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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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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. All prices are in US dollars.
|Kuala Lumpur||Budget (Cheap)||Midrange||Luxury (High-end)|
|Meals||Food court lunch|
|Dinner at Indian restaurant (for two)|
|Dinner at Ding Tai Fung|
$45 per couple
|Activities||Canopy walk at FRIM Forest Reserve|
|Train & boat to Pulau Ketam|
|KL Tower admission (for two)|
|Accomodation||Metro ride (for two)|
|Bus from airport|
|Taxi from airport|
Prices are approximate and are subject to change.
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:
A bank account that intelligently divvies up your money where you need it for a monthly fee.
A kids’ savings account with a generous interest rate that transitions to a lackluster regular savings account when your child turns 18.
A high-yield savings account that supports multiple currencies.
A checking account that earns up to 1.75% APY and up to $25 in ATM reimbursements.
Navy Federal’s Visa Buxx card has no fees, but you must qualify for membership with the credit union.
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A savings account with a competitive interest rate and comes with an ATM card.
Earn earns up to 0.40% APY depending on the balance you keep.
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