Would it be cheaper to withdraw money at the ATM, or bring euros and exchange at the airport?

I'm also considering sending euros via PayPal and collecting in Malaysia.

Bonus question: How well are cards accepted in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia?

  • 3
    I have not been to Malaysia for a very long time but changing cash at the airport is generally not a good option. ATMs can be good but you need to check your banks rules.
    – badjohn
    Sep 27 at 12:27
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    @badjohn And also the rules of the bank that owns the ATM you choose to use. Speaking from experience, that’s usually where the nasty gotchas will come from, not your own bank. Sep 28 at 0:50
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    I can't say I made a rigorous study of it, but I was in Malaysia for a bit this summer and, to my pleasant surprise, no ATM I used charged me a fee at all. (My bank also does not charge me a fee to user other banks' ATMs, so the whole transaction was fee-free for me, but obviously this might not be the case for everybody.)
    – mlc
    Sep 28 at 2:22

4 Answers 4


We were there earlier in the year. ATM worked fine and fees were "normal". This may depends a fair bit on the fee structure of the specific card you are using, so its helpful to read up on that.

Card acceptance was good: hotels, restaurant, grocery stores, 7-11 all take card. We used Grab Car for getting around and that also works perfect with card as well.

Then again, street food and local street vendors tend to be cash only, but they are also quite inexpensive. I'd say you can get by without cash, but you'd be missing out. Malaysian street food is good!

  • Just a reminder for potential visitors from other countries that happen to also already using Grab, while your existing Grab account is immediately usable once you're in Malaysia, the balance in your origin country isn't usable overseas, and vice versa, if you top it up while in Malaysia, it's only usable in Malaysia, you can't use that balance when you go home.
    – Martheen
    Sep 28 at 4:06

I'd recommend signing up for a Wise account and getting a card. They make it very easy to exchange money at decent rates, and to withdraw up to 1,000 MYR per month for free at most ATMs (you can check the app for up to date information on which ATMs charge a fee). So, pay whatever you can by card, and get some cash for when you need it.

Be advised that the initial account verification and setup may take some time, so this may not be a last-minute option.


I was in Malaysia for six months last year shortly after they reopened after the pandemic. And I returned for three months this year until leaving four days ago.

Bank ATMs in Malaysia don't seem to charge unreasonable fees and rates, as compared to those in Thailand for example. Also withdrawal limits don't seem to be unreasonably low. I used Maybank which I'm sure had no fees on top of what my home bank charged.

I changed my last Singapore dollars in the building you arrive in on the JB side of the Causeway, which had better rates than the Singapore side, but exchange booths in shopping malls away from the border might have better rates again. The rest of the time I always used Maybank ATMs in case others might have a fee.

Cheapest budget hostels and local food places didn't take cards. Anything bigger should but I used cash except when I bought a phone and booking some accommodations on Booking.com or Agoda.


Hello from Malaysia – I'm currently in the middle of nowhere in East Malaysia. I withdrew cash at the ATM, with low fees. It also depends on your bank, which bank union(s) it subscribes to, etc. My bank is part of UnionPay, and the UnionPay network is just about everywhere, with low fees and decent exchange rates.

I wouldn't recommend exchanging money at the airport, as the exchange rate is usually bad (in KLIA it is particularly unfavorable, been there done that).

In KL credit cards (I've used VISA, MC and Amex) are accepted just about everywhere, although if you visit a mamak stall you'd better bring cash.

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