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Money Matters

You can exchange most major world currencies (cash or travelers checks) easily into the local coin, the Indonesian Rupiah. Hotels generally give less favorable exchange rates (the price of convenience). Or - and this our choice - go to a branch office of one of the local banks. However that being said, there are a squillion "authorized" money changers available. If you choose to deal with an money changer BE CAREFUL - The number of stories we hear about people being cheated are shameful and the authorities are seemingly helpless to shut these despicable characters down. Nonetheless here are a couple of points worth remembering (see travel tips). First, the rate posted on the door usually is for amounts in notes of US $100. - lesser denominated notes (i.e. $50.00) will be given a less favorable rate. Next verify the exchange calculation (ask to use the calculator or - better yet - bring your own) and count your change before you leave the window. Lastly, be  prepared, if you are cashing travelers checks you will need to present your passport for identification and many money changers do not accept cash notes that have been defaced - or are in less than near mint condition. The official exchange rate posted is daily in all major newspapers.

Rupiahs come in paper and coins. Paper denominations are 100, 500, 1,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000 and 100,000; coin denominations are 10, 25, 50, 100, 500, and 1,000. Just a word of caution there are many styles of the same denomination and together with all the "zeroes" even we live here are sometimes confused.

ATMs are quite common and the ones with VISA / Cirrus logos dispense local currency at the bank's then current exchange rate. Some have the rate on the screen. (Our guess is that this is still far better than going to a money changer considering the high probability of being short changed.) A note of caution though - you must be absolutely sure to take your card - if not and the card remains in some machines additional withdrawals may be made WITHOUT having to re-enter the PIN !

Credit cards are accepted at better restaurants and retailers. But be aware most retailers add an extra 3 - 5 % on your bill for the privilege of using plastic. You do not have to accept this: You're not going to get anywhere arguing with the shopkeeper but if you want to get this back make sure the retailer or restaurant writes this surcharge down as an extra charge for using the card and then claim it from your month end billing.