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Cash & ATMs in Malaysia: Fees, limits, currency exchange, cards

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cash currency exchange atms in malaysia

Malaysia, a country where diverse cultures and natural beauty converge, offers a captivating blend of modern cities, ancient rainforests, and pristine beaches. From the iconic Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur and the UNESCO-listed heritage of George Town to the lush jungles of Borneo and the idyllic islands of Langkawi, Malaysia is a mosaic of experiences. Navigating this multifaceted country requires an understanding of the local cash, ATMs in Malaysia, and available payment options. This guide will provide you with the financial insights needed to explore Malaysia’s rich cultural tapestry and breathtaking landscapes with ease and confidence, ensuring a journey filled with discovery and wonder.

Will I need cash or can I just use my card?

Even though Malaysia is moving towards a cashless society, 35% of transactions still involve cash, making it the preferred method of payment for visitors in particular. While credit cards and digital wallets are becoming more popular, cash is still the preferred method of payment. Especially in less developed areas, cash is highly preferred. Travellers should be ready to make many purchases with cash, though larger cities and more commercial areas frequently accept card and digital payments.

Use cash for…
Street food vendors and local markets
Local transport options such as public buses that are not part of the main card networks.
Small island transport services
Local ferries
Hostels and cheap lodgings
Fees for entry into places of worship
Markets and local eateries by the beach
Certain hostels and low-cost hotels may charge an extra fee for card payments

You can use a card for…
Most hotels and resorts, especially those with lots of tourists, like Kuala Lumpur, Penang, and other places
Large department stores and shopping centres
Restaurants in tourist destinations and urban areas
Reservations online for excursions, events and transportation services.

Which currency is accepted? Possible to use US dollars, euros, or pounds?

The Malaysian Ringgit (MYR) is Malaysia’s home currency. It is the most commonly accepted. It has note denominations of RM1, RM5, RM10, RM20, RM50, and RM100.
Use of Foreign Currencies: While not the norm, some upscale hotels and tourist-oriented establishments may take US dollars and euros. For the majority of purchases, the local currency is strongly preferred.

How to get cash in Malaysia?

There are three primary methods to obtain cash:
ATMs,
Currency Exchanges, and
Money Transfer

Pro-tip: Don’t purchase Ringgit in your home country (unless you are from Southeast Asia). Because while it is somewhat popular in South East Asia, the currency is not widely used globally. It will therefore be difficult to find it at home, and if you do, the exchange rate is likely to be unfavourable.

In Malaysia, where can I find ATMs?

There are over 13,000 ATMs in Malaysia. More than 25 commercial and speciality banks, some of which are foreign, run these.

You can find lots of ATMs ATMs in the larger cities, and there is usually 1 option in smaller towns but be prepared as it might not always be working or be out of cash. However, you shouldn’t expect to find them if you’re travelling to distant locations like isolated islands.

ATMs are frequently found at:

Large airports
Town squares and markets
Major towns’ main streets for tourists
Retail stores
Food aisles
Bank branches
A few office buildings

Tough to find ATMs at:

Tiny airports
Islands
Local bus terminals
inside the villages
Away from the main streets in small towns
Places of worship
Secluded getaways and resorts

Currency exchanges in Malaysia

You can use these places to exchange money in Malaysia:

Authorised currency exchange centres: You will find them in all touristy destinations in Kuala Lumpur, Langkawi and more, branded as currency exchanges.
Banks: Bank branches can also easily convert your currency to Ringgit, especially from currencies like US dollars, Euros, Pounds, Japanese Yen, Thai Baht, and Singapore dollars. Expect a pay a commission of 0.5% to 2% per transaction.
Hotels and airports: Airports have lots of currency exchanges and so do many large and small hotels. But the exchange rates are not great.

Pro-tip:

Don’t exchange at airports – Rates are poor
Don’t exchange at the black market – You’re likely to be scammed
Bring new notes – Damaged, dirty notes will get you lesser rates or higher fees.

Which card types are accepted in Malaysia?

At ATMs, they are Visa, Mastercard, Cirrus, Plus, JCB, UnionPay, Amex, and Diners. Few of them will likely take Discover or Rupay cards.

Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted for swiping. There may be fewer locations where you can use your American Express card.

Currency exchanges prefer hard cash. Visa is widely accepted, followed by Mastercard. Please be aware that using your card at a currency exchange will result in fees.

Do ATMs in Malaysia resemble those in other countries?

Yes, they do. Modern in design and functionality, the ATMs resemble those found in the US, UK, Europe, Australia, and India. Don’t forget to take your card out of these ATMs after taking out cash because some of them take it in completely during a transaction.

Most widely used ATMs in Malaysia

Public Bank
Bank Simpanan
CIMB
Hong Leong
RHB Bank
AM Bank
United Overseas Bank
OCBC Bank
Affin Bank
Alliance Bank

International debit and credit cards are also accepted by other banks that have ATMs.

Additionally, a few foreign banks have ATMs in Malaysia. These include:

Standard Chartered Bank
HSBC

What are ATMs called in Malaysia?

The term ATM is commonly used as signage around the machines or you will see a signboard with the bank’s name.

Malaysian ATMs and PIN types

ATM PIN Length: Four-digit PINs are usually accepted.

Merchants still commonly accept magnetic stripe cards as well as chip-and-PIN cards.

Languages in Malaysian currency exchanges and ATMs

Bahasa Malaysia and English are the two language options at ATMs in Malaysia. If you don’t understand these languages, use Google Translate’s camera feature to translate the options in real-time on your phone! Note: Please take your time and complete the transaction without hurrying as these translations are not always accurate.

To get your money in Malaysia, you can converse in the two languages listed above at currency exchange locations.

ATM fees and withdrawal restrictions in Malaysia

The maximum amount at a Malaysian ATM in a single transaction is usually between RM 1500 and RM 3000.

ATM Fees range from RM 0 to RM 12. This means that certain ATM brands have no fees at all!

You can find fee-free ATMs in Malaysia as well as locations for currency exchange and money transfers by using the ATM Fee Saver app on your smartphone or computer. It shows the maximum withdrawal amounts as well as the costs associated with using foreign cards at these ATMs. Use the calculator on the app to determine your withdrawal fees in Malaysia. The navigation feature of the app will direct you to the ATM once you’ve selected one. It offers information for fifty countries, Malaysia included.

Best ways to avoid excessive fees at ATMs and currency exchanges in Malaysia

For ATMs:

Use the country’s fee-free ATMs.
To locate ATMs with low or no fees, download the ATM Fee Saver app.
When making an ATM transaction, select Decline Conversion or Without Conversion.
Get fee-free cards from your home country.

For currency exchanges:

When trying to get money in Malaysia, stay away from ‘no-fee’ exchange offices at all costs. If they respond with no fee, it indicates that the exchange rate takes their fee into account. In exchange for currencies, nothing is ever free.
Avoid making direct purchases with credit and debit cards.
Avoid purchasing Ringgit within your country. It’s not a widely used currency, and the exchange rates are bad.
Don’t bring a lot of Ringgit with you from home because the exchange rate will be poor. Furthermore, most currency exchanges outside of Malaysia won’t buy it back.

Are ATMs and currency exchanges in Malaysia safe to use?

Yes, generally speaking. There are lots of ATMs with security guards and cameras. Near ATMs, there is a low crime rate. In a few rare instances, cameras have been installed close to ATM keypads in Malaysia to record PINs. Therefore, when using an ATM in Malaysia, cover the PIN pad!

Avoid using standalone ATMs and instead use those located inside bank branches. These are typically less vulnerable to skimming devices and more secure.
Keep an eye on your credit card transactions. Report any unauthorised transactions to your bank immediately.
Don’t Use Public Wi-Fi to Conduct Sensitive Business. For extra security, make use of a virtual private network (VPN).
Maintain Your Card Visible. Do not give your card to retailers who remove it from view.
When travelling, it’s a good idea to carry two credit cards. This way, you have a fallback if something goes wrong with one of the cards.
Use only authorised and registered exchange locations when exchanging currencies.

Safe to carry cash when travelling in Malaysia?

Yes, it is generally safe to carry cash when travelling in Malaysia. You should always have some cash on you since you may need it for the different purposes. However, avoid needlessly carrying more cash than you need. The following tips will help you protect your cash when travelling in Malaysia:

Rather than keeping all of your cash in one location, distribute it among several pockets or wallets.
Think about putting some cash in a fanny pack or safety belt.
Don’t flaunt large sums of cash in public.
Avoid flashing all of your cash when making a payment.
Keeping your wallet in your front pockets is safer.
It is advisable to keep your bags, wallets, and purses close to your body when in crowded places like streets, trains, and buses.

FAQs

Is it free to withdraw cash in Malaysia?

Yes, a lot of bank ATMs allow foreign cardholders to make fee-free withdrawals.

Can I use cards from the US, UK, Europe, Australia, and other countries in Malaysia?

Yes, without a doubt! ATMs in Malaysia typically accept cards from the US, UK, Europe, Australia, and other nations.

Do Bitcoin ATMs Exist in Malaysia?

In Malaysia, there are some Bitcoin ATMs, especially in big cities like Kuala Lumpur.

Any Bank of America ATMs in Malaysia?

No, Malaysia does not have any Bank of America ATMs.

Barclays Bank ATMs in Malaysia?

No, Malaysia does not have any Barclays ATMs.

HSBC ATMs in Malaysia?

Yes, in Malaysia, HSBC ATMs are present.

Standard Chartered ATMs in Malaysia?

Yes, Malaysia has Standard Chartered ATMs.

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