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Managing Multiple Currencies - Eastern Europe Tour

Hi, we are planning to do the RS Eastern Europe tour in 2020. Just wondering how travelers handled the multiple currencies - koruna, zloty, forint, euro, and kuna. Did you get a bit of each in advance of your trip or just use ATMs in each country? We will have credit cards but prefer to use cash for small purchases or snacks. Appreciate any help.

Posted by
6857 posts

Get it in an ATM as you need it on the ground. It would be impossible to predict accurately how much to order (especially for very brief stints in each place), not to mention an unnecessary expense.

Posted by
2401 posts

When I've done various trips with so many currencies, I Googled ATMs (bancomats) at each destination to find a bank-owned ATM near my airport, train station or hotel.

Unless your bank refunds ATM fees (mine does) you may wish to research whether your bank has an alliance with any of the local bank chains, to minimize your own bank's fees. You can scour this site to find which banks in each country charge lower fees.

Posted by
116 posts

My wife and I along with 2 other couples did this trip last year. Yes, the currency was a bit daunting but our guide Katka, like all the guides who do this tour, was fantastic in telling us about how much local money to get, where the local ATM’s were, and where to exchange your extra money for the new funds if you have left over.
We used our ATM card for local currency without any issues. Plus the hotel in Croatia at Plitvice Lakes does money exchange. The airport in Prague has several ATMs so we don’t get any cash up front.

Have a great time!

Posted by
21666 posts

.....You can scour this site to find which banks in each country charge lower fees...... That is a waste of time. The local banks generally don't charge any fees. IF they do it will only be a small fee, fully disclosed, for using that particular ATM. All other fees beyond the network (Cirrus, Plus) fee are imposed solely by your card issuer. So call your card issuer.

Posted by
93 posts

I agree with Mark G. We had a different guide for our Eastern Europe tour. He suggested amounts needed, showed us where ATMs were, currency exchanges if needed, and was great in helping us negotiate all the currencies. Our debit card worked fine at all ATMs we used. Many in our group gave our small amounts of leftover coins/currency to our guide at the end of the tour and he donated it to charity.

A great tour! Enjoy.

Posted by
6854 posts

We try to use our credit cards anytime we can due to having more legal rights to chargebacks, etc. vs. ATM cards.
Didn't have any problem using my Capital One Visa card in Russia. They just want our Yankee dollars.
Our ATM cards work too, but we use it only for walking around cash--sparingly.

Posted by
99 posts

There is no need to have all differetn currencies with you prior to entering the country. Whenever you need a local currency, you can always pull some from any ATM. All you need on trips like this is your credit card. If you want cash for small purchases, pull the money from the ATM. Done deal :)

Posted by
2297 posts

I bring along some snack-size Ziploc bags so that when I'm leaving one country I can put all that currency and coin into it and stash in my suitcase, leaving room in my wallet for what's needed in the new country. I travel solo so I do like to arrive with a bit of each currency--so far only dealt with 3 in one trip. Otherwise I use the ATM as needed and mainly stick to credit cards.

As I am a bit of a shopper I like to have the wallet-size chart for the more difficult currencies like zloty, forint, koruna, etc--helps me determine if a purchase is a bargain or splurge.

Posted by
6539 posts

You can take whatever you have left from Country A and exchange it in Country B and then repeat each time. Yes you get screwed on the exchange rates, but for small amounts of cash, it is convenient.

Posted by
5221 posts

We did what Stan suggests on our trip to Hungary, Czechia, and Poland. Got some forints from Travelex at SeaTac (overcoming my reluctance to pay their rates), more from an ATM in Budapest, exchanged what was left for koruna in Czechia, maybe more (I forget) from an ATM there, and the same drill in Poland. At the Krakow airport I exchanged the remaining zlotys for euros, to use on future trips. Could have been dollars.

We found that some merchants in those countries showed prices in euros and accepted them -- though probably at a steeper markup than the exchange places. But for small items or snacks the local currency is a better bet.

Posted by
855 posts

On our Eastern Europe tour, our tour guide, Etelka gave us a quick overview when we first got together after arriving at the hotel.
She showed us things like where we were going to have our first night dinner together and where a couple of atms were located.
This worked great! She was also a big help for suggestions about how much money we would need unless we were big shoppers.
We ended up with very little left in each country. A couple of times, the night before we left, I popped into a church and put the leftover coins in the what it was called when I was growing up, The Poor Box. This worked out well for us. We took no foreign currency with us from the US, quit doing that years ago.

Have a Great Trip!

Posted by
80 posts

I generally have heavy jet lag when I first arrive in Europe, so I always have cash for my first few days. Going to an ATM strait off the plane makes me feel like I'm doing something wrong or am vulnerable to a rip off. Also I save the cash from the end of the trip for the next trip. Have great trip!!

Posted by
5 posts

We did that very tour last year. It is not necessary to get the currency of all the countries before you start. Use the ATMs in each country. Avoid the "Euronet" ATMs (which charge high fees) and never ask the ATM to do "dynamic currency conversion" (you are guaranteed to get a bad exchange rate). Likewise, if you pay for anything by credit card, avoid conversion to dollars on the spot.

I use my credit union card in ATMs because my credit union does not charge ATM fees. I have a bank ATM card as backup, in case there is a problem with the credit union ATM.

There is a lot of bus on this tour. You will stop at several freeway service areas with convenience stores that will give you a chance to exchange money or to buy snacks or candy with leftover change. Beware that currency exchanges do not accept change.

The last country is Slovenia which (is the only country that) uses the euro. If you have any euros left over at the end of the trip, you can just bring them home because you will inevitably be returning to Europe in the future!

It is a great tour; enjoy it!

Posted by
26 posts

We just took that tour in September (2019) and it was amazing. We took no foreign with us, and instead used credit cards to withdraw local funds as needed. Never had an issue. Our guide provided guidance on how much to get at the bankomat and he even pointed us toward the better ones. My tip for that tour — bring dramamine for the bus ride through the mountains!!

Posted by
78 posts

Katka our guide told us how much we would need in each country and then when we arrived she took us to the ATMs and explained the conversion. No need to pick up currency before your tour except for Euros.