General information

Rupiah is the monetary unit of Indonesia. Having been re-valued several times it gained its current form on 17th September 1945. At the very same moment the independence from the Dutch was declared. The first banknotes were issued by Indonesian government itself. It was not until 1958 when the Bank of Indonesia took over. The state emblem with the image of the bird is placed on the most of the banknotes. This is actually a bird-like creature with a pedigree from a medieval dragon that combines features attributed to different animals. The name of a dragon is Garuda.

Indonesian banknotes have watermarks protection and security thread embedded in the banknote paper. The latest ones received additional security in the form of recto-verso ( The term refers to the graphic element printed on the front and back side)

Two abbreviations are commonly used in a written form: RP and IDR. The last one is an official one, the RP is more colloquial. The spoken forms slightly differ: RP 100 000 or 100 000 IDR where RP stands for ‘rupiah’ and IDR for ‘Indonesian Rupiah’. Colloquial language allows ‘million’ instead of saying ‘million rupiah’.  Before leaving for Indonesia, it is a good idea to learn the rules of local currency as it may be a real challenge for a newcomer.

High value banknotes

First of all, those who enter that outstanding island country are guaranteed to become millionaire. Each of us must have thought of themselves as being millionaire and wondered what they would spend so much money on. Well, first and foremost, the calculator is crucial. No calculator no peace and relax, especially in such touristic places as Bali. Apart from it a pen and paper can be useful just to fix the right price.

Ways of payment

You will definitely deal with cash in Indonesia more than you do in your home country. Personal checks are relatively unheard of for everyday transactions and credit card fraud is common. So dealing in cash or debit cards is  a good option and the cheapest one.  Very often those who accept international credit cards charge their customers  3% service fee. The name of the currency is derived from the Indian word ‘ruyipa’ , from Sanskrit. Coins in circulation include the RP 1 000, RP 500, RP 200, RP 100 and RP 50; while banknotes include: 2 000, 5 000, 10 000, 20 000, 50 000, 100 000 IDR. You have to be very careful paying in cash as mistake can be easily done. Quite often Indonesians try to cheat tourists  what is actually easy for them. We are not used to large denominations. The best idea is to have a money converter ready, just to check every moment needed. It is an example of a converter on 29th April 2018.

RupiahEuro
1 0000,059
5 0000,294
10 0000,59
20 0001,18
50 0002,94
100 0005,89

The best way to pay in Bali is by cash, in local currency, of course. That is the easiest and the best way. You can pay in dollars or euro, these currencies are fully accepted in hotels or restaurants, but the exchange rates they offer are not so good and you will have to lose your time bargaining. If the local currency is used the risk of being cheated is automatically reduced, so just take cash, to avoid dealing with change and  a risk of being scammed.

Exchange money

There is no problem with exchanging money in Indonesia. There are lots of banks and bureau de changes. They can be easily found all over the country, however, banks are not the best places to make such transactions. The exchange rate is often low, according to world data, so it is much better to use money changers. But, again, it is necessary to be very careful if the transaction is to be completed in favor to us. Within the same location many different changers can be found, but the problem is they offer various exchange rates. If the big sum of money is on you, you have to, by no means, haggle about it. The condition of the banknotes counts as well. The worn out money is often referred to as ‘pasar’. The brand new dollars can raise the price of rupiah. It is crucial to remember that no worn out, damaged or just old banknotes are accepted. It is not known why it is so. Moreover, dollars for exchanging must be issued after year 2006. The euro banknotes must be the same – brand new ones. Some of the money changers got bad reputation like for instance some in Kuta, Bali. Before going to a bureau you should ask other tourists for the opinion. On Bali you can exchange money in hotels as well, but the hotel rate is a gross exaggeration.

ATM’s

The best known bank in Indonesia is BRI,  money can be easily exchange there. There are plenty of other ATM’s all over the country, but at first a newcomer can use an airport ATM. Those in cities have some restrictions, for example only 20 000 or 50 000 value banknotes can be obtained. It is cumbersome when  bigger sum is going to be withdrawn. Then you have to search for ATM’s where RP 100 000 can be obtained. Luckily it is clearly written what banknotes are used. Also the limit that the given ATM got shouldn’t be exceeded as not to  block the account. Such things happen. Some banks then block the account for security reasons. Using ATM’s we have to bear in mind what card is used. It is the matter of converter our banks have. The sum is not big, but the fact is worth being remembered. Paying by credit cards is a good idea, moreover it is safe here on Bali.

About author:

Sebastian

Information technology architect, loving expeditions in the wilderness of Indonesia.

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