Transferring money to Thailand has always been slow and expensive. Whether you’re sending money from the US, Australia, the UK or Canada, you get hit with fees from all sides – your home bank, the receiving bank in Thailand – not to mention the terrible exchange rate. In addition to this, it can take several days for the money to arrive in your Thai account.
In short – sending money to Thailand from your home country is a rip off. Banks are able to screw us over with heavy fees since we are a captive audience with limited other options for transferring money overseas. That is, until now.
Main Drawbacks of a Traditional Bank
- Fee from transferring bank
The transfer fee from your home bank can be up to $30 per transaction. If you transfer funds to Thailand once per month, that adds up to $360 per year. And we’re just getting started…
- Fee from receiving bank
Not only does your home bank charge you to send money overseas, but the receiving bank in Thailand will also charge you a fee. This can cost as much as 500THB or more (around $16.50).
- Poor exchange rates
The exchange rate that you see on websites like xe.com or Google are the mid-market exchange rate which indicates the real value of a currency. However, the exchange rate that your bank gives you when transferring money overseas is always lower than the mid-market exchange rate. This is so that your bank can make a profit on the difference. If you transfer $1000 at the mid-market exchange rate of 1USD = 30.0639 then you get 30,063.9THB. However, if the exchange rate given by your bank is 1 USD = 28THB then 1000USD would get you 28,000THB. This means your bank is siphoning 2,063.9THB or 68.58USD!
If being hit left and right with fees isn’t enough, you then have to wait for up to a week for the funds to arrive in the receiving bank.
Wise (formerly TransferWise) has finally provided a cheap and fast solution for transferring money to Thailand. The amazing thing about Wise is that they actual give you the mid-market exchange rate. This means you are getting the same (or almost the same) exchange rate that you see on xe.com. You just pay a small fee for the transfer.
To transfer $1000 to a Thai bank the fee is just $6.57 (Dec 2020). That works out at to about 0.7% of the amount that’s converted. That’s it – no other fees. Your rate is locked in at the time of transfer and is always extremely close to the rate you’d see on Google or Xe.com.
As you can see above, the exchange rate given by Wise is 1USD = 30.0850THB. Compare this to the mid-market rate given by xe.com on the same day, at the same time. The screenshot below shows the mid-market exchange rate at 1USD = 30.0639. This means that the exchange rate given by Wise was actually slightly better than the mid-market rate. Amazing!
To be fair, the exchange rate given by Wise isn’t always better than the rates given on Google and xe.com. It just so happened that we got lucky on the day that we took the screenshots for this post. The rates are updated throughout the day so they fluctuate between being slightly above, slightly below or exactly the same as the mid-market rate.
Ok, looks good… but what is Wise?
Wise is an online money transfer service which gives you a “borderless” account. This means you can hold multiple currencies within one account. The benefits of a borderless account are that you can easily send money abroad, get paid in different currencies and pay for things when you’re on holiday. It’s free to set up an account – you just pay a small fee for each transaction.
Why Is Wise So Cheap?
Instead of actually exchanging the money and sending it overseas,Wise searches for other people making transfers in the same currency and essentially swaps the money. Wise then uses money from their own account in the recipient country and makes a local transfer to the receiving bank.
This process bypasses the need for any money to actually be sent overseas, making it a much speedier and cost-effective process. Clever huh?
To sum up – Wise is faster, cheaper and easier than using banks to transfer money to Thailand. The fees are low and transparent and the exchange rates are given at the mid-market rate. This is a really welcome alternative to using banks and getting hit with their extortionate fees. If you’re living abroad and / or dealing with different currencies – stick it to the banks and use Wise instead.
Give Wise a Try – You can see how the exact rate you’d be locked in towithout signing up or sending any money.