Before you travel to Bali, you might wonder about the Indonesian currency and how you should prepare the money, whether you should change the money beforehand or withdraw the money out of the ATM. This article would reveal everything you need to know about currency in Bali.
Indonesian official currency is Rupiah, which code is IDR (for Indonesian Rupiah) and is often abbreviated as Rp. This abbreviation is usually put before the amount, e.g. Rp.10.000,- (ten thousand Rupiah).
The amount consists of so many zeros that sometimes the thousands are implied or stated as “K” (means Kilo in Mathematics, a thousand in currency), e.g. IDR 10K (ten thousand Rupiah). When mentioning the price, most local people would leave the "thousand" (in Indonesian is "ribu") behind, such as, when they say 20, it means Rp.20.000,- (twenty thousand Rupiah).
Indonesian Rupiah currently has some banknotes circulating in different denominations, which are:
- Rp.1.000,- banknotes in yellow-grey color
- Rp.2.000,- banknotes in grey color
- Rp.5.000,- banknotes in light brown color
- Rp.10.000,- banknotes in purple color
- Rp.20.000,- banknotes in green color
- Rp.50.000,- banknotes in blue color
- Rp.100.000,- banknotes in red color
The smaller denominations of Rp.1.000,- might be less circulating since the same denomination also exists in coins. Some other coins in Rupiah are:
Coins' values are not significant and not widely used because the amounts are usually rounded to avoid the needs for small exchanges.
Exchange money at the airport
Upon your arrival at the airport, you can see some ATMs and money changers in the airport where you can change money just in case you don’t have any Indonesian Rupiah with you to grab a taxi or simply buy the phone SIM card. But since the exchange rates in the airport money changers are not the best, you might want to avoid exchanging too much currency in Bali airport.
Exchange money in money changer
Other major money-changers can be easily found in the city or any touristy destinations around Bali. Avoid the random unofficial kiosks, shops, or individuals offering higher exchange rates since their hands might be faster than you could see or imagine, and perhaps it's too late that you receive less money than it's supposed to be. Instead, find the trusted and authorized money changers; usually, they have decent places with air-con, proper waiting room, cashier windows, and security guard. If you stop by their websites, you might also find that they have many branches and good reviews. Always make sure to count the money and put it into the envelope yourself before leaving the cashier desk.
Withdraw money from ATMs
Withdrawing money from the ATMs might be the best and most practical option since they are widely available throughout the island. ATMs in Bali mostly have English language and accept Cirrus, Maestro, Visa, Master, and other cards in western networks. Some small fees might apply in addition to your bank changes, such as the transaction fee, the international exchange fee, etc. – luckily, the amounts are still reasonable.
The ATMs are labeled with the smallest denomination banknotes they will dispense, which are Rp.50.000,- (blue color banknotes) or Rp.100.000,- (red color banknotes). Getting the smaller denomination would make it easier for you to do the transaction since the taxi drivers might not have the change if you hand them the Rp.100.000,- banknotes.
However, be aware of the card skimming scams, which is quite common in South East Asia. The criminals install a device secretly over the card slot on ATM, which seems to be a part of the machine, to gather account data from the inserted or swiped cards; then they plant this data into the blank bank cards and use them to access the funds in the victims' accounts. In Bali, it is more common happening in the public ATMs, therefore try to withdraw the money from the ATMs inside the bank, which usually have the security guard for 24h. Besides, always check whether the card slot is installed tightly and cover your hands as you type in your PIN into the ATMs – no matter where you are.
Remember to set the transaction notification to be sent to you through SMS or email, so you can detect any unknown transactions and report to your bank immediately to freeze your account temporarily during the investigation.
Accepted currency in Bali
According to the newest official regulations, all transactions done in Indonesia should be paid in Rupiah, unless when paying for the visa on arrival at the airport. You can easily exchange your money in any ATMs or money changers to Rupiah currency in Bali.
Cash or card payments
Most restaurants, cafés, supermarkets, dive centers, and any major shops with significant transaction amounts would mostly accept card payments, though you have to check for any additional fees for using particular cards – usually around 2.5% of the transaction amounts.
However, it is best to prepare some cash in Rupiah currency in Bali, since most smaller restaurants, warung, phone SIM card kiosks, conventional minimarkets, taxi drivers, and laundry kiosks can only accept cash payments.