Handling Money & Paying in Bali



Cash

Cash is still an important form of payment in Bali. So make sure you carry enough with you to pay for your small shopping, transportation and food & drinks. The 100,000 bills are only useful if you intend to buy a high-priced item or spend a lot of money at the same place. Most small shops and street sellers will struggle to make change, so 50,000 and 20,000 Rp notes will be the way to go.

Cash Tips

  • Most resorts and hotels accept credit cards but most times smaller places like guesthouses or homestays do not.
  • Check before hand if a store or restaurant accepts credit cards and if indeed their card swipe machine (EDC) is working.
  • Hold on to a few Rp. 500 and Rp. 1,000 coins and forget about the smaller ones. They take up space and are hardly worth their weight. Don’t be surprised if at a supermarket your change of money includes a few pieces of candy instead of Rp. 50 or Rp. 100 coins.
  •  Always carry a bit of cash with you. It will come handy when you decide to buy a coconut, grilled corn on the cob or a sarong on the beach. Tipping the staff at the hotel, spa and restaurant is also usually done in cash.
  • Your cash is king at markets, food stalls and small shops. Do not expect to be able to use your credit cards here.


Money Changers

Major currencies like the US, Australian dollar and Euro can easily be exchange in banks, hotels and money changers. Keep in mind that the rates fluctuate every day and not all notes are accepted. Old, folded, damaged and dirty notes are often rejected or exchanged at a lower rate than a clean crisp bill.

Money changers offer the best rates and are often conveniently open from 9am till 10 pm. They can be found throughout the island.

Banks generally give you the next best rate but going into a bank and waiting for your turn can be exhausting and a waste of your precious holiday time.

Hotels offer the lowest rate of exchange. Who wants that?!

Be aware!

Although there are plenty of honest money changers there are also several shady vendors who might try to trick and short change you. We strongly recommend you to go to a licensed money changer located in its own air-conditioned office with a clear display of the current rates. Licensed money changers, the Valuta Asing Berizin or Authorized Money Changers can be recognized by the green-colored logo stating: “PVA Berizin”.

The small sign boards on the streets saying Official Money Changer - No Commission are not God's word. Therefore, always be cautious and follow below steps.

Money Changer Tips

  • Check the exchange rate and calculate what you should receive before handing over your money
  • Check if there is a commission fee. Some money changers have a better rate but add a fee.
  • You should receive a small document which states the rate and calculation for the amount of money you like to exchange. A professional money changer will ask you to sign it before handing you over the cash.
  • Count your money in front of the dealer before you leave. You should be the last person who touches the money before you walk away. Do not pass it back to the staff for a recount !
  • Do not accept any damaged currency or notes that do not feel right.
  • Avoid the money changers in small streets or in small open shops, especially the ones that change your money behind a high bench which makes it difficult for you to see what is going on.


ATM machines

ATMs are easily found in Bali’s most populated areas and most accept nonlocal ATM cards and credit cards for cash withdrawals. Debit cards are accepted by some ATMs on the Maestro and Cirrus networks. If you plan to travel in very rural areas or the islands, or Ceningan Island, it will be wise to stock up on additional cash before you hit the road. There is for example one ATM machine on Lembongan Island, which does not always work.

ATM Tips

  • ATMs dispense either 50,000 or 100,000 notes. A sticker will clearly indicate which one.
  • Most ATMs in Bali allow a maximum withdrawal of 1,250,000 (50,000 bill machines) to 3,000,000 rupiah (100,000 bill machines) per transaction with a total maximum of 6,000,000 rupiah withdrawal a day.
  • Be aware that often machines will hand out the money first before returning your card. Make sure you do not walk away without taking your card!
  • Rates and transaction fees depend on your bank back home. You may like to check the charges with your bank before withdrawing money.
  • Do double check if your card can be used overseas and inform your bank of your travel destination as it has happened on a few occasions that travellers find their card blocked by their bank as their sudden overseas spending was seen as suspected fraudulent use.
  • The most popular ATMs to withdraw money from are Bank Central Asia (BCA), Bank Mandiri, Bank Negara Indonesia (BNI), and Permata Bank. More Commonwealth ATMs are popping up the island in recent years.
  • BCA has the largest coverage when it comes to ATM machines. They have 3 types of machines: Tunai which means cash. Non Tunai which means, what a surprise, no cash. And Setor Tunai which means deposit cash.
  • There have been a few cases of digital pad skimming devices found in ATMs. It is always wise to use ATMs placed in banks, shopping malls and places with security camera.


Kartu Kredit

More and more restaurants and shops do accept credit cards nowadays - particularly in the touristic areas it's gaining ground a lot. But do not rely on your credit card as you would in a western country. Cash is in many cases the only acceptable way of payment. Particularly in remote areas a credit card will be of little use to you.

Visa and MasterCard are the most accepted credit cards in Bali. Some hotels and restaurants do take Amex, Diners Club even less.

Keep in mind that very often there will be a 3 to sometimes even 5% surcharge on credit card transactions. This is, because the credit card companies keep that percentage for themselves, and the vendors on Bali will charge that fee back to their customer.

Travellers Cheques

Do not bring these. It will be hard to impossible to change.