The official Indonesia currency is Rupiah (IDR). Rupiah to USD (American Dollar) exchange rate was around Rp 13,000 per USD in 2019. It weakened to Rp. 15,000/USD in the third quarter of 2020 due to the pandemic of COVID-19 (Coronavirus).
Since Rupiah is the only currency used for transactions in Indonesia, you should exchange your currencies into Rupiah beforehand. But, the question of the day would be: how much Rupiah should you carry during your travel to Indonesia?
First of all, there are two types of payment that are commonly accepted: cash and non-cash. Non-cash comprise credit cards, debit cards, and recently, some fin-tech companies introduce cashless payments via mobile apps. The cashless payments app is convenient and quite practical for us who use it daily, but I am not sure they are worth it if you only visit Indonesia for several days.
Rupiah banknotes comprise paper notes and coins. The denominations are:
As a budget estimation to travel to Indonesia:
You can exchange your currency to Rupiah 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 banknotes. However, many banks do not accept creased USD banknotes or older designs. Besides, not all branches have a forex counter. It is only available in the main branch office. Lastly, the operation hours of the bank are limited.
The alternative is to exchange it in the money changer kiosks. These money changers accept various currencies, such as USD, Euro, Japanese Yen, Chinese Renminbi, and Saudi Riyal. They also accept creased or older USD banknotes, but with a lower rate. Many of them are in the shopping malls and modern markets, which means long 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 banknotes. However, it is not practical nor safe to carry so much cash around.
As a common practice, you pay with cash for items less than Rp. 100,000. But, you will fully pay in cash whenever you go to small towns, traditional markets, small restaurants, and such.
Often so many zeros on the price are 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, those EDC aren't working. So, assume you have to pay in cash whenever you go to remote areas.
If you do not like to carry too much cash, you can 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 that popular in Indonesia, though. Most of the stores and restaurants that accept credit cards will put the Visa, Mastercard, or American Express stickers on the cashier.
Whenever you want to pay with any credit card, please check with the cashier first, whether there is a minimum purchase and who pays the credit card transaction fee. Usually, the minimum purchase when you pay with a credit card is Rp 100,000 (approximately USD 6 to USD 7). Generally, the stores cover the credit card transaction fee (which is about 3% of the total payment), but some stores charge it to the customers. Presently, you must use PIN to validate any credit cards transaction, you can not sign it as it used to be.
You can also use your credit card or debit card to withdraw some money at ATM (Automated Teller Machine). You can find ATM with a VISA or Mastercard logo in malls, banks, office buildings, and minimarkets, in big cities such as Jakarta and Bandung, as well as in small towns. Therefore, make sure you remember your credit cards or debit card ATM PIN.
Withdrawing some money from an ATM is simple and very convenient to get some Rupiah. However, you might end up paying a much higher rate than exchanging your currency in the money changer. It because your debit or credit card issuer will charge you some fees on top of the amount you withdraw. Furthermore, you will not know the exchange rate until you receive your bank statement.
Having been informed on Indonesia currency, have you made a good plan on traveling to Indonesia? Let's start by exploring the land of Sunda. Don’t forget to bring sufficient cash with you ;-)