TLDR, this post is quite long (1200+ words)! This is just my personal experience. Neither affiliated with any bank in any way nor intended to guide/misguide/hurt anyone.
Getting the first savings account
Our salary account is in Kashikorn Bank (short KBank). My HR asked me to go to the bank to open an account. I didn’t got the Work Permit just yet! So she printed a copy of my contract and I went with that.
Upon entering the bank I asked for a serial token, told I want to open a new account. The person appointed there, wanted to see my papers without even giving me a token. I handed over my contract, she was confused. She went to the back with my passport and contract paper, came with the manager (I guess)! The manager just couldn’t refuse on my face. So he asked for the original contract and told I’d need ฿10,000 (~US$315) deposit to open the account.
I went back to office and told HR the story. She replied, okay I’ll take you tomorrow.
Next day, I went with her, she took a token, talked with the banker at the counter for 2-3 minutes and told me, "I’m leaving, I’ve work to do! You stay and fill the forms and open the account." That was it. No question asked or anything. I handed over my documents, signed some forms, gave ฿800 (~US$25). The banker opened my account, gave me a debit card, enabled mobile banking and other chors. Everything was done under 1 hour!
Later I got two more savings account with different banks when I got the Work Permit. It was smooth experience!
- Work Permit (or alternate)
- Smart Phone (for mobile applications)
- ฿500 deposit and ฿300 for debit card.
Getting my first loan
After getting my Thai driving license, I planned to get a bike. Initially I thought to get a 2nd hand one. I started looking on Facebook and other marketplaces. But the problem I began to understand that I’d have to pay full amount in Cash, which I don't have!
Changed my plan to get a new one with financing. I saw some ads on Facebook about zero down payment financing for bikes. The interest rate was also quite good (Actually almost half of what I’d get in Bangladesh)! I started poking some shop owners about requirements and everything.
All the shop owners were saying I’d need
- Work Permit
- Bank statement (up to 6 months)
- Some deposit (5%-30%)
- Insurance and Registration Cost
- One Thai Guarantor!
I could give all the first 5, but where on earth I’d find a guarantor! I don’t have that kind of friends here! I was almost heartbroken! 🥺
Then all of a sudden two lead came back. Both agreed to finance the bike without a guarantor. One was a bit far, so I went to the nearby one.
On Monday afternoon, I signed all the required papers for financing. The agent sent the documents online to the bank, and asked me to wait, until bank verifies my signature. The bank called me in about 30 minutes. Asked some basic questions, like why I need the bike, etc. Shop mentioned, it might take about a week to get the approval! My plan was to take the bike that day itself! 😴
I left the shop. After about an hour, shop contacted, financing has been approved, I can take the bike next day! 😘
First Credit Card
Even before I got the Visa, I was researching if I can get a Credit Card in the new country. All the information (Bank websites, forums) pointed out that I'd need to wait at least one year or more. So I scrapped it off my list!
After coming here I started noticing lots of branded cards offering/advertisements, specially from non-Banking Financing companies (like AEON and others). After getting the bike financing, I got kind of courageous! I started looking and somehow I landed up on Citibank N.A. website. Their website didn't mention any service/stay length! So I started filling their online form, but got stuck on 2nd step, they were asking Annual Income and I mistakenly put monthly income. So it was saying I don't earn enough money to get a Credit Card! 🤪
After one/two days, I got a call from the Bank! Asked if anyone had already called, if I'm interested and basic questions. She said, she'll send me the required documents list, when I get them ready, she'll send a courier to pick up the documents!
The documents I needed
- Passport copy
- Work Permit copy
- One Utility bill copy
- Salary Slip / Employment certificate mentioning DOB and PP number
- Bank Book copy
- Filled up Application form (She sent it via email, I printed it out!)
After sending those documents she called to verify the details (official procedure, like if I've signed all the documents myself). Also told my Bank Book wasn't updated, if I can send an online statement copy via email. I sent it. After the application was registered into the system, got approval in 1 day, card was ready for pick up in 2 days. Today got it in my hand!
The Good Things
- Almost everything is online/automated. You've to go to the Bank very rarely! 🥳
- When you go for opening an account, they will install the mobile app and activate it for you on spot! (Comparing the BD banks, where they send online banking password via courier!)
- If you need an statement, you bank book with suffice. And you can update the Bank Passbook from any automated Passbook update machine!
- I got my International transfer (to send money to Bangladeshi account via SWIFT) registered just by emailing the documents.
- They are FAST in most cases.
- Thai Person can get financing with zero down payment. And can approve a financing in 1 hour!
- Interest rate also quite lower!
The not so Good things
- Thai Banking system (Govt/Corporate things in general) is infamous for their requirements of documents and signs. Even the agent (when I was signing documents for bike financing) was laughing and saying it to me! But comparing to my country, it's nothing actually! There I'd have to take nominee's photo and id, introducer's details along with my documents!
- Other than international banks (like Citibank N.A. / SC) it's hard to get an English speaking banker to assist!
- You can be treated differently from branch to branch of the same Bank, from person to person of the same Branch! If they say no for any service, you may get a better luck in a different branch! 🤪
Earlier I only had experience with Bangladeshi Banking system. Comparing to that, Thai Banking is quite fast and efficient. If you don't speak any Thai, you'd be better off at branches in popular shopping malls. There it's comparatively easy to find decent English speaking banker. Even better if you have a Thai speaking friend, take him along. It goes a long way and works in any Govt./Corporate office. And finally don't forget to smile! 🙃