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Money changing (into/out of Rupiah) outside Indonesia: If you want cash in your wallet on arrival, the money changers at Changi Airport in Singapore will give you good, competitive rates. Their counterparts in Australia take much higher profit margins, and you are better off waiting till you arrive in Indonesia.
Visa fees: Don't forget that a visa into Bali will cost you US$25. If you have US$ dollars, that's fine, but you can also pay in A$ or Euros, or by credit card -- there is no way to change currency at the airport before you pay for your visa. Unlike money changers, Immigration will take less-than-perfect bills (see below). If you use non-US$, Immigration won't give you a great exchange rate, and will give you your change in Rupiah. On the positive side, if you pay for your visa with A$50 you'll get enough Rupiah change for porters and a taxi.
also don't forget there is a Rp 150,000 departure tax payable only in Rupiahs at the airport when you have to leave. So always keep that amount aside in the last days of your stay to save time at the airport running around for changing money to pay this..
Money changing inside Indonesia: Keep exchange rates in perspective! Before you spend a half day and taxi fares shopping around to get absolutely the best rate, remember that a rate that gives you another 10 rupiah per dollar means you will get an additional Rp1,000 on a $100 exchange -- only about 10 cents. What's your time worth?
That said, always take care when changing money. It is easy to be tricked when you aren't used to working in hundreds of thousands and millions!
Note that if you are changing USD bank notes, banks and money changers are VERY PARTICULAR about the quality of the bills. $100 bills will get you the best rate (usually posted), and smaller bills will trade at a discount (not posted). Bills must be in PERFECT condition, with no rips, tears, marks or creases, and must be printed no earlier than 2007. If the bank won't take a bill because it's not perfect, a money changer might but will certainly try to extract a discount.
Small bills ($10 or smaller) and coins are generally not changeable -- in any currency. So don't feel like you're doing your porter or driver a favor by giving him/her your small money as a tip, because they'll never be able to use it!
At the airport: You have two easy options for getting local currency at the airport: a) there are several ATM machines near the luggage carrosels, or b) tere is a long line of money changers just outside customs check and before you get out the doors. Some are bank-sponsored, and they are competitive.
Tricks to beware of:
NEVER let the money leave your sight while it is counted or checked, or you could find the total shorter when it comes back. Once you leave the premises, it is usually not be possible to remedy the situation. However, if you decide to go back even the next day to get your money back, you may find that they have kept track of thier "tips" and will give it back upon threat of the police.
In KUTA, there is a great money changer just north of Bemo corner- glass front shop with security guard.
Another good one is at the beach end of Poppies Lane I, right hand side facing beach and up a couple of steps into his booth.
There is another one not far from this changer, which was a lady by herself.
A few tips I would recommend keeping note of is:
a) Places that does money changing as a secondary business (i.e. a souvenir seller also changing money and offers a higher than normal rate), then the chances of you being conned is higher.
b) Always ask for big notes such as Rp100,000 or 50,000 notes. One method of confusing you is to give you bundles and budnles of 20,000 notes which makes you put 5 times more effort in counting and easily confuses you unless you are very good adn sharp at your math.
c) If there are two people at the counter when you change money, you are almost guaranteed you will be conned. This is because anotehr tactic used to con is where one person talks to you with friendly talk which is to distract you in the counting while the other does the deal. Politely say I will talk to you when I have done the transaction as you must always giev your 100% attention (Especially with your eyes on the deal being done). IF there is only one person dealing with you, it might be more legit. I use the steps below:
d) * Ask the question if they charge commission:
* IF the answer is NO, proceed to agree the rate to the rate advertised on the board outside. If yes, then you make the call on whether you want to make a deal or not
* agree the amount you wish to change, count your notes in front of him and don't hand your cash just yet. Put the counted foreign notes folded right in front of you under a weight (possibly your mobile phone) closer to you but visible by both in fairness.
* The guy will show you on the calculator the final amount you will get. Double check this with your mind if it is simple enough or with a calculator on your phone to confirm. Some do play with dodgy calculators).
* He will give you a bundle of calculated notes to be counted by you. Count the notes carefully and bundle them in the order you calculated but don't mix them up just yet. Keep the notes closer to you once you have counted correctly. If the guy proceeds to take the entire bundle back to re-count, stop him just then and say don't do that, I am happy with the counting. and If he insists, don't waste your time, just walk away with your foreign notes. Because he is going to take some money off until you give in.
* If the guy pulls out a load of smaller 10,000 or 20,000 notes, I would just walk away as it is just going to be a guaranteed con.
In LEGIAN a great money changer as you are coming from beach walking along Melasti street, cross over Jalan legian and there is a bank on the right hand side before the road bends. And another is on Jalan Sahadewa (Garlic lane) about half way on the right heading towards Melasti st is a small money changer very good and trustworthy ;
Watch the money changer on Jalan Padma Utara st just around the corner from Jalan Padma -- there is a money changer that sells paintings with a desk at the rear , they will rip you off. They have a high rate posted on the street sign.
In SEMINYAK the best one is BMC and right next door to SIP wine bar accross the road and to the right of Bintang supermarket.
In SANUR, Bali Legian Money Changer JL. Danau Tamblingan 67C. Next to Circle K, acroos the road and to the left of Hardy's Supermarket.
In UBUD, Central on Jalan Raya in Ubud opens 10.30am-11ish in the courtyard off Jalan Raya (south side) near Jalan Bisma.
Also, any commercial bank will change currency for you.
The rates at money changers generally do not change on a weekend, as the banks are closed.
ATMS: If you take money out of your account by ATM, beware of the charges. A foreign exchange fee can be up to $8 and a withdrawal fee can be the same – so you may pay $20 for a $50 withdrawal. So check with your bank before you go. Australian banks tend to charge higher fees than US banks. Some US banks charge a straight foreign exchange percentage (usually 3%) no matter the size of the withdrawal, and others add a per-withdrawal fee of $3-5. An alternative is to use an Australian credit card like 28 Degrees Mastercard (formerly Wizard) that doesn't make these charges. All US credit cards will have fees attached in some form.
ATMs dispense rupiah only, and it comes in either Rp 50,000 and 100,000 notes: it will say on the outside of the machine. For Rp 100,000 machines, the maximum amount per transaction is usually 2 (or rarely, 3) million -- it's limited by how many bills can physically be pushed through the dispenser. If you put a non-Indonesian card in an ATM, it will automatically ask you if you want instructions in Indonesian or English.
Also be aware that the money typically comes out BEFORE the card. Many an unwary traveller has left their card behind. The next person then walks up - the machine asks "do you want another transaction?" and they press "yes" thereby make a dent in your account.
Some ATMs in Bali experienced problems with cameras and skimmers back in 2009, so it's good practice to cover your hand when you enter your PIN. After the last round of thefts, most banks installed shields over key pads to make filming PINs more difficult. If you are concerned about security, it's always safer to use an ATM that is physically located at a bank branch rather than a free-standing ATM machine in a booth.
Airport Tax: Put 150,000rp each in your passport for the departure tax to avoid being caught without money at the airport and/or having to exchange money at low rates. You can only pay in rupiah, and they don't accept credit cards. People have missed flights because of this, so don't let it happen to you!
Beware of Cheats: Remember to add the items up yourself (bring your own calculator if needed). There are many ways to scam an unwitting traveler in a foreign country - be observant and careful and you should be fine.
Watch the zeros and the colour of the notes as they are similar -- the Rp 100,000 ($10) bill is pink while the Rp 10,000 ($1) bill is purple, and they are easy to confuse.
Buy a korjo currency converter that hangs around your neck, it has a slide out calculator and can be used in any country. About $20.
Credit cards...phone your bank 2 weeks before you travel and tell them where you will be and the dates, they will then keep an eye on your card to ensure it is not compromised, especially after you have returned home. Do not let this card out of your sight and watch them when doing the transaction.
Keep money and passports in safety deposit box at hotel. Don't walk around with large amounts of money.