Money and Costs
ATMs are common and it's easy to exchange money. Credit cards are accepted at more expensive establishments.
There are ATMs all over Bali and in nonrural areas of Lombok. Most accept nonlocal ATM cards and major credit cards for cash advances.
- The exchange rates for ATM withdrawals are usually quite good, but check to see if your home bank will hit you with outrageous fees.
- Most ATMs allow a maximum withdrawal of one million to 2.5 million rupiah per transaction.
- ATMs have stickers indicating whether they issue 50,000Rp or 100,000Rp notes (the former are easier to use for small transactions).
- Most ATMs return your card last instead of before dispensing cash, so it's easy to forget your card.
- Card skimming is a widespread problem in Bali – try to use ATMs attached to banks if possible and keep an eye on your bank balance after making withdrawals.
Accepted at midrange and better hotels and resorts. More expensive restaurants and shops will also accept them, but there is often a surcharge of around 3%.
For current exchange rates, see www.xe.com.
US dollars are by far the easiest currency to exchange. Try to have new US$100 bills.
Follow these steps to avoid getting ripped off when exchanging money:
- Find out the going exchange rate online. Know that anyone offering a better rate or claiming to charge no fees or commissions will need to make a profit through other means.
- Stick to banks, airport exchange counters or large and reputable operations such as the Central Kuta Money Exchange (www.centralkutabali.com), which has locations across south Bali and Ubud.
- Avoid exchange stalls down alleys or in otherwise dubious locations (it sounds obvious but scores of tourists are ripped off daily).
- Common exchange scams include rigged calculators, sleight-of-hand schemes, ‘mistakes’ on the posted rates, and demands that you hand over your money before you have counted the money on offer.
- Use an ATM to obtain rupiah.
Restaurants Tipping a set percentage is not expected in Bali, but if service is good, 5000Rp or 10% or more is appropriate.
Services Hand cash directly to individuals (drivers, porters, people giving you a massage, bringing you beer at the beach etc); 5000Rp to 10,000Rp or 10% to 20% of the total is generous.
Hotels Most midrange and all top-end hotels add 21% to the bill for tax and service.
The unit of currency is the rupiah (Rp). Coins of 50Rp, 100Rp, 200Rp, 500Rp and 1000Rp are in circulation. Notes come in 1000Rp (rare), 2000Rp, 5000Rp, 10,000Rp, 20,000Rp, 50,000Rp and 100,000Rp denominations.
Indonesia has plans to redenominate the rupiah by removing three digits from the currency, although the timing of this has been debated for years. For example, the 20,000Rp note would become the 20Rp note. The exchange value of the new notes would remain the same. Changing the national currency is likely to be a very complex process.
Bargaining can be an enjoyable part of shopping in Bali. Try following these steps:
- Have some idea of the item's worth.
- Establish a starting price – ask the seller for their price.
- Your first offer can be from one-third to two-thirds of that price.
- If you don't like the price, walk – the vendor may go lower.
- When you name a price, you're committed – you must buy if your offer is accepted.
Budget: Less than US$80
- Room at guesthouse or homestay: less than US$50
- Cheap food and drink, meals: under US$5
- Beaches: free
- Room at midrange hotel: US$50–150
- Great night out eating and drinking: from US$20
- Spa treatment: US$10–40
Top end: More than US$250
- Room at top-end hotel or resort: over US$150
- Lavish evening out: over US$40
- Car and driver per day: US$60