Transferring money to Thailand from your home country, be it the US, Canada, Australia, or UK, has been a pain point for just about every expat at one time or another. But we all have to do it.
The scale of it is huge.
In 2013, $4,124,000,000 in remittances were sent to Thailand from other countries, of which US, Germany, Australia, UK, and Sweden were the biggest senders.
You can bet your bottom dollar a huge amount of that was expats funding their Thai bank accounts, and of course sending money to Thai partners.
We all know banks are a scam, but hiding your money under a mattress is exactly a safe bet these days, not that it has ever been. And because they have you by the short and curlys, they are free to slap on big fees if you want to transfer money.
In short, it sucks. You are charged to withdraw your own money! Okay, so you are abroad, so you expect to pay a small fee, but not for them to make a profit. And they do…
The 4 Pain Points of Transferring Money to Thailand
1: Transfer Fee
The SWIFT transfer fee can be anywhere from 10-20 pounds, approximately $15. Doesn't sound like much, but what if you do regular transfers, say 2 a month, that's going to run you near on 250 a year! And we're nowhere near done yet.
2: Receiving Fee
Then, you get hit on the other end by the receiving bank for another amount of about the same. Bangkok Bank, for example, charge 500 Baht. So you've already paid twice.
3: Currency Conversion Charge
But here's the nasty one. Most people presume you get the regular transfer rate. You know, the one you see on XE.com. It's called the “market rate”. But then you do the math and realise that you've been shortchanged, massively!
You can offset the loss slightly by choosing to send money in your home currency. So many people sending money to Thailand make the mistake of converting to Thai Baht at source instead of at the Thai end. This will see you lose big time as your bank steals a nice chunk on their own exchange rate – one they just made up, not the “market rate”. That said, the Thai bank will still convert your currency to Thai Baht and make a enough for a meal out, but they won't squeeze your pockets as hard as the bank back home.
4: Transfer Times
So you've had your pockets skimmed on all fronts, and even after they've dipped their finger in your honeypot, the banks still can't promise the money will be there within 48 hours. Hell, sometimes it's as long as 7 days!
Like It, Lump It, Or…
Sending money to Thailand is expensive, but what other option do you have except the bank?
You could carry money through customs, but then how often do you fly home to be able to do that? And to be honest I hate carrying a ton of money around with me. It's just not safe.
Western Union is just silly expensive, and PayPal steals 3.5% on a transfer and charges up to 4% currency conversion fees. Yes, I said up to 4%! It's 3% for the UK.
Well, as you probably guessed, the point of this post is to reveal that there is a solution, thank Buddha!
>> Enter Transferwise
Seriously, I have waited years for this, and I was so skeptical I didn't believe it was possible. But now you can transfer money to Thailand with ZERO bank charges, get the MARKET RATE currency conversion and only pay a 1% fee. I know, hard to believe. But I'm doing it.
Check this out: Here is the rate I got from Transferwise on 1,000 GBP:
I saved over 50 quid on transferring through a bank!
Now look at the market rate for the same time of day on XE.com
Yep, the Transferwise rate is actually slightly better!
I was so over the moon with my transfer that I popped off an email to them and asked if I could get more information so I could blog here about it. They were chuffed, and offered to give my readers a free transfer up to 1,000 GBP, only for the first transaction though.
But How Does Transferwise Make Sending Money to Thailand so Cheap?
Well, with backing from the likes of Richard Branson, I guess anything is possible. But actually it's quite genius. Once you initiate the transfer, Transferwise searches for other people doing a transfer from the location you are sending to, and effectively swaps the currency.
Of course, money transfers being as frequent as they are, this means there's usually several matchers available, making the process damn quick. My first one completed in 48 hours.
This process is completed by making several individual conversions using effective market exchange rates work in your favour. In other words different parts of the transfer can be converted using different exchange rates. Normally it takes a day or two to process conversions. For big amounts it could take longer.
Here's a cool video that explains how it works:
Quick Benefits Summary:
- No home country bank fee.
- No receiving country bank fee.
- Market rate on conversion, or better!
- Fast transfer, especially on amounts below 5k. 48-72 hours.
- Once you're comfortable with the system, can use the iOS or Android app for transfers on the fly.
It feels good to avoid those bank fees!