Penang International Airport (PEN) is the third busiest airport in Malaysia and receives a growing number of international flights from Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, China, Indonesia and few other countries. If you’re planning to take one of these flights, check what currency exchange options you have at Penang Airport.
Cash is still very widely used in Malaysia and Penang Island is not an exception. You will definitely need some local currency (Malaysian Ringgit - MYR) when exploring Penang’s street food scene and shopping for souvenirs in many of lovely Georgetown old town shops.
If Penang Airport is the point of your entry to Malaysia, you might need to get Malaysian Ringgits right at the airport as it would be needed for getting a bus to Georgetown or buying Malaysian SIM card. You can either withdraw cash from one of ATMs found at the airport or exchange your currency at one of currency exchange booths found here.
So, what currency exchange options you have and how good or bad foreign exchange rates are at Penang Airport?
Currency Exchange at Penang Airport
To our surprise, we couldn’t find any money changers at Penang Airport’s arrivals (Level 1). No signs leading to currency exchange were noticed even if one of the banks stated that they have currency exchange counter on this level too – it must be well hidden.
For finding currency exchange booths at Penang Airport you need to go up to the departures level (Level 2). There are 2 currency exchange booths of the banks located next to each other on the opposite side from check-in counters.
At the departure level of Penang Airport you will find currency exchange booths of these banks:
HongLeong Bank - open from 5:30 to 21:30
There’s also one more currency exchange counter of CIMB Bank at the airside of Penang Airport, just after passing passport control and security check. However, currency exchange rates at this branch are even worse than the ones you can get at CIMB Bank on the landside of the airport, so it should be used only in emergency situation.
Foreign Exchange Rates at Penang Airport
Penang Airport foreign exchange rates are far from good as the two banks here don’t have any competition and set more or less the same rates for most of the currencies. You can get much better currency exchange rates in Georgetown so exchange here as little as you will need for getting into the city.
USD exchange rate was exactly the same in both banks (3.80 MYR during our visit) but checking both currency exchange booths for the rates of other currencies might be worth it as exchange rates of less popular currencies varies.
What foreign exchange rates can be expected at Penang Airport?
USD to MYR exchange rate at Penang Airport
The official USD exchange rate at the time was 4.08 MYR for 1 US Dollar, so the rate offered at the airport (3.80 MYR/USD) was by 0.28 MYR lower than the official rate. For every dollar exchanged here you’re losing about 0.07 USD or 7 USD per 100 USD. Losing 7% of your money just for exchanging it doesn’t sound like a good deal.
EUR to MYR exchange rate at Penang Airport
The official EUR exchange rate at the time was 4.63 MYR for 1 Euro, so the best rate offered at the airport (4.46 MYR/EUR) was by 0.17 MYR lower than the official rate. For every euro exchanged here you’re losing about 0.037 EUR or about 3.7 EUR per 100 EUR. Surprisingly euro exchange rate is not as bad as USD exchange rate offered here but it is still far worse than the rate that you can get for your euro in Georgetown.
During the time of our visit, euro exchange rate was by 0.01 MYR better at HongLeong Bank.
Exchange rates of other currencies at Penang Airport
The official GBP exchange rate at the time was 5.33 MYR for 1 Sterling Pound, so the best rate offered at the airport (5.05 MYR/GBP) was by 0.28 MYR or 5.25% lower than the official rate. HongLeong Bank was offering the best GBP exchange rate at Penang Airport and it was by 0.05 MYR higher than at CIMB.
The official AUD exchange rate at the time was 2.92 MYR for 1 Australian Dollar, so the best rate offered at the airport (2.81 MYR/AUD) was by 0.11 MYR or about 3.8% lower than the official rate. AUD exchange rate was better at HongLeong Bank as well.
The official SGD exchange rate at the time was 3.02 MYR for 1 Singapore Dollar, so the rate offered at Penang Airport (2.85 MYR/SGD) was by 0.17 MYR or about 5.6% lower than the official rate. SGD exchange rate was the same in both banks and it was less than attractive.
Best Exchange Rates at Penang Airport
During our visit, in most cases the best exchange rates at Penang Airport were offered by HongLeong Bank.
Currency exchange booth of CIMB bank managed to offer the same exchange rate only for few currencies but for most of currencies the exchange rate was worse than at HongLeong Bank, especially at CIMB Bank branch on the airside.
Book a discounted private transfer from the airport to your hotel and you won't need cash for getting into the city.
If your final stop in Malaysia is Penang Island and you will be departing from Penang Airport, exchange your Malaysian Ringgit leftovers to USD, EUR or any other currency while in Georgetown as selling rates for foreign currencies at Penang Airport are just as bad as buying rates.
Where can you exchange your Ringgits to other currencies at a really good rate? If you will be taking a public bus from Komtar to Penang Airport, this place will be very convenient: Best Penang Money Changer.
More tips for traveling in Malaysia can be found here: Malaysia Travel Tips.