If you’re planning a trip to Thailand in the near future, you may want to exchange some of your money for baht, the country’s official currency. The international symbol for the currency is THB.
Thailand’s coins and notes usually feature the nation’s current or past king. It’s considered offensive to carry baht in your back pocket or to step on any Thai money, as offending the country’s monarchy is illegal.
Here’s everything you need to know about converting dollars to baht, including where to secure the best exchange rates and how to avoid paying high fees on your conversion.
How to Convert USD to THB
Calculating the conversion of U.S. dollars to Thai baht is fairly simple. You can either use a calculator or do it by hand.
1. Use a Currency Calculator
Using a currency conversion calculator is often the easiest way to get an estimate when you’re converting currency. Since exchange rates fluctuate on a daily basis, using a calculator can ensure your math is correct.
Keep in mind that exchanging currency often comes with added fees that a conversion calculator won’t be able to predict. For instance, credit card companies and ATM networks usually charge a 1% conversion fee on all foreign transactions. Individual merchants may also charge supplemental fees if you ask them to convert the price of an item to your home currency at checkout.
2. Calculate it Manually
The other option is to do the calculation manually using a simple mathematical formula. To do this, you’ll need to know the current exchange rate. At the time of writing, $1 USD is worth ฿37.84 THB.
Once you know that information, multiply the amount you have in USD by the current exchange rate. The resulting number will show you the amount of baht that you have to spend on your trip.
Manual Currency Conversion Example
Let’s say you have $800 USD and would like to figure out how much baht you have for a trip to Thailand. Using the current exchange rate, the formula for your conversion would look like this:
$800 USD x 37.84 = ฿ 30,272 THB
How to Buy Baht
When you’re ready to buy THB, it’s a good idea to plan ahead to ensure that you pay the fewest fees. Here are three ways to get the currency you need while minimizing the fees you’ll be charged:
- Exchange at a bank or credit union before your trip: Heading to your bank before your trip is often the most cost-effective way to exchange currency. Since you have an existing relationship with them, your bank is likely to give you the best exchange rates and charge the lowest fees. For example, Bank of America doesn’t charge its account holders an exchange fee. However, it does charge a shipping fee of $7.50 USD on orders worth less than $1,000. Orders worth more than $1,000 must be picked up at a Bank of America financial institution.
- Use your bank’s ATM abroad for withdrawals where possible: If you need to exchange more money while you’re on your trip, try to find an in-network ATM. For example, Citibank and JPMorgan Chase have branches in Thailand although they’re concentrated in Bangkok—you’re unlikely to find one of these ATMs outside of main cities. Most banking apps have an “ATM locator” feature to help you find the closest option, and using an ATM affiliated with your bank can help you avoid excess fees. Other ATMs in Thailand can charge up to about $6 for the convenience of withdrawing cash.
- Order currency online: If your bank doesn’t offer online shipping, you can also use a third party to get currency delivered to your door. However, be aware of inflated costs with some of these vendors. Currency Exchange International (CXI), for instance, advertises that it does not charge an exchange fee. However, you’ll pay up to $30 for overnight shipping.
What to Avoid When Exchanging Currency
- Exchanging currency at the airport: While exchanging currency at the airport is unquestionably convenient, these kiosks often offer some of the worst exchange rates while charging some of the highest fees. At Bangkok’s international airport, you can compare rates at several currency exchange counters on the basement level.
- Exchanging currency in a street kiosk: Many cities in Thailand offer exchange kiosks that look like ATMs that allow you to exchange currency while on the go. Still, you’ll likely pay a premium to use one of these convenient locations.
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