Initial money management.

I plan on exploring retirement in Thailand. I have been to Naknon Phanom and U-Tapao, and traveled there on business. Then the company took care of things. Now, my funds will be in Bank of America. My social security and VA disability are direct deposits. I can move money from my Vanguard IRA into BOA. I also have three US Credit Cards. I assume I create a Thailand Bank account and wire money as needed to a Bank in Thailand. However, in the meantime  I need baht on hand for rent, food, and living expenses. How do people manage this transition? Do I carry a large amount of travels checks. Do I have any direct access to BOA.

I have a Schwad account to take care of my needs. They give you a credit card and you can draw you own money from the account any where in the world. Supposedly there are no ATM fee. If there are the fees are reimbursed into your account.
I normally go into a Bangkok Bank and pull out say 35k baht a month. I walk in with my original passport for ID. This seems to take care of my needs. Of course I don't go walking around with that money. Doing it this way eliminates dealing with a Thai bank and to me makes things easy.

If you have a citi bank account, you can withdraw money from citi bank here. It will be deducted from your citi bank account is US

Usually foreign ATM card can withdraw money from any Thai ATM machine if there's "Cerus" sticker on it. Service fee is 100 baht. Talk to your bank in US if that is possible.

Using credit card for withdrawal is possible but exchange rate and service charge is high.

I am a fan of cash. You can get a good rate on high denomination notes and use the money to open a Thai bank account, which chances are you will need at some point.

a Schwab account is not a credit card account, it is a brokerage/savings account. So CC conditions do not apply to the account.

I had a Citi Bank account. I canceled the account. The on line customer service was completely impossible. I had a problem and after three month the on line service they were unable to rectify any problem. As time progressed the problems compounded themselves and no one from Citi did anything to try and solve the problem. Being in Thailand didn't help. Dealing with them was like dealing with a deaf and blind brick wall. I'm 69 years old and have never had a bank so incompetent in solving account problems.

The entire situation was a written stream. My parting comment was that if any supervisor actually read the stream they would see in writing how their customer service people so completely failed  to do their job. Citi Bank has become a horrible nightmare.

You can bring travelers checks or cash to use opening you Thai bank account.  You can also use your BofA ATM card in Thailand.  You should be able to get a cash advance using credit card and passport at your bank in Thailand.

Like you I also have a BofA account and my retirement sources of income are deposited in that account.  Prior to leaving make sure your internet banking is set up to use when out of the country including foreign wire transfers.

I would suggest opening a Bangkok Bank account once in Thailand because Bangkok Bank has a New York office which mean any transfers from BofA are domestic using ACH (automated clearing house) system.  BB NY will forward transfer to the proper bank in Thailand based on your BB Thailand account number.

Great informative response. Thanks.

Rejoice, where can you get a Citi Bank withdrawal for 100 baht? We pay 200 baht for each 20,000 baht we withdraw. We are a Citi Gold Member but if we do a wire transfer they still charge us 25.00 dollars American.  But if you have to move a large amount of money then it's worth it. Then we have a Bangkok Bank to pay all of our bills. But we use a Airline Credit card to charge everything we can to get more mileage. No problems with money in Thailand. But when we return to California we always come back broke.

I have a Vanguard inherited IRA. Has anyone experienced any trouble moving this to a Bank of Bangkok account?
And yes, I do have a Schwab account.

Have you tried contacting Bank of Bangkok in the US, with their New York City branch? I'm simply guessing that you could transfer the Vanguard account to B of B in NYC and simplify the process. I have heard at least one story in which Vanguard will not do transactions possibly overseas (at least not in Thailand) or if you no longer have a US address. One can use an electronic mail service to circumvent that, but their might be a requirement that you have an annual presence in the US. When reading the fine print it can get a little complicated.

I had an experience with Schwab recently. I communicated with three representatives and got three different answers. One point came up and that was the distinction of a US Schwab card and an International Schwab card. If you maintain a US address and/or possibly a US presence you can retain the US Schwab account. But if you are overseas and receive income from an overseas account one has to switch to an International account. Just a point to bring up. Again, when going through the fine print it can get increasingly complex.   

By the way, three years ago I thought I would buy traveler checks. For one I found that if I had an account with Citi Bank I could buy travelers checks but without an account I could not. The process was such that it wasn't worth it for me.

bill kip :

Have you tried contacting Bank of Bangkok in the US, with their New York City branch?

Yes, that branch is only interested in handling businesses and accounts previously established in Thailand. :(

At this point I am trying to make sure the financial institutions I have, can work with a Thailand account.
My credit union (through which I have my mortgage) says that they will do international wire transfers as well as something called "Xoom".

But Xoom does not go to Thailand. I checked by looking on the Xoom site.

If the issue is in rolling over the account as an IRA I believe that Schwab can handle that. When it comes to other Brokerages or such, it may be difficult finding one that will serve you in Thailand. I do know that a few years ago there was a new international banking law passed which made many banks and brokerages houses withdraw from serving American client outside of the US. I tried to help a Thai friend set up an account in the US. Thailand has many agreements with the US, holding an American brokerage account in the US is not on the list. I heard that Fidelity used to serve American in Thailand, but no more.

An other thought is to find out if B of B can handle a roll over. Then set up a B of B account in Thailand and then roll it over to the NYC branch.

Anyway, just a few thoughts over my morning tea.

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