The official Indonesia currency is Rupiah (IDR). It has been floating around Rp 13,000 per USD (American Dollar) in 2019. It weakens to Rp. 16,000/USD in the first quarter of 2020 due to the pandemic of COVID-19 a.k.a. Corona virus.
We do not use other currencies for transactions in Indonesia, so you'd better be prepared by knowing how much money you should bring to travel Indonesia.
First of all, there are two types of payment that are commonly accepted: cash and credit cards. Recently, some fin-tech companies introduce cashless payments via mobile apps, but I don't think they are worth it if you only visit Indonesia for several days.
Rupiah bank notes comprises paper notes and coins. The denominations are:
As a budget estimation to travel Indonesia:
You can exchange your currency in the banks. The advantage is the exchange rate is better than the money changer. The disadvantages are not all major currencies can be exchanged, depending on the banks. The most accepted currency is USD100 bank notes. However, some banks do not accept creased USD bank notes or old production year. In addition, not all branches have a forex counter, hence, we must go to the major branch. Lastly, bank's operation hours are limited.
The alternative is to exchange it in the money changer kiosks, which accept various currencies. They also accept creased or older USD bank notes, but with lower rate. These money changers are more convenient since many of them are located in the malls as well as markets, which means longer opening hours and closer to you when you need the Indonesia currency.
Of course everything you buy in Indonesia can be paid with cash, i.e. Rupiah bank notes. However, it is not practical nor safe to carry so many cash around.
As common practice, you pay cash for items less than Rp. 100,000, especially in small towns, traditional markets, small restaurants, and such. Often so many zeros on the price is quite confusing, thankfully each denomination has different color :)
Although some hotels and restaurants in small towns are equipped with EDC [Electonic Data Capture machine to process credit card transaction], often it doesn't work. So assume you have to fully pay with cash whenever you go to remote areas.
If you don’t like to bring too much cash, you can still pay with credit cards. Many stores and restaurants in cities such as Jakarta, Bandung, Tangerang and Cirebon accept Visa and Mastercard. American Express is not popular in Indonesia, but few stores also accept it. Most of the stores and restaurants that accept credit cards will put the Visa, Mastercard or American Express stickers on the cashier.
However, please check with the cashier first whether there is a minimum purchase to pay with credit cards. Sometimes there is a minimum purchase of Rp 50,000 to Rp 100,000 (approximately USD 3-7). Another case is that some stores accept credit cards payment but the customers must pay the transaction fee, which is about 3% of the total payment.
You can also use your credit card or debit card as an alternative to money changer, i.e. you use your credit card to disburse money at ATM. You can find ATM with a VISA or Mastercard logo everywhere in big cities such as Jakarta and Bandung, even few in small towns. You can find ATM in malls, banks, office buildings, etc. Therefore, make sure you remember your credit cards or debit card ATM PIN. Please note your credit card issuer or your bank in case of debit card will charge you some fees on top of the amount you withdraw and you will not know the exchange rate until you receive your bank statement.
Having well informed and prepared on Indonesia currency, are you ready to travel Indonesia? Let's start by exploring the land of Sunda. Don’t forget to bring sufficient cash with you ;-)