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Currency for Eastern Europe

We are going on a tour that will include Prague and Budapest which are not on Euros. Would it be wise to get some currency for those countries in addition to
Euros before we leave the U.S.? I was told they would accept Euros too.

Posted by
12329 posts

Life will be most convenient and most inexpensive if you work in the local currency. In both countries your atm or debit card will most likely work but clear this with your bank before you leave the US. I spend a lot of time in the region every year and have for a decade now and have had no problems with my debit card and my credit cards and always get the best exchange rates and the most convenience using them. I do still carry a good chunk of US dollars as feel good emergency money as it is easy to change if need be but I have never had to use it. Since I have more experience in Budapest tell me how you are arriving and I will point you to the nearest atm.

Posted by
11261 posts

The money advice for Prague and Budapest is the same as for other places in Europe. Here is a page of Rick's money tips; read all the links, and you'll be an expert: http://www.ricksteves.com/plan/tips/money-travel-tips.htm Summary: use ATM's to get local cash, and use credit cards for larger purchases. If it makes you feel more secure, you can get $50-100 of each currency before your trip, but it's not necessary. Call your banks and card companies about a week before your trip, so they (hopefully) won't block foreign transactions. Always have transactions processed in local currency instead of dollars. If you have leftover cash when leaving a country, use it to pay down your hotel bill before putting the rest on a credit card. Try to avoid exchanging cash, and if you have to, don't do it more than once, as you lose money on every exchange. (In other words, if you are going directly from Prague to Budapest, don't turn leftover koruna into dollars and then dollars into forints; turn koruna into forints). Euros may be accepted in some places in Prague or Budapest (particularly to pay your hotel bill), but they are not legal tender in either country. Therefore: 1) No one is under any obligation to accept euros, 2) If they do accept euros, they are free to set whatever exchange rate they wish, and
3) You will be given change in local currency. In other words, don't count on using euros anywhere in Prague or Budapest, and be pleasantly surprised if they are accepted (but don't be surprised if it's not a good deal). For things like local buses, you will definitely need local currency.

Posted by
12329 posts

Harold is pretty much spot on with a possible unique time to time exception with the euros in Budapest and probably Prague. Apartment rental companies may request payment in Euros and some tour guides want to be paid in Euros. They will both take Hungarian Forints but you might do a little better on prices in Euros. Look at how the quote the prices on their web sites. You might also do better in Euros on high end items like antiques and art. Day to day on the street, in the restaurants, etc. you will always do better in Forints

Posted by
2788 posts

Do you have a copy of RS Eastern Europe Guide Book yet? If so, great. If not you should get one as it is full of useful information that we used when we toured thru Eastern Europe where we used our debit card (from a local credit union and tied to a checking account)to get local currency from ATM machines that were all over the place there. We go to Europe every summer and have never found it necessary to get any European currency prior to leaving the US but rather wait until we arrive there to get the better rates. We enjoyed both Prague and Budapest. Happy travels.

Posted by
61 posts

We always get currency for wherever we are going, here in the US before we go. At some banks it is free. We don't get a lot, but it saves that panicky feeling when you get to a new country, and can't find an ATM.

Posted by
2525 posts

"At some banks it is free." That is a truly unique bank, but much more likely you are paying through a less than favorable exchange rate.