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What is the best way to Exchange Currency in Budapest?

Budapest Currency Exchange: How much currency should I carry for 9 days and which currency should I carry (USD) .I have read /heard that Budapest doesn't accept credit cards. Is it true ? ATM exchange is available or cheaper than airport booth to exchange currency?

Posted by
5063 posts

Withdrawing money from an ATM is always cheapest/easiest/safest.

Who said credit cards are not accepted? That’s simply untrue.

Posted by
567 posts

3 years ago I exchanged EUROS for local currency at the exchange offices in downtown. I was very surprised at how good a rate they were giving without charging me an extra fee. The exchange rate was a little less than the ATM but I did not get charged a Foreign Transaction fee or ATM withdrawal fee. If you go with no cash then the ATM outside a bank during working hours is your best bet. Have fun!

Posted by
6223 posts

The best way to get local currency is to use your ATM/Debit card to pull cash from your account at home. Always. Everywhere.
The worst way to get local currency is to "exchange" money. Always. Everywhere.

"Exchanging" currency is a ripoff, and completely unnecessary.

I have read /heard that Budapest doesn't accept credit cards.

That is nonsense.

Posted by
5697 posts

First trip -- arrived at airport with no HUF, exchanged €50 at an airport booth (couldn't find an ATM quickly, was afraid the Ryan Air shuttle would leave without us) -- used bank ATM's for the rest.
This trip (last week) arrived with HUF 14,000 from prior trip, used credit cards for everything possible, left after 5 days with HUF 3,500 for the next trip. Only used cash for snacks and HUF 8,000 ride to airport. (And if it had not been a early-morning flight, we would have taken bus/metro using our 7-day passes.)
Note that you can use Euros in many places if you don't mind their exchange rates.

Posted by
15172 posts

Note that you can use Euros in many places if you don't mind their
exchange rates.

And those exchange rates can be miserable. Imagine you are a shop owner and you want to accept Euros to make things easier for tourists. Now you check the rate and you print your prices on menus and on merchandise stickers. Then the rate changes and you loose money. How to avoid that? Start with a "safe" rate. I just checked the menu of one of my favorite places that puts both currencies on the menu and the item that is 1720ft is 6.6 euro (not bad for good Hazi Friss Lecso Kilbasszal). The current rate would be 5.15 euro. Are they dishonest? No, just practical and they still have to exchange those euros you paid with. Call it a service charge.

Posted by
22610 posts

And the posted price on the menu can be very good. We were just in Budapect in Oct and it was cheaper to pay in Euro off of the printed menu price. My guess is that the HUF had decreased against the Euro (I think that is correct direction) making the Euro more valuable and they had not had time to reprint the menu. We used a local credit union ATM for a few HUFs but for the most part use the Euro that we had with us. There was a user fee charged by the ATM. Credit cards were widely accepted. Even used a US credit card to buy tickets for the subway/train.

Posted by
3959 posts

Hi Scott,
We were in Budapest a few months ago and found our Credit card was widely accepted. We decided before leaving the US to pick up a few of the local currency. Upon arriving in Budapest we found out the Taxis credit card system was down. We were happy to have the minimal cash to pay for the taxi. Enjoy your trip.

Posted by
86 posts

May I piggyback on this thread (it pertains to cash/credit card as well)? I just realized that I booked an apartment (but a full service hotel) that requires to be paid in cash. Is this typical? That means we have to go to the bank, carry around HUF the equivalent of $300? It just feels odd -we are used to paying with credit card for accommodations, transportation, most meals, etc.

Posted by
3959 posts

Yes, I have paid cash several times for an apartment or B & B. The apartment we stayed at in Budapest required cash. This management company asked for Euro's. We had some leftover Euros from a previous trip and paid upon arrival. I can understand not wanting to carry excessive cash. That said, I secure cash in my money belt. We will need cash for a B & B on a future trip. I will go to the ATM in Sicily prior to arrival.

EDIT to add, the family owned B & B in Sicily that I mentioned does not accept credit cards. That said, we have stayed there before and are perfectly comfortable paying cash.

Posted by
15172 posts

I suspect that it depends on how you booked the apartment. If you went through AirBnb, then you would pay with a credit card. If you went direct to the Owner they may not have the resources to take credit cards; or want to because of the fees associated with credit cards, especially with low volume credit card business. Most of the tourism in Budapest is European which may explain the Euro requirement. I also know you can have a Euro bank account in Hungary (or at least I think so ... mine is in forints though). And the Euro is a lot more stable.

I bet there are a lot of apartment owners that dont have a clue as to the details as they generally hire management companies to do all the marketing, meet and greet and financial issues; then they just show up a few times a year for their cut. I am guessing thats how it works....