Moving Money Abroad
Updated: May 1, 2020
As someone who has always took cash with me whenever I travel abroad, I realise the potential pitfalls that this can have. Losing it, having it stolen, having notes rejected because they are damaged, even having too much cash when stopped at Customs without knowing what you have to declare. However, in almost every country cash is king and this is clearly the case when currency exchange fee's and poor exchange rates from your home bank are added to bank or ATM charges in your host country.
So up until recently I would leave the UK with what I thought was enough money to last me until I returned, plus a back up plan of a couple of debit cards to withdraw cash. This is now something that I no longer need to do as I have decided to become a longer term resident here in Thailand and have opened Thai bank accounts, but cash would still be my prefered option for a short holiday. Before I did open the bank accounts I was virtually living in Thailand for around a year, making a three monthly visit back home to renew my Tourist Visa. Once I decided that Thailand was going to become a semi-permanent home I decided to buy a scooter, and an opportunity to buy just what I wanted, and at a good price quickly arrived. I had not planned for this by bringing the required cash so I needed a way to get the £2,000+ to Thailand as cheaply as possible.
At this point I could have opened a bank account, but because the scooter could not be reserved I wanted the money as quickly as possible so I did not do this. I was fortunate enough to have a Thai person I trusted who would give me their bank details and I then transferred the money into their account, trusting somebody is a personal thing and not a recommendation, however I had my money within 24 hours and bought the scooter I wanted so all was good. The point of this article is the company I did that transfer with is still the one I use to regularly transfer my money from the UK to my Thai bank accounts.
TransferWise was the company that I chose to use and as this was originally going to be a single transfer to another person's bank account the set-up process was very easy and within minutes of starting to open my Transferwise account the transfer was done. The money arrived very quickly, although the first transfer was not instant, this may be because they have to run a check on any new account the first time you use the service. The majority of transfers to my Thai bank accounts which have both been verified are now instant, with the only exceptions seeming to be weekend transfers, even these are still within 24 hours.
The speed of transfer is one of the big upsides to using TransferWise, but the biggest advantage to me is the total transparency in what they do. Before you even start to think about transfering money you can put a Google search in to get their current exchange rates, if the rate is good you can then log in to your account and check again that this is still the current rate. Once you select the rate it is reserved for 48 hours (longer at weekends) and if the rate goes up in the meantime you can decide not to continue, and wait until the 48 hours has expired to then be given another guaranteed rate for the next 48 hours. There will also be a small handling fee charged which will be clearly displayed, and finally a very clear total funds sent in your local currency and total funds received in the currency of the receiving bank.
Once you have your account set-up sending or receiving money is a breeze and TransferWise actually go a step further that just sending money to and from accounts. Free of charge you can open a TransferWise Borderless Account which provides you with genuine bank accounts in various countries, I personally have a UK, USA, and Euro accounts set up with TransferWise, receiving any major currency into these accounts is free. In some countries a Mastercard debit card is available for free cash withdrawals worldwide (this card is currently free but there will be a charge after May 6th), this features free withdrawals from ATM's up to the equivalent of £200,00 per month and then a 2% charge over this limit. To get the lowest rates you must have local currency funds in your TransferWise account or exchange rates will apply, these still work our far cheaper than the traditional bank options.
Here in Thailand TransferWise transfers are very quick, very easy, and totally transparent. I have placed an unedited (time-wise) video on the basvlogit YouTube channel showing a live transfer which I compared with the best currency exchange company in Bangkok. Take a look at the video and see how they compare, remembering that the company I compared TransferWise to offer Thailand's best rates, most exchange booths are way below this rate, especially outside of Bangkok or Pattaya.
If you want to try it for yourself then it is totally free to open a standard TransferWise account or even a Borderless Account. If you register by clicking the link below then we may receive a small fee the first time you decide to transfer funds, this does not affect the rate you receive.