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Travel money guide: The Czech Republic

What you need to know about withdrawing and spending korunas in the Czech Republic.

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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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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.

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.

These are your options for spending money in Czech Republic

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.
Pros
  • Protected by PIN & 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
Cons
  • Withdrawing cash can be considered a cash advance and can charge you fees and high interests
  • Attracts an annual fee

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.
Pros
  • Widely accepted in the Czech republic
  • Protected by PIN & chip
  • Directly linked to your bank account, which means not having to worry about being charged cash advance fees
  • Save on international ATM fees
Cons
  • If it’s stolen, thieves may have access to your funds since the card is linked to your bank account
  • No emergency funds available though 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 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.
Pros
  • Allow you to load money in multiple currencies
  • Secured by PIN & chip technology
  • Emergency card replacement and backup cards
  • Easily reloadable via a secure online platform
Cons
  • 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.
Pros
  • Payment flexibility
  • Convenience
Cons
  • 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 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.
Pros
  • Easy to cash at banks and exchange offices in Prague and the Czech Republic
  • Secure and can be easily replaced if lost or stolen
Cons
  • Expect to be charged a commission when cashing your checks
  • You’ll pay a high commission

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Getting familiar with banknotes

50 Czech Koruna Banknote100 Czech Koruna Banknote200 Czech Koruna Banknote
500 Czech Koruna Banknote1000 Czech Koruna Banknote

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

Exchanging cash

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.

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Cash pickup services in Czech Republic

Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
$1 Within an hour USD 3.99 21.681 CZK 21,595 WorldRemit sends money to 110+ countries for bank-to-bank deposits, cash pick-ups or mobile top-ups. Go to site Show details
$10 Within an hour USD 1.99 21.354 CZK 21,312 Special offers like free transfers and better exchange rates available for new customers.
Remitly has quick, affordable transfers around the world, with both express and economy options.
Go to site Show details
$1 Within an hour USD 8.00 21.3 CZK 21,130 MoneyGram has fast cash pick-up transfers to more than 350,000 agent locations worldwide. Go to site Show details
$1 3 - 5 days USD 20.00 21.245 CZK 20,821 Western Union sends money online to friends and family in 200+ countries around the world. Go to site Show details

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Disclaimer: Exchange rates change often. Confirm the total cost with the provider before transferring money.

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.

BudgetMidrangeExpensive
AccommodationBudget hostel
$15–$25 per night
2 star hotel
$50 per night
5 star hotel
$200 per night
MealsTrdelnik/ Kürtőskalács/ Kurtosh (Rolled Pastries) $2–$2.50
Sausages $2
Midrange restaurant
$8–$20 per dish
Degustation menu
$100 a head
ActivitiesWalk Charles Bridge —
one of the most beautiful bridges
in the world — at dawn or dusk
Free
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 profile photo
Greg

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 hours a day. 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
  • Cancellations
  • 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.

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