Best Indonesian Banks

Sep 5th, 2011, in Business & Economy, IM Posts, by

Which Indonesian banks are most suitable for an expat's needs? Find the answers here.

When it comes to banking and finance, expats can have different needs or expectations compared to their Indonesian friends. These may include a bank that:
klikBCA for Smartphones

  • Offers a wide range of electronic banking options - internet, smartphone, etc - minimising the need to visit the bank branch in person.
  • Has staff that speak English well, can assist with filling in forms, and can explain technical matters about Indonesia's currency and bank accounts easily.
  • Can make international/telegraphic transfers quickly and easily at competitive exchange rates, with no hidden fees.
  • Offers a bank account in their home country's currency, and can make deposits/withdrawals in that currency without difficulty.

Which banks perform these services well, which need improvement and which are best avoided? And why? Newly arrived expats in particular may have found it difficult to choose because impartial answers and recommendations in this area have been hard to find, until now.

So, to help people make an informed choice, please read below the views of two long-term foreign residents, Chris and David. You can either read them all by scrolling down, or jump to a specific bank by clicking on its name below:

BCA | Bank Danamon | Bank Mandiri | CIMB Niaga | Commonwealth Bank | HSBC


Bank Central Asia

POSITIVES NEGATIVES
- Paspor BCA is the only card that offers "cash back". Also known in some countries as "cash out", it allows customers to withdraw cash at the same time as purchasing items in shops with a red "TUNAI BCA" logo.

- The Internet Banking system called "klikBCA" is very simple and easy to use.

- BCA Gold customers (minimum balance Rp10 000 000 or $1200) can access a machine which automatically prints your transactions in your passbook, rather than having to queue.

- Customers can only withdraw $US cash from the branch where they opened the account. This is a problem if you move house, let alone move cities.

- Fewer branches and longer queues, yet the highest account fees.

- Some of their ATMs only issue Rp100 000 banknotes, which are difficult to use/change for small items.

Bank Danamon

POSITIVES NEGATIVES
- There are no monthly account fees if you can keep the balance of your Rupiah account above Rp6 000 000 ($700).

- It offers some unique benefits that other banks don't: husbands and wives can have a joint bank account (Danamon One) with two ATM cards, not one; customers can opt to receive e-statements by email (with password protection); there is a choice of funky ATM card design.

- Customers with a $US account can send funds to other countries for only $US5.

- It is the local agent of American Express in Indonesia, yet it seems to be virtually impossible for expats to apply for an American Express credit/charge card.

- Sometimes customer service staff seem to not know about new or less common Bank Danamon products.

- Bank Danamon accounts become inactive/dormant if there are no transactions after six months, not twelve or never like other banks. Expats who go home for a while will need to remember this.

Bank Mandiri

POSITIVES NEGATIVES
- Personal experience is that Bank Mandiri make international transfers quickly and with transparent fees: $US25 + Rp35 000.

- It is the largest bank (by assets) in Indonesia and is government-owned, so has more staff and branches than many other banks. Some would also suggest that this position makes it less likely to suffer difficulties in a financial crisis.

- Friendly, helpful and professional customer service staff.

- It is the only bank where customers need to get a statutory declaration ("surat keterangan") from the police to replace a lost ATM card. Apart from the extra time/inconvenience, the police may ask expats to pay a fee for this service, which should be free.

- It charges an additional monthly fee for ATM cards, including the lowest-level "Blue" card.

- Queues for tellers are often quite long, and the number of tellers never equals the number of desks. The situation isn't helped by (presumably frustrated) customers joining the premium customer queue instead of the normal one.

CIMB Niaga

POSITIVES NEGATIVES
- Formed from the merger of Bank Niaga and Lippo Bank but without any branch closures, there are a lot of branches and ATMs.

- Partly related to this, waiting times in branches for tellers and customer service are often less than average. And rather than have people standing and queuing, Niaga offers comfortable seats and queue numbers.

- ATMs at some branches have a different machine for electronic/non-cash transactions. This means you can quickly e.g. pay a bill or check your balance without having to join the queue of people withdrawing money.

- Personal experience with the online banking system "CIMB Clicks" was poor, with frequent problems and inadequate support.

- A customer's new ATM card is often not ready for collection until almost the expiry date of the old one.

- Personal experience is a customer's ATM card is deactivated for transactions if it hasn't been used for a year, despite the ATM card still being able to obtain the account balance, and the account remaining active. This is confusing for customers, and is difficult to fix.

Commonwealth Bank

POSITIVES NEGATIVES
- Low fees: one monthly fee, charged per customer and not per account; customers can use other banks' ATMs and not pay a fee; they can also use Commonwealth Bank ATMs in Australia for a reduced fee.

- Customers with a $US bank account can withdraw $US100 banknotes at selected (not all) Commonwealth Bank ATMs. This is very useful for purchasing international flight tickets. These ATMs are specially marked.

- Offers a wide range of foreign currency savings accounts - $US, $A, $SG, €, £, ¥, $NZ - with a low minimum account balance, e.g. $US100.

- Few branches outside larger cities. Similarly, CB's call-centre phone number has a Jakarta (021) area code; most other banks have numbers for other cities or a toll-free number.

- Commonwealth Bank advertises international telegraphic transfers as being fee-free if completed online, but personal experience is they are not.

- Customer service staff sometimes do not know about some of their less common/more obscure products, such as CommInvest.

HSBC

POSITIVES NEGATIVES
- If you have a HSBC account in another country, you can link and view them all through the "Global View" section of the HSBC website. This is unlike many other international banks in Indonesia, where there are no links between the different countries' accounts.

- As it has a relatively small presence in Indonesia, queues at branches are rarely a problem.

- Customers with a $US bank account can withdraw $US100 banknotes at selected (not all) HSBC ATMs. This is very useful for purchasing international flight tickets. These ATMs are specially marked.

- The minimum balance to avoid fees is relatively high: Rp20 000 000 ($2400).

- There is a fee for withdrawing $US at a branch, making it more expensive to get an exact amount of $US, rather than multiples of $100.

- There are relatively few branches and ATMs, so you would need to live near one for it to be suitable.


Do you agree/disagree with the comments above?

Which bank would you recommend for expats?

Please share your experiences and opinions below.


46 Comments on “Best Indonesian Banks”

  1. avatar Alex says:

    Thank you all that I’ve found this thread.
    Reading all this through I still have a doubt in what bank should I open bank account for my PT company. How would you do if..
    The things which are most important:
    1. Effective internet banking so I can send money abroad with the minimum fees. And receiving transfers from abroad with minimum fee as well.
    2. To have two accounts: rupaih and us dollar
    3. Withdraw in dollar
    Company is in Bali so do I.

    Thank you in advance.
    PS. Sorry for possible mistakes. I am from Russia.

  2. avatar Chris says:

    Hi Alex,

    I would have recommended HSBC, but they don’t have a branch in Bali. (I checked).

    About the other points:

    1. Few banks allow international bank/telegraphic transfers to be done by internet banking. Commonwealth Bank does, but I had a bad experience with hidden fees. HSBC does too, but see note above. Bank Mandiri has transparent fees ($US25 + Rp35 000) for transfers done at the branch.

    2. Every bank offers this.

    3. Unfortunately, you can’t do this at the ATM any more (due to a Bank Indonesia regulation), so you have to go to the branch. Some banks have stock of $US100 banknotes, others you need to give them 1 working day to process it.

  3. avatar Mark Gibbs says:

    Alex,

    My first suggestion is to NOT join a bank owned by the Indonesian government. Most of the staff will be totally disinterested and seek only to lessen their already low workload. That means thwarting customer requests at every turn. Permata are so centralized that they only function effectively as a savings bank. BCA are a little better, but their Bali branches are ridiculously busy, so you can expect long waits. Little or no English is spoken by counter staff in any Denpasar banks. Standard Chartered are only interested in high rollers ( and in Indonesia you know where that money comes from) and turn away most expats. All in all, Commonwealth is probably your best bet. But beware, CB is still relatively new to Indonesia, and like Permata, mostly function as a savings bank.

  4. avatar Chris says:

    Further to Mark’s comment:

    My first suggestion is to NOT join a bank owned by the Indonesian government.

    The larger state-owned banks are Bank Mandiri, BNI and BRI.

  5. avatar Chris says:

    – Bank Danamon accounts become inactive/dormant if there are no transactions after six months, not twelve or never like other banks. Expats who go home for a while will need to remember this.

    I was surprised to discover recently that Danamon internet banking accounts are also suspended after six months of non-use, regardless of the account status (active/inactive).

    To reactivate the internet banking account, I now have the choice of changing to a SMS token system, or paying Rp100 000 for a replacement token (even though the original token is in good working condition). I don’t want to use SMS token, because it may not work well when I am overseas.

    I am also considering a third option: closing and re-opening the account. Curiously, the fee is smaller: Rp50 000.

  6. avatar Alex says:

    Thank you for advices.
    Mandiri is more prefered. I have checked main banks.
    Mandiri can give debit card which will be attached to company account.
    But they have biggest fee for transfers (inside and abroad).
    Also to open USD account yous must bring 1000 us.
    Danamon for that need only 100 usd. But they cannot make internet banking for company. Only for individual. I have individual accout there. So my first choice of bank for companyis danamon.

  7. avatar Melissa says:

    Hi guys,

    Thanks for all the advice and detailed description on the banks – does anyone have experience with Panin? I know they have the highest interest rates for USD savings by far, but as per the recent govt regulation – you’re not allowed an ATM card with it.

    I’m Indonesian but I just came back after 10 yrs in the US. All my accounts are in US banks. I’ll be getting paid in USD in Indonesia but I’m struggling to find a bank that will let me transfer to a US bank for minimal fees and let me take out money in rupiah for a favorable rate (from US account) Or wotuld it be easier to open a checking account in Rupiah and a savings in USD from the same bank?
    I’m very confused by all the restrictions.

    Lastly, to the article writers, out of all the banks you have experience, which would you recommend overall?

    any suggestions or advice would be appreciated.
    thank you so much!
    Best,
    Mel

  8. avatar Paul says:

    My experience with HSBC is pretty negative. They try to be nice – but seem generally incompetent. I opened a HSBC advanced account with them and it took them over a month to manage to get an ATM card to me.

    I planned to purchase some landed, so transferred the necessary sum into the account. They called me as I now had enough in there to be a Premier customer – so I upgraded the account. But done of the benefits seemed to materialise. What they claim is “A priority service wherever I am in the world”.

    I’m currently in Yangon and wanted to make the payment – I tried online, payment failed – about of transfer too large. I called them – apparently I need to go into the branch in Kemang. I’m in Yangon, Myanmar – not really practical to pop into the branch. They said my Personal Relationship Manager would call me and sort something out. He didn’t. This is definitely not “A priority service wherever I am in the world”.

    Instead I did a SWIFT transfer from my very standard UK bank. No problem what so over.

    I don’t understand how “a priority service wherever I am in the world” can be so much worse that a standard UK bank.

  9. avatar Sad Bob says:

    Stay away from Bank Danamon !!!!!

    Worst bank ever, first I saw a worker in the Danamon office pass out almost infront off us.
    I mean “black out” later I heard , because she had no time to eat or drink.

    Second they made error with my international transactions, seems like they don’t really know how to handle international transactions.

    Just to take out a new debit card ( master card ) , we had to wait 1,5 hours !!!
    And there was only 4 more costumers in front off us.

    They had 4 cashiers, I saw 2 workers, working in the cashiers.
    The other 2 I don’t know what the hell they were doing, 1 women was just sitting and playing with here damn phone !!!!!! in front off us like she dident give a s h I t , about the costumers.
    Then one other guy seemed very busy and same, look like he dident care about costumers.

    Anyway bank Danamon is a very bad bank.
    For sure most have many more better banks then this terrible thing……………..

  10. avatar Tati says:

    I have not idea of BCA bank in Hong Kong
    , when I asked for a statement print out because I needed for Australian visa application and the lady said I need to diposit 2000 hk dollars then can directly print of my bank book or I have to diposit 300 hk dollars every month for 3months then I can print on my bank book, so what I want to ask is what a different of getting statement print out of those 2000 diposit and 300 diposit with every month for 3 months? Really trouble

  11. avatar Justin O'Neill says:

    Hi guys,
    Has anyone had any experience with BII? I have opened 6 accounts with them recently and was overwhelmed with the fabulous customer service I was getting through the process in comparison with my experience at Commonwealth.
    Now that they are all open my delight has turned to woe with a completely backward and archaic system. To withdraw USD from my own account, I need my company stamp, passport, bank book and a materai. My woe turns to horror when I use the online banking which I need to do for hours daily at a time as i have an online business. The system is about as bad as you could possibly create. I am unsure if I am the only one with this grief or not. I am based in Bali and wished I’d never left Commonwealth but I did as the international transfers fees were getting out of control. BII’s promise of free incoming USD international transfer fees have since changed now my accounts are open and the reason being is that I am receiving funds from Australia! Not a great overall experience and my time there is limited I fear after all the work (5 weeks in total) setting it up. Love to hear anyone elses feedback with this bank.

  12. avatar Yang says:

    Hello everybody.

    Which banks do you think so popular that it has enough ATMs in big cities of SE Asia countries and its possible to open saving account for non resident with tourist visa?
    I just want to have one either universal or very suitable for cashing card.
    For living in SE Asia.
    No month fee, no cashing fee – its a dream

    Hope you have some suggestions
    Thank you very much!

  13. avatar Jan Stoel says:

    in my opinion Permata bank is the most up to date.however some of the local branches need to train their staff better in as much as Priority customer service is concerned, Priority customers are mainly business people who don’t have the time to sit and wait until staff finish their lunch. for fast and friendly service go to Permata in Denpasar. plentiful parking is a bonus. Commonwealth bank Denpasar is the slowest for service plus the discomfort of having a commando style security guard complete with semi automatic machine gun standing in front of me, no thanks. my local BNI bank recently renovated . gives speedy service,plenty of tellers and customer service actually know what their talking about without having to consult the screen. the negative is they charge high account keeping fees and pay the lowest interest rates. the only thing i have to say about Bank Mandiri.( now my ex bank) is take a cut lunch and a fold up chair because you will be there a long long time. one teller wanted to charge me for updating my passbook i stepped into the managers office and closed my account there and then needless to say they never followed up as to why i closed my accounts.

  14. avatar Olivier says:

    Hey guys,

    I just moved to indonesia. I have a hsbc account in Singapore but i am now working in Manado. I found an anz and commonwealth branch along with all the local bank.

    May i have some advices. I look mostly for having a small part of my salary transfer there for monthy expenses.

    Cheers

  15. avatar terry desmond says:

    have been with b n i bank now for ten years 2 years ago moved to java found the staff and manager really helpfull but now after 2 years rates are controlled by governmant deposit rates noe only 7% not good for a large amount if anybody knows where to get 9% please let me know must have lps guarantee though was told government banks can only go to 7% on deposit rates was getting a much higher rate last year really a shame as they are great to deal with

  16. avatar Eny says:

    Hi there…

    My husband and I are Indonesians and we have recently just repatriated to Indonesia from Sweden after living there for 4 years (2012 – 2016), where we have Swedish bank accounts (at SEB). In Indonesia, we have our Mandiri bank accounts. At the beginning, we used SEB bank transfer to send money to our Mandiri accounts in Indonesia and costs us around US$30 (the cheapest cost) per transfer and it took around 5 days of clearing process into the Mandiri account. We never want to use Western Union to send money to Indonesia as we have heard of illegal business practices (in Sweden) using WU.

    Later on, around 2013-14, we found an online platform called WorldRemit_dot_com and they have good reviews. We have been using it and we found that we can transfer money from Sweden to our Mandiri account in less than 5 minutes for much less costs (depends on the amount transfer, but the cheapest fee is around 3 Euros per transaction).

    Now, we are ready to move to another country and this time to Myanmar. We plan to terminate our Swedish accounts, but we still want to keep our Mandiri accounts in Indonesia.

    I wonder if any of you have had experience of sending money to/from Myanmar to Indonesia. We also know that BNI has just opened a branch in Yangon (Myanmar) about 3-4 years ago and we are thinking of opening a BNI account in Indonesia, too, should we open a BNI account in Yangon.

    Anyone who has experience in sending and/or receiving money from Myanmar to Indonesia (and vice versa) and can share it, is very much appreciated. Thank you.

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