Thai Credit Cards

Updated 2009-08-21 13:28

Expats can apply for credit cards in Thailand, but the banks set their own minimal work experience and monthly income conditions (and they vary) before issuing your plastic. All of the banks require a work permit and passport. This may pose a problem to those on retirement or spousal visas as they don’t have work permits, but ask anyway. The benefit of having a Thai credit card is that you won’t have to pay the foreign-exchange fee charged when using foreign-issued credit cards in Thailand. 

The factor to be most wary of is that if any of your credit cards has been lost, stolen or retained by an ATM or if you suspect you have been the victim of fraud, contact your card issuer immediately. In cancelling your card or putting a hold on your account, you will be liable for all transactions made before notifying the bank.

Bangkok Bank credit cards are available to foreign applicants who are permanent residents or have had a work permit for at least one year. Kasikorn Bank requires foreign customers to have a minimum of one year's work experience in Thailand to apply for a credit card, with a 50,000 baht minimum monthly income. In addition, customers must also provide a credit bureau's authorization, and their work permit must be valid for at least six months after the application date.

Siam Commercial Bankrequires a work permit and minimum monthly salary of 100,000 baht as well as a bank statement covering the past six months.

Krung Thai Bank requires foreign applicants to have had a work permit for at least two years, but their requirement for minimum monthly income is only 15,000 baht. Customers must also show a bank statement covering the past three months.

Thai Merchants Bank offers two choices of credit-card applications for foreigners:

  • The first requires lending deals with corporations for at least three years and a minimum credit line of Bt30 million. Expats employed by these companies are eligible to apply for a TMB credit card. A work permits must also be shown.

  • The second choice is offered to individual foreigners who open a fixed-deposit account with the bank. They must use the account as collateral for their credit-card application and will receive a credit line of not more than 80 per cent of the deposit amount.

Bank of Ayudhya requires three years local work experience and a minimum monthly income of 50,000 baht for a classic card and one year's local work experience and a monthly salary of 100,000 baht for gold and platinum cards. Self-employed customers should have average cash flow in their bank account of 350,000 baht a month or more for the classic card and 700,000 baht or more for gold and platinum cards. Applicants must submit copies of their passport and work permit valid for at least six months. Company employees need a copy of a payroll slip and a bank statement covering the past six months.

Several expats have recommended HSBC Thailand. The fee is about 200 baht a year and no minimum salary requirement.

These may seem like stiff requirements by the credit card issuers, but there's a fair enough reason for it. Banks are painfully aware that a foreigner, even on a work permit, might leave or even be dismissed and exit, leaving them with a debt, whereas in principal a Thai citizen is more likely to both remain and be traceable. Ironically the international nature of the card system does not allow them to easily pursue defaults outside Thailand.

If an individual is employed by a major company (foreign or local) here and has been for a period of time then credit card issuance is less problematic.

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