Meet the Rupiah: 5 Essential Facts about Indonesia’s Currency

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Indonesia currency: rupiah banknotes, wallet, and a passport

Are you planning on traveling to Indonesia, or do you want to send money home? If so, you’ll need to exchange your USD, CAD, AUD, BHD, GBP, or other currency for Indonesian rupiah.

Note that although the currency code for the rupiah is IDR, the notation in the country itself is a bit different. Once you’re in Indonesia, you’ll see the symbol Rp on prices; this means the same thing as IDR.

Read on for the denominations of the rupiah, other essential information, and lesser-known facts to help you understand Indonesia’s currency.

Rupiah banknotes and coins: A closer look at Indonesia’s money

Indonesian rupiah banknotes include Rp 1,000, Rp 2,000, Rp 5,000, Rp 10,000, Rp 50,000, Rp 75,000 (issued in 2020), and Rp 100,000.

Though 100,000 rupiahs might sound like a lot, the currency isn’t especially strong when compared to the U.S. dollar; 1 Indonesian rupiah isn’t worth much as compared to other currencies.

Over a five-year period from 2017 to 2022, Rp 100,000 has been worth between $6 and $8 USD. Even so, most Indonesians, especially vendors, consider the Rp 100,000 to be inconvenient and too large for everyday use.

Rupiah bills are distinguishable not only by their numerical value but also by their size and color.

Coins are also available. They come in denominations of Rp 25, Rp 50, Rp 100, Rp 200, Rp 500, and Rp 1,000. Due to the currency’s value, there are no 1 IDR coins.

Currency exchange rates fluctuate constantly, but in the early 2020s, Rp 1,000 has been worth far less than 1 USD — usually only a few cents. The Rp 1,000 bill is mainly used as change and has largely been replaced by coins.

Rp 2,000 is a typical parking fee, and Rp 5,000 can get you a bottle of water at a market.

The Central Bank of Indonesia issues the rupiah, which has been the sole recognized currency of Indonesia since the 1950s.

A brief history of the Indonesian rupiah

Indonesia currency: portrait of a city

The term “rupiah” comes from the Sanskrit word rupyakam, which translates to silver. (Other currencies, like the Indian rupee (INR) or the Nepalese rupee (NPR), also derive their names from this word.) Many Indonesians call the rupiah “perak”—which also means silver in Indonesian.

First issued in October 1946, the rupiah replaced the Indonesian Dutch East Indies guilder. (The country was a colony of the Netherlands until World War II.)

From the late 1940s to the early 1950s, two currencies were circulating on the island of Java. These included florins, used in areas controlled by the Dutch, and rupiahs, used in Indonesian enclaves. By January 1947, 310 million rupiahs had already been printed.

It wasn’t until 1950 that the IDR became the official currency of Indonesia after the Dutch recognized the country’s independence.

During the 1950s, Indonesia’s currency depreciated, so a new rupiah was issued in 1965. The exchange rate was 1,000 old rupiah for 1 new rupiah. By 1970, inflation had fallen and exports grew.

Over the years, many attempts were made to stabilize the Indonesian rupiah, moving from fixed exchange rates to a managed float and then to a free-floating system following the Asian financial crisis. Since 1999, the rupiah has been relatively stable, even though it has been under pressure several times, particularly during the financial crisis of 2007-2008.

5 interesting facts about the Indonesian rupiah

Rupiah banknotes

1. Rupiah bills can be very colorful, with the less colorful banknotes being less valuable.

If you’re used to American or European currency, you’ll find Indonesia’s currency quite vibrant.

For example, the Rp 20,000 banknote is light green, the Rp 50,000 banknote is bright blue, and the Rp 100,000 is red.

The two smallest bills, Rp 1,000 and Rp 2,000, are not as vivid. The Rp 1,000 is yellow-gray, and the Rp 2,000 note is gray.

2. Rainbows, stripes, and gold: Rupiah banknotes have fancy security features.

Much like the banknotes of other nations, money in Indonesia features several security measures. These include electrotypes, watermarks, security threads, clear windows, holograms, gold patches, and iridescent stripes.

In 2010 and 2011, the central bank revised the rupiah banknotes and added new security features. These included rainbow printing that changes the color of the note when viewed from different angles.

The banknotes also have EURion constellation rings (a pattern of symbols) to prevent counterfeiting. For those who are blind or visually impaired, there are blind codes along the edges of the banknotes for easier identification of different denominations.

3. The Rp 75,000 bill celebrates 75 years of independence.

Although rarely used, the red and white Rp 75,000 was issued by Indonesia’s central bank to celebrate the country’s independence. Its release was an expression of gratitude as well as a symbol of optimism.

This most recent addition to IDR designs showcases the faces of the country’s first president and vice president, Soekarno and Muhammad Hatta, respectively.

The Bank of Indonesia released 75 million pieces of the limited Rp 75,000 bill. It also released commemorative bills to celebrate Indonesia’s 25th, 45th, and 50th anniversaries.

4. Indonesian banknotes have changed over time.

As the value of the Indonesian rupiah changed over the years, so did the designs of the currency. In the previous series, the bills featured national heroes and a cultural scene or landmark.

For example, on the Rp 5,000 bill (issued in 2001), Tuanku Imam Bondjol was proudly displayed, as he was one of the most popular leaders of the Padri movement and a national hero. On the reverse side was an image of women weaving.

The Rp 20,000 bill (issued in 2004) featured Oto Iskandar Di Nata, an Indonesian politician and national hero who was assassinated in 1945. On the other side were tea pickers.

The most recent series, which was issued in 2016, excluding the Rp 75,000 bill, features national heroes once again.

However, the reverse side now highlights popular sites and famous dances. For example, on the Rp 5,000 bill, you’ll find Idham Chalid (an Indonesian politician, minister, and religious leader). The reverse side displays the Gambyong dance, Mount Bromo, and tuberose flowers.

5. Transactions in Indonesian currency commonly run into the millions.

Due to inflation, transactions in Indonesian rupiahs come with numerous zeros. To put this into perspective, look at the cost of living in Indonesia.

In 2022, a loaf of bread can cost over Rp 15,000, a mid-range bottle of wine is around Rp 300,000, one month of childcare is over Rp 1.4 million, and rent for a one-bedroom apartment outside the city center is over Rp 2.4 million.

As a result, consumers need to carry a large amount of cash to pay for daily transactions.

Understanding Indonesian Rupiah Exchange Rates

Whether you’re visiting Indonesia or send money to loved ones there, you’ll want to check the currency exchange rate. This rate will determine how many rupiahs you will get for each unit of currency you exchange.

In addition to the USD rate, other popular currencies to compare against the IDR include:

A quick search with an online currency converter will help you determine the real-time rupiah exchange rate. A money transfer app like Remitly will also show you the current rate for IDR when you log in.

Sending money to Indonesia

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Remitly makes international money transfers faster, easier, more transparent, and more affordable. Since 2011, over 5 million people have used our mobile app to send money with peace of mind.

Download the Remitly app to get started.

Further reading