Please sign in to post.

Cash, Currency, ATM's, Tipping

I have gotten a few PM in the last several weeks and the reoccurring questions seem to be about money and transportation, so…….. while I am happy to answer PM’s I thought I would put some of it out here for other input, cause I am often wrong.

How much cash to bring?

I feel comfortable with 10.000 in my pocket when I arrive. That’s about $25.


The currency is the Hungarian Forint; sometimes denoted as ft. or HUF. Right now the exchange rate is about 350 to the dollar. So a 2.000 ft note is worth a tad more than $5.00 and I just think of the 2.000 ft note as a five dollar bill …. Convenient that way. The other bills are 500, 1.000, 5.000, 10.000 and 20.000. The only two coins worth worry are the 100 ft (roughly a quarter) and the 200 ft coin (roughly a fifty cent piece); the rest of the coins are good for the beggar and homeless cups.

Do keep in mind when shopping that in Hungary and most of Europe that they use a decimal point where we could use a comma. So 20.000 is our 20,000.

Few places as a matter of business (outside the tourist zone) want to accept Euros and if they do the exchange rate will not be good. Even if you see Euros on a menu (adjacent to the forint cost), understand that they don’t update their menus as the rates change so they have padded the Euro cost quite a bit. Its not to rip you off, its just not practical to update every day and then they still have to take the Euros to the exchange house.

Cash vs Credit Cars

I suspect every place you will go will take your credit card. Mostly tap machines. In restaurants they will bring the machine to you.


Tipping is not required. Tipping is not taboo either. Do what feels good. If you do, then 10% if fine. If you don’t, they wont hate you. To be honest, I don’t want the coins so I leave them if nothing else.

If you want to tip, when they start inputting the 5.777 ft charge into the machine you can just tell them, “charge 7.000 ft”and they will say thank you. Although some restaurants and bars cannot put tips on the bill. So if you want to tip, always best to have some cash.


You will almost always be asked on one of the screens if you want to be charged in Forints or Dollars. Choose Forints as your bank will probably give you a better rate. This is the DCC you keep hearing about but it wont say DCC on the screen so remember “Forints” or “HUF”

Two choices, Bank and Independent (Like EuroNet machines).

EuroNet: High fees but conveniently located. For a quick 10.000 ft to tip that pretty service provider, why not. But the 10.000 ft will end up costing you at least 12.000 ft, so take out 20.000 instead (22.000 ft); shes worth it.


When I am really bored I sit in a café outside a Bank ATM and watch. Most all bank ATM’s are located inside a glass vestibule with a door. To open the door you need to swipe a card with a magnetic strip on it. What card? Well, any card will work. So my first fun is watching the tourists stare at the card reader and assume they need a card from that bank and then walk away.

Having passed the card reader test, they then attempt to open the door. This is my second fun moment for the day. Americans intuitively pull the door because in the US most every commercial door opens out (safer that way in a fire). In Hungary they will almost always open in. I have watched tourist yanking and yanking and never think to push before they walk away (probably thinking the card reader didn’t work because they didn’t have a card from that bank). FIRST PUSH, then in the rare instance that does not work, PULL.

Posted by
2826 posts

Good information. Just an aside on cash, I arrived in October without any, thinking I would pay the taxi with a card and get some cash after checking in. Turns out his machine was broken (not a scam). We considered what to do and I suggested getting cash somewhere to pay him - and he thankfully drove me a block to the next bank ATM, where I got cash in 1,000 and 10,000 bills. My total was 11,500 - so he said just give him 11,000 (when I was trying to pay 12,000 for the trouble and time). And backed up a block to let me off in front of my hotel. It was a pretty good start. Saved me from looking for an ATM!

In 2018, I was one of those clueless tourists trying to get into the glass vestibule. I managed to not look totally clueless, though, by moving aside and then following someone in who knew what they were doing. Ha! Waiting and watching is a trick I learned from several years of living in Japan - when I was clueless about 50% of the time.

Posted by
3627 posts

If you arrive at Budapest Keleti station, as I did from Vienna in 2018, there are ATMs on the front wall inside the station, left of the central doorway as you're facing it. The OTP ATM is a bank ATM, and no glass doors to push or pull 😁

Posted by
15147 posts

TexasTravelMom; I have never run into a bad taxi driver in almost 20 years and it would take a pretty long post to tell all the good stories.

Coincidentally, last trip, coming back from one of the malls the taxi couldnt get his card machine to pick up an internet signal. We toyed with it for a few minutes, then I gave him all the cash I had which was a few hundred less than the bill. He was fine with it as it wasn't my fault.

Next time notice how the drivers are dressed. Always clean and neat (well lets say 85% of the time). SportsCoats or suits or a tie more the rule than the exception (at least with City Taxi). When was the last time you heard of that in our capital?

Posted by
2826 posts

I took a taxi to a restaurant to meet friends (didn’t want to be late looking for it in the dark) and my taxi driver was intrigued with where I was heading and looked up the menu on the way over. Lol! He agreed it looked like a great place to eat and somewhere he needed to try (I couldn’t take credit for choosing). It was just another one of those fun conversations I love (and not dangerous because we were in very slow or stopped traffic on Andrassy ut).

CWsocial, I didn’t even look for an ATM at the airport or train station…..

Christy, true in so many places! Also still planning on my bus ride up to Auguszt cukrászda on Sasadi ut. next month. New scenery!

Posted by
134 posts

We took a taxi from Buda to Pest in September as we were changing hotels (made it feel like two separate vacations!) and I didn't want to drag my luggage. I booked online with CityTaxi and the driver was very nice. We were changing from the Hilton to the Hilton Garden Inn and we asked to be dropped off behind the basilica since the HGI's street is rather tricky. He was SO HAPPY and even happier with his tip. I've never had a bad experience with City or Fo Taxi.
TTM - I can't wait for that report!