Using atms in Bali
Cash, Credit cards, ATMs and Money Changers
You want to be a millionaire? No need to join any lottery or game show: you instantly become a millionaire when you withdraw or change money in Bali. Do not be fooled by the many zeros of the Indonesian Rupiah also abbreviated as Rp. It might look as if you are holding enough cash to buy yourself a private island but it is probably just enough for a cold can of local beer.
There are coins with the value of Rp. 50, Rp. 100, Rp. 200, Rp. 500 and Rp. 1, 000
Notes are available at Rp. 1, 000, Rp. 2, 000, Rp. 5, 000, Rp. 10, 000, Rp. 20, 000, Rp. 50, 000, and Rp. 100, 000, -
Please note that the Indonesian government only allows you to bring in cash at the maximum value of 100, 000, 000 rupiah.
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.
- 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.
Major currencies like the US, Australian dollar and Euro can easily be exchanged 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. Particularly the USD notes.
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?!
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 (small) money changers have a better rate but add a fee, sometimes without telling you.
- 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.
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.