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Travel money guide: Hungary

Your guide on taking and spending money like a local in Hungary

Travel should be about adventure, discovery and relaxation. You’ll find that when you explore the largest synagogue in Europe, Memento Park and Budapest, considered the “Paris of the East.”

A credit card will serve you best during your travels, particularly one that waives foreign transaction fees. But you’ll want to keep some Hungarian forint on hand — the country’s national currency — for any stops that don’t accept plastic.

Our picks for traveling to Hungary

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Travel card, debit card or credit card?

The easiest and cheapest route to spending is a travel-friendly card that doesn’t charge for international ATM withdrawals — bonus if it also has no currency conversion fee. Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted under the Maestro and Cirrus brands. While you can probably get by in Budapest with your card, know that most businesses are still cash-based outside the capital and some provincial cities.

Don’t rely on one product. Debit cards let you spend your own money, but a credit card will protect you in emergencies.

With so much to see and do in Hungary, it makes sense to get your finances in order before you arrive. Your budget should pay for your travel experiences, not bank fees.

These are your options for spending money in Hungary

Using a credit card

You won’t have any trouble using a credit card in Hungary — although American Express is accepted at fewer places. Find yourself a credit card that waives foreign transaction fees, like the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card (Terms apply, see rates & fees).

Carrying a credit card gives you the added benefit of travel insurance and discounts, depending on your provider. Depending on your travel habits, these perks can offer a lot of value, so compare travel cards before making your final decision.

Cards that offer travel perks and waive fees often charge an annual fee, so make sure the fee is worth it before you bring it along on your travels. If you’re ever in a jam, credit cards also offer cash advances, though we don’t recommend it. You’ll pay high fees and interest rates apply the moment you get your money.

  • Tip: It’s worth researching credit cards that offer travel benefits and rewards for things you’ll buy anyway — like flights and hotel stays.
  • Protected by PIN and chip
  • Accepted worldwide
  • May come with benefits like travel insurance
  • Interest-free days when you pay your account in full
  • Emergency card replacement
  • Withdrawing money from an ATM will be treated as a cash advance, which comes with high interest rates
  • Credit card companies may block your card if they see international transactions without being notified of travel plans

Which credit card issuers are accepted in Hungary?

Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted across Hungary. American Express credit cards are more widely accepted than Discover cards. Even so, you can still find places with the Diners Club logo that accept Discover.

Citibank and Bank of Budapest ATMs accept Discover cards. OTP Bank and Euronet ATMs, among others, accept American Express credit cards.

Merchant acceptanceATM acceptance
check mark iconHigh
check mark iconHigh
check mark iconHigh
check mark iconHigh
American Express
exclamation point iconMedium
check mark iconHigh
cross mark iconLow
cross mark iconLow

Using a debit card

A debit card could be a good travel money choice to take to Hungary. You’ll have access to cash each time you come across an ATM without carrying lots of cash on you all at once. Because you’re spending your own money, you avoid interest charges.

To save on additional charges, find a bank that waives international ATM fees and doesn’t charge a monthly account keeping fee, like Betterment Checking. You’ll also find that some Hungarian Banks don’t charge local ATM operator fees — so you’re only on the hook for the exchange rate.

  • Tip: Though Hungarian banks don’t charge ATM fees, non-Hungarian banks do.
  • No fees at Citibank ATMs in Hungary
  • Use at stores and hotels, online and ATMs
  • Protected by PIN and chip
  • Spending your own money means avoiding interest charges
  • Debit cards are directly linked to your bank account if your card is lost or stolen

Using a prepaid travel card

No travel cards support Hungarian forint, so look for a card that waives currency conversion fee, such as Travelex. It won’t charge for currency conversion when you spend in lira, which can be higher than what you’d pay if you use your regular debit or credit card.

The downside is these cards charge a couple of dollars for international ATM withdrawal in Hungary. Load these cards with euros to use at some merchants— but don’t count on it. And you won’t get the best exchange rate.

  • Tip: In most situations, you’ll get ripped off if you pay euros instead of Hungarian forint.
  • PIN security
  • Spare card if the other is lost or stolen
  • Reloadable over a secure online portal
  • Load with euros
  • You’ll pay a currency conversion fee
  • Fees to reload funds

Using traveler’s checks

Today, traveler’s checks are unnecessary. Security is the main advantage of traveler’s checks, but now card providers have money back guarantees if you’re the victim of card fraud too. Check our guide on how to avoid credit card fraud.

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Buying euro or Hungarian forint currency in the US

If you want Hungarian currency once you arrive in Hungary, look at money exchange services like Travelex. Buy Hungarian forints and pick up the cash at major airports or from one of the many Travelex locations throughout the US.

Exchanging cash

The Hungarian forint sits at roughly 250 to 300 forint to 1 dollar. If you arrive in Hungary without cash, you can withdraw forints from an ATM or you can exchange funds at the airport — for a poor rate. Change only a small amount to get you to the main city.

Foreign currency exchange spots are very accessible in Budapest and in smaller cities, towns and frequented tourist hot spots like Lake Balaton — most will charge a small commission.

    • Tip: Check out the going exchange rate on to get an idea of the current rate before you enter an office. If there’s a huge difference between the “buy” and “sell,” look elsewhere. Do your calculations before you make the exchange so you know how much you’re getting.

Live Rate

= Ft 369.5895

Refreshing in: 60s | Sun, Jun 23, 06:23PM GMT

Using ATMs in Hungary

ATMs are everywhere in Budapest and widely available in other small cities, towns and villages. Hungarian banks do not charge additional ATM usage fees, so the amount it costs to take money out from an ATM will depend on the fees from your bank. Find a bank that doesn’t charge international ATM fees, like Betterment Checking, to further save on costs.

Third-party ATMs are also common in Hungary and often found at gas stations and in bars, but many charge a flat rate for usage. Almost all ATMs will ask up front if you prefer English, German or Hungarian.

Hungary ten forintsHungary twenty forintsHungary fifty forints
Hungary one hundred forintsHungary five hundred forints

The main banks in Hungary are:

  • OTP Bank
  • K&H Bank
  • Erste Bank
  • Budapest Bank
  • CIB Bank
  • MKB Bank
  • Raiffeisen Bank
  • UniCredit Bank
  • FHB Bank
  • BNP Paribas Bank

Keep your travel money safe

Generally speaking, Hungary offers tourists safe and easygoing travel. Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and purse-snatching, can happen, though. Always be aware of your surroundings and take extra precaution in busy marketplaces or while using public transportation.

Never leave your belongings unattended, and keep your wallet in your pocket. One effective option is to wear a money belt to keep your funds hidden and out of reach.

How much does a vacation to Hungary cost?

Hungary is no longer the dirt-cheap destination it was before joining the EU, but it’s among the most affordable countries in Europe. But travelers to Hungary and Budapest will still be surprised how far their dollar will go, especially after leaving the big cities.

Budget travelers can get by on less than $40 a day, while mid-range travelers could budget less than $100. There are plenty of opportunities to indulge while in Budapest.

Official statistics estimate that the daily costs of living and traveling in Hungary are between one-third to one-half when compared with Western Europe. All prices are in US dollars.

Luxury vacationBudget vacation
MealsFeast on gourmet Hungarian and international food and wine at one of Budapest’s celebrated restaurants.
$120 per person
Munch on street food or eat in one of the many cafeteria-style eateries around the city.
$1.50–$4.00 per meal
$1.25 for a half-liter of beer
ActivitiesThe ballet at the National Opera Theatre.
$80 per ticket
City’s nightlife quarter any night of the week for live music, hole-in-the-wall venues, exhibitions and parties.
AccommodationA night in one of Budapest’s famous 5-star hotels.
$275 per night
Backpacker hostels.
$10 per night for off-season, double it for the summer

Prices are approximate and are subject to change.

      • Tip: How do you say “how much does it cost?” in Hungary? Mennyi bekerül (men-yii be-ke-ruul).

Case study: Kate's experience

Kate profile photo

Interview with Kate on her travel in Budapest, Hungary

What travel money tips do you have for Hungary?

      • Money-changing scams. Never exchange money outside of an exchange booth. Always go inside. She says the people who want to change your cash on the street are going to give you fake notes. She also says not to change your money at a bank because they charge a much higher fee than exchange offices.
      • Festivals. Sziget Festival is now completely cash-free and only accepts Metapay Festivalcard or with a bank-issued contactless-enabled card. The cash-free policy applies to other popular Hungarian festivals; Volt Festival, Balaton Sound and Budai Gourmet also.
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Written by

Kyle Morgan

Kyle Morgan is SEO manager at Forbes Advisor and a former editor and content strategist at Finder. He has written for the USA Today network and Relix magazine, among other publications. He holds a BA in journalism and media from Rutgers University. See full profile

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