Travel money guide to Malaysia - Compare how to spend | finder.com

Travel money guide: Malaysia

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Learn the tips that will help you get your travel money in order for your trip to Malaysia.

Before you head to Malaysia, make sure you’ve sorted out your travel money. It’s just as important as finding travel insurance, accommodation and planning your vacation itinerary.

The right travel money option depends on how much you’re looking to spend and travel plans, so make sure to compare your options. This guide will help give you tips on how to organize your money safely and conveniently before you travel.

Which option is right for your next trip?

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How much ringgit should you bring on your trip?

The Malaysian ringgit (MYR) is Malaysia’s local currency. 100 sen makes up 1 ringgit and you’ll need to use this currency to pay in cash on your vacation. You can easily get your cash exchanged for the local currency at Malaysian money changers, which are located throughout the country.

Here’s an idea of how much a few things cost.

Kuala LumpurBudgetMid-rangeLuxury
meal-2Food court lunch
$4
Dinner at Indian restaurant (for two)
$10
Dinner at Ding Tai Fung
$45 per couple
to-seeCanopy walk at FRIM Forest Reserve
$2.50
Train & boat to Pulau Ketam
$5
KL Tower admission (for two)
$70
transportMetro ride (for two)
$1
Bus from airport
$2.50
Taxi from airport
$25

Prices are approximate and are subject to change.

Exchange rate history (USD to RM)

USD to RM for the last 10 days

Jun 09 Jun 10 Jun 11 Jun 12 Jun 13 Jun 14 Jun 15 Jun 16 Jun 17 Jun 18
1 USD = 3.9885 Inverse: 0.2507 3.9885 Inverse: 0.2507 3.9875 Inverse: 0.2508 3.9910 Inverse: 0.2506 3.9861 Inverse: 0.2509 3.9855 Inverse: 0.2509 3.9969 Inverse: 0.2502 3.9969 Inverse: 0.2502 3.9969 Inverse: 0.2502 3.9973 Inverse: 0.2502

USD to RM for the last 10 months

Aug 2017 Sep 2017 Oct 2017 Nov 2017 Dec 2017 Jan 2018 Feb 2018 Mar 2018 Apr 2018 May 2018
1 USD = 4.2895 Inverse: 0.2331 4.1895 Inverse: 0.2387 4.2230 Inverse: 0.2368 4.1555 Inverse: 0.2406 4.0795 Inverse: 0.2451 3.9615 Inverse: 0.2524 3.8933 Inverse: 0.2569 3.9090 Inverse: 0.2558 3.8855 Inverse: 0.2574 3.9675 Inverse: 0.2520
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Travel card, credit card or debit card?

It’s important to know how you plan on spending and where you plan on visiting to find the right travel money combination. Cards are widely accepted, but there are times when you’ll need cash.

There’s no limit to the amount of foreign currency you can take into the country and it’s not going to be hard to exchange cash. That being said, when looking at credit cards and debit cards, ATM withdrawal fees and foreign transaction fees should be at the top of your list for perks.

Travel money options for Malaysia at a glance

Travel money optionsProsCons
Travel cards
  • Can load multiple currencies
  • Comes with a backup card
  • There are currently no prepaid cards in the US that supports Malaysian ringgit
  • May be subject to currency conversion fees in Malaysia
Credit cards
  • Widely accepted in Malaysia
  • Convenience
  • Complimentary travel insurance
  • Rewards and signup bonus points
  • Average currency conversion fee of 3%
  • Cash advance fees apply
  • Most cards have an annual fee
Debit cards
  • Usually no charge to open an account
  • Currency conversion fee may apply
Traveler’s checks
  • Secure as your ID is needed to cash checks
  • Commission is paid to cash check
  • Handling fee applies

This table is a general summary of the travel money products in the market. Features and benefits can vary between cards.

How the different travel money products work in Malaysia

Using prepaid travel cards

These cards have some advantages, but make sure you dig a little into the fees section in order to find the travel money card that will cost you less to use overseas. Using a travel card in Malaysia will be subject to a currency conversion fee as you can’t load ringgit onto the card.

What’s great about these cards is that you’re spending your own money, so it’s easy to keep track of your expenses. You can also lock in your exchange rate when you load money onto the card and can easily withdraw cash from ATMs. And just in case you lose your first card, you can use the backup card that was issued to you.

Using credit cards

Since credit cards are widely accepted in Malaysia, you won’t have a problem spending at shopping centers, restaurants or hotels. Look for a card that waives foreign transaction fees and offers complimentary travel perks like the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard. Be sure to avoid cash advances with your credit card unless it is absolutely necessary, as they come with hefty fees and attract interest immediately.

  • Tip: Credit card perks could include anything from complimentary travel insurance when you book your return ticket with the card, to reward points and interest free days.

Using debit cards

Debit cards and transaction accounts are usually free to open, but look for an account that will save you on those unnecessary fees. Keep an eye out for cards that will waive international ATM fees and foreign transaction fees.

When spending with your debit card in Malaysia, the exchange rate is set in place by your credit card lender and it is likely close to the interbank rate – giving you a good deal.

    • Tip : Local ATM fees are charged by the ATM operator, but you can avoid this fee in some countries by using an ATM within your bank’s ATM network – Citibank has an ATM alliance in Malaysia.

Using traveler’s checks

Fewer and fewer places are cashing traveler’s checks in Malaysia as the digital economy grows. They lend some peace of mind because they’re secure and need ID to cash, but they fall short in acceptance and fees. You’ll pay a commission to cash the check, but if you avoid hotels and go to a bank or a foreign exchange office, you’ll get a better rate.

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Currency exchange

You’re going to need Malaysian ringgits when you visit Malaysia. Exchanging dollars to ringgits is straightforward and you can bring as much as you’d like – although you’ll have to declare large sums of money at customs. Don’t get your money changed before you get to Malaysia, you’ll get a better rate buying ringgits once you arrive.

Banks and foreign exchange offices can be found in major tourist centers. There is no fee to exchange cash – just different rates between exchange offices. Shop around to find the best rate and make sure you check you’ve been given the right amount of cash before you walk away from the teller.

Malaysian banknotes

Malaysians sometimes refer to Malaysian ringgits as dollars and some prices use the prefix dollar sign. All prices are in ringgits even if you hear the vendor saying dollars.

Banknotes are divided into the following denominations: 1, 5, 10, 50 and 100.

malaysia-currency-ringgit-1

malaysia-currency-ringgit-5

malaysia-currency-ringgit-10

malaysia-currency-ringgit-20

malaysia-currency-ringgit-50

malaysia-currency-ringgit-100

Using a mix of travel money options

You’ll need cash to experience some of the best parts of Malaysian food and culture. Most travelers visiting Malaysia opt for a combination of debit, credit and travel cards. Debit and travel cards are a good way to pay for your everyday spending, while credit cards can be used for deposits, big purchases and emergency situations.

If you do plan on using your credit card in Malaysia, make sure you tell your card provider about your travel plans first so that your credit card is not blocked.

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Find the most ideal insurance policy for your travel to Malaysia

Make sure you have travel insurance for your trip to Malaysia so you are not left paying out of pocket for hefty medical costs if you get sick or injured. These policies can also help you replace stolen personal items like luggage and cameras.

Common items and events covered by travel insurance policies can include:

  • Emergency medical and dental assistance
  • Lost luggage
  • Missed flights and cancellations
Details Features
Seven Corners Trip Protection Insurance
Seven Corners Trip Protection Insurance
Travel with a smile - protect your trip cost, your medical expenses, & your belongings.
  • Emergency Accident & Sickness Medical Expenses up to $250,000
  • Trip Cancellation – 100% of Trip Cost
  • Trip Interruption – up to 150% of Trip Cost
  • Political Evacuation - $20,000
  • Lost, Stolen or Damaged Baggage – up to $2,500
  • Emergency Medical Evacuation – up to $1 million
Go to site More info
Travelex Travel Max
Travelex Travel Max
TravelEx's most comprehensive protection plan for the comprehensive traveler. Offers optional Cancel For Any Reason upgrade.
  • Trip Cancellation - 100% of Insured Trip Cost
  • Trip Interruption - 150% of Insured Trip Cost
  • Trip Delay - $1000
  • Medical Expense Benefits - $100,000
Go to site More info
RoamRight Travel Insurance Essential
RoamRight Travel Insurance Essential
RoamRight’s Essential travel insurance package can be broken down into three critical parts: Trip Cancellation insurance, tourist health insurance, and baggage insurance.
  • Cancellation Cover - 100% Cost of Trip
  • Emergency Medical Expenses - $15,000
  • Emergency Evacuation and Repatriation - $150,000
  • Baggage and Personal Effects Cover - $750
Go to site More info
STA Travel Standard International
STA Travel Standard International
Get affordable cover for the essentials of options with STA's mid-level cover policy. This option will still provide up to $1500 in luggage cover and up to $100,000 in medical cover.
  • Trip Cancellation Cover - 100% of trip cost insured up to $10,000
  • Emergency Medical Expenses Cover - Up to $100,000
  • Baggage and Personal Effects - Up to $1,500
  • Trip Delay - Up to $500
Go to site More info
RoamRight Travel Insurance Preferred
RoamRight Travel Insurance Preferred
As the name implies, the Preferred package provides coverage for most trips and vacations.
  • Cancellation Cover - 100% Cost of Trip
  • Emergency Accident & Medical Expenses - $50,000
  • Emergency Evacuation and Repatriation - $500,000
  • Accidental Death and Dismemberment - $10,000
Go to site More info
Travelex Cancel for Any Reason
Travelex Cancel for Any Reason
Cancel For Any reason upgrade available with the Travel Max plan. Cancel for any reason - no questions asked.
  • Reimburses up to 75% of the insured trip cost
  • 100% cover if delayed to departure and loose at least 30%
Go to site More info
Atlas Travel
Atlas Travel
Provides customizable coverage for specific losses. Cover can be tailored to provide a balance between the basic essentials and premium cover.
  • Illness and Injury Cover - Up to $1 million
  • Emergency Medical Evacuation - Up to $1 million
  • Lost Checked Luggage - Up to $500
  • Travel Delay - $100/day up to 2 days
Go to site More info
Atlas Premium
Atlas Premium
Provides quality cover for a range of benefits with higher cover limits. Premium plan is perfect for travellers with health concerns looking for total protective cover.
  • Illness and Injury Cover - Up to $2 million
  • Emergency Medical Evacuation - Up to $1 million
  • Lost Checked Luggage - Up to $1,000
  • Travel Delay - $200/day up to 2 days
Go to site More info
Travelex Flight Insure Plus
Travelex Flight Insure Plus
Provides option to choose between different levels of flight insurance protection.
  • Flight Accident AD&D - Up to $1 Million
  • Baggage - $2,000
  • Medical Expense Benefits - $2,500
  • Medical Evacuation / Repatriation - $25,000
Go to site More info
STA Travel Explorer Plus
STA Travel Explorer Plus
Get premiere cover for a whole range of options with STA's premium policy. This option will still provide up to $100,000 in medical expense cover and up to $3,000 in cancellation cover.
  • Trip Cancellation Cover - $3,000
  • Emergency Medical Expenses Cover - Up to $100,000
  • Baggage and Personal Effects - Up to $2,500
  • Trip Delay - Up to $1,000
Go to site More info
Allianz Domestic Travel Insurance
Allianz Domestic Travel Insurance
Allianz Domestic Travel Insurance makes sure you are covered incase your planned trip unexpectedly goes awry.
  • Trip coverage - Depends on plan
  • Baggage coverage - Up to $1,000
  • 24-hour hotline assistance
  • Existing medical coverage - Up to $500,000
Go to site More info
Allianz International Travel Insurance
Allianz International Travel Insurance
If you frequently travel abroad and want extra coverage in case you get sick, injured, or need to cancel your trip, Allianz International Travel Insurance is the perfect solution.
  • Trip coverage - Depends on plan
  • Baggage coverage - Up to $1,000
  • 24-hour hotline assistance
  • Existing medical coverage - Up to $1,000,000
Go to site More info
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Frequently asked questions

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Kyle Morgan

Kyle Morgan is a writer and editor for finder.com who has worked for the USA Today network and Relix magazine, among other publications. He can be found writing about everything from the latest car loan stats to tips on saving money when traveling overseas. He lives in Asbury Park, where he loves exploring new places and sipping on hoppy beer. Oh, and he doesn't discriminate against buffalo wings — grilled or fried are just fine.

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