Hi fellow travelers. If you have ever planned a trip from India to Malaysia, I believe you would have faced the currency conundrum. And that is, which is the best currency to carry there?
Though one can easily buy Malaysian Ringgit in India at a local money changer, it comes at a substantial cost.
In the cash market, the premium on Malaysian Ringgits can be as high as 10 percent. And even if you go to a licensed money changer, submit all your documents, and make a bank payment, the premium does not come down by much. You will still pay around 8 percent. That sounds unfair, doesn’t it?
I recently faced the same problem, and after a bit of a struggle, found a solution. With the trick I will reveal here, you will be able to buy Malaysian Ringgits at a premium as low as 2% in the official market, and 3.50% in the cash market. This is how it works:
Buy Singapore Dollars First
The trick is to bring Singapore dollars to Malaysia instead of Ringgits. I have compared the premiums on major foreign currencies in India, and found Singapore dollars to be the most reasonably priced. In the legal market, Singapore dollars are available at a premium of approximately 1.50%, and in the cash market, the premium on that currency is around 3%.
(The rates indicated here were correct at the time of writing this article).
What To Do Next
In Malaysia, if you go to a good money changer (related: the best money changer at KL Sentral), you can exchange Singapore dollars for Malaysian Ringgits at a cost of half a percent. Now assuming you pay 0.5% for changing SGD into MYR, your total exchange cost for the Malaysian currency would be just 2% if you bought SGD in India in the legal market.
Even if you bought SGD in India in the cash market, your total premium on buying MYR, after exchanging SGD for MYR in Malaysia, would be only 3.50%. That is still a saving of 6.50% on the exchange cost, and the absolute best way to carry money while traveling from India to Malaysia.
Precautions To Take
The solution I suggested above, and used myself, depends on the cost of buying Singapore dollars in India. Before going to a money changer, it will help if you found the SGD-INR interbank exchange rate first.
It is easy. Go to Google, and type sgd inr in lower case. The Google search results page will instantly show you the current exchange rate between these two currencies. Note down the rate, and compare it with the rate quoted by your money changer.
If the premium is under 2% in the legal market, and under 3% in the cash market, you are getting a good rate. If not, then you may have to study the rates further.
While buying SGD in India, accept only 100 or 50 SGD notes. Smaller denomination bills may get a lower exchange value in Malaysia. And of course, you must buy from a reliable vendor so that you get only genuine currency, which is free from any defect.
If all goes well, you will enjoy your holiday in Malaysia without having to worry about inflated exchange costs.
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