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Travel money guide: Indonesia

Traveling to Indonesia? Learn about the best way to take your money with you.

The majority of Indonesians use cash to pay for purchases. The national currency is the Indonesian rupiah, so you’ll want some local currency and a Visa or Mastercard debit card on hand to access more cash when you need it.

The best place to look for an ATM when you need more cash is at the airport or one of the large bank branches. You can also use a Visa or Mastercard credit card in tourist hot spots like Bali, but plastic is virtually useless in remote areas like Maluku and Papua.

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Travel card, credit card or debit cards?

Whether you’re on a business trip or taking a holiday, it’s good to at least have a couple of ways to access money. Choose a versatile mix like a debit card for regular spending and a credit card for emergencies. Whatever you decide on, you want to have enough Indonesian currency in your pockets when traveling through Indonesia — even if it’s enough for the first couple of days.

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You’re going to need to pay for a visa when you arrive in Indonesia. In places such as Denpasar airport, you have to pay cash, so make sure you have sufficient funds.

These are your options for spending money in Indonesia

Using a credit card

A travel credit card can be useful when going overseas if you plan on making a large purchase that you’ll want to pay off over a couple of months or for a hotel check-in where a deposit normally is required. Credit cards can also provide you with benefits like complimentary travel insurance when you charge the cost of your travel ticket to your account.

If you go with a travel card like the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card, you’ll avoid hefty foreign transaction fees, which can add to your trip’s cost usually in the vein of 3% per transaction (Terms apply, see rates & fees).

However, credit cards can be expensive, especially when it comes to withdrawing cash at an ATM. Interest is charged straight away, and you’ll pay a cash advance fee.

Pros
  • Protected by PIN & chip
  • Access to funds up to your credit limit
  • Rewards points on spending, 0% purchases, frequent flyer perks
  • Emergency card replacement
Cons
  • High withdrawal and cash advance fees
  • International ATM fees and currency conversion fees

Using a debit card

A debit card is a great travel companion if you can get your hands on one with no international ATM fees like the Betterment Checking. You’ll have easy access to cash and only have to pay the ATM operator fee. When making purchases overseas, most debit cards will charge a 2% to 3% foreign transaction fee.

Pros
  • Access to ATMs
  • Make over-the-counter purchases
  • Budget is easily managed
Cons
  • Currency conversion and international ATM fees
  • No emergency cash
  • No backup cards

Using a prepaid travel card

There are no travel money cards that allow you to load and spend in Indonesian rupiah. These cards should only really be considered if Indonesia is the first leg of your international holiday. However, due to the lack of support for the Indonesian rupiah, the fee structure and exchange rate margin when you load the card with funds make this an expensive option.

Pros
  • Protected by PIN & chip
  • Pre-load and secure your exchange rate
  • Accepted worldwide
  • Emergency card replacement and backup cards
Cons
  • Local ATM fee
  • Reloading time

Paying with cash in Indonesia

Having cash in Indonesia will prove to be useful as there won’t always be stores and shops that are going to accept credit card payments. In addition to that, many street stands or local vendors will likely be operating a cash-only business. Don’t let yourself get stuck in a rut because you didn’t want to stop at an ATM machine.

Cons
  • Difficult to manage expenses
  • Higher risk of theft

Using traveler’s checks

Traveler’s checks have some nice security touches to them, but unfortunately, they’re dated. Traveler’s checks need ID to be cashed, and they can be replaced in a few days if lost or stolen. But, there are fees for purchasing and cashing a check.

Pros
  • Secure and can be easily replaced if lost or stolen
  • Photo ID needed to cash checks
Cons
  • Can be costly with initial purchase charges
  • Limited acceptance
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A guide to Indonesian banknotes and coins

Indonesian currency is in denominations of 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000, 100,000 denominations — each a different color. Familiarize yourself with the notes before heading there:

Indonesian 1000-rupiahIndonesian 2000-rupiahIndonesian 5000-rupiah
Indonesian 20000-rupiahIndonesian 50000-rupiah

Card acceptance

You’ll see stores and shops with Mastercard and Visa logos throughout Bali, and you should be able to use your ATM card there with no problem.

  • Tip: Citibank customers can make free ATM withdrawals using Citibank ATMs in Indonesia.

Live Rate

= Rp 1.0000

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The main banks in Indonesia are:

  • BRI (Bank Rakyat Indonesia)
  • Bank Mandiri
  • BNI (Bank Negara Indonesia)
  • BCA (Bank Central Asia)
  • BTN (Bank Tabungan Indonesia)
  • Bank Panin
  • Citibank Indonesia
  • CIMB Niaga
Find ATMs in Indonesia

You’ll find a host of global and national bank branches with ATMs located inside, as well as locally owned ATMs around the country. However, ATMs in airports and large bank branches are the spots where you won’t be charged hefty ATM operator fees. You can also avoid international ATM fees by using a Betterment Checking Visa debit card because this account reimburses all ATM fees within 24 hours of submitting them.

How much should I budget to travel in Indonesia?

All prices are in US dollars.

Budget (Cheap)MidrangeLuxury (High-end)
MealsCheap street meals
$1
Average full meal
$2–$3
Western food
$10
ActivitiesBromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park
$7
Mt. Batur hike
$30–$60
2-day all-inclusive orangutan trek in Bukit Lawang
$80
AccommodationSimple room
$15
Room with air-conditioning and Wi-Fi
$30–$70
Ayana Bali resort
$815–$1225

Prices are approximate and are subject to change.

Case study: Stephanie's experience

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Stephanie

Stephanie’s Bali Beach Holiday

What are your travel money tips for Bali?

She says do your shopping in the morning. The people who sell things at the markets in Bali will give you a better price in the morning compared to in the afternoon.

Get travel insurance quotes for your holiday in Indonesia

Indonesia has proved to be a dangerous destination. From the dreaded Bali belly to contaminated alcohol, there are many risks lurking just below the surface. This is why travel insurance is so important. Travel insurance can cover:

  • Cancellations
  • Trip interruption
  • Lost deposits
  • Additional accommodation
  • Personal liability
  • Emergency dental and medical

Don’t let a hospital stay ruin your holiday. Compare travel insurance for Indonesia and find the right policy for you.

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Kyle Morgan is SEO manager at Forbes Advisor and a former editor and content strategist at Finder. He has written for the USA Today network and Relix magazine, among other publications. He holds a BA in journalism and media from Rutgers University. See full bio

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