Using Starling in Thailand 🇹🇭



I’ve been trying to use my Starling Card to top-up a Thailand Mobile Phone Account.

The transaction keeps getting refused.

It’s not a huge drama, there are other ways I can do this, but it’s disappointing as this is the first time I’ve tried to use my card abroad.

I chatted with Starling Customer Service, but it appears they are unable to help.

Is there a way to provide the details to Starling so that they can work with MasterCard to improve things for others in the future?



I have no idea whether this applies in this instance, but I have seen some websites only accept “local” cards. For example Curry’s only accept cards issued in the UK for online orders (although they accept foreign cards in-store).


Ask them why it’s getting refused, it could be something simple as they haven’t needed to accept foreign cards so just don’t. Or for security reasons, although the security reason doesn’t really apply in 2017, but some companies haven’t moved on.

I can’t use my Debit card to top up an Italian mobile but can use my Credit card issued by the same bank to.


Hi @GIR :wave:t4:

We’re able to raise acceptance issues directly with MasterCard. Were you asked details of the transaction? If not, we’d recommend getting in contact with CS again as we can :eyes: into this for you !


Hi @GIR,

The payment processor uses 3D-Secure which is not something that we are currently compatible with at this time.

Sorry that we was unable to help originally but once you gave me more details about how you was making the top up I was able to search the app and see how it works.

Have a great time out in Thailand, I miss the Pad Thai!


Hi @Ryan_New,

Many thanks for the explanation - that really helps and is much appreciated.

I’m fine with some issues here and there, it was just an understanding which I was looking for. So this is great.

For those reading this thread, @Ryan_New reaches out to me in the Customer Service section of the app.

So I just wanted to say thanks for the excellent Customer Service follow up.

I think there’s room to train the CS Chat team a bit more, but I’m still very happy with the follow up.

Thanks again.


Really helpful feedback for the CS team.


Hi everyone,

I am comparing Revolut, N26, Monzo and Starling before a trip to Thailand and I think I will pick Starling.

I am just wondering if anybody has more details about the transactions fees that can be charged by ATMs in Thailand if using Starling ?

I will stay in Bangkok and Koh Samui.



Hi @GoFry

Well I can tell you that I successfully used my Starling Card here in Thailand (Chiangmai).

ATMs in Thailand charge 220 Baht per withdrawal, which is nothing to do with Starling. It’s a standard charge from the ATM provider. So plan to take out as much as you can in one transaction.

The ATM with helpfully offer to ‘convert to your local currency’. Say NO to this.

Then the transaction will use the Starling MasterCard rate, which is much better.

After making a withdrawal, I checked my Starling App and can confirm that there was no additional charges.

So for me, the process works really well!

Enjoy your travels.


Hi @GoFry

I actually had a Revolut card then changed to Monzo when they didnt charge any fees but then changed their policy and added fees in for uses abroad so have now changed to Starling haha.

The reason I was looking at these cards in the first place was for my trip to Thailand as well!

But also I travel Europe a lot so its nice to not get charged every time I use my card and to get the poor conversion rates.

When is your trip to Thailand, you can let me know how you get on with the card? I’m going in April.


Hi all, just signed up for Starling and I’ve been reading a lot about using it abroad. No fees sounds promising but I have a couple of questions if someone wouldn’t mind…

I am going for a couple of weeks on a reasonable but strict budget. I was planning on taking £500 worth of THB that I would get exchanged ahead of time here in the UK. I was going to use my Post Office credit card that I could pay off the next month when I returned as I am sure I will spend more than £500 in two weeks. Looking at Starling this might not be such a good plan.

Would it make more sense to take a small amount of THB that I exchange here and then just use my Starling account as much as possible? Would this be cheaper than exchange rates here? I go over a two month span so could actually add more money into my Starling account midway through the trip. Perhaps it’s better to have cash in Thailand than not?

I wouldn’t really want to take money out of an ATM as I just read they can charge up to £5 just for using the machine which is obscene! I don’t know how the locals manage with that!

Anyway, all advice greatly appreciated!


Welcome @michaelsft this is not an area I’m very well clued up on, however you’ll get lots of great advice on here.


Thanks for the reply Joe, looking forward to getting more information about it!


Hi @michaelsft

I’ve done a few extended stays in Thailand, so happy to answer your questions.

  • Taking £500 / 20,000 THB is a good amount to start, but if you’re there for a couple of months, you’re right; you’ll need more.
  • Whilst you can use you card in larger stores / shops / outlets, etc. You’ll want to have cash for all of the amazing little food places you’ll find along the way.
  • You’ll also want cash for taxis, etc.
  • ATMs do charge around 200-220 THB per transaction. So just under £5.
  • Therefore if you’re using ATMs try to take out the £300 maximum that you can with Starling each time.
  • When you do, the ATM will offer to ‘convert to your local currency’. Do NOT do this, as their rate will be much worse than Starling’s.
  • There’s quite a few banks in Thailand, and you’ll often find a ‘cluster’ of ATMs together. I found the ATMs of Krungsri Bank (the yellow ones) to be the most reliable.

I’d say that a combination of cash at the start and a couple of visits to ATMs during your stay and you’ll be all set. You can still use your Starling card for bigger expenses like hotels, tourist trips, etc.

Whilst the Thai (not Starling) ATM fee isn’t great; don’t let it spoil your trip. I usually just say to myself, “Well, if my flight was £20 more, I still would have bought it.”

Enjoy your travels!


Well that all seems reasonable to me. It’s good to know that using my card where possible is a good way to not be ripped off and just as good if not better than using my credit card.

I’m only going for a couple of weeks (not months) so not sure exactly how much money I’ll need but I’m hoping the £500 plus one max trip to the ATM (£300) and some small card usage will be enough.

Thanks for the advice and well wishes!


High quality feedback, @GIR. Thanks :+1: