Banking in Indonesia
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Throughout Jakarta there are numerous foreign and local banks all offering a full range of banking services. Many offer both Rupiah and foreign currency (usually US$) savings and checking accounts, term deposits, as well as credit and debit card accounts and foreign exchange services. Safe deposit boxes are also available at some banks.
Foreign Banks generally have several requirements for opening a personal bank account including letters of reference from your employer or sponsor as well as copies of your passport and ITAS card. For checking accounts a reference from your previous bank, your company's Tax Registration Number and a letter from your company verifying that Indonesian income tax is paid by the company may be required. In order to open a personal account in US$ many banks also require a minimum deposit be maintained. Because of the vast range of services and policies unique to each bank, it is advisable to call and make inquiries directly, then follow up by a personal visit.
Many expatriates living in Indonesia choose the option of maintaining their normal account in their home country or opening an account in Singapore. Their employer will then transfer their salary each month directly to this account. You may choose to receive part of your wages in Indonesia in Rupiah cash to cover your cash expenditures in Jakarta. Some companies also have a system where you can write a personal check from you home account and the company will issue you Rupiah cash.
Automatic Teller Machines
ATMs are conveniently located in shopping centers, rural bank branches, and urban office complexes, many convenience stores as well as in areas that tourists frequent. Many people prefer to do as much of their banking online or at the ATM machines to avoid the long lineups in the banks and the short banking hours. ATMs operate with international credit and debit cards affiliated with: Alto, Maestro, Cirrus, Plus, Master Card, and Visa.
US$ cash withdrawals are available from Citibank ATMs. If you have a dollar account in other banks such as BCA or BII you can also make ATM withdrawals from your US Dollar account but the cash withdrawal will be in Rupiah.
Customers can take advantage of the other services that the ATMs offer such as paying electricity, television, water, or internet bills, transferring to other banks as well as buying pulsa for mobile phones.
Before opening a bank account, see if your bank is affiliated with the Rintis Sejahtera’s Prima ATM network. If so, this gives you withdrawal and other ATM privileges at the ATMs in a wide network of banks across Indonesia. When using ATMs at a location other than the issuing bank of the ATM card, some charges may apply to your transaction.
ATMs are clearly marked whether or not withdrawals will be limited to Rp 50,000 bills or Rp 100,000 bills. Separate ATMS for bill paying are labeled "Non-tunai" (non-cash) or machines specifically for printing your bank books.
Many ATMs are accessible 24 hours a day. At ATM machines, take appropriate measures to avoid unwanted attention, especially when removing large amounts of money; use well lit, secure machines and money changer locations. Be sure to securely put your money away before you walk away from the ATM machine.
In early 2012 there was a small rash of robberies of expats that had just withdrawn significant sums of money from a bank ATM. It was discovered later that someone in the bank was tipping off friends, who came alongside the tourist after they exited the bank, and demanded the money. The police pretty quickly found the culprits and put a stop to it!
Most of the major national and international banks in Indonesia issue credit cards. The basic requirements for issuing cards in Indonesia is that the holder must be 21 years old, must have a monthly income of Rp 3 million, and the credit limit is set at a maximum of three times your monthly income. People who earn less than Rp 10 million a month are allowed only to get credit cards from two issuers. Supplemental cards can be issued to children of the main card holder when they are of age.
Each bank has its own requirements for issuing credit cards to expatriates, and they vary widely! Some expats find it difficult to get a local credit card as both national and international banks often require hefty deposits on credit cards, sometimes up to 80-110 percent of the available credit line on the card. Others have encountered situations where their applications were seemingly not processed (no response was ever received from their application) or the expat applicant was told that he/she was not eligible because they were not citizens of Indonesia.
Banks should only require a passport, proof of local residence, and temporary residency permit (ITAS), as well as evidence of sufficient income, in order to qualify for a credit card, but Indonesian banks may also ask for other "flexible” requirements when processing non-Indonesian applicants. For example, a letter of notice from the expat’s employer regarding his or her employment status may help to facilitate the process. Some banks may consider whether or not you own or rent your residence as a factor in the approval of the credit card. This leaves a lot of expats in the lurch, because for the most part they rent their homes or apartments during their stay. Applicants who already have a credit card from another lender may have an easier time getting additional lines of credit from Indonesian banks. It also seems that having a history with a particular bank (holding other accounts there) will make applying for a credit card much easier.
Seen as more mobile than the average Indonesia, expats are generally viewed by local banks as having a greater risk factor.
Pre-paid cards like BCA's Flazz are popular forms of non-cash payment. These RFID chip cards enable quick payments with no transaction fee and are easy to refill at BCA non-cash ATMs, Flazz card merchants, and self-service top up centers across Indonesia.
These cards help insulate you against credit card fraud as the amount on the card is limited and determined by you when you fill up the card. When you want to pay, just place your card on the reader and your cashless transaction is completed. Commonly used at mini markets, supermarkets, gas stations, bookstores, for parking, and public transportation. You can purchase these pre-paid cards at participating merchants or banks.
Credit Card Fraud
Expatriates are advised to be extremely cautious using credit cards in Indonesia due to the danger of credit card fraud. Unfortunately Indonesia has one of the highest incidences of Credit Card fraud in the world. Crimes related to credit card misuse are prevalent and include the use of stolen or counterfeit credit cards for internet transactions. A spokesperson from the Indonesian Credit Card Association (AKKI), acknowledged that banks often had additional requirements for foreign nationals who were seeking credit.
It is preferable to use cash or debit cards for purchases and only take local currency from ATMs using your banking network. Do not use VISA or MasterCard debit cards tied to your current account when making purchases, since debit cards allow thieves to wipe out the total amount from the current account.
Reduce your exposure by opening a local bank account with only a small amount of money. Shred all your credit card receipts (they generally have your full credit card number and expiry date on them) and documents with personal information. Carry a minimum number of credit cards with you and have a record of their numbers and who to call if they are stolen or lost; opening a local bank account can also reduce your exposure.
For more information on Credit Card Fraud in Indonesia
Money changers are conveniently located throughout the city as well as in most shopping malls, department stores and hotels. It is recommended to bring only brand new unmarked notes, as old, dirty or marked notes are often rejected or traded at a reduced rate by money changers. They prefer US dollar bills in $50 and $100 denominations.
By comparison, local banks (BII, BNI, BCA, etc) often give exchange rates that are at least as good as the money changers. Banks also have a lower risk of giving you fake Indonesian money. But the banks close earlier and can take longer to change money. Money changers are open on the weekend however the weekend rate may be slightly inflated to compensate for any drastic rate fluctuation that may occur when markets open on Monday.
Once you understand the mysteries of Indonesia's money and banking system you will soon feel comfortable with the local currency. For most expatriates with foreign currency salaries to spend, Indonesia offers many great bargains!
A word of caution ... Be extremely careful if the banknotes given are only the green ones (20K). They have a folding trick which can rip you off for at least half of your money. This probably happens because of the unfamiliarity of the currency and you can be easily confused by the physical management of so many bills. Be sure you understand the transaction and count all of your bills in front of the money changer before you leave the counter.
Requirements for Opening a Bank Account in Indonesia
Each bank, of course, has its own requirements for foreigners to open a bank account. You'll find big differences as well between Indonesian banks and the foreign banks. Here are some current requirements for examples:
Mandiri Bank - Savings Account
Mandiri Bank - Foreign Currency Savings Account
Bank Central Asia (BCA) - Dollar Account
BCA - Tahapan Savings account
Citibank Savings Account
Standard Chartered Bank
Hongkong Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC)
Requirements for expats opening a bank account:
Transfer fees for:
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Other articles related to Banking and Personal Finances
Swift Codes for transfers to banks in Indonesia:
Our thanks to Colliers International for their generous contributions to this article!
Last updated February 26, 2014
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