What currency does Thailand use? Do shops in Thailand accept credit cards? What is the foreign exchange rate? Where can you find the best exchange rate? Here are some tips.
The local currency is the Thai Baht, and one Baht equals 100 Satang.
Banknotes and coins
Notes come in five denominations: 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1,000 Baht, each with a different colour – green, blue, red, purple and brown respectively. Look carefully as the red and brown colours are quite close or you could well mistake the 1,000 Baht note for 100 Baht!
Coins: These come in denominations of 1, 2, 5, and 10 Baht, and 25 and 50 Satang. Some coins have two versions and can cause confusion. The two-Baht coin, for example, comes in both gold and silver colours depending on the year there were minted. Some people, therefore, use a permanent marker to write the figure 2 on the two-Baht coin, for easy identification.
Cash, cards or QR Code?
Cash is preferred, especially when you are buying from fresh markets and small local shops.
Credit cards are accepted in most stand-alone and brand name shops, hotels and restaurants. Visa and Mastercard are the most common. American Express is less popular and not welcomed in many local restaurants and shops. Please check before paying your bill.
Since the COVID-19 outbreak, online payment has gained more ground. Many shops accept online transactions and mobile transfer. Scan and pay method is very convenient. You can be confident about the security system when making an online payment.
What you may not know
- When you buy things from street vendors and fresh market, avoid paying with a 1,000-Baht note. Street vendors generally do not have enough small notes for change.
- If you have only a 1,000-Baht note on hand, 7-Eleven convenience stores never fail to have change, but always try to use smaller notes for smaller purchases.
- Coins are preferred by public transport and sellers in the fresh market. Most of the ticket machines at the BTS Skytrain and MRT stations only take coins (10, 5 and 1 Baht) though some also have machines into which you can feed notes and receive change.
- According to Thai law, there is a certain limit of number of coins you can use at a time. For example, the law allows you to use Satang coins to pay for goods to a maximum value of 10 Baht.
- Satang coins: Although street vendors and sellers in local markets love coins, many of them hate “Satang” coins. Some shops also do not take Satang coins. Check before you pay.
- Skytrain card: It is better to buy a “Rabbit Card” at a Skytrain station, and you can use the card for travelling to places by train and also to buy items at some fast-food and coffee shops. You can top up to 4,000 Baht on your card each time. Check the list of shops that accept Rabbit Card at https://rabbit.co.th/card/.
- Thai Baht can be used in our neighbouring countries – Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Myanmar.
Money in the “new normal”
There is one bright side to COVID-19. It has made life a little easier. Most shops now offer online shopping and delivery. By simply clicking on an app on your mobile phone, you can pay for goods and have them delivered to your doorstep, call and pay for a taxi, make a donation, pay your credit card bill, and handle any transaction anywhere and anytime.
Plan well, pay wisely and enjoy!
For the exchange rate, check with the Bank of Thailand.