Click the appropriate above link to find
out how many Indonesian Rupiah a single
unit of your home currency is worth.
So, what is the best method of bringing foreign currency
in and exchanging it? Well, you obviously have four options.
Cash, travellers cheques (travelers checks), credit and debit
Travellers cheques often get
very similar exchange rates to currency and provide you with
a lot more security on an island with high crime rates.
Money is risky as it makes you
an obvious target. When you reach into your belt wallet or
wherever you keep your cash, people will see you have cash
and the likelihood is you will have more. Ladies, carrying
a handbag will make you the most likely of robbery victims
by someone riding pillion on a motorbike who comes from behind.
It does not matter if you do not carry your cash in your bag,
having your bag snatched from you this way is dangerous, leave
the bag in the hotel.
If you are changing US$, you will find most changers have
similarly competitive rates. If you are changing another currency,
shop around, as some changers penalize other currencies with
poorer rates. Also, the higher the denomination of bill /
bank note you are exchanging, the better the rate you will
get. That is why you often see 4 different rates on money
changer boards; one for US$100 bills, one for US$50's, one
for US$20's and one for US$10's (you may get appalling rates
for anything lower). Also, if there is a newer version / issue
and you have the older one, or if your bank notes are not
brand new, you will get less! In fact, some older US dollar
bills (pre 1996) are declined (the ones that people have managed
to forge). The best US dollar bills to have are crisp, new
bills with the large head on the front.
Money changers tend to offer
better rates than banks. Banks tend to offer much better rates
than hotels and some exchange counters at the airport. Therefore,
only use money changers and banks if you can. The only time
you may have to break that "rule" is when you first
arrive and if you need to get a taxi (and don't want the hassle
of stopping at a money changers en route). In that case, if
you are bringing US$, bring all US$100 bills to get the best
rate once you are settled in your hotel, and a US$20 to change
at the airport for a taxi.
With money changers, it pays to be very careful; most are
cheats and how. It often pays to avoid the changers down the
side streets who offer slightly higher, but odd rates on their
boards (e.g. Rp8,050 to the US$1, when most are offering Rp7,900).
The reason is that rate may be all they need to confuse and
shortchange you. Also, when you look at their board, check
to make sure it says "No Commission", and hold them
You may want to take your own pocket calculator, in case theirs
doesn't work properly (a common trick)! Also, they like to
use very big calculators and some like to hold it right up
to your face (so you can not watch the piles of money). Once
they have counted out your Rupiah into different piles and
you have also checked them / counted it out for yourself,
don't let them touch / recount the piles, as some notes may
accidentally "fall" on the floor! One way of dissuading
them from recounting your money is to keep it out of their
reach and / or put elastic bands around the counted piles.
Money changers along Jl. Legian in Kuta, and those in Sanur
are the most notorious for trying to cheat people.
One last thing on the subject of changing cash, you might
want to check that the changer has Rp100,000 or Rp 50,000
bills to give you, not Rp10,000's or, even worse, Rp5,000's.
Why? Because even a US$100 worth of Rupiah is a mighty large
"wad" of notes in Rp50,000's. It's an uncomfortable
"advertisement" in Rp5,000's and harder to count!
ATM's are quite commonplace in
major tourist areas these days, and relatively reliable if
you get to one before the money runs out (imagine how quickly
the ATM's in your county would run out if your currency had
suffered so). ATM's seem to prefer "CIRRUS" to "STAR".
Also, MasterCard and Visa withdrawals are possible. But, if
the money doesn't come out, let your card company know ASAP
as some unlucky people have reportedly been charged for money
they did not get! You will find plenty of ATM's in the tourist
south, Ubud, Candi Dasa and Lovina / Singaraja.
Credit Cards in most reasonable
quality hotels and restaurants are not a problem (unless you
use American Express - which they don't normally accept !).
Just look out for rate hikes. Also, if you have an older style
credit card without the "SIM" (microchip) implant,
be careful whichever country you are in. Fraudsters do the
"double swipe" which gives them all the information
they need from the magnetic strip to make a duplicate! The
answer? Get a modern CC or never let it out of your sight,
and never let them run it through their machine twice.
Another thing to watch out for with credit cards is giving
your details to travel agents and tour companies. Too many
reports of erroneous charges from places guests have never
been to are emerging. If you pay for accommodation online
and in advance of your visit to Bali / Lombok, the order form
may be secure, but are the agent's staff?
As a footnote to "money", you can arrange for your
bank at home to wire you some. Opening an account while in
Bali / Lombok with an Indonesian bank is not a problem. You
will need your passport when you go though. This helps you
when if and when you go back to Bali & Lombok as you can
wire foreign currency into your Indonesian bank account before
your next trip. Many banks offer Internet banking, so you
can keep an eye on things from back home. If you provide a
local address you will get an ATM card from your Indonesian
bank; many will get these issued and to the branch within
a week, so if you open an account on your first day in Bali
/ Lombok, you should be able to leave with your ATM card and
Internet PIN number when you fly back home.