How to (easily) send money to Indonesian accounts?

Alexis
Modified on February 1, 2024

Sending money to Indonesian bank accounts from abroad can be (very) frustrating. Here are the easier ways to send money to Indonesia.

Why is it complex to send money to an Indonesian bank account?

If you visit your usual bank to send money to Indonesia, there is a good chance that they will face significant challenges in processing your request. And this is due to several reasons.

European banks are not accustomed to international transfers outside the EU

Of course, a typical commercial bank, especially smaller provincial branches, is primarily accustomed to dealing with what they see daily. And, to be clear, international transfers rarely fall into their daily routine.

Moreover, the few banks that deal with international transfers typically do so with fairly standard "financial destinations":

  • The EU zone
  • The United States / Canada / Australia / Singapore

Once you step outside of these few flagship destinations, banking systems become quite different, and there is much less ease in making international transfers. This can confuse your banker and lead them to ask for information that you may not be able to provide.

Most Indonesian bank accounts do not have IBAN

In the vast majority of cases, your bank (for example, a European bank) will ask for the IBAN number of your Indonesian recipient to process an international transfer.

Problem: Indonesian bank accounts do NOT have IBANs. When they request money in Indonesia, most Indonesian simply send their bank account number along with the bank, that's it. No IBAN, no SWIFT.

If you are used to international transfers, you might think, "No problem, if there's no IBAN, we can use SWIFT." And you are partly correct.

Except that the SWIFT number is not indicated anywhere on Indonesian account holders. They often have to go to their branch to find out, and the result is not always conclusive, as, again, the tellers aren't always used to it.

In short, if you need to pay a guide, book a villa, or send money to an Indonesian friend, spare them this bureaucratic nightmare.

send money to indonesian bank accounts
Admit it, it's a bit of a hassle just to ask for bank details for a transfer

International transfers from a traditional bank are (very) expensive and (very) slow

Let's be clear, international transfers from your typical commercial bank to an Indonesian account are not cheap. Generally, expect a minimum of €30 per transfer, a bad rate, plus the hassle of going to the bank...

If you are sending a small amount of money, from a few tens to a few hundred euros / dollars, the cost of the transfer will represent a significant portion of the total transferred amount, which isn't exactly financially sound.

Moreover, the transfer will take several days to arrive, which can be a problem for urgent needs.

Your (simple) options for sending money to Indonesia

Sending money to Indonesia not being simple, the best options often involve using intermediaries more experienced in international transfers.

Wise: by far the simplest solution for sending money to Indonesia

Wise is THE best solution for sending money to Indonesia.

The reasons are very simple:

  • It is very easy to top up a Wise account from any European / US / UK / Aussie / Singapore bank or with a credit card
  • You can convert your euros / USD / AUD / SGD into Indonesian rupiahs in 2 clicks
  • You can send your Indonesian rupiahs to any local Indonesian bank account just like anyone does locally. So there is no need to ask for their IBAN, SWIFT, and so on. They give you their bank details as they usually do in Indonesia, and you can enter them directly into Wise.
  • The conversion and transfer are at unbeatable prices
  • The money arrives in Indonesia in seconds, sometimes minutes, but rarely more than a few hours!

In short, if you don't have an Indonesian bank account, using Wise to send money to Indonesia allows you to do it as if you had one. The only difference is that you cannot receive rupiahs on your end.

I recommend everyone going to Bali to install Wise, as it can be very convenient for paying in advance for certain activities, or even when you are already there, without constantly having to carry cash or have a local bank account.

Wise also allows you to top up GoPay, and thus use Gojek. Read this article to find out how to top up Gojek with Wise.

Remitly and Worldremit: interesting options for sending money to Indonesia

Remitly and Worldremit are two other interesting options when you want to send money to Indonesia. Originally, these services are intended for diasporas of certain (often poorer) countries who want to send money to their home country from their place of residence (often a wealthier country).

Unlike Wise, which can also serve as an unofficial or even official multi-currency bank account, Remitly and Worldremit are truly intended for sending money only.

One of the advantages of these two platforms over Wise or a transfer to a regular bank account is that your recipient can withdraw the received money in cash. In most cases, this is not really useful in Indonesia since most people have bank accounts (which makes Wise more convenient and more than sufficient), but if the person you want to send money to in Indonesia does not have one, it can be useful.

These two services are also quite inexpensive, and transfers arrive within minutes or hours.

Western Union: the elder of international transfers

Western Union is also worth considering when you want to send money to Indonesia.

Unfortunately, it is not as convenient or cheaper than Wise, Remitly, or Worldremit. However, it does offer the possibility to withdraw the bank transfer in cash, and there are several branches available in Bali, which can be an advantage in rare cases.

Paypal: a good way to send money to Indonesia if your recipient has an account

Paypal is also a good option if you want to send money to Indonesia quite easily.

Unfortunately, very few Indonesians have a Paypal account, which can significantly complicate transactions.

But if your recipient has an active Paypal account and you do too, sending money to Indonesia should not be a big problem.

Traditional bank transfer to an Indonesian account: challenging but possible

If you absolutely want to send money to Indonesia from your bank to your recipient's bank, you will need their SWIFT, which is not always easy to obtain. Very often, your recipient will have to go to their bank and wait in line, which can be quite long and tedious.

This is clearly not an option to prioritize because it will be more complicated, more expensive, and longer than using Wise. But it is technically possible.

Conclusion

There isn't even a real debate. For 98% of transfer needs to Indonesia, Wise works wonders and allows you to connect two different banking systems with disconcerting ease.

Wise also has the advantage of serving as an Indonesian electronic wallet when you are on vacation in Bali or the rest of Indonesia, which can be VERY convenient. They even offer a withdrawal card for those who want it.

Remitly and Worldremit are two other good options for transferring money easily, although they do not offer as many advantages as Wise. However, your recipient can withdraw the transfer amount in cash, just like Western Union, which can be useful if they do not have a bank account.

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