One of the most frequent questions is what money do I take with me, should I use cash, ATM or travellers cheques?

Firstly, you have to consider the law:

1) There is no restriction for a non-resident traveller to bring into or out from Malaysia ANY amount of foreign currency including travellers cheques.

2)  The amount of Ringgit that a non-resident traveller can bring into or out from Malaysia is only up to USD 10,000 equivalent.

Note: Should you need to carry Ringgit notes, foreign currency notes and traveller's cheque in excess of the permitted limits, prior written permission must be obtained from Exchange Control Department. 

So whatever you are are planning you are not allowed to take more than USD 10,000 worth of ringgit in cash per adult into Malaysia. Chances of being stopped are slim especially if you walk confidently through the green channel, but only you can decide whether to chance it or not. 

Which is best for me?


Exchanging cash in Malaysia is EASY.

FOREX (FOReign EXchange) booths are very common and clearly post their daily exchange rates on an electronic notice board.

  • Cash There are NO fees or charges to bring your home currency, and NO fees or charges to exchange it into Ringgit in Malaysia.
  • It is best not buy any Malaysian currency until you arrive in Malaysia.
  • The rates offered in Malaysia are ALWAYS BETTER than you could get back home.
  • FOREX booths accept ALL MAJOR currencies.
  • DO remember to bring ONLY bank notes in good overall condition.
  • FOREX booths generally WILL NOT accept bank notes that are torn, ripped, damaged or are excessively marked/stamped.
  • It is the easiest to use, and in most cases the cheapest as well, but has obvious risks associated with loss.
  • You do not have to present ID to exchange foreign currency.
  • Make sure you count your money for clerical errors BEFORE you walk away from the exchange counter.
  • Again, you do not need to acquire any Ringgit BEFORE arriving in Malaysia.

You can get some money changed up at home so you have enough for your incidentals when you arrive, or use the ATM in your arriving airport.

You can always take your own home currency, as changing up cash is really easy, they all offer pretty similar rates [banks, money changers etc] to be honest, you can shop around for the best rates and might gain a few cens here and there, but on the whole it won't be much. 

There are lots of money changers in Malaysia, especially in areas popular with tourist. The money changer is pretty straight forward - you give him your money, he will press a few buttons on his calculator and come out with the exchange rate. If you are happy with the rate you will convert your currency for Ringgits. They work exactly as a bank or Travel exchange.  Money changers will usually give a better rate than Bureau deChange or banks. Do check the money you are receiving is correct. Here's a website that you might want to look at regarding Ringgit Malaysia's security features.

Debit or Credit cards / ATM / prepaid cash cards

  • Your home bank may levy a fee or fees.
  • Using ATMs is a safer option than cash and more convenient than T/Cs.
  • This may be an excellent option if your home bank does not charge high fees.
  • ATMs are plentiful and located just about everywhere.

*Prepaid Cash Cards - Like ATMs, may also be subject to fees by issuer as well as the local bank ATM.

Remember, you DO NOT need any Ringgit before your arrival as it will subject you to a considerably poorer rate of exchange plus probable commission fees.

The easiest and most secure method of getting your currency in Malaysia is no different than almost anywhere in the world. ATM's are located at the major bank branches, most shopping malls, airports, bus terminals, etc. As normal, a 4 digit PIN is required, so if your password has more digits, change it before you depart on your trip.

Credit cards are widely accecpted.  But be careful of possible scamming and do not let the card out of your sight.  Use credit cards for hotel deposits or payments or purchases in department shops.  Use an ATM for topping up your cash.  ATMs to get out cash as needed - usually use Maybank or Public Bank with no problems as long as you tell your bank before you go.  ATM/Credit Cards will usually give good exchange rates but some banks do make a charge, check which bank cards give the best deal.

TELL YOUR BANK AND TAKE A CONTACT PHONE NUMBER WITH YOU WHEN YOU TRAVEL.  Never block your credit card before you go, emergencies happen!!  Be sensible when using any cards, look out for 'scammers' on ATM or card reading machines. You are equally as likely to be targeted for card fraud at home.  Credit cards are an essential travel accessory now a days, but you need to follow basic security rules and NEVER let the card out of your sight.  Do ring your bank and tell them you are travelling so they don't block it, and take a contact number to phone you bank in case the computer overwrites any instructions.  Some banks block cards even if you have told them as a computer makes the decision and does not look at your file notes, so taking  a contact number to ring means you can ring and get it released as well for emergencies.

To find the location of an ATM using the CIRRUS network.

To find the location of an ATM using the PLUS network.

Travellers Cheques

If you prefer the security offered by Travellers cheques, then take them in your home currency if available. i.e. If you are from Britain, do not get USD cheques or you'll lose money on that exchange before you've even started. In some cases there is a fee to buy travellers cheques.

  • When you exchange Travellers Cheques there will be a mandatory fee to exchange per cheque.
  • To minimise this it is wise to get your cheques in larger denominations (i.e. fewer exchanges).
  • T/Cs actually get a marginally better exchange rate than cash, which will help offset part of the tax.
  • When cashing T/Cs you will be required to present your ID (normally your passport).
  • T/Cs provide improved security for you, as they can be replaced if lost/stolen.

Exchanging Cash or T/Cs at the HOTEL

  • While Hotels DO offer cash and T/C exchange facilities, the rate offered is usually very POOR compared to that offered by Banks/Forex booths.