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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 instead of euros, the Czech koruna is the national currency. Czechs still use a lot of cash, especially in restaurants and small local stores, although it pioneered cashless technology. Whether you’re sightseeing the Prague Castle or Astronomical Clock or wandering across Charles Bridge, you’ll want a mix of payment methods on hand for shopping and dining.
You should be able to use Visa, Mastercard and American Express throughout major cities and tourist spots. For those, take along a travel credit card to avoid the usual 3% foreign transaction fees that other cards charge. However, take some koruna with you if you’re going to smaller villages or eating at restaurants.
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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, and 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.
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 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.
These are your options for spending money in Czech Republic
Using a credit card
Look for a travel rewards credit card like the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card that waives the fee for foreign transactions. Some travel cards also feature complimentary travel insurance when you charge for your flight and monitor your transactions for fraud. 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. Some even offer a number of interest-free days.
- Protected by PIN and chip
- Accepted worldwide
- Great for larger expenses such as booking hotel rooms as many won’t charge fees for currency conversion
- Interest-free days when you pay your account in full
- Emergency card replacement
- Withdrawing cash can be considered a cash advance and can charge you fees and high interests
- Attracts an annual fee
Which credit card issuers are accepted in the Czech Republic?
Discover has a “high merchant acceptance,” which means you can use it in a large number of places in the country. American Express is also widely accepted, but both cards lag behind Visa and Mastercard.
If you want to make a cash withdrawal, look for ATMs of Euronet and Komercni Banka for Amex cards. For Discover cards, your options are a bit wider and include ATMs of Citibank, Raiffeisen Bank, Volksbanka, CSOB, GE Money Bank and Ceska Sporitelna.
Euronet ATMs usually have higher fees.
|Merchant acceptance||ATM acceptance|
Compare travel credit cards
Explore top debit cards with no foreign transaction fees and travel credit cards by using the tabs to narrow down your options. Select Compare for up to four products to see their benefits side by side.
Using a debit card
A travel-friendly debit card provides a low-cost way to buy 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, like the Betterment Checking which reimburses Visa’s 1% foreign transaction fee. ATMs in the Czech Republic don’t charge a local ATM operator fee.
- 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.
- Widely accepted in the Czech republic
- Protected by PIN and chip
- Directly linked to your bank account, which means not having to worry about being charged cash advance fees
- Save on international ATM fees
- If it’s stolen, thieves may have access to your funds since the card is linked to your bank account
- No emergency funds available through a cash advance
Using a prepaid travel 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 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.
- Allow you to load money in multiple currencies
- Secured by PIN and chip technology
- Emergency card replacement and backup cards
- Easily reloadable via a secure online platform
- No travel cards allow you to load and spend in CZK
- Reload fees could be high
Paying with cash in 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.
- Payment flexibility
- Difficult to manage expenses
- Higher risk of theft
Using traveler’s checks
Although traveler’s checks are not a popular way to carry funds to another country anymore, traveler’s checks can be cashed at banks and exchange offices in Prague and the Czech Republic.
- Tip: You can cash American Express traveler’s checks with no commission at the American Express exchange office in Wenceslas Square, Prague.
- Easy to cash at banks and exchange offices in Prague and the Czech Republic
- Secure and can be easily replaced if lost or stolen
- Expect to be charged a commission when cashing your checks
- You’ll pay a high commission
Getting familiar with banknotes
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.
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.
The main banks in Czech Republic are:
- Ceska Sporitelna
- Ceskoslovenska Obchodni Banka
- Czech Export Bank (CEB)
- Czech National Bank (CNB)
- Komercni banka
- Patria Finance
- Raiffeisenbank a.s.
- Sberbank CZ
- UniCredit Bank Czech Republic and Slovakia a.s.
- Živnostenská banka
Find ATMs in Czech Republic
You can easily find ATMs at the airport or inside both international and local banks. The ATMs should accept Visa, Mastercard and American Express debit cards, though you might use a card like the Betterment Checking debit card that reimburses Visa’s normal foreign transaction fees.
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 commissions 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.
Refreshing in: 60s | Fri, Dec 08, 10:17PM GMT
Keeping your travel money safe
Exercise extra caution when traveling through the Czech Republic. Street crime and petty theft are more common, especially on public transportation and in busy cities like Prague, Brno or Ostrava.
Take care when using ATMs, and always exchange currency at a currency exchange office or bank. Using money belts rather than carrying a purse and keeping your wallet in your pocket are good precautions against pickpocketing. Never leave your food or drink unattended, and always stay aware of your surroundings.
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. All prices are in US dollars.
$15–$25 per night
$50 per night
$200 per night
|Meals||Trdelnik/ Kürtőskalács/ Kurtosh (Rolled Pastries) $2–$2.50|
$8–$20 per dish
$100 a head
|Activities||Walk Charles Bridge —|
one of the most beautiful bridges
in the world — at dawn or dusk
|Private guided walking tour of Prague|
Appr. $15 per hour (prices can vary depending
on the size of your group)
|Prague communism and nuclear bunker tour|
$30 per person
*Prices are approximate and based on summer seasonality and are subject to change.
Case study: Greg's experience
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.
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 24/7. It even saved him a taxi fare from the airport.
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
Don’t let accidents, illness or travel delays ruin your Czech vacation. Compare travel insurance policies today.Back to top
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