Currency and money in Bali
The official currency of Indonesia is the Rupiah Indonesia (IDR), and therefore this is also Bali’s currency. The Indonesian Rupiah is highly undervalued against other currencies such as the Euro or the Dollar. For this reason, there are large-denomination banknotes. One thing to keep in mind is that if you exchange a large amount, you will have a lot of cash, possibly several rolls.
In Indonesia, both banknotes and coins are used, although the last ones have very little value. The bills in circulation are 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000 and 100,000 rupees. Coins in use are 25, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000 rupees. Being a destination that receives a lot of tourists, in Bali, many prices are indicated in dollars as well.
Most tourist sites such as restaurants and hotels accept Mastercard, Visa, or American Express credit cards. Still, for shopping at markets, local areas, and paying for taxis, temple entrance fees, and tours, it is recommendable to carry cash and pay in local currency.
Withdrawing money from banks and ATMs
There are many banks and ATMs on the island where you can withdraw cash. It is essential to know what fees the bank can apply when you are going to withdraw money, but also what fees your bank applies for cash withdrawals abroad. For this reason, we recommend you to check with your bank before you leave to avoid unreasonable fees.
Nowadays, we are lucky to have online banks like N26, Revolut or Bnext which do not charge commissions when withdrawing cash or paying with the card.
- With a free N26 card, you can withdraw money from any ATM in the world, paying 1.7% for the currency exchange and 0% for the withdrawal up to 5 times a month. N26 has two premium You and Metal cards with which you can withdraw money for free anywhere in the world without paying for the exchange rate. None of the N26 cards charge a fee for paying by card in the local currency.
- With the Revolut card, you have free withdrawals on weekdays in all currencies up to €200, except on weekends when they charge a 0.5% commission (that’s nothing compared to the 4% of other banks in Europe). If you want to save that small commission, you can withdraw money from Monday to Friday. Revolut doesn’t charge a commission for paying with the card.
- With the Bnext card, you can make 3 free withdrawals per month in any country and pay in any currency without commission up to €2000 per month.
Depending on your needs, you can choose the card that best suits them or use several cards and alternate. It is better to withdraw money when you need it than to carry a lot of cash. Since the rupee is very cheap, you will always get a lot of bills. To give you an idea, when you change €50, you get about 760,000 rupees.
When it comes to exchanging currency, we recommend you to do it at banks or official exchange houses to avoid any scams. These are some of the safest places to change money:
- At the airport, there are several exchange houses and, although often a little more expensive, as in all airports in the world, are among the safest places to change money in Bali.
- The authorized exchange houses are easy to recognize. They must have a green sticker with the PVA Berizin logo on it, where it is explained in English that this exchanging house is official and authorized by the government.
- It is also safe to change money in banks, and often the commissions can be lower than in exchange offices.
- In your accommodation, they can also change money, and it is unlikely that they will try to scam you since they won’t want to lose you as a client.
- BMC, PT. Dirgahayu Valuta Prima or Central Kuta Money Changes are some of the safe exchange house and usually have reasonable prices.
If you want to exchange money before you go on your trip, we recommend you do it with Ria Currency Exchange. This company does not charge a commission, and you can have your money sent to your home address.
Scams you can encounter in exchange houses
There are a lot of exchange houses in Bali, but you have to be very careful where you change your money. Even if you go to one of the places we have recommended, it is not a bad idea to count your money a couple of times before leaving the establishment. Lately, it seems that a scam has spread all over the island and you should try to avoid it.
The employees of the exchange offices count the money they have to give you in front of you and put it on the table in bundles. If you count the money again, you will realize that some bills are missing. What we recommend you to do before leaving the office is to count your money in front of the person as many times as necessary to make sure that no money is missing. If you only realize the scam once you left the office, there is little you can do because they will blame you for taking the money or loosing it.
How to avoid these scams?
- Try to exchange money only in authorized exchange offices and banks.
- Before changing the money, check the official exchange rate and look for the price that is closest to the official (you can check it out on xe.com).
- Know the exact amount of money you need to receive.
- Let the employees of the exchange offices know that you are aware of this scam and that you’ll be watching their moves.
- When they leave the money, they have counted in front of you on the table, put a hand on it so they can’t withdraw bills from the bundles.
- Do not hand over the money you want to change until you are sure you have been given all the money you are entitled to.
- Check the cash several times before leaving the establishment.
Bali is a reasonably safe island, but like anywhere else in the world, you have to be careful not to carry too much cash and not fall into the scammers’ traps.