Debit Plus Accident Insurance

Sometimes it seems like my life in Thailand is an accident waiting to happen. Back home, I never thought of myself as clumsy or accident-prone, but somehow I am always hurting myself in Thailand. Maybe it’s all the uneven surfaces & sidewalks, maybe I have bad luck, or maybe I’m just a bit clumsy. Whatever the reason, I’ve found myself at Thaksin hospital more than a few times.

After my first few visits to the hospital for a broken foot, I was out 5,000 baht. Visiting the hospital is a lot cheaper here than it is back in the States, but when you are making baht and spending baht, the cost can start to add up. “You should get the accident insurance that the bank provides,” one of my friends told me afterwards. Turns out, I wouldn’t have had to pay a single baht for getting my broken foot doctored up!

A few days later, I left the bank with a shiny new Debit Plus silver card that provides me with 5,000 baht of hospital bills covered per accident. Any type of accident is covered as well: motorbike accidents, broken bones, a cut on a your finger, or even a scrape from falling down. Since getting it, it’s saved me at least 8,000 baht.

I would highly recommend getting this insurance, especially if you plan to drive a motorbike around. Plus, it only costs around 300 baht ($10) for a whole year worth of insurance, so why not?

How to sign up for accident insurance:

1. After a few months in Surat, the Super English staff will finish processing your one year visa and work permit. Now that you have these items you can open a bank account at Siam Commerical Bank.

2. Go with a Super English staff member to SCB bank. Tell them that you want the Debit Plus silver or gold card. At the time of writing this, the silver card costs around 300 baht per year and covers 5,000 baht in hospital bills per accident. The gold card costs around 1,000 baht per year and covers 25,000 baht in hospital bills per accident.

3. Enjoy peace of mind knowing that if an accident happens, you won’t be out any cash and can afford to get it treated properly.

If you need to find me, I’ll be off at my new job as an insurance salesman.




International Funds Transfer (New)

Some of you might have student loan or credit card payments linked to your bank account in your home country, so I thought it might be helpful to share my experience handling this, as I am lucky enough (or really just a leadfoot of a spender) to have student loan and credit card bills.

I heard Siam Commercial Bank, aka SCB, charges somewhere towards 1500 baht for an international wire transfer, and someone even told me that they were denied the service even after it was done for them once already. I got the tip about going to Bangkok Bank instead from a teacher who has now sailed back to his motherland.

First step, obtain a copy of your work permit. Bring this as well as your passport to the big Bangkok Bank branch on Talad Mai, to the right of the Diamond Plaza Hotel. It’s next door to another big bank, the one with a green logo. There is usually a “George Bread” truck right in front of the entrance.

Ask to open an account. Bring some money, 200 – 400 baht should be fine, just to deposit into this account. Also, bring the money you wish to transfer in cash. When filling out the application, do not opt for the debit card option, as you will have to pay for it. The account should be free without a card. SCB will remain the bank your salary is deposited into, so I’m guessing you don’t need another debit account. A Bangkok Bank passbook will be made for your account. When filling out the form, you’ll need an address. If you don’t know yours, best to give them the address for Super English:

38/1-2 Bandon Road, Tumbon Talad, Aumper Muang, Suratthani 84000

Then ask for an “Application for Outward Remittance,” which is what is says on the form you need, or tell them you would like to transfer money to an account in your country. You need your account number, routing number, address again, and the address of your bank in your home country. I use Wells Fargo, so I just googled Wells Fargo and used the main address for the entire bank. Check the “Benificiary” box on the form. You can select the reason for your transer as well, probably being “Education Expense.”

Their commission or fee is 400 baht. Your bank will also charge a fee once the money reaches your account. My bank usually charges $15. So over all, it’s about 880 baht to go with Bangkok Bank, which is cheaper than SCB, if they even allow you to do it.

Tell Me Abaht It!

I’ve been tight on money lately, but with some thrifty skills, I’ve been able to stretch the baht.

Jok – Order your favorite breakfast porridge “mai moo” at Donnok 1/1 and receive a 15 baht discount! It might not be as “arroy,” but dropping from 35 baht to 20 baht makes a big difference at the end of the week, especially if you are an avid breakfaster.

Veg Breakie (or lunch) – At the vegan restaurant across the street from the fire station on Namueang, order “mai kaow” and receive a 5 to 10 baht discount, depending on how many servings of veg and various fake meats you ask for. I still find the portions very filling without the rice.

Donnok Whiskey – Want a drink, but don’t have enough for a beer? Go to the Donnok Market. It’s past the light for Chon Kasem, straight on about half a kilometre and on the right. You’ll notice a large, covered, but open market. I believe it’s at about Donnok 27. There’s a Family Mart to the right of the market, and directly to the left of the Family Mart there’s an herbal whiskey stand. You should see little bar stools around the stand. Take a seat and order a “Yaa Dong.” They might lift a bottle, as if to ask, “Do you want to buy the bottle?” Just use your pointer and thumb to show the size of a shot glass. They’ll give you a small tray complete with green mango slices, chili sugar, and a cup of cold tea. Take the shot, dip mango in the sugar, eat it, and then drink the tea. It’s 10 baht per shot! While you might be thinking you’re just relieving stress, you could also be curing some ailment you didn’t even know you had! (Herbal Whiskey is considered medicine to some.)

Night Market Pad Thai – If you enter the Night Market from Namueang, across the street from Pizza Company, look for a small truck turned into a Pad Thai Machine! It’s the second stand in on your right. You can get take away for 25 baht (recently up from 20) but I recommend sitting down. If you sit down, they give you a giant tray of vegetables. If the Pad Thai isn’t filling, eat cucumbers, green beans, cabbage and sprouts til you burst.

Cigarettes – The local shops usually sell “loosies.” If you don’t have enough money for a pack, you can buy a little baggie with as little as 3 cigarettes for 10 baht. Look for the tupperwares full of the loosie packs near where you would pay.

Thrift Stores – Need some new digs? Sweat stains on your work clothes? Go buy something dark in color at one of the many thrift stores around Surat. There’s a good one directly to the right of the Sahathai Department Store on Namueang. There’s also a good one on Rajutid, near the intersection with Chon Kasem. If you are travelling on Rajutid towards Chon Kasem, it will be on your right. I wish I knew the Soi, but my favorite one is on Wat Pho past the Karun Rat intersection. It’s on the right. Look for many mannequins dressed in your mom’s favorite dresses from college.

How to Transfer Money — by Michael

Is your Thai Bank Account overflowing with hard earned baht? Do you need to send it all back to America (or one of those other English speaking countries)? Here’s what you need:

1. Wen
2. Thai bank account book
3. Passport
4. Work Permit
5. SWIFT code
6. Account Number of the receiving account
7. Physical address of your bank
8. A deep calming breath

Let Wen know that you need to transfer money and which bank you use. She will give you a ride. Her car will be hot so be prepared for that.

When you get to the bank Wen will say stuff in Thai, the teller will nod, possibly wai her and run off to get all the paperwork. Have your passport, work permit, and bank account book ready. (Do not forget the account book, they will not let you do ANYTHING without it, its like a DNA sample to the bankers.)

At this point you will need to fill out the basic paperwork. It’s all pretty straightforward. The only possible glitch is that sometimes they don’t want you list yourself as the recipient. I got around this by sending the transfer from Michael Bartolomei to Mike Bartolomei. Smoke and mirrors, baby!

By the time you’ve finished with the paperwork twenty-minutes or so will have passed. Give Wen a snack, she will be running low on energy.

Make sure you get your banks SWIFT code ahead of time. The SWIFT code should include the banks physical address but ask for it anyway just in case.

Also, be aware that the Thai bank is going to charge you 1350 baht ($40) to move your own money. I know, for that kind of cash you could hire some dude whacked out on yaba to deliver it via minivan–thus the reason for #8 on the list above.

The banker will enter the SWIFT code and populate the rest of the fields. You will have a few things to add your signature to. A manager will come by to approve the final paperwork and you’re set leau (finished already).

Find Wen, she will have wandered off to take a phone call.

Go home, log on and look at all that sweet money that magically appeared in your old account. (Minus $40 of course).