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Money
(Cash, ATM's and Cards)

"I usually donít trust money changers on the streets at all. Except the ones which are located inside big airports or official Banks which give receipts every time you change the currency with them. Itís what you read and hear everywhere, that mostly people get cheated at such shops. And my trip to Bali only confirmed it more when I got cheated in Bali."

The rupiah (Rp) is the official currency of Indonesia and is subdivided into 100 sen. The name derives from the Indian monetary unit rupee which is called as rupiya in Indian languages. Informally, Indonesians also use the word "perak" in referring to rupiah. Inflation has now rendered all coins and banknotes denominated in sen obsolete.
The rupiah is the official currency of Indonesia. Issued and controlled by the Bank of Indonesia, the ISO 4217 currency code for the Indonesian rupiah is IDR. The name "rupiah" is derived from the Hindustani word rupiyaa. Informally, Indonesians also use the word "perak" ('silver' in Indonesian) in referring to rupiah.

The current rupiah consists of coins from 50 rupiah up to 1000 rupiah (1 rupiah are officially legal tender but are effectively worthless and are not circulated), and from banknotes of 1000 rupiah up to 100,000 rupiah. With US$1 worth about 12,150 rupiah, the largest Indonesian banknote is therefore worth approximately US$8.25.
There are presently two series of coins in circulation: aluminium, bronze and bi-metallic coins from 1991Ė1998 and light-weight aluminium coins from 1999 onwards.
Due to the low value and general shortage of small denomination coins (below 100 rupiah), it is common to have amounts rounded up (or down) or to receive sweets in lieu of the last few rupiah of change in supermarkets and stores.

 

 

Cash is king in Bali and Lombok. Wherever you go you will need it, whether to pay for parking, entrance to museums, tips, or taxi rides, or to buy knickknacks, you will need to have low denominations of cash. Although Rp100,000 bills are useful for high-priced items, smaller shops and taxis do not carry large amounts of change. There seems to be an expectation that the customer should provide appropriate change, rather than the other way round.

ATMs are everywhere in south Bali. Withdrawals can be made with credit cards and some debit cards on the Maestro and Cirrus networks. Most ATMs dispense money in multiples of Rp50,000 which is extremely annoying when withdrawing large amounts of cash. A few machines will dispense Rp100,000 notes. All ATMs are clearly marked which denominations they pay out.

Some banks will only allow maximum withdrawals of Rp1,250,000 at one time but will allow up to three withdrawals in a day. Others will allow Rp3,000,000 at one time with a maximum of Rp6,000,000 withdrawal in a day. The best ATM we have found is Permata Bank, where you can withdraw Rp3,000,000 in Rp100,000 notes up to a maximum of two withdrawals. These ATMs are in the Circle K on Jalan Laksmana in Seminyak, on Jalan Legian near the turning to Jalan Double Six in Kuta, Jalan Tamblingan in Sanur, and Jalan Raya Ubud in Ubud.

All high-end hotels, shops, restaurants, and nightclubs accept credit cards. Visa and MasterCard are the most commonly accepted cards but some do take American Express and Diners Club. Merchants may charge a 3% to 5% surcharge for credit transactions. Payments are usually in rupiah but some companies have been known to charge in U.S. dollars, particularly large hotel chains. If this is the case, ask them to clarify what exchange rate they are using as you may be better off paying in cash.

Tips for changing money with money changers (there are also many unscrupulous vendors):

  • Make sure you do your own calculations. Do not rely on the staff. Some calculators can be tampered with.

  • Check to see if there is a commission fee. Be cautious that you may have a good rate of exchange but have to pay a hefty commission rate. If the commission is low, ensure that you are getting a good exchange rate.

  • Count the money yourself. Better still, count it twice. Do not pass it back to the staff to recount as you may find a few notes missing after leaving the shop.

  • The money changers should give you a receipt. If they don't, insist.

  • Be warned of counterfeit bills. If a note doesn't feel right, ask for another one. Do not accept any damaged currency.

  • Be sure to count zeros on a note. Rp10,000 is roughly equivalent to US$1 and Rp100,000 is US$10.

 

 

 

 

 

 



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