Use a Visa or MasterCard debit, credit or pre-paid foreign currency card issued outside of Thailand at a cash machine of any bank in Chiang Mai and you’ll be slapped –to varying degrees of severity- with an ATM fee. Effective the 16th January 2017, each of the eight major Thai banks (Bangkok Bank, Government Savings Bank, Kasikorn Bank, Bank of Ayudhya (Krungsri), Krungthai Bank, Siam Commercial Bank, Thai Military Bank and Thanachart Bank) now levies a whopping 220 baht service charge per withdrawal. The least punitive ATM fee (150 baht) is achieved by using a cash machine belonging to the Japanese bank AEON with branches located at the Airport Business Park (3rd floor), Big C Extra, Big C Supercentre (Hang Dong branch), Tesco Lotus Hang Dong and Tesco Lotus Kam Tiang hypermarkets, Electronic Plaza Siam TV (2nd floor) on Chang Lor Road as well as on the 3rd floors of both CentralFestival and Central Airport Plaza shopping malls.
More preferable than minimising ATM fees borne of withdrawing baht at a cash machine of a local bank is to preclude them in the first place. Subject to individual branch policy as well as the discretion of on-duty banking staff, an overseas Visa or MasterCard debit, credit or pre-paid foreign currency card can be used to obtain baht by means of a counter withdrawal at any bank branch in Chiang Mai; doing so doesn’t, of course, invite an ATM fee and is carried out at an identical exchange rate to a cash machine withdrawal though you may still incur one or more foreign transaction charges imposed by your card provider.
Designed for everyday use and most convenient of all, foreigners are legally permitted to open an interest-bearing savings account and apply for a Visa or MasterCard debit card at any of the eight major Thai banks. While Thai debit cards, with precious few exceptions, do attract both a joining/entrance/application fee -of between 100 and 300 baht- in addition to an annual fee -from 200 to 650 baht- with the precise amounts depending on the issuing bank and the card type, you won’t at least be subject to a financial penalty when withdrawing cash at any ATM of the same bank in the same province (otherwise a nominal ‘inter-bank’ and/or ‘inter-region’ fee will typically apply).
How do you minimise or avoid altogether paying ATM fees whilst living in Chiang Mai? Don’t hold back, hit us with your experiences by posting a comment below!
If you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out the Introduction to our series about the true cost of living in Chiang Mai with separate articles detailing Accommodation, Alcohol & Tobacco, Food & Drink, Health Care, Immigration Fees, Internet Access, Thai SIM Cards, Transportation, Utilities & Laundry as well as Work Spaces.