Thai ATMs – the saga continues

After the fun of finding out that the Thai banks seem to have formed some sort of “let’s screw the farang” cartel, I have more infornation on getting free money out of their ATMs.

First up, as far as I can ascertain the Government Savings Bank is free for all, but only accepts Visa cards.

HSBC took my card fine and didn’t charge, but I think it only accepts Visa cards.

UOB seems to work a treat as well with no charges for my Visa or Barbera’s Dutch Maestro card.

However, Bank of Ayudhya is hit and miss. I withdrew cash from the Khao San Road branch with my Nationwide Visa ATM card for no fee. I met a Dutch couple the day after who had used the exact same branch and paid the 150 Baht “you’re a foreigner, give us your cash because we hate tourists” tax.

As such, I would say the simple rule is to try as many machines as you can especially if you’re non-UK and/or using a non-Visa card. I will do my best to keep information on this blog up to date but realistically I can only test with my UK Nationwide Visa.

Now does anyone have an address I can write to to voice my complaints about the fees? For a country trying to rebuild its tourism, they’re really doing their best to alienate foreigners. 150 Baht works out to be the largest (by far) “foriegner tax” I’ve yet seen at an ATM.

If you have any concrete hints/experience which I can add to the list then please leave a comment. Let’s try and work around this mess.

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Tip – Cancellations

Flight Ticket - PB240055

Don't need them? Cancel them!

This one’s definitely worth bearing in mind. I’m sure a lot of us book flights as cheap as we can get them. This usually means getting the ones that can’t be changed, upgraded, moved, altered or cancelled without a complete loss of the ticket cost.

Note those two words at the end: “ticket cost”.

As I’m sure you’re aware, a vast amount of the cost of a flight these days doesn’t pay for your seat – it’s taxes. And these – to some extent – can be claimed back should you cancel a flight, even if it’s a non-refundable ticket.

I just cancelled the return leg on my recent flights, due to flying back from Tokyo ahead of schedule. My original booking was with Etihad through Expedia, a return from Heathrow to Bangkok. The overall price was £402.90 of which £198 was tickets and £204.90 taxes! I called Etihad to cancel the return leg, and they told me to contact Expedia to organise a partial refund of the tax. As the girl on the phone said, I won’t get it all back but something is better than nothing.

Given that the return ticket only cost £50 more than a single, if I get £50 or more back then I’ve effectively not spent any more than I would have booking only the outbound flight anyway. The downside is that it can take up to three months for the refund to come through. I’ll try to update you folks with the final amount when I get it.

Still, a good one to remember. If you’re not going to use it, cancel it. You may still get something back into your bank account.

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Tip: avoid ANZ cashpoints

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited

Preying on backpackers?

This one’s for people visiting Cambodia. ANZ, an Aussie/Kiwi bank, is by far the most pervasive here. There are more ATMs belonging to them, and they’re in more convenient locations, than any other bank. Thing is, of the ones which accept foreign cash cards they’re also the only ones that charge a fee on them.

$2 may not seem a lot. but think of the number of tourists going through here. ANZ are targetting YOU, the backpacker. My advice is simple – don’t use them.

I swear they’ve even taken over a few hole-in-the-wall locations that were home to other machines last time I visited. If at all possible, walk a little further and find a different bank. The vast majority of you will be paying your bank back home each time you withdraw. If you’re an ANZ customer you’ll be paying the greedy buggers TWICE. Save your cash, use someone else.

If every other bank in Cambodia can give you money without charging, what makes ANZ so special? Maybe they’re profiteering, maybe they’re teetering on the brink and need all the income they can get? If it’s the latter then ANZ customers may want to think about moving their accounts elsewhere for safety – or in protest.

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