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Travel money guide: The Czech Republic
What you need to know about withdrawing and spending korunas in the Czech Republic.
The Czech Republic is a European Union member state, but like neighboring Poland, the Czech Republic does not use euros. The Czech Crown koruna is the national currency of the Czech Republic. Since the end of communism in 1989 and subsequent split with Slovakia in 1993, the Czech Republic has transformed into a modern European economy.
Like so many destinations in the region, westernization in recent years has lifted the living standards, monthly salaries and daily costs, which in turn has increased expenses for travelers. Although the Czech Republic is not as cheap as it used to be, with local know-how and a bit of travel savviness, your visit there doesn’t need to be expensive, either.
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How much should I budget to travel in Czech Republic?
Although the Czech Republic still enjoys a lingering reputation as a bargain destination, in reality prices have risen considerably in recent years. Travelers will still find it rather affordable in comparison to western European countries. Budget travelers can get around the city for as little as $40 a day, while midrange travelers should plan on budgeting $90 or more.
$15–$25 per night
2 star hotel
$50 per night
5 star hotel
$200 per night
Trdelnik/ Kürtőskalács/ Kurtosh (Rolled Pastries)
$8–$20 per dish
$100 a head
|Walk Charles Bridge —
one of the most beautiful bridges
in the world — at dawn or dusk
walking tour of Prague
Appr. $15 per hour (prices can vary depending
on the size of your group)
and nuclear bunker tour
$30 per person
*Prices are approximate and based on summer seasonality and are subject to change.Back to top
Which should I opt for: travel card, debit card or credit card?
People traveling to the Czech Republic will find that debit, credit and travel cards can be used throughout the country, especially in major cities such as Prague, Brno and Ostrava. Visa, Mastercard and American Express products can be used for purchases and at ATM machines (bancomats) for withdrawals.
In Prague, cards are accepted at restaurants, hotels, supermarkets, retailers, train and metro stations. Bars and small eateries are cash only. Outside the capital and cities, you’ll need cash more often. Most Czech banks don’t charge ATM usage fees (non-bank affiliated ATMs generally will) so a product which waives the currency conversion fee and international ATM withdrawal fee is most suited for a trip to the Czech Republic.
Travel money options for Czech Republic at a glance
|Travel money options||Pros||Cons|
|Prepaid travel money cards||
|Credit cards for travel||
This table is a general summary of the travel money products in the market. Features and benefits can vary between cards.
How different travel money products work in the Czech Republic
Using a debit card
A travel friendly debit card provides a cheap way to buy things over the counter and make withdrawals from ATMs overseas. Look for debit cards that don’t charge for international ATM withdrawals and don’t charge a currency conversion fee. ATMs in the Czech Republic don’t charge a local ATM operator fee.
According to a report published in the New Europe Investor, the Czech Republic is the number one country in the European Union for contactless card payments, so load your credit cards onto your smartphone for simple payments.
- Tip: When you use your credit card or debit card to make a purchase or withdrawal in the Czech Republic, the Visa, Mastercard or American Express exchange rate is used for the transaction. This is the best rate consumers can access using a travel money product.
Using a travel prepaid card
Unfortunately, no US travel cards allow you to load and spend in Czech koruna.
- Tip: Prepaid travel cards offer other benefits to travelers such as a separating your travel funds from your savings or line of credit and you get two cards when you open an account in case the first card is lost or stolen.
Using a credit card
Look for a card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve® that waives the fee for foreign transaction . This card features complimentary travel insurance when you charge your flight. It also protects you with anti-fraud guarantees. Avoid using your credit card to withdraw cash if possible. This will be considered a cash advance and will cost you a fee and will attract high interest immediately.
- Tip: Credit cards allow you to make interest free purchases if you pay your account in full by the statement due date and some even offer a number of interest free days.
Using a traveler’s checks
Although traveler’s checks are not a popular way to carry funds to another country any more, traveler’s checks can be cashed at banks and exchange offices in Prague and the Czech Republic.
- Tip: You can cash American Express travelers’s checks with no commission at the American Express exchange office in Wenceslas Square, Prague.
Taking cash with you to Czech Republic
While cards are widely accepted, there are a handful of times when you’ll need cash — markets, hole in the wall bars, small transactions at some stores and rural areas are all cash only.
- Tip: Tipping is expected in Prague and the Czech Republic unless the service you got was extremely bad. Add 10% to 15% for good service — and leaving money on the table as a tip is considered rude.
Case study: Greg’s trip through Central and Eastern Europe
Greg visited the Czech Republic for the first time on his last trip to Europe. He started his trip in Prague and visited Kutna Hora, Plzen (the home of Pilsner!) and Cesky Krumlov.
What cards did you take with you?
Greg took these cards with him:
- Capital One 360 Debit Card
- Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard
Why did you take these cards?
Greg used the Capital One 360 because he wanted to take advantage no international ATM fees. The Capital One 360 card also lets him spend overseas without paying extra for foreign transactions.
He applied for the Barclaycard to get the 40,000 points for signing up and ended up using this account to pay for his flight so he could be covered by the complimentary international travel insurance feature.
Where could you use your cards?
There were a couple of times where he couldn’t use his card when he was having a beer at old town, but he could pay with his card when he went out to eat at restaurants and when he bought food from supermarkets and convenience stores.
He says that he could use his card in less places in Cesky Krumlov and Kunta Hora than in Prague. He booked the Pilsner Urquell brewery tour online using his debit card and paid cash for beers when he was there.
Did you make ATM withdrawals?
When making a couple of ATM withdrawals in the Czech Republic, Greg said he could take out the koruna equivalent of around $275 (6,000CZK) each time, this limit varied from machine to machine, but 6000CZK was all he needed each transaction. Greg says he didn’t pay anything to withdraw from ATMs attached to banks in the Czech Republic.
What’s your travel money recommendation?
Greg says it’s worth the effort applying for the Barclaycard. The credit card worked everywhere he tried to use it, and he says you’ve got a lot to gain from being a Barclaycard member.
Do you have any travel money tips?
- Use cash. Greg says his Capital One 360 made it easy and cheap to withdraw cash. Using cash for the majority of his transactions meant he never gave a thought about how to pay when he sat down for a beer or a meal and it helped him feel a little bit more like a local.
- Use the metro. Surprisingly, Greg says using the metro was a highlight of his trip. The metro in Prague is ridiculously efficient, cheap, easy to use and operates 24 hours a day. It even saved him a taxi fare from the airport.
What is the official currency of the czech republic, the euro or the czech koruna?
A full member of the European Union since 2004, The Czech Republic has yet to introduce the euro as the official currency. The euro acts as a kind of unofficial currency in the Czech Republic, often readily accepted, sometimes even more than cards. Unless you are sure of the exchange rate between the euros and the koruna, you should pay with koruna to be sure you get the best rate.
Why we like: Travelex Money Card
Load GBP, EUR, CAD, AUD, JPY or MXN onto this prepaid travel money card and use it at millions of locations worldwide.
- Not linked to your bank account for safety.
- Convert currency with a 5.50% foreign exchange fee
- Contactless payments
- Reload, withdraw, or replace your card for free.
Getting familiar with banknotes
Buying Czech koruna in the US
It is likely that your bank can sell you koruna before you travel. You can also buy koruna from Travelex and other foreign exchange providers in shopping centers and airports. The main difference between a provider like Travelex and your bank is that the bank fees are often much lower.
- Tip: There’s no limit to the amount of cash you can bring into the Czech Republic. If you’re carrying more than the foreign currency equivalent of $10,000, you must declare your cash at customs when you arrive.
It is easy to get cash exchanged in Prague and all over the Czech Republic, even in smaller towns. Look for the word “valuty” meaning change. Some exchange places will charge a flat fee for the service and others will charge a commission.
A commission is more suitable if you are changing a small amount of money and a fixed rate is better for larger amounts.
Stay away from the exchange places in the Old Town, Wenceslas Square and other tourist centers as they often have poorer exchange rates and higher commission designed just for tourists. Banks generally charge two percent.
- Tip: The best rates are usually around the main Railway station and some exchange offices are most reliable than others. Never change money on the street, avoid exchanging cash at the airport and using automatic exchange machines.
Why you’ll need a combination of travel money options
While emergency cash assistance from companies such as Visa and Mastercard can give you the money in your account if your card is lost or stolen, this request can take a up to a couple of days to process. Travel friendly debit cards combine some of the benefits of a travel card minus the fees. You might want to take a credit card so you can access an emergency line of credit — there will also be times when you’ll need to put down a credit card as a security deposit.Back to top
Find travel insurance for your trip to Czech Republic
If you are planning Czech adventure, make sure your vacation is protected against the unexpected, with the help of travel insurance. Travel insurance can provide you and your family with protection from the unknown. Situations protected by travel insurance include:
- Lost luggage
- Personal liability
- Emergency medical and dental care
- Lost or stolen travel documents
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