By our guest blogger Mehul.
Last year, my cousin, Karan, visited Thailand on a one week trip with three of his friends – Karim, Aarav, and Rahul. He did his research on which all places they should visit, what are the activities they should try, where and what to eat, etc. But he forgot to do his research on one important parameter – mode of payments.
As a result, he decided to use his International Debit Card, not knowing the drawbacks. Interestingly, each of his friends who accompanied him was dependent on different modes of payment. Karim was dependent on cash, Aarav was dependent on his Credit Card, and Rahul was dependent on Prepaid Forex Card.
During their flight to Bangkok, each one of them started arguing that their chosen mode of payment is better than everyone else’s.
With this article, I will share with you their experiences with all the different modes of payment. Let us learn from their mistakes and figure out which is the best mode of payments.
They reached the Suvarnabhumi Airport and realized that they would need some cash in the local currency. Let us see what they all did –
1. Karim, who was carrying US dollars with him (since USD is widely accepted), decided to exchange some of his money at one of the popular money exchange units inside the airport itself. He had bought 1000 US dollars in India for INR 64,150 (USD 1 = INR 63.7 at the time of writing this article). At the airport, he got THB 3070 for USD 100 (USD 1 = THB 31.35). So, for THB 3070, he paid INR 6415, losing at least INR 180 (since 1THB = INR 2.03; THB should have cost him INR 6232). Therefore, his loss percentage was 2.9%.
2. Karan was not carrying any money with himself and was not too keen to borrow money from Karim. So he looked for an ATM which would accept his international debit card. He found one inside the airport itself. The ATM machine informed him that he will be charged 1.5% for the transaction and the exchange rate would be THB 1 = INR 2.05 He decided to withdraw THB 1000. Therefore, his loss percentage was about 2.5%.
3. Aarav was carrying Thai currency along with his credit card. He had exchanged THB 10000 from a local foreign exchange vendor at the rate of THB 1 = 2.08. So, for THB 10000, he paid INR 20800. Therefore, his loss percentage was about 2.5%. Apart from the loss, he also had the risk of carrying such a huge amount with him. So, what seemed like a difference of just INR 0.05 per THB became a lot when exchanged in a large sum of money.
4. Rahul, who had done a good amount of research on how to carry money, used his Forex card to pay for the prepaid cab at the counter which would take them to their
hotel. The amount to be paid was THB 200. He had loaded his multi-currency Forex card with US Dollars and Thai Bahts. He swiped his Forex card which does not cost any money when used at merchant outlets. He had exchanged USD for INR 63.72 each and THB for INR 2.05 each. Since he was not charged any fee at the merchant outlet, his loss percentage was less than 1% for making the payment using Thai Baht in his prepaid Forex card. Moreover, each of his friends returned THB 50 to him in cash. Therefore, by the time they left the airport, Rahul had TBH 150 on him along with his prepaid Forex card.
On the fifth day of the trip, they had gone to eat at a local restaurant in Pattaya. At the end of the meal, there were all a little drunk. Aarav gave his credit card to pay the bill and after getting it back, they all left.
The next morning, Aarav received an e-mail saying that THB 10000 has been withdrawn from his account. He checked his wallet and saw the credit card inside it. He took it out only to realize that it was not his; it was a fake one. Aarav cried and wished he, too, was carrying a prepaid Forex card which can be replaced within 24 hours if lost or damaged.
Cloning of credit cards is quite infamous in Thailand, so it is advisable not to use your credit cards when visiting Thailand.
On the penultimate day of the trip, they all had exhausted the money they had with them in the form of cash or card. So, Rahul called up his Father and asked him to load some money on his card.
By the end of the day, Rahul was notified that his card has been reloaded.
Since he had chosen Buy Forex Online prepaid Forex card, he went to the ATM and withdrew some money without having to pay any transaction fee.
That was because Buy Forex Online offers two free ATM withdrawals.
So, we can conclude that:
a. Exchanging money at the airport (even with a reputable company) is a very bad idea. Rather, opt for local foreign exchange vendors and compare their prices.
b. Do not, no matter what, carry your credit card when visiting Thailand.
c. Using a prepaid Forex card whilst visiting Thailand is the best option.
d. While Rahul did the right thing by carrying a prepaid Forex Card, it is always better to carry some cash either in US dollars or in the local currency.