Bali – Handling Money, Cash and Payments
In Bali, Cash is in many ways still king. The indonesian Rupiah (IDR) is a “Many-zeros-currency” which will challenge your brain cells a little bit, but most get used to being a millionaire right away quite quickly.
- IDR 10,000 are roughly 1 AUD, which makes it fairly easy to calculate
- IDR 16,000 ca 1 Euro
- IDR 14,500 ca i USD
Even though in Indonesia there are coins, there are rarely used for paying. You receive them when you pay in grocery stores which is more a pain than anything else, since they are clearly not much worth. Many ravelers leave them in the hotel rooms or gve them to a cab driver as tip.
The Bank of Indonesia issues following bills:
- IDR 100,000 (the largest bill) – RED
- IDR 50,000 – BLUE
- IDR 20,000 – GREEN
- IDR 10,000 – Purple
- IDR 5,000 – BROWNISH
- IDR 2,000 – GREYISH
- IDR 1,000 – getting more rare – BLUE-PINK
So if you change 100 AUD you get roughly a million.
The best bill to carry around is the 50,000 – not too big and not too small.
In Bali businesses prefer cash – clearly. You will have to PAY in IDR, paying in USD is not possible anymore. You would have to go to a money changer first. Even though some prices are published in USD like hotel rooms, you will still have to pay in IDR. That’s a law.
ATM machines are almost everywhere in Bali. If you don’t have a card that does not charge you for international withdraw, then expect to pay ca. 3-5USD per transaction. That’s why it is advisable to pull a bigger amount of money once,insetad of going often pulling smaller amounts.
The machines come in two kinds:
100,000 bills and 50,000 bills. The max amount therefore varied between IDR 1,250,000 and IDR 3,000,000 per transaction. Each ATM machine has a sticker with either 100,000 or 50,000 indicating the bills you will receive.
Pulling money from the machine is a smart thing to do. The fees are not too high and you usually get a good exchange rate from the bank. If you go to a money changer, then usually the rate is 2-4% worse, than what the interbank exchange rate is. So it’s up to you what you prefer. Either way, you will pay a little bit down the road, directl or indirectly.
There is some ATM fraud Bali. The latest scams have been carried out by Russians and Romanians – not the Indonesians. So always check the machine, and observe if you notice something dodgy.
Credit Cards are gaining ground, and the shops and restaurants usually accept your credit cards. Since the shop needs a working landline connection, sometimes it might not work, but usually it’s ok.
DOn’t expect smaller restaurants or shops to accept cards, since they are simply not equipped for it.
VERY OFTEN in Bali you will be charged a 2-3% surcharge if you pay by credit card. That’s because the vendor has to pay a fee to the credit card companies (1.5-3%) and the vendor is therefore asking you to cover that fee. IN a way this is “illegal” and against the terms and conditions of the credit card companies. But there is little they can do or are willing to do against this practice.
Dodgy Money Changers
Avoid hole-in-the-wall operators by all means, and always ask about any commission imposed before the exchange, as many money changers are advertising better rates and then simply charge a commission. Count the money you receive carefully and never ever hand it back to the money changer after you counted it!
Some of these guys are real magicians, and the million you just counted suddenly is less than 900,000 Rupiah after the seller touched the bank notes again! And they will blame you and say you took it. No fun. At times you might even have a nicely printed worthless piece of paper within the stack of bills and you wonder a few hours later, what really happened.