepted widely in Thailand. So if the accommodation you’re staying at accepts Visa, you should be able to use the card fine.

      However, you may not want to use your prepaid card for hotel pre-authorisations because this can hold up your funds for weeks. In this case, it may be best to use your credit card.

      I hope this has answered your question.



  5. Default Gravatar
    nickAugust 11, 2014

    I have a commonwealth bank travel card in Baths but I have difficulty get any money from atm machines specially if the mc is close to an money exchange booth.
    Where can I use the card in Ching Mai?

    • Staff
      ShirleyAugust 12, 2014Staff

      Hi Nick,

      On the Commonwealth Bank website it states that the card is accepted at more than 35 million MasterCard locations worldwide, and that you can use it where the MasterCard symbol is displayed.

      If you’re having troubles with the functionality of the card, I’d recommend speaking to the customer service centre at Commonwealth Bank Travel Money.


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