Your trip to Thailand is all set. You have booked your flight and hotel, packed your bags and you are ready to go. But, you just found out that your money is no good in Thailand!
Well, actually it is good; it just needs to be converted to the local Thai currency. You have many options – some good and some bad.
Option #1 is to go to your local bank or currency exchange in your home country to get some of the local money. This is a bad idea because you will get a really bad rate of exchange.
Your second option is to change some money at your home airport. There will be a small booth with the rates posted and this will be as bad as option #1.
Your third choice is to pick up some traveler's checks at home and cash these in Thailand. This can be good or bad. It is ok if you don’t have to pay any fees for the TCs. And don’t even think about cashing them in at your hotel. You will get ripped off big time. Cash them in at a Thai bank. Don’t forget to record the numbers somewhere and stash them safely.
Fourth option is to bring all cash with you. This is obviously dangerous because if you lose your wad, your vacation is over. Bringing some cash with you is ok – but just enough for one or two days.
Fifth would be to bring an ATM card with you. Having a debit ATM card is an easy way to get Thai Baht at the current rate of exchange. Having a second debit card specifically for your trip is a good back up.
Last would be to use your credit card to get cash. Be careful. You may get a double whammy. You may get charged when you get your cash and then get charged an international exchange fee. There is also the possibility of your credit card being cloned – so be careful. I recommend that you don’t use a credit card in Thailand.
When I go to Thailand I bring a few hundred dollars to exchange to se me through my first couple of days. I also usually have a few thousand Baht left from my last trip. I transfer money to two different debit ATM accounts and use one as a primary and one as a backup (just in case). I bring my checking account ATM card with as a last resort. I have yet to use this but it is good to know that I have options.
I used to bring traveler's checks with me but when the bank started charging me 1% for them, I stopped using them. Also, only being able to exchange them at banks during business hours, or cashing them in at the hotel at terrible rates is not how I want to do business.
I prefer to use a debit ATM card since ATM machines are everywhere in Thailand and they are open 24 hours per day. You get the best rates and ATM machines provide the most convenience. Just plan to have a couple of different ways to fund your trip. It is no fun to be in foreign country on vacation with no access to funds.