When I first arrived in Bali, I brought crisp new hundreds and went to the money changers at the airport. I ended up with a REALLY good rate. Basically it was the listed FOREX rate that you can find on Google (use this link - https://www.google.com/search?q=idr+to+usd). That would be the easiest experience I would have getting cash for the next three months.
Most places here don’t take credit cards, and even if they do, they charge a 3% fee in addition to whatever CRAP rate your bank is giving you for the privilege, so cash is king. ATMs are even worse. I thought that opening an Indonesian bank account would solve this problem. So I asked around. To open a bank account in Bali, you need a referral from a current customer (so I got one). Now that I’m a current customer - email Pungki Samaniatun (Pungki) firstname.lastname@example.org and tell her Josh Gray-Emmer sent you. You’re IN.
I opened two accounts - One in dollars, one in rupiah. Transfer money from The US into the dollar account, use the online app to transfer dollars to your rupiah account and withdraw the money you want from the ATM, easy right?!?! Wrong!! First of all - getting money from Bank of America to Permata via wire ended up costing me over $50 in fees. FUCK BofA. Then when I went to transfer money between accounts, I was given a SUPER BAD exchange rate of almost 9% less then the actual FOREX rate.
So Paypal to the rescue right?? NO - They were even worse. I had to create an Indonesian account to receive the money. Once it arrived, and it took 6 days, with the fees and the exchange rate, it was even worse than a wire, almost 11% in charges.
Finally a friend recommended an app/website called TransferWise. Its funded by Richard Branson (who’s products, like Virgin American I usually enjoy), and seemed pretty legit. The fee was 1.5% TOTAL even factoring the exchange rate. PLUS I got my first $1000 transfer for FREE because I used my friend’s referral code. I ended up getting EXACTLY the money I sent from my US bank account, converted at the REAL exchange rate, and it didn’t cost me a penny, not in fees, not in exchange rate bullshit, nothing. They said it would take four days. It took 36 hours. I can’t recommend it highly enough. I’ll be using it to get all my money to Bali from now on.
TransferWise can get cash to almost any country in the world for super cheap. Give em a shot.
I don’t know how long it lasts, but you can avoid that tiny 1.5% fee for up to $1000 in transfers for your first month of using the service by clicking on my link - TRANSFERWISE