Getting the best exchange rate on Bali: Travel tips

Wise

Bali is the perfect tourist destination - whether you’re looking for a peaceful yoga retreat, beautiful dive site, or a place to party. In fact, some 80% of the international visitors headed to Indonesia as a whole find themselves in Bali. If you’re one of them, you’re going to need some money to make the most of your time on the island.

Here’s all you need to know about getting the best available exchange rate on Bali.

What is the currency in Bali?

Bali is part of Indonesia, where the official currency is the rupiah. You might also see it written as RP, or using the currency code IDR.

Rupiah come in both coins and notes, from the smallest IDR100 coin, up to notes worth IDR100,000. Coins are seldom used by travellers, as their value is so small. Bank notes are brightly coloured to make it easier to distinguish between them.

Bali money exchange: what are your options?

Whatever you’re planning on doing in Bali, you’ll need some cash. Here are some common ways to change your Australian dollars (AUD) to rupiah, so you can pick the best one for your needs.

Bring cash with you or take money out of an ATM

One option is to take cash in AUD with you, and change it for IDR when you arrive in Bali. If you’re doing this, make sure you have large denomination, clean notes with you. Money exchange services often won’t accept dirty or torn currency for exchange. Don’t forget also, that there are rules about taking cash in or out of Australia - depending on the amount of Australian dollars you take with you, you might need to declare your spending money for customs purposes, as you leave the country.

Another simple way to get your hands on Indonesian rupiah, is to withdraw money directly from an ATM when you arrive in Bali. This usually means you get a fair exchange rate - as long as you avoid dynamic currency conversion (DCC).

You’ll see DCC at ATMs, but also when you’re paying for goods and services using your bank card, when you’re asked if you want to pay for the transaction in your home currency, rather than rupiah. To get the best deal, always pay in the local currency. If you choose to use your home currency instead, it’ll cost you more, as the ATM or merchant can select the exchange rate applied, and it’s not likely to be great.

Try to avoid changing your money at the Airport

It can be tempting to grab some cash as you pass through the airport, either as you leave home, or arrive in Bali. However, airport currency exchanges typically don’t offer a good deal because there’s little genuine competition, so you pay a high premium for the convenience. Avoid if possible.

Exchanging money at a bank

You’ll be able to find a bank easily enough in Bali - there are both local banks, and some big international brands available. Many branches will offer money exchange services, although you’ll need to check the opening hours in your local area, as many banks will close by 3pm on weekdays. Read more about money and banks in Indonesia, here.

Currency exchange shops

Bali has a thriving tourist industry, and so there are many currency exchange services available. As you might expect, some currency exchange shops offer a better deal than others - and there are a number of common scams to watch out for.

If you choose to use a currency exchange store once you arrive in Bali, look out for one which advertises itself as Pedagang Valuta Asing Berizin or PVA Berizin. You’ll usually see this written on a green, shield-shaped sign in the window, which means it’s an authorised money exchange service.

Make sure you’re very clear of the exchange rate you’re being offered before you hand over your money. You should also count your notes yourself before you leave, as unscrupulous exchange services have been known to show customers their exchange in large notes, but then replace them last minute with lower denominations using some pretty impressive sleight of hand. Don’t get caught out.

Exchanging AUD to IDR at a hotel

As with airports, hotel currency exchange services tend to be convenient but expensive. Make sure you’re getting a fair deal before you hand over your cash.

Wise

If you’re visiting friends or family in Bali, or have a bank account in Indonesia yourself, you could get a better deal on your currency exchange with Wise.

Use Wise to send money to an account in Indonesia, and then simply withdraw it in rupiah from fee-free ATMs when you arrive. All transfers made with Wise use the real mid-market rate - more on that in a moment - with a transparent, upfront fee, so you know you’re getting a fair deal.

How you can make sure to get the best exchange rate in Bali

However you choose to get your rupiah, you’ll need to know the exchange rate being used to convert your cash from AUD to IDR.

It’s easy to find the real, mid-market exchange rate with a quick Google search of your currency pairing, or by using an online currency converter. However, it’s really important to know that most bank and money exchange services don’t actually offer this rate to customers. Instead, they’ll add a markup to the mid-market rate, which they keep for themselves. That’s not transparent, and it often means you pay more than you have to.

Don’t be fooled by exchange services which claim to offer fee-free currency conversion - you’ll usually find that they simply hide their profits in a poor exchange rate. Wise does things differently, using the real mid-market exchange rate, and clearly showing the fee charged for each transaction.

If you need to make and receive payments from abroad often, then you could be even better off with a Wise multi-currency borderless account. You can hold your money in over 40 different currencies, including AUD and IDR, and switch between them when you need to, always using the real exchange rate, and with just a low upfront fee. Plus the Wise account comes with debit MasterCard that allows you to pay and spend your money wherever and whenever you want.

Once you’ve decided how to get your rupiah, you’re ready to get packing. Don’t forget to take some more modest clothes along with your beach gear, for when you’re visiting cultural sites and temples. A plug adaptor is another must-have - Indonesia uses European style plugs, so you’ll want to pop an adaptor into your suitcase if you want to keep your phone charged when you’re away. And you’re all set, for what could be the holiday of a lifetime.


This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.


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This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

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