Use a credit card without foreign transaction fees to save money abroad.
Credit cards are widely accepted in Thailand, especially in the large cities. But the country also relies heavily on cash, so you’ll need some on-hand for taxis, smaller shops, street stalls and smaller establishments.
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Consider a credit card without foreign transaction fees to avoid paying extra on purchases made abroad.
Save money with the following cards if you often travel to Thailand:
All Nippon Airways (ANA) flies between the US and Thailand. As a member of the Star Alliance, you can earn and redeem miles with a United credit card.
On the other hand, you can find flights on Delta or China Eastern Airlines and earn or redeem SkyMiles with a Delta card. But since this is an American Express card, it may have limited acceptance in Thailand.
Potential credit card fees in Thailand
There are two kinds of fees you could incur while using your credit card in Thailand:
- Foreign transaction fees. You could pay up to 3% for every transaction you make. That’s $120 fee per $4,000 spent in Thailand.
- Currency conversion fees. If you pay a merchant or make a withdrawal from an ATM in US dollars instead of local currency, you’ll incur a Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC). DCC comes with poor exchange rates and additional fees potentially.
Can I incur both fees?
Yes. Avoid this by declining DCC and using a credit card without foreign transaction fees.
Which credit card issuers are accepted in Thailand?
American Express cards are accepted in large supermarkets, at expensive restaurants and hotels and at gas stations. Discover cards have moderate card acceptance in Thailand, mostly in high-end establishments. Look for the Diners Club logo for Discover card acceptance.
If you’re looking to make cash withdrawals, look for Citibank or Bangkok Bank ATMs for your Discover card. Bangkok Bank ATMs also accepts Amex cards, but so do many smaller banks’ ATMs.
Should I use my credit card to get cash in Thailand
Thailand is mostly a cash-driven society and smaller establishments often won’t accept cards. Plus, using cash can be quicker and more convenient.
You could use a credit card to make a cash withdrawal from an ATM, but you’ll likely get high cash advance fees and a cash advance APR. Use a debit card for cash withdrawals to avoid those fees.
Some travelers claim the ATM cash withdrawal fee in Thailand is 220 baht, which is $7. You can minimize this by withdrawing large sums between 20,000 and 30,000 baht ($640 and $960). This is the ATM’s maximum withdrawal limit in Thailand.
Do taxis in Thailand accept credit cards?
No. Also, ridesharing, such as Uber, is illegal in the country.
Chip and PIN credit cards
Both chip and PIN credit cards and cards with a magstripe will work perfectly fine in Thailand. However, for cash withdrawals and unmanned POS terminals, a credit card with a PIN may be the best choice.
Get you four-digit PIN from the bank before you travel.
Is it safe to use my credit card in Thailand?
Thailand is generally safe for credit card use, but caution is advised. For example:
- Select ATMs with care. Use an ATM attached to a bank as it’s less likely to have a card-skimming device. Also, you can more easily recover your card should it get stuck in the machine.
- Take two cards. Carry a backup card in case something should happen to your primary card.
- Keep your card in sight. Watch your card when paying with it to minimize card misuse.
How to prepare before traveling to Thailand
- Get a credit card without foreign transaction fees. Otherwise, you’ll pay up to 3% on everything you buy.
- Visa and Mastercard are universally accepted. You’ll be good with a Visa and Mastercard. American Express and Discover cards are also mostly accepted at high-end establishments and other places.
- Notify your bank before you travel. Your bank could block your card otherwise.
- Get your bank’s phone number. Call to quickly resolve any card-related issues.
- Get a backup card. You could lose your primary card or it may be declined. Having a backup card could be a lifesaver.
- Get some cash. You’ll need cash for smaller purchases and taxis. An ATM cash withdrawal could be an option, but make sure you’re using a debit card to avoid fees and the high APR.
Thailand is a cash-based society, but you can freely use your card almost everywhere in the large cities. Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted, but you could find places that take Amex and Discover, too.
For cash withdrawals, consider using a debit card as it’s free from cash advance fees and an APR. Use a credit card without foreign transaction fees for everything else you buy.
See more guides on using a credit card in other countries.