There are many reasons people send money to Indonesia, but only a few ways that are cheap, easy and safe.

This article will be very useful to you if you are:
- A foreigner living abroad who supports his Indonesian girlfriend financially
- An Indonesian working abroad who needs to remit his salary in his Indonesian bank account
- An expat who wants to transfer funds to Indonesia to make a purchase (car, home) or an investment
- A traveler who lost his wallet and urgently needs money

I've written it based on my experience living in Indonesia for the past 12 years (first in Jakarta, then in Bali). I'm sure you have your own stories as well so please do not hesitate to leave a comment with your own tips.

TransferWiseCheapest and Easiest Way to Send Money to Indonesia
You can make your own transfer simulation in just one click here
Created in 2011 by one of Skype's founders, TransferWise is a fin-tech startup that was recently declared a unicorn (more than $1 billion valuation). It is a game changer when it comes to international money transfers.

Compared with traditional banks, TransferWise does not actually transfers any money. It maintains banks accounts in key currencies in various countries. When you make a transfer request, for instance from USD to IDR, they will debit your US bank account from their US bank account and credit your Indonesian bank account from their Indonesian bank account.

Using TransferWise, the cost of sending money from abroad to Indonesia is only 1,5% of the transferred amount (minimum charge IDR14,500).

If you transfer USD1,000, it means you will only pay USD15 (+ a credit card charge depending on your bank). There are no hidden fees and they use the official exchange rate. That's at least 8 times less than what you would pay with traditional banks.

Pros:
➝ Cheapest way to send money from abroad to Indonesia
➝ As simple as it can be, just like booking a hotel room or buying stuff from any e-commerce site
➝ Less than 10 minutes needed to make the request
➝ They do not take commission on currency exchange rate (they use the official rate)
➝ You can make an accurate simulation of the cost of the transfer in a few seconds on their website
➝ They will tell you in advance when the money will be transferred and you can follow your money in real time through their app
➝ 100% transparent: They let you know how much commission they took and the exchange rate they used

Cons:
➝ Available for transfer from USD to IDR but not yet from IDR to USD
➝ Limited number of currencies you can transfer from: EUR, USD, Pound, AUD, JPY, SGD. You can check here if your home currency is accepted.
➝ You need an Indonesian bank account to transfer the money (You must know your IBAN and your SWIFT/BIC number)
➝ The transfer is not automatic and it may take from 1 to 2 days to be completed (for an Indonesian transfer)

Western Union: Only for Urgent Money Transfer to Indonesia
Unlike TransferWise, Western Union charges a fee but also takes a commission on the exchange rate
Western Union is facing tough competition but it can still be a useful way to send money to Indonesia. In particular, if you are a traveler who lost his personal belongings and need fast money, there are no better alternatives (actually, there is also MoneyGram which is similar).

I was using Western Union a lot when I didn't have an Indonesian bank account. You can pick up the money sent in cash in any of their agents locations (for instance in post offices - there are thousands in Indonesia).

The problem with Western Union is that it is expensive. If you want to transfer 1,000USD to IDR (instant transfer from an agent to an agent), it will cost you over USD80 + an hidden exchange rate fee of around IDR500,000 (as a reminder, it costs only USD15 with TransferWise).

If you transfer the money to an Indonesian bank account, it is cheaper yet still over 40$ and it takes a few days.

Pros:
➝ You can send money to Indonesia within minutes
➝ Money can be sent even if both the sender and the receiver do not have a bank account
➝ Works for virtually every country
➝ You can pay directly on Western Union's website using your credit/debit card

Cons:
➝ Very pricey if you choose fast service and to send/receive money in agent's location
➝ Hidden commission on the currency exchange rate
➝ If you send money to an agent location, you can only use the service during operation hours (close on weekends)

A Cheap Way to Avoid: Skrill iT
Skrill iT is a mix between Western Union and TransferWise
On paper, Skrill has quite many advantages. It is fast and cheaper than Western Union (about 3% from total amount Vs. up to 15%). Also, the person who receives the money does not need to have an Indonesian bank account. she can just take the money in any Alfamart in Indonesia with her ID.

However, I received a negative comment regarding their company. I decided to publish it here in case some of you would be interested in their service for a transfer:

"Hi Thibaud, I registered with Skrill, and tried to send money to Jakarta for my girlfriend. The amount was deducted from my card and appeared in "My account" in Skrill.

However, the status of the transfer appeared as "pending" at first, and then later changed to "canceled". I tried to make another transfer, which was also not delivered to the recipient.

I've sent multiple emails to the Skrill support team. Number of responses from them:  Zero. I tried to contact them on Facebook & Twitter with the same result (Zero support).

Finally, I had to spend some $5 to call their London office - the guy there didn't have a clue what the problem was. When I asked how I could get my money back, he said that I needed to speak with a SENIOR manager, and it could only happen 24 hours after my initial call.

So, as of now, I'm waiting for these 24 hours to pass to call London again and "beg" the senior manager to have my money back.

Don't know how all this looks to you, but for me, it appears as a completely unprofessional business on the edge of being a scam.

Money not delivered, nobody answering emails, having to spend extra money for international calls, and I still don't know if I will ever get my money back.

Last but not least - I had a look at the Skrill reviews (which I should have done BEFORE using it) - and it's full of similar stories from other customers: money not delivered, zero support, very difficult to get your money back".

My conclusion? Just stick to TransferWise. It is rated 4.7 on the Apple Store and recommended by the Financial Times, The Economist, Wired, etc.

Other Ways to Send Money To Indonesia
Some online currency exchange companies are starting to offer international money transfer now with competitive rates. They will always be more expensive than TransferWise though. They can be useful only if you intend to send a lot of money to Indonesia (over 10,000$). The most famous companies are TorFXHiFX or OFX. I would advise you to try the latter as it has an online simulation tool.

PayPal is cheap when you send money in the same currency to another PayPal accounts holder but for international transfer it is not worth it (when you add up the fee and the commission on the exchange rate, it costs about 80$ for 1,000$ sent).

A transfer from a foreign bank to an Indonesian bank with SWIFT is out of the question. You shouldn't even consider it. I did it once to send 200$ and I paid 40$ in fees (that's a 20% commission!).

If you know a cheaper and more convenient way than TransferWise to send money to Indonesia, please leave me a comment below. I wouldn't mind saving even more on my transfers. I'm also interested if you have tips about how to send money from Indonesia to another country.

2 comments to '' How to Send Money to Indonesia and Avoid Bank Fees "

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  1. How about the other way around? Sending money FROM Indonesia TO USA?

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    1. Unfortunately, to my knowledge, if you want to send money from Indonesia to another country, you need to use normal banks (or Western Union, Ria, MoneyGram). I did a few transfers from my bank (BNI) and the price was reasonable (around 5% fee + conversion fee)

      Make sure to convert the money from IDR to US from your Indonesian bank as they will probably do it for a cheaper price than your American bank.

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