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Kuna vs. Dollar vs Euro

I will have expenses in Croatia that I can pay in Euros or Kuna but not by U.S. credit card, so I have to either convert dollars to Euros before I arrive in Croatia and carry them around for two weeks, which doesn't appeal to me or get Kuna from ATMs in Croatia. However, the Croatian vendor told me the cost of getting Kuna at ATMs in Croatia is high. I'm not sure why this should be, as I have always used ATMs in other European counties albeit in Euros. If I pay in Kunas, I can accumulate them on the last few days of the trip, which would give me more peace of mind. Has anyone else dealt with this issue, and if so how did you resolve it? Thanks.

Posted by
4583 posts

However, the Croatian vendor told me the cost of getting Kuna at ATMs in Croatia is high.

I too would question this, it seems a very broad statement, and is highly dependent on your bank, not the ATM...he would have no knowledge of your bank.

Now certainly any fees added would be a concern, and DCC may be rampant, but both can be avoided.

I suspect that maybe he has heard people comment, or maybe he just is steering you to bring euros. For many years rentals and other businesses preferred euros over Kuna, was not sure that was still going on.

Posted by
3112 posts

I've not found it expensive to obtain Kuna at ATMs in Croatia. My card doesn't charge fees and exchange rates have been in line with market rates. My card is through Capital One, but only some of their cards are free of ATM fees.

With regards to the vendor, test to see if a fair exchange rate is being offered. The rate for the past 6 months has hovered right around 7.4 kuna = 1 euro. If the vendor is quoting a poor exchange rate, such as you can pay either 600 kuna or 100 euro, then their comments might just be self-serving.

Posted by
133 posts

I have experienced (May 2019) some Croatian bank ATMs charging in excess of 7% for cash withdrawals; some as high as 10%.

Exchange rate was fine, no fees from my bank (Capital One) no DCC, just high fees. Asked Officials at two different banks and they confirmed that the fees were charged by them, and they really seemed to believe this was quite normal.
ATMs always spelled this out in plain language before I was asked to confirm the transaction. Shop around if you have the time.

Posted by
4518 posts

I haven't been to Croatia since 2015. There were no such fees then. Could be extra ATM service charges from bank ATMs in Croatia is something new. But 10% sounds very expensive. I would probably just exchange USD or Euros locally (if you can still find a currency exchange in Croatia) in that case - and use my US credit card with no foreign transaction fees for everything possible, including tolls on the highways.

Posted by
42 posts

For "anubis57". Did you have the bank ATM convert the transaction to dollars on the machine when you got the money? I was told that option costs more than letting your bank at home do the conversion and wonder if that explains your experience. Thanks in advance.

Posted by
133 posts

No, hence the "No DCC" in my post.

Also, I never actually paid the 7-10%...I shopped around until I found one in the 3% range, but many people would not want to bother, since most things in Croatia seem to cost less anyway.

Happy travels!

Posted by
14894 posts

There are increasing numbers of ATMs charging fees. Especially on small withdrawals those fees (if they are flat fees rather than percentage-based) can amount to 10% or more. I haven't been to Croatia since 2015 so can offer no specific suggestions, but I have not yet encountered a country where 100% of the ATMs charge fees.

Googling may uncover some information posted by recent visitors on forums like TripAdvisor. Even a list of fee-charging banks would be helpful by telling you some places to avoid.

Posted by
2784 posts

I have not yet encountered a country where 100% of the ATMs charge fees.

You don't use ATMs in the US?

Unless you have an account with the bank or the ATM participates in one of the regional agreements to waive fees for your bank's cards, I have not found a single ATM in the US that does not charge a fee when you get money anymore. Europe is simply catching up with the US when it comes to fees for things.

Posted by
84 posts

If your coming from another Eurozone country, get your Euros from an ATM there. For Kuna, I found the ATMs ok, if you 1) don't use the ATM at the airport (big ripoff), and 2) don't choose the DCC option. This many be confusing so read the info carefully before you choose. If you need to get Kuna at the airport, change a small amount at the exchange; their rate was actually better than the ATM.

Posted by
589 posts

We visited May 2019 - if you use only BANK related ATM's the fees will be lower. We also found almost no one wanted Kuna's but preferred Euro's. Why can't you use your US credit cards? We used them everywhere we could.

Posted by
954 posts

Just got back from Croatia last week, this was my third visit. Didn't have any problems other than the Euronet ATM I had to use gave me a crappy exchange rate, but they do that everywhere. A bank ATM should be your first choice. Also I didn't encounter any places that wanted anything else than Kuna.

Posted by
42 posts

If you get kuna a nd your bank pays them on kuna, wouldn’t it be your bank at home that determines the exchange rate? That is, unless you elect to have the ATM do the conversion for you?

Posted by
2580 posts

The simplest way to deal with ATM machines anywhere is to have a card/bank that doesn't charge any fees and reimburses you for any fees charged by the other banks ATM machine. Charles Schwab Bank is one of these.

I never pay ATM fees, foreign transaction fees, etc. Sometimes it pays to invest in a good travel card.

Posted by
4487 posts

If you get kuna a nd your bank pays them on kuna, wouldn’t it be your bank at home that determines the exchange rate? That is, unless you elect to have the ATM do the conversion for you?

Edward, its not your bank that determines the rate in that case. Its the big network in the sky (Visa, MasterCard , or whoever) who is doing a wholesale exchange for tens of millions at one time, and at a better rate.

Posted by
42 posts

My debit and credit cards are also good in that regard. I'll see what happens when I get there.

Posted by
105 posts

Most major banks in Croatia - Erste Bank, PBZ, etc. - list three exchange rates on the wall display. "Devizni" means cash, "Efektivni" means bank draft/travellers check and the last one means wire transfer. You get the best rate for CASH. That pile of dollars is much appreciated in a country with a currency floating with the Euro. You may wish to exchange dollars for kuna as part of your process early on. I usually do that and use the ATMs to simply withdraw more kuna as I need them. Limits vary from bank to bank as may the fees, but the convenience is worth it. I don't understand why you need to pay in Euros, and do not find typical stores welcome Euros as payment - they have 'no Euro' stickers on many cash machines to reduce arguing with Italians - but you find money traders happy to offer you Kunas for Euros at good rates. Without knowing your expenses it is hard to generalize. I use the Erste Bank or PBZ ATMs.

Posted by
42 posts

I don’t need to pay in Euros. I can pay in kuna, but they will accept Euros.

Posted by
1 posts

Man, you folks have me concerned. I’ve been three times in Croatia in the past five years and I don’t think I have been charged anything but a flat $3.00 fee for withdrawals. I don’t know for sure, but I think I have been very careful tgo not pay any fees. The above 7-10 percent remark really concerns me! I am making a plan right now for 2020 and making sure I get a good rate, but...Also, where do you find people who are willing to exchange at good rates outside of traditional means?

Posted by
2784 posts

What do you consider a "good" exchange rate?

What markup for when you physically exchange cash is "good"?

Lots of people talk about the good or great exchange rate they get by using a specific company but they can never tell us what it is. Is the rate good because the company says it is? Or is it actually close to the daily bank rate?

The only rate I consider good is that which the credit/debit card networks give you when it is not impacted by DCC.

Posted by
2784 posts

Edward,

These days, your bank will only see USD already converted from any foreign currency. They are billed in the USD equivalent of your transaction amount no matter if it is Pounds, Euros, Peso, Yen, Kuna, and so on. And so they pay in USD. The foreign amount will usually show on your statement so it is easier for you to match the transaction to your receipts if you balance your checkbook. Also, any fees charged by your US based bank must appear as separate line items on your statement

It is simply easier for everyone involved for the credit/debit card networks to do the exchange since they are moving billions of dollars around every day and that way they get the best possible rate which saves everyone, even you the cardholder, money.