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How much cash should we take?

We (2 people) are visiting Croatia for 3 weeks. Planning on using our credit card when ever possible but I imagine small businesses and farmers market prefer cash. How much cash would you advise me to take?

Posted by
6148 posts

None. I would advise you to use an ATM once you get there. If you take out too much Kunas in advance, you'll pay a premium for it and you'll be stuck with them because they are worthless outside of Croatia. So just play by ear once you get on the ground, where you'll be able to gauge what your daily spending habits are like and time your ATM withdrawals accordingly.

Posted by
3283 posts

I agree with Agnes. If it makes you desperately nervous (it does my husband), just get a small amount, maybe the equivalent of $50 to get you thru until you find an ATM.

Posted by
44 posts

We did the ATM last year in France and Spain and discovered that our bank, has these extra charges and fees, we lost a lot of money that way :(

Posted by
3283 posts

You can attempt ATM transaction and it will state the fee, at that time you can decide if you want to try elsewhere. Fee is set by your bank, I believe, you may want to try a different bank. I have a separate account that I deposit some money in and use for travel. That bank has no fees/lower fees. Also, you would be surprised at the amount you can lose on the transaction when you get foreign currency at your bank. Sometimes there is a flat fee, in my case there isn't, but the exchange rate they give is very poor in comparison to the daily rate in the money markets

Posted by
6148 posts

our bank, has these extra charges and fees,

Depending if you think the effort is worthwhile relative to the savings, you may want to consider shopping around for another bank, like a credit union, especially of you have a lot of travels ahead of you. The ATMs abroad don't usually have their own separate fees, all the fees are charged by your bank (we've heard a some exceptions here for Spanish ATMs - I presume because they're bilking tourists and there are A LOT of them in certain cities like Barcelona. Croatia is a smaller market). My credit union charges me 1% of each withdrawal in any country - that's why I've had that account open for decades. I use their debit card for cash on every travel trip, along with the Capital One credit card (0% foreign exchange fee).

Even with unfavorable fees, I doubt they would be higher percentage-wise than a currency exchange which requires human labor (i.e. buying money before you go).

Posted by
3203 posts

NOTE: other people were sending in replies while I was typing this up, so some of this is a repeat, but here it is: Various banks have different policies, and some have ways to nickel and dime their customers, and some places don’t charge as much in fees. Some banks charge a fee for any ATM withdrawal, which is a shame, since they’re not having to pay a teller to process your transaction, just the person who puts money and receipt paper in the ATM each day, and pulls out deposits. But it costs them to run a machine, too. Many banks also charge for ATM’s that aren’t within their banking “network,” which could be a bank across the street in the same town in the USA, or a bank in a foreign country. Check with your bank and find out exactly what they charge, and for what reason. If it’s too much, you may need to get an account and an ATM card at a new bank!

Credit Unions, which may or may not allow non-members of a certain organization to join, often offer better ATM card policies. See if they charge for ATM withdrawals out of the USA. If they do, a $3 or $5 charge per transaction isn’t much, but you’ll keep your expenses to a minimum if you make fewer withdrawals, and pull out more money when you do, as opposed to making lots of small withdrawals. But some banks in Europe only let you take out a maximum each time, sometimes something like $200 worth per day.

And some banks or credit unions may charge a percentage of how much you withdraw, which can add up. Obviously the smaller the percentage, the more you save. Check around and compare your bank with their competitors, even if you have to check places a town or to away from where you live, if you’re not in a city with a lot of banks/credit unions.

Posted by
6543 posts

I switch over to a credit union ATM card for travel--without all the up charges, etc. My Wells Fargo ATM comes with 5% and $5.00 penalty every time it's used.
You'd be surprised how little street cash you can spend if you put every possible purchase on a credit card. That's even better when the credit card is accruing 2% that can be put toward future travel.

Posted by
2760 posts

Have you read RS "Cash and Currency Tips" article listed on the lower right side of the Travel Forum home page? I have gone to Europe for 16 of the last 18 year and have never taken any US money with me. I have always used a debit card to get local currency from ATM machines connected to banks or financial institutions but not to Currency Exchange companies who have very high exchange rates. More and more places in Europe are only accepting cash these days . We have only used a credit card half a dozen times in all of our stays.

Posted by
3283 posts

I have a Wells Fargo card as well as a credit union card. What David says is almost counterintuitive. You would think the large bank has more clout and thus the card welcomed everywhere at a reasonable or no fee. But, that would be wrong. David is right, often a credit union card is a better value.

Posted by
16766 posts

There are some US financial institutions that allow you to set up an account online, do online transfers into the account and withdraw money overseas (or anywhere in the US) with no fees. Capital One has such accounts, and I believe TD Bank and Charles Schwab do as well. Do read the fine print, since fee policies can change. It's worth the research; it is definitely not fun to return from a trip to find a bank statement littered with ATM-withdrawal fees.

Fees charged by the ATMs themselves are a separate issue. This practice is spreading rapidly. I don't know whether it is prevalent in Hungary at this time. Fees to be charged by the ATM owner will always be disclosed during the transaction, so you can cancel the withdrawal and go elsewhere if you like.

The third type of cash grab is Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC). It was widespread in Hungary as of May 2018. At an ATM or when paying by credit card, you may be offered the opportunity to complete the transaction in dollars rather than forints. You should always insist on using forints. Otherwise, you are allowing the other party to use a very poor exchange rate.

Posted by
2310 posts

Going back to the question you posted: my advice would be to get the equivalent of $100 in Kuna before you leave. It may cost you an extra $5-10 big deal. You land with some currency in your pocket and while you are sleep deprived, having to clear immigration, find ground transport, you can cross off having to first find an ATM as you have no money! As far as the endless discussion regarding ATM fees- if you are a regular customer of a bank, one of which is mentioned several times above, approach them about waiving these fees. I did and they do. When I return I go to the bank, meet with banker for 5 minutes and the money is back in my account. Check with them first before you open a new account with a credit union or other bank. And, as has been mentioned, we are all finding credit cards widely accepted, and the need for cash diminishing. That $100 might go a long way.

Posted by
44 posts

Thanks to everyone for your input, I’m going to be doing some research on banks and taking $100 in kunas and maybe $200 in euros (going to Slovenia and Montenegro too).

Posted by
2860 posts

I don’t know where Charlie has been; but we have found the opposite to be true, namely more and more places in Europe accept credit cards. In fact, I have read, on this forum, that many places in Scandinavia won’t accept cash any longer. Getting back to Croatia, we were there a few years ago, and I don’t recall any problem about using credit cards. However, we didn’t try to use them for small transactions.

Posted by
17 posts

I just returned from Croatia in May of this year and found that I needed cash at most places I went. For context, we were in Split and traveled south to Dubrovnik over 2 weeks. I brought $500 worth of Kuna with me and found that I needed about $300 more halfway through. Many restaurants even wanted cash. The places that welcomed my credit card were all grocery stores and gas stations. If there are restaurants you have scouted out ahead of time, maybe check on google or their website to see if they are cash only.

I use Bank of America and they can order you foreign currency before your travel. There was a very small courier fee and they had my money delivered to my local branch, very convenient! My travel partner uses Wells Fargo and they offered a very similar service. Could be a more affordable option for you? I did withdraw cash from a bank ATM and found the service fee to be about $4. My companion used a random ATM on the street and paid upwards of $7. On that experience alone, maybe the bank is the better place to withdraw if needed?

I hope this helps! Have the best time!!

Posted by
44 posts

Jenn thank you very much for your advised. Yes it is very helpful, specially knowing that you have just been there.

Posted by
10899 posts

Ive gotten money from BoA as well. I did some math on another post a while back. As I recall for the Euro transaction I tested BoA cost about 3% more than a NO FEE ATM transaction. I will gladly pay $3 on $100 to have cash in my pocket when I land no matter how good the ATM deals are or are not. But I generally limit what I get in the states to about $100 that give me time to enjoy myself without wasting time looking for ATMs.