Cash, Credit cards, ATMs and Money Changers
You want to be a millionaire? No need to join any lottery or game show: you instantly become a millionaire when you withdraw or change money in Bali. Do not be fooled by the many zeros of the Indonesian Rupiah also abbreviated as Rp. It might look as if you are holding enough cash to buy yourself a private island but it is probably just enough for a cold can of local beer.
The official currency code is IDR.
Exchange Rate and Currency Converter
There are coins with the value of Rp. 50, Rp. 100, Rp. 200, Rp. 500 and Rp. 1,000
Notes are available at Rp. 1,000, Rp. 2,000, Rp. 5,000, Rp. 10,000, Rp. 20,000, Rp. 50,000, and Rp. 100,000,-
Please note that the Indonesian government only allows you to bring in cash at the maximum value of 100,000,000 rupiah.
Cash is still an important form of payment in Bali. So make sure you carry enough with you to pay for your small shopping, transportation and food & drinks. The 100,000 bills are only useful if you intend to buy a high-priced item or spend a lot of money at the same place. Most small shops and street sellers will struggle to make change, so 50,000 and 20,000 Rp notes will be the way to go.
- Most resorts and hotels accept credit cards but most times smaller places like guesthouses or homestays do not.
- Check before hand if a store or restaurant accepts credit cards and if indeed their card swipe machine (EDC) is working.
- Hold on to a few Rp. 500 and Rp. 1,000 coins and forget about the smaller ones. They take up space and are hardly worth their weight. Don’t be surprised if at a supermarket your change of money includes a few pieces of candy instead of Rp. 50 or Rp. 100 coins.
- Always carry a bit of cash with you. It will come handy when you decide to buy a coconut, grilled corn on the cob or a sarong on the beach. Tipping the staff at the hotel, spa and restaurant is also usually done in cash.
- Your cash is king at markets, food stalls and small shops. Do not expect to be able to use your credit cards here.
There are hundreds of money changer stalls in Bali, most of them are easily found on the busy streets of Kuta, Legian, Seminyak and other touristic areas. Purchasing foreign currency at the money changer could be challenging for some travelers, and yet, when you are in front of the currency exchange board at the money changer stalls, you get completely lost in the many columns. Don’t panic, here are few things that you will need to know before step into the money changer stalls.
Some money changer stalls sometimes not only showing Buy and Sell columns on their board but also BN and TC, what does it mean?
BN (Bank Notes) In terms of money changer, bank notes are registered foreign exchange services using exchange rates. The benefits of Bank Notes are: Provide security guarantees regarding foreign currency, such as currency in a state of being intact and in good condition, as well as original Foreign currency will be calculated according to the current exchange rate
TC (Travelers Cheques) Travelers Cheques or Tourist Cheques is a payment instrument in the form of a Cheque used by tourists on their way.Travelers Cheques benefits are: Reduce the risk of losing cash No additional fees are charged when disbursing Has an unlimited validity period
Buy Assuming you are just arrived in Bali from your country (for example Australia), So if you wish to change your AUD currency to IDR currency, it means you are “buying” the IDR with AUD. This makes you the buyer, and the money changer, the seller. Hence the money changer is selling you the IDR currency. You should look at the column, “Buy”.
Sell You are planning to fly back home after holiday in Bali and you would like to change your remaining Rupiahs (IDR), the local currency, for another currency such as the Australia dollar. You “buy” the foreign currency at the currency exchange, which is for them a “sale”. You should therefore look under the column “sell” to get the rate that applies to you.
Tips on Exchanging Money in Bali
- Don’t stress about money changers, the majority are legitimate and will not try to rip you off! Choose money changers that their sole business is to change money, and located in a trusted building
- Double check using your own calculator to assure the right amount you will receive Don’t leave the counter before counting the money you’ve received
- Particularly for Australian tourists, it is advisable to take your AUD with you to Bali. Don’t change your money in Australia, the rate is not good Exchanging your money at the bank and airport is kind of like buying a beer at a baseball game, unless you need the money badly don’t exchange at the bank and airport
- Always compare the actual rates you’re getting. Never assume that “zero commission” means the deal will be better
- Find out the Exchange Rate online before going to money changer stalls. This can be easily done on a currency conversion site such as XE.com or Oanda.com. Keep in mind that the exchange rates shown online will always be different than those listed at a money changer, but at it shouldn’t be much different
- Due to many zeros and big denomination of Rupiah we advise you to always be aware of the calculation and don’t be hesitate to ask the cashier incase you have questions or sense something not right.
- Poor money planning could literally leads you to waste tens or hundreds of dollars, so plan ahead wisely
ATMs are easily found in Bali’s most populated areas and most accept international cards and credit cards for cash withdrawals. Debit cards are accepted by some ATMs on the Maestro and Cirrus networks. If you plan to travel in secluded areas or Penida/ Ceningan Island, it will be wise to stock up on additional cash before you hit the road. There is for example one ATM machine on Lembongan Island, which does not always work.
- ATMs dispense either 50,000 or 100,000 notes. A sticker will clearly indicate which one.
- Most ATMs in Bali allow a maximum withdrawal of 1,250,000 (50,000 bill machines) to 3,000,000 rupiah (100,000 bill machines) per transaction with a total maximum of 6,000,000 rupiah withdrawal a day.
- Be aware that often machines will hand out the money first before returning your card. Make sure you do not walk away without taking your card!
- Rates and transaction fees depend on your bank back home. You may like to check the charges with your bank before withdrawing money.
- Do double check if your card can be used overseas and inform your bank of your travel destination as it has happened on a few occasions that travellers find their card blocked by their bank as their sudden overseas spending was seen as suspected fraudulent use.
- The most popular ATMs to withdraw money from are Bank Central Asia (BCA), Bank Mandiri, Bank Negara Indonesia (BNI), and Permata Bank. More Commonwealth ATMs are popping up the island in recent years.
- BCA has the largest coverage when it comes to ATM machines. They have 3 types of machines: Tunai which means cash. Non Tunai which means no cash (transfer and e-banking transactions only). And Setor Tunai which means to deposit cash.
- There have been a few cases of digital pad skimming devices found in ATMs. It is always wise to use ATMs placed in banks, shopping malls and places with security camera.
More and more restaurants and shops do accept credit cards nowadays – particularly in the touristic areas it’s gaining ground a lot. But do not rely on your credit card as you would in a western country. Cash is in many cases the only acceptable way of payment. Particularly in remote areas a credit card will be of little use to you.
Visa and MasterCard are the most accepted credit cards in Bali. Some hotels and restaurants do take Amex, Diners Club even less.
Keep in mind that very often there will be a 3 to sometimes even 5% surcharge on credit card transactions. This is, because the credit card companies keep that percentage for themselves, and the vendors on Bali will charge that fee back to their customer.
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