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How to Exchange Damaged Ringgit Malaysia Banknotes?

BY Nisya Aziz

Updated 28 Aug 2023

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Do you know what sucks?

When you unconsciously receive banknotes that are torn from a shop. It feels even much suckier when it’s a big note. And then you start getting this unnecessary stress from strategising ways to get rid of this damaged money ASAP.

What's covered in this article?

“Just ‘sellotape’ the banknote lah. Can still use what…”

Actually… by rights, you CANNOT use the money anymore. These damaged banknotes aren’t supposed to remain in circulation because they’re no longer considered legal tender. If you’re not familiar with the term, it’s just another fancy way to say money (banknotes and coins) that are declared by law to be valid payment for debts and financial obligations. 

Section 24 of the Central Bank Act 1958 says:
1) Notes issued by the Bank shall, if such notes are not defaced, be legal tender in Malaysia at their face value for the payment of any amount.
2) Coins issued by the Bank shall, if such coins have not been tampered with, be legal tender in Malaysia at their face value.

Having said that, this Act has now been repealed and replaced by a new Act, the Central Bank Act 2009. Here’s an excerpt under Section 100:

Notwithstanding the repeal of the Central Bank of Malaysia Act 1958

(g) currency notes and coins issued under the repealed Act and which are legal tender immediately before the coming into operation of this Act shall continue to be legal tender in Malaysia at their face value as provided in section 24 of the repealed Act...

In short, if your money is in good condition (not defaced or haven’t been tampered with), they’re fit for circulation - you can use them to make payment. If they’re not fit, you're advised to not use them. Also, businesses usually avoid accepting damaged money as payment.


Okay, but how to know if the money is “fit” for circulation?

In case you didn’t know, BNM is responsible for maintaining the quality and integrity of the Malaysian currency in public circulation. So they have to ensure that monies circulating in the market are to be maintained at the desired level to avoid any counterfeit or scam issue.

According to BNM, a Malaysian banknote/coin is considered FIT FOR CIRCULATION if it meets ALL of the following criteria:

Banknote Coin
  • Genuine, not counterfeit.
  • Free from holes, tears, tape or missing banknote portion.
  • Has uniform brightness and is free from excessive soiling.
  • Free from ink wear, particularly on the portrait of the Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
  • Free from defacing.
  • Genuine, not counterfeit.
  • Free from soiling or discolouration (often by the effect of chemical reaction, burning, dirt or age).
  • Free from defects (eg., holes, dents, cuts or missing coin portion).
  • Is not a freak coin.

Additionally, the national bank has also prepared examples of banknotes and coins that DO NOT meet the prescribed quality standards and are no longer suitable for distribution like below:

For more examples of unfit banknotes and coins, you can check out BNM’s Guidelines on Quality Standards for Malaysian Currency.


But, did you know that your damaged Malaysian banknotes/coins still have value?

So, don’t throw them away just yet. You could still exchange some of the unit currency with new or fit banknotes/coins. Just head over to any commercial banks (with a certain fee) or FOR FREE at any BNM branches to get them replaced.

The exchange value will be determined using BNM’s guidelines of the assessment criteria:

Meanwhile, for the mutilated coins, face value shall be given if the following conditions are fulfilled:

  • The coin is genuine.
  • Its design is recognisable.
  • Mutilation or defacement is caused by accident or abrasion.

If you have further inquiries, we suggest you contact BNM's Currency Management and Operations Department by calling +603-26988044 ext. 7284/7307/8252/8278, or contacting BNMTELELINK by calling 1-300-88-5465 or sending an email at

NOTE: The BNM’s head office and branch offices exchange counters might be closed during this pandemic, do give them a call first just to be sure. 


“Okay, what if I discover fake (counterfeit) banknotes. Can I get a replacement for them?”

Unfortunately, NO. According to BNM, counterfeit banknotes have no value and therefore cannot be exchanged for a replacement. However, it’s still possible with a longer process (we’re talking about getting a lawyer and all that jazz).

So, if you ever receive fake money (which is highly unlikely), you should take note of who gave it to you, try not to touch it too much, put it in an envelope, and make a police report ASAP. And one more thing, DO NOT TRY to pass it on to others so that you can get rid of the fake money because distributing them is a serious offence. Yes, even if you are not involved in printing them.

You can read more about how to deal with fake money in this article: A Lady Allegedly Withdrew Fake RM50 Notes From the ATM. What Should You Do If the Same Happens to You?


We hope this article has been helpful. Don’t forget to share with your family and friends so that they know not all damaged banknotes/coins have no value. 

It’s important to be vigilant and check your banknotes and coins from time to time, especially in the current world where there’s a wide range of credit cards and e-wallets to suit our requirements and lifestyles. If you think about it, we don’t really see the actual Ringgit to make a transaction anymore. But at least, if you ever encounter damaged banknotes/coins, you know what to do.

So, have you ever exchanged an unfit currency? Share with us your experience!


*The above article is intended for informational purposes only. Loanstreet accepts no responsibility for loss that may arise from reliance on information contained in the articles.

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About the Author

Nisya Aziz

A storyteller at Finology, who drinks coffee like its water, Nisya enjoy bringing valuable, educational and entertaining content to others. When not busy crafting content, you’ll find her in the boulder gym or on stage, performing theatre shows.


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