The Indonesian Rupiah is the local currency, normally abbreviated to Rp followed by the value. Denominations of Rp.100 and 100 are in the form of coins, 500 and 1,000 are in either coins or bills, and Rp.5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000 and 100,000 are only available in bills.
In Bali, carry a handful of Rp.10,000 to Rp.100,000 notes for your daily expenses. Backing this up with a credit card for major purchases is a good idea. Take note though, most mid-range hotels, all top-end hotels and some tourist attractions, car rental agencies and tour companies list their prices in US dollar. The Rupiah is still acceptable in these establishments but the exchange rate is usually more advantageous to the vendor than the tourist.
Foreign currency, whether in banknotes or traveler’s checks, should be exchanged at major banks or authorized money changers (PT. Central Kuta is highly recommended).
The US dollar and nowadays the EURO are the preferred foreign currency in Bali; bring always new, clean US$ bank notes which are not damaged in any way. If for instance a corner is missing or someone scribbled something on an otherwise perfect bill, hardly anybody will accept it at full value – or at all. Forget about dollar bills older than 2007.
Exchange rates offered by money changers are generally better than by the banks, they stay open longer and transactions are faster. Sometime for US$100 notes better exchange rates are offered than for US$10 or US$20 bills.
Avoid hole-in-the-wall operators by all means, and always ask about any commission imposed before the exchange as many money changers advertising better rates charge a commission. Count the money you receive carefully and never ever hand it back to the money changer after you counted it!
Some of these guys are magicians, and the million you just counted suddenly is less than 700,000 Rupiah after the seller touched the bank notes again! At times you might even have a nicely printed worthless piece of paper within the stack of bills and you wonder a few hours later, what really happened.
Many shops accept credit cards and charge cards but often add 2-3 percent to your bill. Visa and Mastercard are accepted by most – American Express and JCB is getting much less accepted. The amount signed for and charged is in Rupiah and the bill is then converted by the clearing banks to your domestic currency.
ATM – Automatic Teller Machines are mushrooming all over the island, especially at shopping centers and bank branches. Most of them are connected to international banking networks thus making it possible to look for machines that are affiliated with your own ATM network. You can draw usually between 1.2mio and 2.5mio in one go. So if you need more money you will have to pull several times adding to the bank charges, as each transaction counts!
Most major banks have branches in the main tourist centers and provincial capitals. Banking hours are generally from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday to Friday and until 11 a.m. on Saturdays.