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Euro in the Czech Republic and Hungary

How is the usage of the Euro in Eastern European countries where the Euro is not the official currency? (I'm particularly interested in Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary). For example:

  • Is the Euro accepted for purchases?

  • If a potential purchase (hotel, meals, etc) is quoted in both Euro and the local currency, would I save significantly more by paying with local currencies? (and how much more?)

  • The best way to get the local currency is probably ATM withdraw. However, if I already have a large quantity of Euros in cash, should I convert it to the local currency?

I've been in similar situations in Turkey where the Euro is widely accepted and goods/services would be quoted in both Euros and Turkish lira. I always used Liras but it was for a longer trip so I made a point of withdrawing from the ATM. This time, I'm in the Czech Republic and Hungary for only a few days and I'm wondering if it would be worth it to use the local currencies vs just paying with Euros directly.

Thanks!

Posted by
12319 posts

•Is the Euro accepted for purchases?

..........Yes; In a lot of larger restaurants, hotels, tourist souvenir shops. taxi's etc. Some businesses like apartment rental companies actually quote in euros but that is an exception rather than a rule.

•If a potential purchase (hotel, meals, etc) is quoted in both Euro and the local currency, would I save significantly more by paying with local currencies? (and how much more?)

..........Yes; how much more? Depends on how much the company you are doing business with wants you to pay for them to provide a service that is not in their job description (exchange service). My guess is dont be surprised if it is 10%.

•The best way to get the local currency is probably ATM withdraw. However, if I already have a large quantity of Euros in cash, should I convert it to the local currency?

..............Yes and convert it when you get to Europe or save it for when you go to a Euro company. Places like Hungary where the local currency is a little iffy you can find places where you can get very decent exchange rates on the euro.

Posted by
4637 posts

In the Czech Republic Euro is accepted somewhere and somewhere not. But even there where it is accepted it's a losing proposition for you. Better to exchange Euro into local currency (czk) and then pay. The best is to get crowns through ATM. This is also valid more or less for Hungarian forint and Polish zloty.

Posted by
5886 posts

Jiuguang In Poland in most places, you will be treated the same way as someone in Pittsburgh would be treated if trying to pay in Mexican Pesos - as an extreme nuisance or as an insult. If a merchant decided to do you a favor and accept them, they certainly would not have to give you a fair exchange rate, since you are transferring the time and effort of exchanging currency to them.

You can change Euros to Zloty at Kantors just about everywhere easily enough and the rates are generally fair except in airports, train stations and high touristed areas. The rates are posted outside (buying and selling are different rates) and ask how much you are getting to be sure you're getting the right rate. I used Kantors several times and Bancomats (ATMs) too, and never got ripped off.

In Poland I never saw prices in shops, hotels or restaurants quoted in multiple currencies. In other countries where I have seen it, they never gave a good exchange rate, since they need to cover the ever fluctuating bank rates.

Posted by
12319 posts

Jiuguang

I always suggest people to save Budapest for their last stop. It can be fascinating if you have energy or thanks to the beauty, food and lack of wall to wall tourists it can be a great laid back place to unwind at the end of a trip. Another good reason, apparently, to keep Budapest till the end of the trip is the quality and kindness of the people. If you ask a waiter to accept euros then they will most likely sort of round the exchange rate with a little to their advantage make it worth their effort and to cover them if the rate changes before they get it in the bank. I also know that as a general rule you will not be treated rudely or with a lot of attitude. I say it’s a general rule because there are bad people in every society I have just found fewer in Budapest than what I have heard described in other countries. I have found myself in a bank with a Brit and trying to explain to the bank clerk that I needed to transfer a large sum of money to the Serb on the other end of the line. What's his name she asked? Hell, I can’t pronounce your name how do you expect me to pronounce his name I responded and we all got a good laugh. A few weeks ago a Honduran, a Brit, a Texan and a Hungarian went for dinner.....it was hilarious and the waiter had a great time. Bring your euros if you need to. Be polite like you would be at home and be a little understanding and have fun with these wonderful people. It is one of the reasons I have made Budapest my second home.

Here is the link to the OTP bank ATM locator in Budapest. The ATM machines are literally all over town and provide good service and good rates. Note that often you have to swipe your card at the door to get in. There are several other banks in town too, this is just the most prevalent.

Have a blast.

Posted by
6697 posts

Even if you're somewhere "for a couple of days", that shouldn't deter you from using ATMs which are everywhere (I assume you're on a business trip and not small villages). Just take out small amounts and spend down as much as you can - you can always take some coins home or use them at the airport on the way home.