Malaysian Ringgit
Home Travel Guide Malaysia Travel Guide Currency in Malaysia: A Money Guide to Malaysia

Currency in Malaysia: A Money Guide to Malaysia


When it comes to exploring Malaysia, understanding how to navigate its currency landscape is essential. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the nuances of currency in Malaysia, offering valuable insights on how to pay in Malaysia, exchange money, and make the most of your financial transactions while experiencing this captivating Southeast Asian nation. Whether you’re a traveler seeking the best currency exchange rates, a tourist wondering how to manage payments effectively, or simply curious about Malaysia’s monetary system, this guide will provide you with the essential information to ensure a smooth and financially savvy visit.

What currency is used in Malaysia?

In Malaysia, they use the Malaysian ringgit (MYR) as their currency. One ringgit can be divided into 100 sen. The currency code for the Malaysian ringgit is MYR, and prices in Malaysia are typically displayed with the symbol RM.

Fast Facts about Malaysian Ringgit

  • Currency Code in Malaysia:In Malaysia, the currency is represented by the code MYR.
  • Currency Symbol in Malaysia:When it comes to the currency symbol, you’ll often see RM1 used for the Malaysian ringgit.
  • Banknote Variations: Malaysian banknotes come in various denominations, ranging from 1 to 100 ringgit.
  • Malaysian Coins: The Malaysian ringgit also has coins, which are available in values starting from 5 to 50 sen.
  • Minor Currency Unit:The smallest unit of the Malaysian ringgit is called “sen,” and it’s equivalent to 1/100 of a ringgit.
Malaysian Sen
Malaysian Coins

How to Pay in Malaysia?

By Cash

Cash remains a widely favored payment method in Malaysia, particularly for everyday and casual transactions. You can use cash at a wide array of establishments including stores, markets, eateries, taxis, and public transportation. Nevertheless, some places might decline larger banknotes like RM100 or RM50 due to concerns about counterfeit currency or the inability to provide change. It’s advisable to have smaller denominations of banknotes and coins on hand when opting for cash payments.

Malaysian Ringgit
Malaysian Ringgit

Use the Wise Malaysian Ringgit Card to Spend in Malaysian Currency

The Wise Malaysian Ringgit Card is a convenient travel money card designed for spending in Malaysia during your travels. This card is connected to a versatile multi-currency account, offering the ability to hold and convert more than 40 different currencies at the real exchange rate. Here are some of the advantages of using the Wise Malaysian Ringgit Card:

  • Easy Card Acquisition: You can obtain this card from the United States for a one-time fee of just $7 USD.
  • Instant Digital Access: Begin using the card immediately through a digital version on your smartphone or computer, compatible with Google Pay or Apple Pay.
  • Free ATM Withdrawals:Enjoy free ATM withdrawals of up to $100 USD equivalent in Malaysian Ringgit anywhere in the world every month. After this monthly limit, a minimal fee of 1.75% applies.
  • Global Usability:This card is accepted in more than 160 countries, providing you with the same exchange rate you’d find on Google.
  • Security Features: In case of card loss or to prevent unauthorized transactions, you can swiftly freeze and unfreeze your card using the Wise app.
  • Multiple Digital Cards: You have the option to create up to three digital cards free of charge and receive instant transaction notifications.

Paying by credit or debit card in Malaysia

Your credit or debit card comes in handy for payments at various establishments, particularly in bigger shops, dining establishments, and hotels. Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that some businesses might tack on an extra fee for card transactions, so it’s a good idea to inquire beforehand. Additionally, you can employ your card to obtain cash from ATMs, but it’s possible that your bank or the ATM operator could levy fees.

ATMs in Malaysia

Many ATMs in Malaysia are equipped to accept foreign credit and debit cards bearing MasterCard (Cirrus and Maestro) or Visa (Plus) logos. Prior to using an ATM, it is advisable to verify if it displays the emblem of your card network. Alternatively, you can utilize Visa’s online locator or MasterCard’s online locator to pinpoint the nearest ATM.

It is worth noting that certain ATMs in Malaysia may not be compatible with chip-and-pin only cards, as the adoption of this technology is still in progress within the country. To ensure compatibility, ensure that your card features a magnetic stripe on the rear side, in addition to possessing a four-digit PIN. This PIN can be adapted into a six-digit one by appending two zeroes to the beginning.

The majority of ATMs in Malaysia typically do not impose withdrawal fees, although your own bank might levy a charge. To circumvent or reduce these fees, consider employing a Wise (formerly known as TransferWise) MasterCard, which offers favorable exchange rates and minimal conversion fees for both purchases and withdrawals.

Withdrawal limits can differ between banks but generally hover around 1500 RM per transaction and 3000 RM per day. Depending on your requirements, you may need to execute multiple transactions, potentially elevating your associated fees. Furthermore, for security reasons, the per transaction limit might be lower after midnight.

Most ATMs predominantly dispense RM10 and RM50 banknotes, limiting your withdrawals to combinations of these denominations. In rural areas, it can be challenging to locate establishments that accept larger notes or credit cards. Therefore, it is prudent to ensure you possess sufficient cash prior to embarking on your journey to these regions.

Can USD be Used in Malaysia?

While the Malaysian ringgit (MYR) is the official currency in Malaysia, the US dollar (USD) is commonly embraced in various locations, especially within tourist hubs and major cities. This widespread acceptance is attributed to Malaysia’s status as a favored destination for tourists hailing from the United States and other nations where the USD is a primary or secondary currency. Additionally, the USD is regarded as a resilient and robust currency, readily convertible into the local Malaysian ringgit (MYR).

Tips for Currency Exchange in Malaysia

There are various ways to exchange money in Malaysia, offering flexibility based on your preferences and convenience. To ensure you get the most value for your money, consider the following tips:

  • Exchange Currency Upon Arrival:It’s important to note that you cannot legally trade the Malaysian Ringgit outside of Malaysia. Therefore, it’s advisable to exchange some cash when you arrive in the country. You can do this at a bank, a local money changer, or a currency exchange desk at a hotel or the airport.
  • Airport and Hotel Exchanges Often Charge Higher Fees:Exchanging money at the airport or your hotel is generally not recommended. These outlets often charge higher fees and provide less favorable exchange rates compared to options in the city. In town, you’ll find more competition among money changers, leading to better rates due to lower overhead costs.
  • Beware of “Zero Commission” Claims:Be cautious when encountering services that advertise “zero commission” or “no fees.” Some of these providers may conceal their profit by offering less favorable exchange rates. To safeguard your interests, always compare the rate they provide with the mid-market rate, which represents the actual exchange rate used by banks for currency trading. You can easily find the mid-market rate on websites like Wise or XE.
  • Consider ATM Withdrawals: Using your debit or credit card to withdraw cash from an ATM is a convenient and secure option. However, it’s essential to check with your card provider regarding the fees associated with foreign transactions and withdrawals. These fees might be higher than anticipated. Before your trip, inform your card provider about your travel plans to prevent any potential blocks on your card due to suspicious activity.
  • Opt for Local Currency (MYR):When using a credit card for payments, you might be asked to choose between paying in Malaysian Ringgit (MYR) or your home currency at the point of sale. It’s advisable to select MYR to avoid dynamic currency conversion (DCC), a service that often converts amounts at unfavorable exchange rates and adds a markup fee.
  • Carry Some Cash: While cards are widely accepted, particularly in urban areas, it’s prudent to carry some cash with you. In rural regions or street markets, card acceptance may be limited. Cash can also come in handy for tips, taxi fares, or small purchases. There’s no set limit on the amount of foreign currency you can bring into Malaysia, but if you carry more than $10,000, you must declare it at customs.

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