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Malaysia uses the Malaysian Ringgit (RM).
Monzo users pay the Mastercard exchange rate with no added fees.
Monzo cards work all across Malaysia where Visa and Mastercard are accepted, both at point-of-sales (POS) and ATMs. Cashless transactions are growing, although many small merchants or even roadside restaurants are cash-only therefore always enquire regarding this issue. Always have some backup cash with you as will be explained in “Miscellaneous” section.
Malaysia has just embraced a 6-digit PIN chip-and-pin system (known as PIN & PAY) with contactless features (more commonly known as payWave, thanks to Visa payWave). The default contactless limit for Malaysian cards is MYR 250 (approx. £45).
All POS terminals should accept 4-digit PIN cards without any trouble. Just key in your 4-digit PIN as you would normally do in the UK.
Some merchants are reluctant to offer contactless payments and would ask you to key in your PIN instead due to the faulty reader, as they claimed.
As for the Dynamic Currency Conversion, most of the POS terminals do not offer it but it is common at the ATMs.
Some online sites only support 3D-Secure enabled cards, which is not a problem since Monzo supports this.
Note on using Monzo at self-service petrol pumps:
In contrast to what happens in the UK where it is considered a prepaid card, in Malaysia it is treated as a credit card - a pre-authorisation amount of MYR 200 (£36) will be taken and the unused pre-authorised balance will be credited to your Monzo account (almost) immediately, even though it may take 3-5 days maximum for other Malaysian debit cards.
Key in your 4-digit PIN as you would normally do in the UK and press “Enter” before continuing your transaction.
You don’t need to activate magstripe for ATM withdrawals as Malaysia has fully adopted the chip-and-pin system, even in the ATMs.
Some ATMs here, especially Maybank and CIMB, offer Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC) of 2.5% to 3%. Avoid it and choose “Continue without conversion” (Maybank ATMs) or “decline conversion” (CIMB ATMs) when asked, to benefit from Mastercards exchange rate.
Most, if not all major banks do not charge for ATM fees which essentially makes Malaysian ATM withdrawals fee-free. If there’s a charge, they will advertise it in Malaysian ringgit prior to withdrawal.
ATMs offering DCC: Maybank and CIMB
Bank Islam’s ATMs do not support foreign-issued cards.
All Monzo cards have some payment and withdrawal limits. To check yours before you leave, tap on the manage card icon and then tap on Spending and card limits.
The Monzo merchant data is often incorrect (eg. the map shows the wrong location or the name of the place is not correct). Please submit improvements to this data so it can get better for future visitors. It is more difficult for Monzo to automatically get the address of a merchant right because Malaysian postcodes are much larger and the initial authorisation message from Mastercard only includes a postcode.
Some addresses include the name of the state instead of the city. Try to be specific when updating the address but not too long.
Please note that most of the time the merchant name will Town name + Shop name or Shop name + Street name - think of Manchester Arndale Waterstones, or Waterstones Piccadilly Circus instead of just Waterstones. (This is not the case for most major merchants present both in the UK and Malaysia though, e.g. Tesco, McDonald’s and Starbucks Coffee)
Cash is still (literally) king here, therefore prepare at least MYR200 cash on arrival (use ATMs at the airport to benefit from the better exchange rate), because some merchants here impose minimum purchase limits ranging from MYR10 to MYR100 (≈ £1.80 - £18.00). If in doubt, please enquire about minimum card purchase limits in any stores and whether card payments are accepted.
Be smart and split the bills on the Monzo app instead of paying using many Monzo cards.
Few online merchants do not accept non-Malaysian cards for online purchases.
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