Uncovered: How to Save Money in Indonesia When Travelling

What will this guide cover?

Save Money in Indonesia When TravellingIf you’re planning a trip to Indonesia, be it for business or pleasure, then you’ve probably thought about how much money you plan to spend. What you may not have thought about is the method of spending, and what way is best for you and your circumstances. This guide is all about finding the best ways of buying IDR in New Zealand and how to use it in Indonesia. We have laid out the best options for you in a quick and simple guide. Read on to find out how to save money in Indonesia.

This guide will cover:

  • Buying Indonesian Rupiah (IDR) for your travels
  • How much should I plan to take on my trip?
  • The best cards to use in Indonesia

Buying Indonesian Rupiah (IDR) for your travels

There are a couple of ways to buy your currency before you travel, each with varying exchange rates and fees. It’s important to compare these rates before you buy your travel money. The best way to compare these rates is by using a currency comparison website, where you can easily find out which providers will charge higher fees and unfavourable exchange rates. Or if you’d like a more detailed look, then you can research into the cards or websites independently.

To compare the online rates of a number of banks and currency exchange providers, you can use our comparison table.

  • TIP: This might seem like common sense, but avoid if you can buying your currency at airports, as the exchange rate they offer is unfavourable in comparison to other currency exchange outlets.

How much should I plan to take on my trip?

The general recommendation for Indonesia, and for many places in and around South East Asia is always have some currency in cash. This is simply because of the lack of ATMs in these countries, and establishments that accept card payment. Due to this, it is generally better to carry around some cash to pay for daily activities, as some ATMs can be hard to come by when you’re not in a tourist hotspot like Bali.

Nonetheless, whether you choose to buy your currency in cash, or keep it on debit or credit card, or travel money card, it’s important to know how much to take on your trip.

Depending on how long you are travelling for, along with your itinerary, you will need to know how much to take.

We’ve put together a table below of the general costs of normal activities in Indonesia (based on prices in Bali):

Daily Budget Low Mid High
Accommodation Dorm Beds (Hostels)

200,000Rp per night

Double room in hotel

400,000-1,000,000Rp per night

5* hotel

2,000,000 per night

Dining Street food

20,000Rp per person


100,000Rp per person

Dinner at Potato Heads

350,000Rp per person

Travel Motorcycle rental



55,000Rp (based on Denpasar airport to Kuta)

Car Rental

From 700,000Rp per day

The best cards to use in Indonesia instead of buying IDR in New Zealand

When to travel to anywhere in the world, you generally tend to choose from three travel money cards:

  • Travel cards
  • Debit cards
  • Credit cards

Travel Cards

Travel cards aim to merge the best features of both credit and debit cards. They are easy and convenient to use, and beat both debit and credit cards on the basis of being able to lock in an exchange rate and pre-load your currency, allowing you to avoid all those annoying fees charged by your card issuer. They also offer security that carrying cash doesn’t – a lot of travel cards will provide a second card upon purchase (for a set amount, or free) so you needn’t worry if you lose your main card as you travel.

However, they do have their own fees included and will vary depending on which card you choose. For instance, some travel cards will only support up to 5 currencies while others support up to 13. It’s your job to weigh up the pros and cons of each card depending on your circumstances and what you expect from it.

There is currently no travel card that supports the Indonesian Rupiah, so you will unfortunately be charged a currency conversion fee, just like your debit or credit card. However, our recommendation in this instance is the Commonwealth Travel Bank card, as they do not charge a currency conversion fee when the transaction is completed with a currency you have loaded the card with.

Some cards also offer reward points for the amount that you spend, so watch out for that if you are a frequent flyer, or enjoy dining out etc.

Credit Cards

All major brands, such as Visa, Mastercard, American Express are accepted in many places in Thailand. Like travel cards, credit cards will attract local ATM withdrawal fees. Unlike travel cards however, you will also be charged a currency conversion fee, and cash advance fee charged by the likes of Visa, Mastercard or Amex.

Debit cards

The major difference between debit and credit cards is that debit uses your own money, and credit cards are loans. Although you will avoid the cash advance fee by using your debit card, be aware that you will still attract other fees such as ATM withdrawal fees and currency conversion rates, so it is still important to check with your card issuer before you travel.

If you’re planning a trip to Indonesia and want to know more about fees and charges linked with either your travel, debit or credit card then call one of our experts at The Currency Shop.

Case Study

When Rachel and her friend flew to Bali for a girls trip, the last thing on their mind was the best way to spend their money while they were over there. Both girls drew out cash before their flight and used this to buy smaller things such as drinks and taxi rides. However, what the girls didn’t consider is having to pay the rest of the balance for the likes of their hotel, which was in the top category, and for dinners out in restaurants. Both girls used their debit cards and by the end of their trip, started to use their credit cards for activities such as scuba diving. Due to how many transactions they spent on their cards along with the unfavourable exchange rates offered by their banks, both girls lost a lot of money over the course of their holiday.

As no travel cards support IDR as of yet, the girls thought cash or their debit/credit cards were their only option. However, they could have bought a Commonwealth Travel Card that does not charge a transaction fee for an unsupported currency.

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