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, pounds, or other currency into Indonesian rupiah (IDR).
The currency code IDR is what you should look for when buying Indonesian rupiah. However, once you’re in Indonesia, you’ll see the symbol Rp for pricing.
A Closer Look at the Indonesian Rupiah
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 finally, Rp 100,000.
Rp 100,000 is only worth about USD 10 at the time of this writing. Even so, most Indonesians, especially vendors, consider it to be inconveniently large for ordinary use.
Rupiah bills can be distinguished not only by their numerical value, but also their size and color.
Coins are also available in denominations of Rp 25, Rp 50, Rp 100, Rp 200, Rp 500, and Rp 1,000.
The Central Bank of Indonesia issues the currency.
A Brief History of the Indonesian Rupiah
The term “rupiah” comes from the Sanskrit word rupyaka, which translates to silver. Many Indonesians call the rupiah “perak”—which also means silver in Indonesian.
The rupiah was first issued in October 1946, when it replaced the Indonesian Dutch East Indies guilder.
During this time, two currencies were circulating on the island of Java. These included florins, used in areas controlled by the Dutch, with the rupiah 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 its independence.
During the 1950s, the currency significantly 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, including during the financial crisis of 2007-2008.
5 Interesting Facts About the Indonesian Rupiah
1. Rupiah bills are very colorful.
If you’re used to American or European currency, you will find the IDR quite vibrant.
For example, the Rp 20,000 is light green, the Rp 50,000 banknote is bright blue, and the Rp 100,000 is red. As for two of the smallest bills, Rp 1,000 is yellow-grey and 2,000 is gray.
As of October 29, 2021, Rp 1,000 is around seven cents. This 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.
2. Rainbows, stripes, and gold: Rupiah banknotes have fancy security features.
To the naked eye, security features include electrotypes, watermarks, security threads, clear windows, holograms, gold patches, and iridescent stripes.
When the series of rupiah banknotes were revised in 2010 and 2011, new security features were added. These included rainbow printing that allows you to change the color of the note when viewed from different angles.
The banknotes also have EURion constellation rings (a pattern of symbols) and are designed for those who are visually impaired, allowing them to more easily identify different denominations.
3. The Rp 75,000 bill celebrates 75 years of independence.
Although rarely used, the red and white Rp 75,000 bill was issued in 2020 to celebrate Indonesia’s independence. The release of this banknote was an expression of gratitude, as well as a symbol of optimism in facing the future challenges for a relatively young nation.
This most recent addition 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. Commemorative bills were also released to celebrate Indonesia’s 25th, 45th, and 50th anniversaries.
4. The bills have changed over time.
As the value of the Indonesia rupiah has drastically changed over the years, so have the designs. In the previous series, the bills featured national heroes, as well as 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.
On the Rp 20,000 bill (issued in 2004), Oto Iskandar Di Nata was pictured, an Indonesian politician and national hero who was assassinated in 1945. On the other side was tea pickers.
What about the latest series?
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 (Indonesian politician, minister, and religious leader.) On the reverse side are the Tifa dance, Banda Neira, and Cocktown Orchid.
5. Transactions often run into the millions.
Indonesian rupiahs come with numerous zeros. To put this into perspective, it’s important to look at the cost of living in Indonesia.
At the time of this writing, a loaf of bread can cost over Rp 16,000, 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 of the city center is over Rp 2.4 million.
The fact that the IDR has been strongly devalued over the years has been the biggest problem. Consumers have to carry a large amount of money on them to pay for their daily transactions.
Understanding Indonesian Rupiah Exchange Rates
Whether you are visiting Indonesia or intend to send money to loved ones back home, always check the exchange rate. This rate will determine how many rupiahs you will get for each dollar, pound, euro, or another unit of currency.
When looking at currency quotes that allow you to compare foreign currency, the rate is typically given as USD/IDR. For example, as of October 2021, it costs 14,167 IDR to buy one USD.
How about the Japanese Yen (JPY)? It will cost you 124.85 IDR for one JPY as of October 2021.
A quick online search will help you determine the current rupiah exchange rate in real time.
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