7 Rules to Exchange Cash at Money Changers in Bali

How to change money in Bali safely - Bali Holiday Secrets

Away from the major hotels and larger restaurants paying by credit card isn’t always possible, so you will need Rupiah while on holiday from money changers in Bali. Luckily money changers are plentiful and most — although definitely not all — are trustworthy and offer better exchange rates than you will get by withdrawing money from an ATM. Follow my guide and you’ll exchange currency for Indonesian Rupiah with confidence.

If you are here for a short time, say less than 4 or 5 days, using an ATM is fine. It’s easy, risk-free assuming you choose your ATM wisely and the amount you get charged by your bank is possibly worth the exorbitant fees they charge for the security and peace of mind they provide.

However, if you are planning on staying longer than a few days, and spending more than say USD$500, then using a money changer to exchange cash for Indonesian Rupiah (IDR), which is the local currency in Bali, makes good economic sense.

Changing your local currency into Indonesian Rupiah can be a painless and low-risk transaction if you follow these simple rules.

1. Pick somewhere popular.

We know this sounds obvious, but you would be surprised how many people go looking down back-alleys and side-streets thinking they are going to be able to get a better deal on the exchange rate and commission.

This is foolhardy at best and significantly increases the chances of being scammed. The larger and more established money exchanges are larger and established for a good reason.

Pick a money changer with direct frontage onto a main street with heavy walk-by traffic and ask the rate. Check it off the internet, and factor in their margin. If it’s close, you’re good to go.

Rule number one: use a popular money changer with direct frontage onto a main street with heavy walk-by traffic.

2. No commission. Just the market rate.

The best money exchanges don’t charge a commission. They have a regularly updated market rate that closely tracks the international inter-bank foreign exchange rate.

Places that charge a commission are simply going to make it up with a less competitive exchange rate, so you are not going to be any better off. All you are doing is making the transaction more complex than it needs to be, and therefore harder to tell at a glance if you are getting a reasonable deal or not.

Rule number two: use a money changer that doesn’t charge a commission with clearly published exchange rates.

3. The rate is the rate.

Unless you are looking to exchange more than USD$10,000 then trying to negotiate a better rate than advertised is most likely a waste of time.

The best exchanges will track a foreign exchange rate within 2-3 percentage points of the international inter-bank rate easily discoverable by checking the Internet — it really is that simple.

I recommend downloading the XE.com smart-phone app which you can get from Google Play for Android and App Store for iOS. Simply pick your currency and check the money changer’s rate — if it’s within 2-3 percentage points then you’re good to go. That’s the money changer’s markup and how they make a profit.

The rate published on xe.com is the inter-bank rate. So unless you are literally a bank, this is not the rate you are ever going to get.

For example, as of the time of writing (31 July 2018), xe.com was showing a mid-market rate of AUD$1 = IDR10,719 while Central Kuta Money Exchange was offering IDR10,550, which is as close a spread as you will ever get.

There will, however, be a slight difference between the smaller, name brand kiosks generally located outside supermarkets and shopping centres, which tend to be slightly more expensive than the larger, well-staffed and high volume money changers with larger shopfronts.

Rule number three: the Internet means foreign exchange rates are instantly transparent, so check the rate and if within 2-3 points you’re good.

A word of warning: if you are offered a rate better than the published rate on xe.com, then politely decline and leave the premises politely but firmly, because…

4. There is no such thing as free money.

It’s a very simple rule, but something about the prospect of free money appeals to peoples innate sense of greed. They start thinking they are the smartest person in the room (uh-oh).

If you are offered something too good to be true, you are literally a scam-in-progress.

This is dead easy to spot. As mentioned above, if you are offered an exchange rate better than that published on xe.com something is clearly wrong.

Politely decline and firmly leave the premises. Do not stay. The money changer in front of you will not magically transform from someone clearly trying to lure you into a scam into a wonderfully honest and trustworthy person to which you want to hand over your hard-earned cash.

Rule number 4: if the exchange rate offered is better than the one on xe.com, run.

5. What currency is best to bring to Bali?

The best money changers, BMC and Central Kuta Money Exchange, tend to have the best exchange rates and a plentiful supply of Indonesian Rupiah, so you can bring almost any currency and they will have a solid market rate. It really doesn’t matter which currency you bring as they will exchange most currencies without a problem.

How to change money in Bali safely - Bali Holiday Secrets
How to change money in Bali safely – Bali Holiday Secrets

The only time supply becomes an issue is if you are trying to exchange Indonesian Rupiah for foreign currency. Then you are best served by visiting an outlet and placing an order ahead of time. Both these outlets can arrange pretty much any currency you need, within reason, but obviously the more lead time the better. Inside a few hours is sometimes difficult but a day is usually enough.

6. Limit on bringing cash into Bali.

There is a new banking regulation brought in by the Indonesian Central Bank in March 2018 that only allows IDR 1 billion (approximately USD$75,000) in foreign currency notes to be brought in by individuals. If someone brings in more then customs officials have the power to confiscate it.

Be aware that any amount more than IDR 100 million (approximately USD$7,500) must be declared when clearing customs and you are required to report this on your immigration form that needs to be completed and presented on arrival.

7. Beware common scams.

While less common than they used to be, but unfortunately still common enough, are the smaller operations that will take any opportunity to scam an unsuspecting tourist.

Be careful when watching the count. A common scam is to count your exchanged IDR in front of you and just before handing it over palm a few notes using sleight of hand. Once you hold the wad of cash in your hand, the transaction is excepted and any short-changing is difficult to come back from.

You can rant and yell all you like, but it is virtually impossible to prove you have been scammed.

Don’t forget it works the other way around. There are plenty of tourists who make a fuss when they get their money and rant about being short-changed when they weren’t. This never ends well.

That’s why the best money changers fill out a form noting the amount of foreign currency you are changing, the exchange rate and the amount of IDR you will receive.

If you are a bit nervous, simply make sure you have the form completed to your satisfaction before handing over your currency.

Check the paperwork has the amount you are tendering, the exchange rate is correct and the amount in IDR you will receive.
Follow these simple rules and your chances of being scammed are practically none.

Rule number 5: avoid small operations that play fast and loose with the paperwork.

8. Locations of the Best Money Changers in Bali.

The Money Changers we recommend as easily accessible, trustworthy, commission-free with consistently competitive rates are BMC and Central Kuta Money Exchange.


Central Kuta Money Exchange, Seminyak

Money Changers in Bali - Bali Holiday Secrets
Located between Jalan Seminyak and Seminyak Beach. Photo credit: @baliholidaysecrets

Address: Jalan Camplung Tanduk No.100-103, Seminyak
Open Hours: Mon-Sun 8:10am-9:15pm

Central Kuta Money Exchange, Seminyak

Central Kuta Money Exchange, Jalan Kayu Jati - Bali Holiday Secrets
Not for from Mexicola. Open until 3:00am. Photo credit: @baliholidaysecrets

Address: Jalan Kayu Jati, Seminyak
Open Hours: Mon-Sun 08:15am-03:00am


Keeping your money safe is easier when you know how. I suggest you read my posts on Bali Currency and how to safely use ATMs in Bali. Have a great holiday!

64 Comments

Leave a Reply
  1. I have been long term traveling and am currently in Bali. I need $1,000 USD for a future trip in Africa, but I don’t have that much with me. Can I withdraw local currency and then exchange it for USD?

  2. Hello, firstly, congratulations on the content, I have been consuming a lot this year, as my honeymoon is (finally) approaching. We live in Brazil and because our currency is not accepted as exchange, we plan to only take around 300 dollars and wise debit cards to withdraw money in Bali. So, where is the best place to withdraw the 300 dollars, at the airport or in UBUD (our first destination)? If in Ubud, could you recommend some establishments?

    • Hi there,

      It’s a great idea to bring USD and the Wise cards!
      I would suggest any major Indonesian bank branch (you’ll find many in Ubud, and even the Airport area.)

      Hope you’re excited for your honeymoon!
      Safe travels,
      Michael

  3. Hi Michael
    Thanks for the information you have given

    We’re not travelling to Bali until Feb 24 but I’m trying to collect as much information as possible
    We’re staying around Nusa Dua
    Can you recommend any exchange places in this area
    Thanks Cathy

  4. Hi Michael, we are going to Bali on Friday and my son is getting a sleeve tattoo at a reputable establishment. He needs to pay Australian dollars $1600 in cash, what is the safest and easiest way for him to xhange his Aussie dollars to bali rupees for this amount?

  5. Hey Michael

    Shikha here from India…I’m holidaying in Bali currently, landed here yesterday only unfortunately my wallet with IDR in it is stolen here. I got very little currency from a fellow countryman who was flying back to India. I tried to exchange Indian rupee notes from central money exchange in Kuta but they offering horrible rate there. I tried many sources, everywhere I’m getting a bad deal in exchange of Indian rupee. Fortunately I’m carrying Singapore currency in cash also, do you know any place in Kuta where I can exchange Singapore dollars with Indonesian rupiah

    Pls reply this will be of great help

    Many thanks
    Shikha

  6. Hi Naveen!

    I heard someone say that Indonesia is unusual in that the International airport has a better exchange rate than what you’ll get on the street at the authorized money exchangers in Bali. Would you agree with this statement, or no?

    I’m in Jakarta first – would I be better off exchanging there than Bali? (And is the airport a better rate than authorized money exchangers in the city?)

    Usually it’s the opposite in my experience – airport usually offers the worst

    Thanks!

    • Hi Hanna, I’ve never heard that. When you say the “International Airport has a better exchange rate”, did you mean the banks that operate there? In which case you are asking the question do banks or money changers offer the best exchange rate, in which case they are both roughly the same. Bringing foreign currency generally gets you a better exchange rate at one of the money changers I mentioned than anywhere else.

      But remember, like I said in the article repeatedly, don’t go looking for small street operators that offer rates better than anywhere else, because you are literally begging to be ripped off. My tip # 3 is your best way of gauging what rate is acceptable.

      Safe travels, Michael

  7. Hi
    I’m going to Bali at end of July, can I go into a money exchange and draw out IDR via a card payment and not English pounds
    Thanks

  8. HI,

    I am travelling from Vietnam and will have Vietnam dong not dollars – will that be OK for exchange and will it be near to the going rate – thanks in advance

    • Hi Michael, I can only recommend you visit one of the larger money changers mentioned in my post to get the best rate, but they take pretty much any currency, and as we are getting more tourists from Vietnam I’m assuming Dong will be fine to exchange.

      Safe travels, Michael

  9. Hi! I am off to Bali on Sunday. I am in Orlando and planned to exchange money today but I stopped to research first. It sounds like it is best to trade my USD for IDR when I get to Bali. Can I exchange at the Bali airport?

  10. Caution to anyone changing money at PT Sami Eling on Jl Raya Ubud, about a block west of the Palace. They posted slightly better rates than anyone else, and I should have known to beware. I exchanged $20 US and received 3 x 100,000 Rupiah bills. During the process while I was putting the bills into my wallet, the guy offered me the receipt. As I later discovered, this was a form of distraction, and by some impressive sleight of hand, he managed to take one of the 3 bills. I’m always careful to count the money myself and I’ve never encountered this level of skill. It was perhaps worth the money lost, which was fortunately not much.

  11. Michael, thanks for all the great information.

    We are arriving just around midnight and I am assuming most places will be closed. We will be heading straight to Nusa Dua. Are there any currency exchanges that you trust in that area?

  12. Hi Michael,

    Thanks for the informative post. If I book an airport transfer from you to Seminyak hotel, can I request the driver to stop at one of these exchanges so I can get my IDR and then get dropped off at a hotel? I feel, this is safer and easier.

  13. Hi Michael,

    2 QQ’s
    1. Do the money exchanges like BMC & Central Kuta Money Exchange accept payment via forex cards & provide local currency in exchange?
    I am planning to swipe my forex and get local currency from them – Hence checking if that works
    2. The fares on your cab estimator, are they in AUD or USD? (Was checking fare from the airport to Seminyak and it quoted $52.5 – Did not understand currency)

    Warm Regards,
    Rohit

    • Hi Rohit – not sure about the forex cards, it’s been a while since I used one. I’ll stop in today and check and get back to you.

      All prices are quoted in AUD$.

      Safe travels, Michael

    • Hi Rohit – I stopped in at 3 money changers today, and none take cards of any kind, only cash. Also interesting to note, that after asking staff and leaving I was asked by someone hanging around asking to take me somewhere where I could use a card at a money changer. This is clearly a scam, so don’t fall for it.

      Using Forex or travel cards will be the same and using credit or debit cards using an ATM.

      All prices are in AUD$ – I just updated the forms to make this clearer.

      Safe travels, Michael

  14. Hi

    I’m just wondering if I am able to get cash out through these currency changers? I’ve checked the sites and am unable to find an answer to this? I see this was also asked in 2019 on this post but just checking this hasn’t changed

    • Hi Janelle, when you say “cash out”, do you mean exchange your foreign currency and receive local Rupiah in cash? Because that’s a yes, which is the reason for the money changers to exist. If by “cash out” you mean withdraw money from a bank account, the answer is no. You will need to use an ATM for that.

      Safe travels, Michael

  15. Hi Michael,

    Thank you for all this info. So what I understand is that it is better to take cash (euro’s) with you, instead of using your debit card. Is that right ? Is it possible to use a debit card to withdraw money, we will do a tour / beach vacation for 15 days in October. No idea how much money we have to take with us.

  16. Hi, heading to kuta in the next few days can someone advise me if GBP £10 & £20 can be exchanged at the currency converters? Many thanks for any help

    • Hi Henry,
      The popular and trustworthy money changers (specifically BMC and Central Kuta Money Exchange) I mention in this post accept almost all currencies, including CAD. Because they have a large supply of Indonesian Rupiah there are no issues with exchanging your currency for local IDR.

      These ones also have the best exchange rates, so you won’t have any issues.

      Safe travels,
      Michael

  17. Hi Michael,
    Thanks for the precious information provided. Can we carry some IDR from India as well and is there any limitation for that too.

    Regards

  18. Thank you I have been reading a lot on fb and as much I had and did .. the info that is here is relevant and detailed moreso it’s been uodated – thank you

  19. Brilliant post on the Do’s & Dont’s of safely exchanging your currency , a must read for anyone thinking of going to Bali. Thanks for sharing this information

  20. Hi,
    Thank you for the awesome post, it’s super helpful.
    One question, do you recommend exchanging currency when arriving at the airport or is it better to exchange outside of airport at one of these locations?

    Thank you

    • Hi Kevin,
      If you have a look on the map in this post you will see several money exchanges with opening hours, several of them open after your arrival time.

      Safe travels,
      Michael

  21. Hello, thank you for this useful content, much appreciated.
    Just one doubt, were can I find safe money changers in other locations in Bali, like Ubud , Amed, Uluwatu or Nusa Islands?
    Thank you!

    • Hi Daniela,
      Thanks for your kind comment, glad this website is useful to you.

      Regarding money changers, I haven’t done enough on the ground research to recommend any in the areas you mentioned. Everyone asks me about money changers in Seminyak, Kuta, and Legian, so that’s where I focused my efforts.

      I travel around Bali a lot but have never needed to use money changers in those areas, although I may do so in the future.

      Hope you have a great holiday!

      Cheers,
      Michael

  22. Thanks a lot for brionging upo this topic!
    I am from India and i am planning to visit Bali by the end of this year for a Week.I am planning to carry Indian currencies with me and get them exchanged at the Money exchange centers you had mentioned.
    Is this a good idea?or should i use my Debit/credit card?
    Is there a limit on the amount of money that i can carry with me when entering Bali?

    • Hi Naveen,

      Thanks for the comment. You cannot bring more than IDR 1 billion in foreign currency into Indonesia. That’s a great question and I’ll add it to this article.

      I recommend using money changers over credit/debit cards as the rate you will get is more competitive than withdrawing cash at ATMs due to the fees charged by the banks on ATM transactions.

      Safe travels!
      Michael

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *