How to Get Money From Your Home Country to Bali

The Retirement Village at Tegallinggah Quick Tips

Getting your money moved overseas can be a challenge.  Luckily I have four tried and true methods to share to help you get your money into Bali.  Some methods may work better for you than others, or you may find a combination of methods work.

Method One: Carrying Cash

Bring a year’s worth of money in a sack.  One of the many drawbacks to this method are the limits set by customs.  The United States, for example, requires you to declare anything above $9999.99 when leaving the country.  Anything above this amount may flag you as a potential money launderer.  If you do use this option, be sure to use new crisp one hundred dollar bills, to avoid hassles with money changers.

Upon arrival in Bali, you need to declare money brought into the country totaling above 100,000,000 rupiah (about $7500 USD at today’s exchange rates).  To reduce the stress of keeping track of this much cash, it’s safer to bring your money as a cashier’s check that you can cancel if lost.  The drawback to doing this is that it will take at least 30 days to clear the funds through an Indonesian bank.  Additionally, if you lose the check, you will have to make another trip before getting access to your money in Bali, but at least you are able to cancel the check with the bank, so that you don’t lose all that money completely.


Method Two: Direct Deposit

Direct deposit your retirement check (i.e., your pension, social security, fund distributions, etc.) into your Indonesian bank.  When moving overseas this common practice becomes a challenge.  Taking social security for example: you have to fill out the form which asks, among other things, for your overseas address.  

SSA needs this address to send out twice yearly "proof of life" requests which requires you to fill out and sign the card and return it to SSA within 30 days to continue to receive your check (oh, and by the by, Indonesian mail is very slow).  If they don't get the card by this deadline (and this may be where the word deadline came from) you are considered to be deceased and your funds will no longer be deposited. 

In fact, they will start harassing your spouse to pay back any overpayments.  It then falls to you to prove you are still alive.  Go to a SSA office in the US and get in the slow moving “deadline.”


Method Three: Credit Cards

Get a credit card with "no foreign transaction fees" and pay for everything with that card. Most businesses here accept Visa and/or Master Card—American Express is not accepted anywhere in Indonesia.  Some smaller businesses will add the 2.5% fee onto your bill if you use a card. 

You can take a cash advance (at BCA here in Singaraja you are limited to 3,000,000 rupiah per day, and the fee is 30.000…1%).  Use your bill pay account at your home country bank to pay the bill for the credit card. Pay it ASAP if you take a cash advance, because as spelled out in that tiny print in your card agreement, they start charging you interest on not only the cash advance, but also the rest of your balance as soon as the cash advance posts. 

Method Four: Wiring Money

Wire money from your home bank to your Bali bank.  This works best if you only do it a couple of times per year.  The fee will be at least $40 per wire. Many US banks require you to be standing in their lobby to do it, so be sure to ask at your local branch.  

Some smaller banks use a big bank (like Bank of America) to do the actual wire, so there may be two fees.


I personally recommend option number three. I use a Capital One card, which also provides Travel Reward points. These points can be used to pay for any travel related charges on your card (flights, tours, hotel rooms, etc). I use it to pay for groceries at the supermarket which does not pass on the 2.5% fee. You can also pay for your neighbors groceries with your card, and get reimbursed in cash. A fee free cash advance with bonus points. 

Hopefully you will find that one or more of these methods work for you.  Talking to someone at your local bank is a good place to start.  And remember, we are always here to help make your transition to paradise as smooth and seamless as possible.