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Indonesia has been an attractive destination for UK travellers for several decades. Be it as part of a gap year, an escape to the beaches of Bali or a surf trip, Indonesia has something for most travellers.
If you’re travelling to Indonesia, you may not have given thought as to how you’re going to take your spending money with you. The places you travel in Indonesia will determine the best type of travel money to use. You shouldn’t have any issues using a credit card in the tourist hot spots like Bali, but plastic is virtually useless in remote areas like Maluku and Papua.
Whilst only a tiny handful of travel cards in the UK allow you to preload Indonesian rupiah, travel credit cards and debit cards will allow you to access and spend your funds conveniently in Indonesia.
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Most debit cards on the market charge a 2-3% fee when you make a purchase outside of the UK, but it may be worth checking with your bank to see if this is the case.
If you’re looking at taking a travel money card to Indonesia, do your research. There are very few decent travel money cards on the UK market that allow you to load and spend in Indonesian rupiah. The only real contender is the Wise Travel Money Card. Otherwise, there are a couple of travel cards which may be suitable to take to Indonesia, including the Travelex Prepaid Card. One drawback, however, is that you will face a 5.75% currency conversion fee.
These cards should only really be considered if Indonesia is the first leg of your international holiday. The Travelex Prepaid Card offers up to 10 different international currencies and can be used all over the world. However, due to the lack of support for Indonesian rupiah, the exchange rate margin when you load the card with funds and the fee structure, there are cheaper products to use in Indonesia than a travel card.
A credit card can be useful when travelling overseas – especially when it comes to big-ticket items you may want to pay off over a couple of months, or hotel check-in where a deposit is required. Credit cards also give you access to emergency cash if you need it, and some credit cards have handy benefits like complimentary travel insurance when you charge the cost of your travel ticket to your account.
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. You may be able to avoid this keeping a positive balance on your card — each credit card issuer has different rules for keeping a positive balance. Read the FAQs section of our travel money page for more information.
Traveller’s cheques may not be as popular today as they used to be but they still offer some important advantages over other forms of travel money. When travelling to Indonesia, traveller’s cheques have the added security of needing ID to be cashed. Plus, if they get lost or stolen, they can be replaced in a few days. There will also be a fee for purchasing and cashing traveller’s cheques, so check these out too.
Whether you’re on a quick business trip or taking a holiday, it’s good to have an at least a couple of ways to access your money. There are currently no travel cards which allow you to load Indonesian rupiah. Compare travel credit cards and debit cards to take to Indonesia instead.
Most digital banking apps, which are a great option owing to very low transaction and withdrawal fees, come with either a Visa or Mastercard bank card. They work as normal bank accounts do, so the “topping up” process simply consists of transferring money into the account.
Choose a mix that suits your needs: for example a debit card for regular spending with a credit card for emergencies, or Indonesian currency supplemented by a debit card. Whatever mix you decide on, you want to have enough Indonesian currency in your pockets when travelling through Indonesia — even if it’s enough for the first couple of days.
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.
|Travel money option||Pros||Considerations|
|Debit cards for travel|
|Prepaid travel money cards|
|Credit cards for travel|
This table is a general summary of the travel money products in the market. Features and benefits can vary between cards.
|Budget (Cheap)||Midrange||Luxury (High-end)|
|Simple rooms less than £15||Double rooms with air-con and wi-fi|
|Ayana Bali resort|
|Cheap street meals|
|Average full meal £1.50-£3||Western food £6|
|Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park £16||Mt. Batur hike £24-£40||2-Day All-Inclusive Orangutan Trek in Bukit Lawang £60|
*Prices are approximate and are subject to change.
|Year||Average annual exchange British Pound (GBP) to Indonesian Rupiah (IDR)|
Indonesian banknotes are quite different to those we have in the UK so you may want to familiarise yourself with the notes before heading there:
You will be able to use your existing ATM card in most places where merchants display the same logo as the one on your card. Mastercard and Visa have wide acceptance in Bali.
Choose a mix of travel money products that suits your needs. For example, if you’re going to Bali, you can readily use a debit card for regular spending with a credit card for emergencies. As a general rule, it’s probably a good idea to carry enough Indonesian cash on you to cover emergencies, supplemented by a debit card.
While prepaid travel money cards can be useful, there are very few of them that carry Indonesian rupiah.
Make sure you’re able to withdraw cash using a decent prepaid travel money card or no-fee debit or credit card you should be able to handle all eventualities.
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