The ultimate guide to exchange your money in Bali

Money exchange has always been a tricky subject regardless of which part of the world you want to go to, and this is particularly true in Bali where the majority of individuals and establishments still prefer cash. Money changers in Bali are plentiful here, but you’ll need to stay vigilant since not all of them are safe.

I’ve created this guide so that you can exchange your money into Indonesian Rupiah (IDR) with confidence.

Money changer vs ATM

Unlike other countries, here in Bali (and other parts of Indonesia) most foreign exchange transactions are done in exchange offices and not banks. Tourists usually go to banks only to use ATMs, which I always recommend as they give better security from card theft compared to ATMs at random spots.

If you’re only here for a short term stay (3-4 days at maximum), using an ATM will save you from headaches despite the arm and leg your bank might cost you for withdrawal fees. Also check: ATM Safety Tips in Bali

If you’re staying longer or planning to exchange more than US$500, then going through the “headache” will make a good economic sense, though there are things you can do to reduce that “headache” to bare minimum:

1. Always make the exchange once you reach Bali (or other part of Indonesia)

Never exchange your money into Indonesian Rupiah in your home country even though your currency happens to be a major one. I know people sometimes want to be methodically prepared from the get go, but from what I’ve seen you’ll get the best exchange rates when exchanging your money inside of Indonesia.

2. Best currencies to bring

USD, EUR, GBP, AUD, SGD and JPY are the six universally accepted currencies in Bali. Most travelers who live beyond these currencies will normally exchange their local currency to USD before departing from their home country.

But in Bali, the bigger the money exchange office, the more currencies they accept. Three of the biggest and most trustworthy exchange companies, BMC, Central Kuta and Dirgahayu Valuta Prima, also accept wide range of notes such as:

  • Canadian Dollars (CAD)
  • New Zealand Dollars (NZD)
  • Swiss Franc (CHF)
  • Korean Won (KRW)
  • Thai Baht (THB)
  • Malaysian Ringgit (MYR)
  • Philippine Peso (PHP)
  • Indian Rupee (INR)
  • Russian Ruble (RUB)
  • Chinese Yuan/Renminbi (RMB)
  • and currencies from Nordic and Arab countries.

It’s worth to mention that smaller offices might not offer such a wide range of currencies. Another fact is that these three companies also have the largest network covering popular touristy areas from Uluwatu in the south area all the way to Ubud in the central area and I always recommend them to travelers.

On a side note, if your local currency is listed above and you’re thinking to bring your own banknotes to Bali so not having to exchange twice – first to one of the major currencies and exchanging them again for Indonesian Rupiah – you’ll might need to check their website to see if they accept yours at the moment or you’ll be forced to withdraw from ATM and forced to accept outrageous transaction fees.

3. Different exchange rates for different denominations & issuing year

Basically, money changers collect foreign bank notes from tourists and sell them to Bank Indonesia (our central bank) at wholesale rates. If Bank Indonesia rejects a note, they would make a loss. This is also why $50 notes will get a better rate than two $25 notes, because the smaller the denominations, the lower the rate Bank Indonesia is willing to pay.

Also, they only accept foreign notes in supremely pristine condition. Any tear, jottings, or the slightest blemish in the note may result in lower exchange rate of straight-up refusal. But the irony is that sometimes you will be given way less pristine Rupiah banknotes given that even the worst-looking ones are still acceptable here. For some people this might seem unfair but it has always been like this.

4. Always pick No Commission and avoid if it’s too good to be true

A legitimate money exchanger doesn’t charge commission, they get their profit from the spread between buy and sell price which closely follows international markets. Some money exchange offices in Bali put a signpost in front of their building if they don’t charge commission.

And checking the best rate for the day has become easier these days since these big exchange companies make it a necessity to publish exchange rates on their websites daily. The rule of thumb is to seek for the latest update on and deduct 300 IDR to get the actual rate you can safely expect to receive.

As of 1 January 2023, the market rate as seen on is 1 EUR = 16,625 IDR and the BMC is buying for 16,325 IDR. If somehow you can’t find either BMC or Central Kuta offices and need to exchange your notes at lesser-known premises, just remember this rule. If they happen to offer better rates, let alone being pushy, just say “no thank you” and steer away immediately.

5. How to protect yourself from scams

Money exchange scams are very “creative” and an unsuspecting tourist is always an easy prey to them. These scams are very common at unknown premises, which I like to call as street money exchangers, though in all circumstances, you need to be vigilant even when entering one of the exchange offices I mentioned earlier.

Legitimate money exchange offices require you to fill a legal-binding application form stating your name & signature, the amount of foreign currency you’re exchanging, the exchange rate and the amounts of Indonesian Rupiah you’ll receive. They present themselves only in appropriate manner with appropriate buildings, guest chairs, uniformed officers and teller desks. You’re allowed to count your money as many as you like, as long as you’re not leaving their desk.

Fraudulent ones (street money exchangers) won’t meet these criteria. There is no building to enter, they’re not dressed in uniforms, the surrounding is dark and you can only stand on the sidewalk. The only thing that matters to them is a desk that is high and far enough from your line of sight so they can perform their most common scam – count trickery – with ease.

First trick: Count Trickery

For argument’s sake, let’s just say the buy rate of US$1 is IDR 15,340 and you wanted to change US$100 into Rupiah (totalling IDR 1,534,000). A legit exchanger would give you 15 notes of IDR 100,000; 1 note of IDR 20,000 and IDR 10,000 each; and 2 notes of IDR 2,000. All is good, you can count your money until you’re pleased and wave goodbye.

Meanwhile a fraud one would probably give you 28 notes of IDR 50,000, 6 notes of IDR 20,000, 1 note of IDR 10,000; and 2 notes of IDR 2,000. Now there’s nothing wrong with small notes and warungs and convenience stores actually prefer to accept this, but to the unsuspecting eye, those 28 notes could turn into 25 or even 19 using sleight of hand. This video from Jason Pizzino on YouTube will explain the trick.

First, they’ll count the right amount of Rupiah according to the exchange rate, which is normal, and then hand the wad of cash to you to recount.

Since it’s already the right amount of money, you’ll then say okay. But here’s where the scam begins. The scammer will take the money back again for a recount and he will distract you with one of two tricks:

a) A stranger yelling around, or

b) Handing you more money than you should receive (in this example, IDR 1,540,000 instead of IDR 1,534,000) and asking for small changes.

Once your attention is drawn away from the desk to give them a small exchange, their left hand will perform the trick and slip away a few banknotes under the table. The wad of cash is still there on the table, but you’re not aware of the missing banknotes because you’re thinking you’ve done a recount and it was the right amount.

You have been ripped off, but there’s still a “reverse uno card” to turn the situation around. Recount the Rupiah once again while keeping your money closer to you and they’ll realize you’re fully aware of their tricks and they will snatch the Rupiah once again for a recount and the right amount of money will then magically appear.

This time it will be the right amount of cash and you can happily leave their place.

Second trick: Straight-up confusion

In the past, I’ve seen fraudsters employing even more notorious tactics, though it’s becoming less common these days. Still with the same example, they would give 5 notes of IDR 100,000; 3 notes of IDR 50,000; 8 notes of IDR 20,000; 20 notes of IDR 10,000; 13 notes of IDR 5,000; 30 notes of IDR 2,000; and 17 coins of IDR 1,000.

If you just did the math, then you’ll realize they gave way less than you’re supposed to receive. A “stranger” will then proceed to make you feel rushed and uneasy by yelling around with a loud voice to have you immediately leave their place without counting your money properly.

By the time you left, it’s game over because the law stipulates that you should not leave the teller desk as a protection for both parties – conversely, people could also complain and rant about being short-changed after leaving the desk while in fact they didn’t.

Third trick: Commission surprise

If a scammer realizes that you’ve recognized their tactics and you keep recounting your money, they’ll move forward to surprise you with an unforeseen commission with an arbitrary explanation, such as “low rates.” If you say “okay” then you could be losing 10-20% of your money. If they took you by this surprise move, take your banknotes back and steer away immediately.

If they have taken your banknotes in advance and refused to hand them back, threaten them with police arrest to strong-arm them into giving your money back. You can also make a report to Bali High Prosecutor Office here.

Tips to have a smooth money exchanging in Bali

In order to get the best rate and to avoid confusion, bring only the newest version of two highest denominations of the currency you’d want to exchange. For example:

  • $100 & $50 (US Dollar, Australian Dollar)
  • ₩50,000 & ₩10,000 (Korean Won)
  • ₹2000 & ₹500 (Indian Rupee)
  • ₱1,000 & ₱500 (Philippine Peso)
  • and so on.

If you want to change smaller denominations, the rate will be lower than advertised and they might (or might not) inform this so it’s best that you ask beforehand.

2. Always look for the green sticker with ‘KUPVA’ written on it. The sticker means that the money changer is licensed and supervised by the Indonesian Central Bank in accordance with the Indonesian laws with terms and conditions that they must comply with.

It also comes with a QR code that you can scan to prove that the information in the sticker is valid.

3. Just like a bank, every legitimate money changer will always ask for your ID or Passport for identification upon doing a transaction.

4. You are entitled to get a receipt/invoice for your transaction which states the amount of foreign currency you’re exchanging, the exchange rate and the amounts of Indonesian Rupiah you’ll receive. If the cashier doesn’t give you one, ask them. If they insist on not giving, force them or else leave with your money. This applies to the popular exchange offices as well.

5. Always count the money on the cashier desk while they’re looking. Don’t let them go away while you’re counting. If they’re the one who counts, ask them to do it slowly. Never feel ashamed to look annoying in this case, it’s way better than losing money. If you need a reason you can tell them you’re not familiar yet with Indonesian Rupiah.

6. By default, a legit exchanger will always give 100,000 notes (the highest one) as many as you can receive. If they intentionally give too much smaller denomination, ask them to higher it up.

7. Never ever feel pressured to leave the place, let alone the teller desk before you are 100% sure that you have been dealt with the correct amount of exchange. Those who queue behind you can always wait because they too would have the same expectation as yours.

8. Count once again to make sure you’ve received the right amount of cash because they won’t accept complaints after you leave.

Good luck, and I hope these tips will help you enjoy Bali comfortably!

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