Malaysian Ringgit: The Essential Guide

Last updated on January 14th, 2024 at 09:52 pm

Flag of Malaysia

The ringgit is the currency of Malaysia, the Southeast Asian nation known for its diverse peoples and landscapes as well as its thriving city centers. Although the Malaysian ringgit is sometimes used in border areas with other Asian countries, such as Indonesia and Thailand, it is not legal tender outside of Malaysia.

Whether you want to know more about the Malaysian ringgit for travel or because you send money to the country, this guide created by our team here at Remitly covers ringgit history, exchange rates, and essential facts.

What is the Malaysian ringgit?

As already stated, the ringgit is the main unit of Malaysian currency.

Ringgit means jagged in Malay. The name is a reference to the Castilian reales, Spanish coins that had jagged or serrated edges and were in circulation during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, ringgit as an adjective is now obsolete, so you don’t have to worry about confusion when you’re discussing the currency.

What is the currency code for the Malaysian ringgit?

A currency code is a three-character code used to identify currencies. The currency code for the ringgit is MYR.

To help you understand terminologies, here are some currency codes for other countries in the region:

  • Brunei dollar: BND
  • Hong Kong dollar: HKD
  • Philippine peso: PHP
  • Singapore dollar: SGD
  • Vietnamese dong: VND

Are RM and MYR the same currency?

You may sometimes see the Malaysia currency referred to as RM rather than MYR. RM is just another abbreviation for the Malaysian ringgit. It means the same thing as MYR.

What is the Malaysian dollar?

The Malaysian dollar is just a nickname for the ringgit. If you hear the term, people are simply referring to Malaysian currency.

What is the currency symbol for the Malaysian ringgit?

Many countries have currency symbols. For example, the U.S., Australia, Canada, and other countries add a “$” to the front of an amount to show it’s in dollars, and a € denotes the Euro.

Malaysia’s currency doesn’t have a similar currency symbol.

How do you write Malaysian ringgit?

To write an amount in Malaysian ringgit, place the letters “RM” before the number with no space after the RM symbol. For example, you could write RM100 for 100 ringgit.

Malaysian Currency

In Malaysia, the central bank is Bank Negara Malaysia. Some people simply refer to it as the Central Bank of Malaysia. You may even see it called RM MYR Central Bank due to the currency symbols for the ringgit.

Bank Negara Malaysia is responsible for regulating Malaysia’s currency to ensure economic stability and keep the country at the forefront of emerging markets in the region. The central bank also orders the printing of official currency in the form of both banknotes and coins.

Read on to learn more about paper bills and cents in Malaysian currency.

Malaysian Ringgit

Banknotes and coins of the Malaysian ringgit in use

The ringgit comes in the following denominations.

You might have noticed that the highest denomination of the ringgit is only 100. There used to be denominations of 500 and 1,000 in the 1990s. However, the Central Bank of Malaysia demonetized these higher denominations to help prevent money laundering.

Now, let’s take a look at cents in Malaysian currency. In the monetary system, the ringgit can be divided into 100 units called sen, so 100 sen make up one Malaysian ringgit. Sen coins come in the following denominations:

  • 5 sen: These sens coins pay tribute to Destar Siga, a native form of fabric weaving.
  • 10 sen: These sen coins feature imagery related to Orang Asli, the art of aboriginal tribes weaving leaves and plants into garments.
  • 20 sen: The Bunga Melur or jasmine flower appears on these coins. This bloom has cultural significance for some ethnic groups in Malaysia and also serves as a material for traditional handicrafts.
  • 50 sen: These coins bear images of pea tendrils called Sulur Kacang. Metalwork and jewelry produced in Malaysia often show off similar imagery.

The most current series of Malaysian ringgit and sen coins haveDistinctively Malaysia as their theme. This theme embodies the culture and beauty of the country with depictions of famous scenery, wildlife, and traditions. You’ll also notice that all ringgits feature a portrait of Malaysia’s first prime minister, Tuanku Abdul Rahman.

The history of the ringgit and the Malaysian economy

The names of Malaysian banknotes and coins have changed over the years, both before and after Malaysia left Great Britain’s rule in August 1957.


Before Malaysian Independence

  • 16th through 19th century — the Spanish-American silver dollar
  • 19th century — the Straits dollar, Sarawak dollar, and the British North Borneo dollar
  • 20th century — Malayan dollar and the Malaya and British Borneo dollar

After Malaysian Independence

  • 1967 — the Malaysian dollar
  • 1975 — the Malaysian ringgit

The Malaysian ringgit and sen have also featured commemorative designs for the following events throughout history:

The Malaysian economy today

Malaysia’s economy is the 38th largest in the world, and the fourth largest in Southeast Asia, according to the IMF. It’s a relatively affluent nation with a growing economy based on exports like electronics, petroleum products, and palm oil, and an affordable cost of living.

Because of their country’s strong economy, Malaysian citizens are less likely to immigrate abroad than others in the region. The greatest part of the Malaysian diaspora lives in neighboring Singapore, with significant numbers of people also settling in Australia.

What is the exchange rate for U.S. Dollars to Malaysian ringgit?

The Malaysian ringgit is considered a free-floating currency. This means that it has a floating or fluctuating rate, which the foreign exchange market determines.

The rate is dependent on the supply and demand of goods. This is the opposite of a fixed rate, which the government usually determines.

Because the ringgit is free-floating, its value rises and falls due to economic conditions in the country. When the ringgit’s value is low, prices in Malaysia may go up because the currency buys less.

Since Malaysia’s economy is stable, the value of the Malaysian ringgit doesn’t usually increase or decrease in value dramatically in the currency trading market. However, prices do fluctuate slightly.

Understanding exchange rates can be very important, especially if you’re looking to send money abroad. You can find Malaysia’s current exchange rates according to the Central Bank of Malaysia.

Malaysian Ringgit

US dollar to Malaysian ringgit

The value of Malaysian currency compared to U.S. dollars or USD changes throughout the day. If you want to send money to Malaysia, exchange dollars for ringgits, or purchase ringgit shares, it’s important to check the exchange rate at any given time.

How much is $1 US in Malaysia?

As of April 25, 2023, one U.S. dollar was worth around 4.4465 ringgit.

How much is $500 US dollars in Malaysia?

The value of $500 USD in ringgit was 2218.75 as of April 25, 2023.

Expected Exchange Fees

When working with two currencies, you can expect to pay exchange fees. How much you might pay to convert Malaysian ringgits to a new currency like U.S. dollars or Japanese yen varies. The same is true when you go from another currency to Malaysia’s currency.

To control costs when exchanging currency or sending money, compare exchange fees from more than one service whenever possible.

Paying by credit or debit card in Malaysia

Many stores and restaurants in Malaysia accept credit cards and debit cards from the Visa and Mastercard networks, especially in Kuala Lumpur. However, not all businesses do, so it’s a good idea to carry ringgit notes with you.

Malaysian businesses may charge transaction fees when you use a credit card for payment. In addition, your credit card company or bank may assess a fee for using your card in a foreign country on top of any exchange fees that apply.

Before traveling to Malaysia, call your credit card company or bank and let them know of your plans. Otherwise, the financial institution may decline the transaction because it gets flagged as potential fraud.

Whenever you’re traveling, it’s a good idea to photocopy the front and back of all the credit and debit cards that you carry. Keep the information in a safe place like your hotel room safe in case your wallet or bag gets lost or stolen.

Send money to Malaysia

If you’re looking to send money to Malaysia from Singapore, Australia, or several other countries, money transfer apps like Remitly make it easy. You’ll have the option of sending it to various banks or cash pickup locations around the country.

Once you determine how much you want to send, who you want to send it to, how they will receive it, and how quickly you want it to get there, you’re all set to transfer funds.