The Indonesian rupiah (IDR) is the official currency of Bali. Australian dollars are readily exchanged in most of the tourist areas. Foreign currencies like the US dollar, UK pound, Euro and Singapore dollar are also readily exchanged. Major credit cards are widely accepted too.
If you’re seeing the rocketing dollar before travelling and wanting to get in while it’s hot by buying some foreign currency, don’t get stung with a stingy rate. Best buy for the currency is definitely at Australia Post. The Australia Post rate will equal the best of the banks and no commission on top
If you use Travelex, always order online, lock in the best rate and pick up the cash at a branch since the prices will vary between airport and shop outlets.
Visa on Arrival
Don’t worry if you haven’t changed money to pay the $35US VOA. This can be paid in Australian dollars (allow approximately $45AUS at current rates) and change will be given in Rupiah. So handy to have a few rupiah to pay your taxi driver!
Or, if you wish to take US dollars, purchase from your Australian Post Office with no commission. It will take 3 days and there is a minimum spend of $200.
Changing Money at Hotels
While hotel exchange may seem convenient, beware of high transaction charges. Generally experts advise avoiding exchanging money at a hotel unless you have no other choice.
Exchanging Money via Credit Cards
Generally credit cards offer the most favourable exchange rates for changing money, since credit card companies have access to better rates than individuals. Be careful when using the credit card if your home currency is falling. Since the transactions are not converted instantly, there is a possibility that you will end up with a less favorable conversion rate a few days later.
Money Changers are everywhere in Bali. Unscrupulous Money Changers are common: if the rate on a board seems too good to be true, it likely is! Always change money at Authorised, reputable dealers. Generally speaking, Kodak shops and Western Unions and banks are reputable.
It has been said that the best day to change money is a Tuesday between 1 – 2pm since it coincides with the US stock exchange commencement of trading. I’ve never been pedantic enough to check this, but maybe you will?
Don’t run all over town trying to get the best rate! If you’re only changing $100, the difference will amount to a couple of dollars at best. Best to change your hard earned dollars in denominations of $100 dollar notes for ease of calculating the exchange too.
Here are some of my recommendations as to where to change money:
Airport Money Changers – maybe a slightly lesser rate, but usually trustworthy
BMC Seminyak PT Bali Maspintjinra (opposite Bintang Supermarket, next to Sip restaurant on the Kuta side.)
PT Bali Maspintjinra, Head office Jl Raya Seminyak No 16A
PT Bali Maspintjinra, Sanur, Jl Danau Tamblingan No 18
PT Bali Maspintjinra, Kuta Jl Sriwinjays No 16A
Note: An Authorised Money Changer must be formally authorised and identified with distinctive markers. All Authorised Money Changers are obliged to use a logo, they must also prominently display their registration number provided to them by Bank Indonesia on their signboard. If there is no logo and registration number then they are NOT Authorised Money Changers.
DO NOT use a Money Changer at the back of a shop, down an alley or laneway. Always count your Rupiah before handing over your dollars.
DO NOT accept small denominations as it is often a sure sign they will attempt to short change you. (50,000 and 100,000 are best).
DO NOT rely on their calculator as they are sometimes rigged.
DO NOT rely on the person counting out the Rupiah in front of you as their hand is sometimes quicker than the eye.
DO NOT hand over your dollars until you are satisfied they are giving you the correct amount.
DO NOT be distracted or intoxicated either when you change money.
You get the picture! Be wary.
Having said that, the Balinese are fundamentally honest and helpful people. There is a reliable chain of money changers called PT Central Kuta (blue signs with white writing) that also give good exchange rates. I only change money at PT Central money changers. You will also see signs at the KODAK shops with PT central money changers written on them. These are also safe. Your driver should be able to show you where these shops are.
* Pic above is: BMC Seminyak PT Bali Maspintjinra (opposite Bintang Supermarket, next to Sip restaurant on the Kuta side.)
Remember to use the hotel safes or safety deposit boxes for your money and passport. I divide up my $100 or $50 Australian notes into envelopes containing $200 each. I label the envelopes 1, 2, 3 etc. This way I know how much I have left and whether anything has been tampered with. Hotel safes should be without reproach, but I have sometimes heard stories otherwise.
ATM’s are available. You can nominate the language you want the machine to use, and it will usually say on the ATM what note and amount it dispenses. Always be sure you don’t reveal your PIN and be careful that you do not leave your card in the machine. ATM’s are handy to use if you would rather not carry large sums of cash and are a convenient way to obtain local currency at a reasonable exchange rate. Keep in mind that your withdrawal may be subject to a nominal fee for an international transfer, so check with your bank before leaving home. The other point to note is that your bank may freeze your card if out-of-the-ordinary transactions (such as withdrawals in 4 different countries over the course of a week) appear, so keep a copy of your bank’s contact information on hand.
Handy if you are taking a large sum of money since it is insured when you purchase this style of currency. Downside: Not as good an exchange rate.
Lastly, have fun and spend up. Bali relies on our tourist dollar.
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