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Travel money guide: Malaysia

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

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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.

Our picks for traveling to Malaysia

American Express® Gold Card logo

Our pick for travel credit card

American Express® Gold Card

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Finder rating: 4.6/5
Wise Multi-currency logo

Our pick for multi-currency debit card

Wise Multi-currency

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Finder rating: 4.5/5
SoFi Money logo

Our pick for 0% transaction fee debit card

SoFi Money

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Finder rating: 4.6/5

Travel card, debit card or credit card?

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.

These are your options for spending money in Malaysia

Using a credit card

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.
Pros
  • Widely accepted in Malaysia
  • Convenience
  • Complimentary travel insurance
  • Rewards and signup bonus points
Cons
  • Average currency conversion fee of 3%
  • Cash advance fees apply
  • Most cards have an annual fee

Using a debit card

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.
Pros
  • Usually no charge to open an account
Cons
  • Currency conversion fee may apply

Using a prepaid travel card

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.

Pros
  • Can load multiple currencies
  • Comes with a backup card
Cons
  • There are currently no prepaid cards in the US that supports Malaysian ringgit
  • May be subject to currency conversion fees 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.

Pros
  • Secure as your ID is needed to cash checks
Cons
  • Commission is paid to cash check
  • Handling fee applies

Compare travel credit cards

Name Product Welcome offer Rewards Annual fee Filter values
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
100,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months. That's $1,250 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
5x points on Lyft, 2x points on travel and dining and 1x points on all other purchases
$95

Up to $1,250 signup bonus

Earn a massive signup bonus of 100,000 points with this popular travel card. That's worth up to $1,250!
American Express® Gold Card
60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 6 months
4x at restaurants including delivery and Uber Eats; 4x at US supermarkets on up to $25,000 annually (then 1x points), 3x points on directly-booked flights and 1x points on all other purchases
$250

Rose Gold is Back

Earn up to 4x points on select purchases, a bevy of travel perks, and a welcome offer worth up to $600 based on our valuation with this upper-mid tier travel card. Terms apply, see rates & fees
The Platinum Card® from American Express
100,000 points after spending $6,000 in your first 6 months, plus 10x points at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the US on up to $25,000 in combined purchases in the same timeframe
10x points at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the US on up to $25,000 combined in the first 6 months, 5x points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel, 5x points on directly-booked flights on up to $500,000 annually, then 1x points after that and on other purchases
$695

New Platinum Exclusive Offer

One of the most valuable premium travel cards, featuring two welcome offers worth up to $7,000 based on Finder's valuation, multiple travel credits and unrivaled lounge access. Terms apply, see rates & fees
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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.

Live Rate

= RM 1.0000

Refreshing in: 60s | Sat, Jul 31, 12:12PM GMT

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-1malaysia-currency-ringgit-5malaysia-currency-ringgit-10
malaysia-currency-ringgit-20malaysia-currency-ringgit-50malaysia-currency-ringgit-100

The main banks in Malaysia are:

  • Maybank
  • CIMB Bank
  • Public Bank Berhad
  • RHB Bank
  • Hong Leong Bank
  • AmBank Group
  • United Overseas Bank (Malaysia)
  • Bank Rakyat
  • OCBC Bank (Malaysia) Berhad
  • HSBC Bank Malaysia Berhad
ATMs in Malaysia

Cash pickup services in Malaysia

Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
$1 Within an hour N/A N/A N/A WorldRemit sends money to 110+ countries for bank-to-bank deposits, cash pick-ups or mobile top-ups. Go to site Show details
$10 Within an hour N/A N/A N/A Special offers like free transfers and better exchange rates available for new customers.
Remitly has quick, affordable transfers around the world, with both express and economy options.
Go to site Show details
$1 Within an hour N/A N/A N/A MoneyGram has fast cash pick-up transfers to more than 350,000 agent locations worldwide. Go to site Show details
$1 3 - 5 days N/A N/A N/A Western Union sends money online to friends and family in 200+ countries around the world. Go to site Show details

Compare up to 4 providers

Disclaimer: Exchange rates change often. Confirm the total cost with the provider before transferring money.

How much should I budget to travel in Malaysia?

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 LumpurBudget (Cheap)MidrangeLuxury (High-end)
MealsFood court lunch
$4
Dinner at Indian restaurant (for two)
$10
Dinner at Ding Tai Fung
$45 per couple
ActivitiesCanopy walk at FRIM Forest Reserve
$2.50
Train & boat to Pulau Ketam
$5
KL Tower admission (for two)
$70
AccomodationMetro ride (for two)
$1
Bus from airport
$2.50
Taxi from airport
$25

Prices are approximate and are subject to change.

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
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