Indonesia Inquiry

Money, Money, Money

March 22, 2011 Communities and Cultures Travel & Living Abroad Travel Advice 0

As of 2015, Indonesia is still very much a cash culture.  Travelers and expatriates alike will get used to carrying large denominations of Indonesian money (known as “rupiah”) around and converting exchange rates in their heads.  As in any country, be wise about money issues.  General advice follows below:

== General Advice ==

— Money information is available at

— Different banks give different exchange rates for the Rupiah and foreign currency.

— Be very careful when exchanging money at money changer offices. Exchangers are notorious for cheating foreigners.  For example, beware of them counting the money in front of you, handing you the money to count, taking the money back to recount, and then giving you less than you originally counted.

— Money changers and banks will only exchange U.S. dollars that are in absolutely mint condition.  Seriously!  If your U.S. dollars are creased, wrinkled, stained, old, etc., you will not be able to find any place willing to make an exchange.

— There may be high extra fees (i.e., commissions) when changing money at a money changer office or hotel.

— Avoid the use of credit cards whenever possible because of fraud problems.  For example, your name and number may be stolen or you may be double-charged.

— When using a credit card, beware that there may be high processing fees.

— If you want to open a bank account in Indonesia and you are a foreigner, you will need to show your KITAS (immigration document).  You may also need an Indonesian sponsor to vouch/sign for you.

— If you are American, remember to file with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) before April 15th or file Form 4868 to receive additional time to process your paperwork.  Generally-speaking, those overseas can get an extra two months, while those stateside can get six months.  You can file the form via regular mail or submit it online (i.e., e-file), though the latter sometimes requires paying a private service fee.  Check out the various IRS links online.

— Beware of pickpockets, especially in tourist areas and on public transportation.

— Providing small coins to the homeless, poor, and/or street performers is often expected and appreciated.

— Lock up large sums of money and valuables to prevent theft.

— Avoid putting wallets in one’s back pocket or using unzipped/unbuttoned purses.

— Where possible, avoid burdening small businesses with a large denomination bill; it’s often hard for them to make change.

— Pay attention to the number of zeros on each bill.