Currency, Credit Cards and Changing Money in MalaysiaBack to all travel tips
If you're planning a holiday in Malaysia, this is what you need to know about currency, cash and credit cards.
The unit of currency is Malaysian Ringgit indicated as RM. £1 is roughly equivalent to between RM5.5 - RM6. Bank notes come in denominations of 100, 50, 20, 10, 5 and 1.
Taking cash & cards to Malaysia
ATM's are widespread throughout Malaysia and cash advances can be obtained, but these can incur a relatively large fee so it's best to check with your card issuer before travelling. Cirrus/Maestro are the most prevalent cards accepted, and you will also be able to use your Visa and Mastercard for cash advances. You may want to notify your bank before leaving home, as some will automatically cancel your card after withdrawals from exotic destinations as a fraud prevention method. The more remote areas have few or no ATM's so it is worth planning your expenditure to ensure you have enough money to survive in these areas.
You will find money changers all over Malaysia, and GBP Sterling and US dollars are the most useful foreign currencies to bring as they are the most widely accepted currencies (USD more so in non-touristy and more rural areas). There are plenty of ATM's and money changers at the airport on arrival, so purchasing Ringgit before leaving home is not really necessary. If you do wish to change money before you arrive be aware that the rates will not be as good as those you will get in Malaysia so it is probably worth changing as little as possible. Foreign currency can be converted at banks and money changers throughout the country. In most states the banking hours are Mon - Fri: 9.30am to 4.30pm. Sat & Sun: Closed.
Most major credit cards are accepted with Visa and MasterCard being the most widely so, but many shops and banks charge a transaction fee of between 2-4%. AmEx is also accepted in a few places in the major tourist areas, but will not be quite as useful.
Best pre-paid cards for Malaysia
Prepaid credit cards are now the safest way to travel with "cash", and are much more cost effective and convenient than Travellers Cheques which are now slowly becoming obsolete. We recommend the Caxton FX Global Traveller card which offers a fixed exchange rate at 2.75% below the prevailing interbank rate when spending overseas and withdrawing local currency from ATMs. Unlike credit cards the application process is straightforward, but you need to allow 7 days for delivery of the card.
If you have less time there is the Travelex Cash Passport which can be applied for up to 24 hours prior to departure, then picked up at branch in a number of airports (including London Heathrow, Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds Bradford, East Midlands, and Newcastle).
Using credit cards in Malaysia
If you travel regularly it will pay to apply for one of the specialist credit cards for travellers that offer excellent rates of exchange and charge zero "load" fees when purchasing items, or withdrawing local currency from ATMs whilst abroad. For up to date information on the best specialist credit cards for travellers we suggest visiting one of the price comparison websites.