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1. Money Tips for Bali
- Bring large denomination notes and exchange cash in Bali at local money changers.
- Don’t exchange money at hotels.
- You will need Indonesian Rupiah to make purchases everywhere.
- Use your credit card only for large purchases at restaurants or retail outlets.
- Expect a 3% surcharge if using a credit card.
- Some ATMs are safe to use.
- US Dollars are not accepted in Bali.
2. Is it better to take cash or credit cards to Bali?
You can use credit cards in Bali at major hotels, restaurants and tour operators. However, getting around and experiencing Bali will mean you need local currency (Rupiah) as most all local businesses don’t have EFT-POS machines.
Taking cash with you will mean exchanging it for the local Indonesian Rupiah, but if you follow my guide to safely using money changers then you can’t go wrong.
3. What currency is used in Bali?
The Indonesian Rupiah is the only currency accepted at all Balinese businesses. The larger hotels and tour operators may accept foreign currency but at an expensive premium. The premium for changing money at a hotel will not be anywhere near as competitive to using a money changer.
Changing currency is one of the hotels’ profitable revenue streams and set by hotel management so bargaining for a better exchange rate is out of the question.
4. What credit cards are accepted in Bali?
For all businesses that do allow credit cards for transactions, Visa and Mastercard are universally accepted.
Expect to pay a 3% premium for using a credit card at businesses in Bali, as the practice of passing on the transaction fee charged by the banks for processing credit card transactions is common.
There is a trend for not charging the transaction fee for purchases, but this is an emerging trend and you can expect to be hit for the 3% surcharge for using a credit card at most places.
Update: As at December 2018 the trend not to include a credit card transaction fee seems to be taking hold and becoming more prevalent than the practice of adding a 3% surcharge.
The practice of adding a credit card transaction fee is not regulated in Indonesia (and therefore Bali), so it is unpredictable which businesses will charge extra for using a credit card.
5. Can Debit Cards be used in Bali?
As a rule of thumb, Visa and Mastercard Debit cards are processed exactly the same as Credit Cards. However plain debit cards not linked to one of Visa or Mastercard are not accepted.
It’s the same for using ATMs — accounts linked to a Visa or Mastercard can access savings and checking accounts if these are enabled by your home bank.
It’s an easy thing to verify. If you can access your savings and checking accounts in your home country using your Visa or Mastercard then you can do the same in Bali at ATMs.
The exception is that most restaurants and hotels only accept a credit or debit transaction linked to your credit card.
6. Are ATMs safe in Bali?
Generally, yes. There are ATMs all over Bali, and although they can be hard to find in the popular tourist enclaves they are everywhere.
However, problems with using ATMs in Bali are rife, so it’s best to know which ATMs you can use with confidence to withdraw money. Knowing how to spot an unsafe ATM is easy enough.
7. Are money changers safe to use in Bali?
Yes. Using money changers in Bali will get you the best exchange rate and value for money than any other method. The problem is that there are still many unscrupulous money changers looking to take advantage of unsuspecting tourists.
To a large degree, the ability to exchange foreign currency in Bali using trusted money changers has removed the risk of changing your money for local Indonesian Rupiah.
However, the problem of being ripped off remains from tourists who use dodgy money changers in the many side streets and alleyways of Bali, particularly in Kuta and Seminyak.
8. Are US Dollars accepted in Bali?
No. US dollars are not accepted at Balinese businesses. The larger hotels and tour operators may accept US Dollars as payment but the exchange rate will be terrible, so I don’t recommend using them to exchange your foreign currency if it can be helped.
You are much better off visiting a money changer and exchanging your US dollars for Indonesian Rupiah at a far better rate.
9. Is American Express accepted in Bali?
No. American Express is not generally accepted in Bali. Some international hotel chains will accept American Express but outside those few places Amex is not accepted in Bali.
10. Are travellers cheques accepted in Bali?
No. Money changers, in general, will exchange traveller’s cheques for local currency, but the rate is not as competitive to exchanging cash for Indonesian Rupiah.
Outside the international hotels, no businesses will accept travellers’ cheques as payment. You will need to exchange your travellers cheques for Indonesian Rupiah to make purchases everywhere in Bali.
11. Where is the best exchange rate in Bali?
Without doubt, the most efficient and recommended method for exchanging your money for local Indonesian Rupiah is using the money changers. You can find money changers pretty much everywhere in Bali, although I recommend only using those who are on the trusted list of Bali Money Changers.
US Dollars (USD) and Australian Dollars (AUD) get the best exchange rates due to volume. Australians make up 24% of annual tourists by volume annually, so the market for Aussie dollars is large.
Tourists coming from other countries in Asia tend to exchange US Dollars, particularly from China, Thailand and Vietnam, so the market for USD is strong.