Any trip to a new place takes a lot of planning and preparation. Your first trip to Bali will be no different. You’ll probably find yourself figuring out what to pack, which travel insurance to get and where to stay. But, have you given any thought to the local currency and changing money in Bali?
Getting your travel money is usually one of the last things you’ll do and do so in a rush. This, more often than not, leads you to make rushed decisions and getting less than ideal exchange rates.
In this post, we want to share with you everything you need to know about getting your currency for Bali. For example, should you change your money in your home country or when you arrive in Indonesia?
We’ll tell you our top tips for changing money in Bali, what you need to know about using your bank/credit cards and common currency exchange scams to watch out for.
Which currency is used in Bali?
The currency used in Bali is the Indonesian Rupiah, which is abbreviated to IDR.
It may be slightly confusing for travellers at first, as the currency comes in the thousands. For example, £1 usually converts to somewhere around the 20,000 IDR mark. So, you can easily end up paying 50,000 for a beer and a trip to the cash machine will most likely make you a millionaire…
Due to the large numbers involved with the Indonesian Rupiah, the currency is mostly made up of notes. The notes you’ll encounter are 1K, 2K, 5K, 10K, 20K, 50K and 100K notes.
With 100K (roughly £5) being the largest note, you’ll often find yourself carrying a large stack of cash with you. It’s always wise to have a good variety of smaller notes with you. Many shops won’t have enough change if you purchase something with a 100K note.
Coins are used as well. Though these are for tiny amounts and come in Rp.100, Rp.200, Rp.500 and Rp.1000 coins. It’s not often you’ll have a use for these coins and they often end up annoyingly rattling around in your pocket.
Good to know:
- Some menus list prices in the format “Rp 20,000” and sometimes “Rp 20,…”
- Other menus will simply use the format “20K” or just “20,…” and state at the bottom “all prices are in 1,000’s of Rupiah. They all mean the same thing.
- Many shops won’t have change for anything less than 2K. It’s normal to either leave this and forget about it or be offered a small sweet/candy instead of your money.
Should I exchange money in Bali? – When is it best to get your currency?
There are two options you have for exchanging your money into Indonesian Rupiah. You can do it at home before you travel, or once you arrive in Bali.
We know this is a topic that causes a lot of confusion and we’re usually asked questions like “should I change money in Bali or Australia?” or “should I change money in Bali or UK?”. Let us help you with that one…
In most cases (if you’re from a country with a strong currency), we’d advise exchanging when you get to Bali. You’ll find that the rates back home are terrible and those in Bali are much more favourable.
Having said that, changing your money in Bali airport is a bad idea as airport foreign exchanges have notoriously bad rates. So, we’d advise you to get into Bali before looking for somewhere to change your cash.
Our top tip: Change a small amount of money at home so that you arrive in Bali with at least some local currency. This should be just enough that you can get a taxi to your accommodation and cover a meal or two. You know, just enough to last you until you’re able to find a reliable place to change your money in Bali with better exchange rates.
Alternatively, you can use the ATM machines in Denpasar Airports arrival hall to get a small amount of cash out. We’ll talk more about using your bank card in Bali later.
Changing money in Bali – Top tips & best money exchangers
First things first, just to reiterate that if you’re changing money in Bali, don’t do so at the airport.
If you need to get just a small amount of local money, as recommended above, then consider it. But, do only convert what you need, until you can reach another money exchange shop.
Once you’ve arrived at your destination in Bali you’ll find no shortage of places to exchange your cash. Here are some tips for getting the best exchange rates for your money.
Top tips for changing money in Bali:
- Don’t exchange your money at your hotel. Hotels charge high commission fees and you’ll get much better value by seeking out a real money exchanger.
- Don’t exchange at random shacks on the side of the road. You’ll notice many small shacks/huts that promise they are an ‘authorised money exchanger’. These usually aren’t trustworthy and you may fall foul to a scam.
- Be wary of places offering ‘too good to be true’ exchange rates. Always check the exchange rate on google first. You shouldn’t be getting any higher than this rate. If a shop is offering higher rates than that listed on google, walk away and find somewhere new.
- Do try to seek out a bank to exchange your money in. There are banks where you can exchange your money into Indonesian Rupiah. So, you can be sure you won’t be getting scammed here and the rates are always competitive.
- If there are no banks in the area, do research about reliable money exchangers. Ask your accommodation, search on google or even ask other travellers. You’ll find somewhere local and reliable in no time.
- Always double count your currency once you’ve exchanged it. There’s a common currency exchange scam in Bali where they count then use sleight of hand to shortchange you. This clearly doesn’t happen at every exchange but it’s worth checking your cash. Even if it’s unintentional, mistakes do happen, it’s always worth a re-count. If you leave the shop and find that your money is short, you won’t be getting it back.
Where should I change money in Bali?
There are 1000’s of ‘authorized money changers’ and ‘foreign exchangers’ around Bali. Some of these are professional looking shops, some are just stalls at the side of the road.
Realistically, if you follow our tips for changing money in Bali, you won’t have any problems. However, if you want to be extra cautious and only change at a well-known store then you should look out for the following Bali currency exchangers.
Central Kuta Money Exchange
Central Kuta Money Exchange has been one of Bali’s most reliable currency exchangers since 1985. Despite their name, they’re not only found in Kuta and have branches around southern and central Bali.
BMC Money Changer
BMC Money Changer is another well-regarded currency exchange in Bali. They, like Central Kuta Money Exchange, have multiple branches in Southern Bali (around Kuta, Seminyak, Legian, Kerobokan & Sanur) as well as one in Ubud.
Bank Mandiri is one of Indonesians largest and best-known banks. Many of their branches in Bali also offer currency exchange services. If they don’t have a currency exchange in the bank, they will definitely have a secure ATM for you to use.
Using Your Bank Card To Withdraw Money In Bali
Our most recommended option for getting your local currency is to withdraw it from an ATM. The exchange rate you’ll receive is very close to the mid-market exchange rate. So, the money is legitimate, counted correctly and sold to you at the fairest rates.
However, there are some things you need to know about using your card to withdraw money in Bali.
Tips for withdrawing money and using your card in Bali:
- Bali ATM’s don’t charge you for using them, but your bank might. It’s always worth checking with your bank for the specific fees for withdrawing money in a foreign currency. As well as the fees for making foreign purchases.
- Withdraw the largest amount you can. Withdraw a larger amount of cash so you don’t have to return to use the ATM anytime soon. This will minimise the number of fees you have to pay to your bank.
- The ATM’s in Bali have low maximum withdrawal rates. These are usually 1.25 million IDR (£62.50) or 3 million IDR (£125).
- Most ATM’s in Bali only dispense one note of a specific value. These are either 50K or 100K IDR ATM machines. We always use the 100K ATM as the max withdrawal limit is twice as high.
- In contrast to the machines you use elsewhere in the world, you’ll receive your money before getting your card back. Don’t panic, this may take a minute or two.
- Card skimming is very common in Bali, especially in tourist hotspots. So, we advise not to use random machines at the side of the road. Always try to use ones located at banks or shopping malls/complexes with security guards.
- We’d highly recommend only using your bank card or credit cards in respectable hotels, restaurants and high-end shops. Certainly, don’t use it in small shops or bars. We are always vigilant and still fell foul of having our card skimmed like this!
- If you’re presented with the opportunity to choose between the local currency and your home currency, choose the local. Every damn time. If you choose to be charged in your home currency, you’ll be subject to some upsettingly low exchange rates.
Carry multiple bank cards. We tend to have one account with all our money in and leave this card at home. Then, we transfer money as and when we need it to one of the cards, we have with us. This keeps our funds safe should our card be skimmed.
It’s also wise to carry multiple cards just in case you lose one, it’s blocked or even swallowed by a machine.
Have we answered everything you wanted to know about changing money in Bali?
Changing your cash in Bali doesn’t have to be a complicated or particularly stressful task. Hopefully, by now we’ve answered everything you need to know to change your home currency into Rupiah in confidence.
The main thing you should take away from this blog post is that you should 1) change your money in Bali for better rates and 2) take the necessary precautions to make sure you don’t get scammed.
On the other hand, if you decide that you want to use your card in Bali, then we hope you now understand the best ways to do so. Keeping your wits about you and using your common sense will go a long way in protecting yourself and your bank cards.
Have any questions about changing money in Bali? Ask away in the comments!!
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