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The unit of currency in Indonesia is the rupiah, from the Sanskrit word for wrought silver, rupya. Coins come in denominations of Rp25, 50, 100, and 500. Notes are Rp1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000, and 100,000; the largest denomination is worth about US$10 (£5.90). The rate of exchange is relatively stable. At press time, the average was about Rp10,000 to US$1. Look to www.xe.com for the most up-to-date currency rates.

We've listed prices according to how each individual establishment lists them, typically either in rupiah or U.S. dollars..

Though you can order rupiah before leaving home, it is not necessary. Denpasar airport on Bali and Selaparang airport on Lombok have plenty of money changers in the arrival terminal and ATMs once through Customs.

Cash is king in Bali and Lombok. Wherever you go you will need it, whether to pay for parking, entrance to museums, tips, or taxi rides, or to buy knickknacks, you will need to have low denominations of cash. Although Rp100,000 bills are useful for high-priced items, smaller shops and taxis do not carry large amounts of change. There seems to be an expectation that the customer should provide appropriate change, rather than the other way round.

The maximum amount of currency that you can bring into Bali is US$10,000 in cash.

ATMs

ATMs are everywhere in south Bali. Withdrawals can be made with credit cards and some debit cards on the Maestro and Cirrus networks. Most ATMs dispense money in multiples of Rp50,000 which is extremely annoying when withdrawing large amounts of cash. A few machines will dispense Rp100,000 notes. All ATMs are clearly marked which denominations they pay out.

Some banks will only allow maximum withdrawals of Rp1,250,000 at one time but will allow up to three withdrawals in a day. Others will allow Rp3,000,000 at one time with a maximum of Rp6,000,000 withdrawal in a day. The best ATM we have found is Permata Bank, where you can withdraw Rp3,000,000 in Rp100,000 notes up to a maximum of two withdrawals. These ATMs are in the Circle K on Jalan Laksmana in Seminyak, on Jalan Legian near the turning to Jalan Double Six in Kuta, Jalan Tamblingan in Sanur, and Jalan Raya Ubud in Ubud.

Withdrawal charges depend on your bank in your country. Cash advances on credit cards are treated as loans and accrue interest daily. You will be charged a transaction fee, too. Withdrawals made with debit cards should only be charged a transaction fee. Inquire at your bank for rates. Sometimes it is better to pay for things on a credit card directly rather than paying in hard cash.

The best banks to withdraw money from are Bank Central Asia (BCA), Bank Lippo, Bank Mandiri, Bank Negara Indonesia (BNI), and Permata Bank. Outside the main tourist areas you will not find many ATMs. It is always best to take cash with you.

On Lombok you will find ATMs in Mataram, Senggigi, and Praya. Be sure to have enough cash before arrival.

Credit Cards

All high-end hotels, shops, restaurants, and nightclubs accept credit cards. Visa and MasterCard are the most commonly accepted cards but some do take American Express and Diners Club. Merchants may charge a 3% to 5% surcharge for credit transactions. Payments are usually in rupiah but some companies have been known to charge in U.S. dollars, particularly large hotel chains. If this is the case, ask them to clarify what exchange rate they are using as you may be better off paying in cash.

Foreign Exchange

Most major currency can be exchanged in banks, hotels, and authorized money changers in the main tourist areas. Rates depend on the currency and the denominations you are holding. U.S. dollars are the preferred currency but euros and sterling are also popular. U.S. bills issued before 2006 will receive a lower rate than newer ones. Sometimes any old, folded, or damaged notes will not be accepted due to the high risk of the note being forged.

Money changers generally offer the best rates and are the most convenient. Daily opening times vary from 9am until 10pm. Double-check your money before leaving as there are money changing scams, especially in the Kuta (on Bali) area. State-sponsored Wartel Telecommunications Service offices are the best. Banks generally offer the next favored rate but going into a bank is time-consuming and often exhausting. Hotels offer the lowest rate of exchange. Cashing traveler's checks requires a passport.

Getting Your Money's Worth When Changing Currency -- Although there are good, honest money changers there are also many unscrupulous vendors. Here are a few tips when using money changers:

* Make sure you do your own calculations. Do not rely on the staff. Some calculators can be tampered with.

* Check to see if there is a commission fee. Be cautious that you may have a good rate of exchange but have to pay a hefty commission rate. If the commission is low, ensure that you are getting a good exchange rate.

* Count the money yourself. Better still, count it twice. Do not pass it back to the staff to recount as you may find a few notes missing after leaving the shop.

* The money changers should give you a receipt. If they don't, insist.

* Be warned of counterfeit bills. If a note doesn't feel right, ask for another one. Do not accept any damaged currency.

* Be sure to count zeros on a note. Rp10,000 is roughly equivalent to US$1 and Rp100,000 is US$10.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.