Money in Malaysia: A Tourist Guide to ATMs, Cards and Exchange

Ringg it, baby!

Okay, okay, that was a bad one (if you don’t get the joke, it’s the currency’s name – Ringgit – an old word for “jagged” as the edges of old coins were).

Malaysia is easy when it comes to finances – just pay by card at most places, withdraw fee-free from almost all ATMs, and don’t bother exchanging cash unless you really have to.

For more details – this is the full guide to money in Malaysia for tourists!

Currency in Malaysia

The currency in Malaysia is the Malaysian Ringgit with ISO currency code MYR but more often as RM (Ringgit Malaysia) inside the country.

The Ringgit is relatively stable and trades at around 1 MYR = 0.21 USD. In other words, you can multiply prices by 2 and remove a zero to get the price in USD. Check the rates online for other currencies.

1, 5, 10 and 50 Malaysian Ringgit notes
Malaysian Ringgit Notes

The Ringgit banknote denominations are 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100, each a few millimeters larger than the previous. The 100 MYR is the biggest banknote and is worth around 20 USD.

The 1 and 5 Ringgit banknotes are made of polymer which is quite durable. The 10, 20, 50, and 100 are paper-based but most banknotes have very little visible signs of wear and tear.

Important: The 10 and 20 Ringgit notes have similar hues of orange-yellow.

There are also coins called “sen” (simplified “cent”) which range in value between 0.05, 0.1, 0.2, and 0.5 MYR.

Can you use your card in Malaysia?

Yes, in most places in Malaysia, you can pay by card.

From convenience stores, restaurants, and malls, to hotels and bus tickets, almost anything can be paid for by card.

A notable exception are the hawker centers, street food stalls, and kopitiam establishments – there it’s cash only.

Card payments are not charged a commission in most cases, so you will pay what the sign says.

3 debit cards (Visa and Mastercard) from Monese, Revolut and Curve
Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted in Malaysia

All kinds of cards are accepted: Visa, Mastercard, Maestro, and American Express.

ATMs in Malaysia

ATMs and ATM centers are easy to come by in Malaysia. There is usually one behind the corner in cities like Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh, Georgetown, Johor Bahru, and Melaka.

Even in smaller towns, there will certainly be a couple of ATMs.

You will struggle to find an ATM in the jungle, obviously.

Pro tip: There are 24/7 fee-free ATMs at both KLIA1 and KLIA2 in the arrival and departure areas. If you somehow miss them, you can pay your bus/train ticket by card and withdraw cash from the ATMs at KL Central station (also operating 24/7).

An office of Agrobank
Agrobank is a popular bank in Malaysia

Visa and Mastercard are universally accepted, although I’ve had instances where they were rejected by particular ATMs. If this happens, change to another ATM.

The maximum withdrawal limit on ATMs in Malaysia is 3000 MYR (30 banknotes of 100 MYR but 1500 if the ATM only has 50 MYR notes). This equates to around 640 USD and is enough to last you between 3 and 4 weeks of backpacking in Malaysia.

Withdrawal Fees

All rejoice – most ATMs in Malaysia have no withdrawal fees!

Some of the banks that offer fee-free withdrawals are Maybank, HSBC, CIMB, and Agrobank.

Maybank branding
Maybank’s yellow colors and tiger logo are easily recognizable

I prefer to use Maybank for some reason – it’s the biggest bank in Malaysia, their ATMs are easy to find and always in an air-conditioned area.

Pro tip: Avoid Euronet! It recently acquired 800+ ATMs in Malaysia and charges exorbitant fees. Their ATMs look shabby and can usually be found in convenience stores.

Let me also remind you to NEVER accept Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC) when offered at an ATM. The ATMs in Malaysia always give you the option and the rate offered is always horrendous.

DCC offered at an ATM
The DCC offers to charge me 30.9 EUR for 150 MYR. I declined. My bank charged me 29.53 EUR, which saved me 4.5% in hidden fees!

Exchanging Money in Malaysia

With card payments widespread and ATMs not charging any withdrawal fees, exchanging money is unnecessary in Malaysia.

But if you carry foreign currency you will be able to change it to MYR easily.

Exchange bureaus are easy to find in cities’ centers and rates are pretty competitive.

Pro tip: Don’t change money at KLIA (Kuala Lumpur International Airport). The currency margins there are so large, you will basically be paying an 8-10% commission.

What currency to bring

As with almost anywhere in the world, the US dollar is the best foreign currency to carry to Malaysia.

You will have no issues exchanging these currencies too:

  • Euro;
  • British Pound;
  • Chinese Yuan;
  • Australian Dollar;
  • New Zealand Dollar;
  • Japanese Yen;
  • Canadian Dollar;
  • Singaporean Dollar;
  • Indonesian Rupiah;
  • Thai Baht.

In big exchange bureaus in Kuala Lumpur, you may be able to exchange even smaller currencies but as a rule of thumb, if your currency is not on the list above, it’s best to change it to USD before you travel.

How much cash to bring to Malaysia?

This depends on your way of traveling and your budget. Using your card in Malaysia is pretty easy so there’s no need to bring too much physical cash.

My advice is to have at least 200$ just in case something goes wrong with your bank cards and you need emergency cash until you sort it out.

2 bowls of Curry Mee in Malaysia
This Curry Mee costs only 7 MYR (1.5$) per portion!

I’ve been to Malaysia 5 times and I’ve never exchanged any money. I use my card when possible and withdraw a couple of hundred Ringgit for the hawker centers and kopitiams where they only take cash.

On the other hand, if you’re wondering how much money you need to travel to Malaysia, you can check out my backpacker’s budget report for Malaysia.

Example prices

These are actual price ranges from 2024. All prices are in MYR (5 MYR ~~ 1 USD).

  • Latte: 6 – 10
  • Curry Laksa: 7-12
  • Plain roti: 1-2
  • A can of soft drink: 2-3
  • Can of beer (supermarket): 5-12
  • Can of beer (bar): 8-20
  • Museums: 5-20
  • Public transportation in Kuala Lumpur: 1.2-5
  • Bus from KL to KLIA airport: 15
  • Train from KL to KLIA airport: 55
  • Overland bus travel – ~8 per hour of travel
  • Budget hostel: 30-45
  • Mid-range hotels – 100-250
  • Half-day group tour – 50-250
Kuala Lumpur Independence Square
Kuala Lumpur is one of the most affordable nice cities in the world!

See my budget report for Malaysia for more details.

Bargaining

Bargaining is not really a thing in Malaysia except for touristy markets like Chinatown in Kuala Lumpur, flea markets, and if there are sales at the store. Actually, now that I think about it, the Chinatown market and the nearby flea market are the only places I’ve bargained at in all of Malaysia.

Prices for most things are set (and set fairly) and there is no need for bargaining.

Tipping

Tipping is not customary in Malaysia.

I’ve never tipped and I’ve never seen anyone tip for food. I guess you can tip in a fancy restaurant, but really, it isn’t necessary or expected.

Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s answer some of your most burning questions about money in Malaysia.

What is the ATM withdrawal limit in Malaysia?

The maximum withdrawal limit is 30 banknotes. If the ATM dispenses 100 MYR notes, then this makes 3000 MYR. If it dispenses 50 MYR notes, the maximum is 1500 MYR.

All banks don’t charge a withdrawal fee, so you can withdraw twice, thrice, or more in a row. There is no daily limit but you may have one set by your bank.

Can you use US dollars in Malaysia?

No, you cannot use USD in Malaysia. For all daily transactions and all purchases, you can only use the Malaysian Ringgit.

Can you use Revolut in Malaysia?

Yes, Revolut cards work in Malaysia. You can withdraw from ATMs and pay on POS terminals with your Revolut card.

As a matter of fact, that’s what I usually do when I go to Malaysia – just pay for everything using Revolut.

Similar fintech apps like Wise, Monese, Curve, N26, and Starling also work seamlessly.


If you are going to other Southeast Asian countries, you may want to read my money guides for them too:

Petronas Towers in KL from below

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