Travel money guide for Hungary and Budapest | finder.com

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”.

Our guide breaks down how to use cash and cards — and Hungarian forint — without the extra fees that come with international trips

Which option is right for your next trip?

Compare travel cards for Hungary

Rates last updated February 25th, 2018
Name Product Foreign Currency Conversion Fee Overseas ATM Withdrawal Fee Overseas Cash Advance Fee Annual fee Product Description
Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®
0% of transaction value
$0
$10 or 5% of the transaction, whichever is greater
$0 annual fee for the first year ($89 thereafter)
Enjoy 40000
bonus miles after you spend on purchases in the first 90 days — that's enough to redeem for a $400 travel statement credit toward an eligible travel purchase.
Simmons Bank Visa® Platinum
2%
of transaction value
$0
The Simmons Bank Visa® Platinum Card offers multiple perks, including one of the lowest available APRs on the market.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® credit card
0% of transaction value
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Earn 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants.
BankAmericard Travel Rewards® Credit Card
0% of transaction value
$0
Ditch the restrictions of typical airline rewards cards. Any airline, any hotel, anytime. No blackout dates.

Compare up to 4 providers

Promoted
Travelex Money Card

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.

    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. Though 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.

    Luxury vacationBudget vacation
    eatFeats 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
    seeThe 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.
    Free–$2
    sleepA 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).

    Exchange rate history

    If you look at the USD to HUF currency chart over the last 10 years, it’ll look like a crazy seismogram that reflects the changing value of the Hungarian forint. Over the last 10 months in 2017, there has been a 40 forint decrease against the dollar — a seemingly notable amount, but really it’s only $0.15.

    USD to HUF for the last 10 days

    Feb 15 Feb 16 Feb 17 Feb 18 Feb 19 Feb 20 Feb 21 Feb 22 Feb 23 Feb 24
    1 USD = 248.9115 Inverse: 0.0040 250.8500 Inverse: 0.0040 250.8700 Inverse: 0.0040 250.9300 Inverse: 0.0040 250.8420 Inverse: 0.0040 252.8800 Inverse: 0.0040 254.4500 Inverse: 0.0039 253.8110 Inverse: 0.0039 254.6945 Inverse: 0.0039 254.5500 Inverse: 0.0039

    USD to HUF for the last 10 months

    Apr 2017 May 2017 Jun 2017 Jul 2017 Aug 2017 Sep 2017 Oct 2017 Nov 2017 Dec 2017 Jan 2018
    1 USD = 287.3755 Inverse: 0.0035 275.1350 Inverse: 0.0036 273.5450 Inverse: 0.0037 261.3220 Inverse: 0.0038 255.2035 Inverse: 0.0039 261.8850 Inverse: 0.0038 262.3100 Inverse: 0.0038 261.6960 Inverse: 0.0038 262.6700 Inverse: 0.0038 251.2995 Inverse: 0.0040
    How to send money to HungaryBack to top

    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, it’s important to know that most businesses are still cash-based outside the capital and some provincial cities.

    Travel money optionProsCons
    Travel cards
    • PIN security
    • Spare card if card is lost or stolen
    • Reloadable over a secure online portal
    • Load with euros
    • You’ll pay a currency conversion fee
    • Fees to reload funds
    Debit cards
    • No fees at Citibank ATMs in Hungary
    • Use at stores and hotels, online and ATMs
    • Protected by PIN & 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
    Credit cards
    • Protected by PIN & 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 come with high interest rates
    • Credit card companies may block your card if they see international transactions without being notified of travel plans

    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 Hungary

    Using a travel prepaid 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 will get ripped off if you pay euros instead of Hungarian forint.

    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. Find a bank that waives international ATM fees and doesn’t charge a monthly account keeping fee.

    It makes sense to take a card that doesn’t charge for currency conversion when you’re spending in a currency other than US dollars. 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.

    Using a credit card

    You won’t have any trouble using Credit cards in Hungary — American Express is accepted at fewer places. Find yourself a credit card that waives foreign transaction fees. Carrying a credit card gives you the added benefit of travel insurance and discounts, depending on your provider. For added savings, take advantage of the interest-free period by paying your balance in full each month.

    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.

    Using a 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.

    Paying with cash in Hungary

    Use the Hungarian forint when you can. Though some merchants accept euros, but you’ll get a poor exchange rate.

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    Interview with Kate on her travel in Budapest, Hungary

    What cards did you take with you?

    • Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard
    • TD Bank Visa
    • 500 euros

    Why did you take these cards?

    The TD Bank card is the card she uses at home, and it didn’t charge for foreign transactions. The Barclaycard was a backup card used for big purchases like flights and hotels. With no foreign exchange fee, rewards for travel points and complimentary international travel insurance, she got the most from purchases with this card. She brought euros because they were easy to get from her US bank.

    Where there any places where you cards weren’t accepted?

    While credit and debit cards are accepted in most places, Kate says the markets were strictly cash only.

    What about ATMs?

    Hungarian Bank ATMs don’t charge a local fee when you withdraw cash. You’ll pay when you use a non-bank ATM; however, you won’t have to look far to find a place where you can withdraw for cheap or for free.

    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 banks 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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    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. You can buy Hungarian forints and pickup 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. Just change 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 finder.com to get an idea of the current exchange before you enter an office. If there’s a huge difference between the “buy” and “sell”, you should look elsewhere. Do your calculations before you make the exchange so you know how much you’re getting.

    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.

    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 upfront if you prefer English, German or Hungarian.

    Why you’ll need a combination of travel money options

    Don’t just 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.

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    Find the lowest insurance quote for your next travel in Hungary

    Details Features
    Seven Corners Trip Protection Insurance
    Seven Corners Trip Protection Insurance
    Travel with a smile - protect your trip cost, your medical expenses, & your belongings.
    • Emergency Accident & Sickness Medical Expenses up to $250,000
    • Trip Cancellation – 100% of Trip Cost
    • Trip Interruption – up to 150% of Trip Cost
    • Political Evacuation - $20,000
    • Lost, Stolen or Damaged Baggage – up to $2,500
    • Emergency Medical Evacuation – up to $1 million
    Go to site More info
    Travelex Travel Max
    Travelex Travel Max
    TravelEx's most comprehensive protection plan for the comprehensive traveler. Offers optional Cancel For Any Reason upgrade.
    • Trip Cancellation - 100% of Insured Trip Cost
    • Trip Interruption - 150% of Insured Trip Cost
    • Trip Delay - $1000
    • Medical Expense Benefits - $100,000
    Go to site More info
    RoamRight Travel Insurance Essential
    RoamRight Travel Insurance Essential
    RoamRight’s Essential travel insurance package can be broken down into three critical parts: Trip Cancellation insurance, tourist health insurance, and baggage insurance.
    • Cancellation Cover - 100% Cost of Trip
    • Emergency Medical Expenses - $15,000
    • Emergency Evacuation and Repatriation - $150,000
    • Baggage and Personal Effects Cover - $750
    Go to site More info
    STA Travel Standard International
    STA Travel Standard International
    Get affordable cover for the essentials of options with STA's mid-level cover policy. This option will still provide up to $1500 in luggage cover and up to $100,000 in medical cover.
    • Trip Cancellation Cover - 100% of trip cost insured up to $10,000
    • Emergency Medical Expenses Cover - Up to $100,000
    • Baggage and Personal Effects - Up to $1,500
    • Trip Delay - Up to $500
    Go to site More info
    RoamRight Travel Insurance Preferred
    RoamRight Travel Insurance Preferred
    As the name implies, the Preferred package provides coverage for most trips and vacations.
    • Cancellation Cover - 100% Cost of Trip
    • Emergency Accident & Medical Expenses - $50,000
    • Emergency Evacuation and Repatriation - $500,000
    • Accidental Death and Dismemberment - $10,000
    Go to site More info
    Travelex Cancel for Any Reason
    Travelex Cancel for Any Reason
    Cancel For Any reason upgrade available with the Travel Max plan. Cancel for any reason - no questions asked.
    • Reimburses up to 75% of the insured trip cost
    • 100% cover if delayed to departure and loose at least 30%
    Go to site More info
    Atlas Travel
    Atlas Travel
    Provides customizable coverage for specific losses. Cover can be tailored to provide a balance between the basic essentials and premium cover.
    • Illness and Injury Cover - Up to $1 million
    • Emergency Medical Evacuation - Up to $1 million
    • Lost Checked Luggage - Up to $500
    • Travel Delay - $100/day up to 2 days
    Go to site More info
    Atlas Premium
    Atlas Premium
    Provides quality cover for a range of benefits with higher cover limits. Premium plan is perfect for travellers with health concerns looking for total protective cover.
    • Illness and Injury Cover - Up to $2 million
    • Emergency Medical Evacuation - Up to $1 million
    • Lost Checked Luggage - Up to $1,000
    • Travel Delay - $200/day up to 2 days
    Go to site More info
    Travelex Flight Insure Plus
    Travelex Flight Insure Plus
    Provides option to choose between different levels of flight insurance protection.
    • Flight Accident AD&D - Up to $1 Million
    • Baggage - $2,000
    • Medical Expense Benefits - $2,500
    • Medical Evacuation / Repatriation - $25,000
    Go to site More info
    STA Travel Explorer Plus
    STA Travel Explorer Plus
    Get premiere cover for a whole range of options with STA's premium policy. This option will still provide up to $100,000 in medical expense cover and up to $3,000 in cancellation cover.
    • Trip Cancellation Cover - $3,000
    • Emergency Medical Expenses Cover - Up to $100,000
    • Baggage and Personal Effects - Up to $2,500
    • Trip Delay - Up to $1,000
    Go to site More info
    Allianz Domestic Travel Insurance
    Allianz Domestic Travel Insurance
    Allianz Domestic Travel Insurance makes sure you are covered incase your planned trip unexpectedly goes awry.
    • Trip coverage - Depends on plan
    • Baggage coverage - Up to $1,000
    • 24-hour hotline assistance
    • Existing medical coverage - Up to $500,000
    Go to site More info
    Allianz International Travel Insurance
    Allianz International Travel Insurance
    If you frequently travel abroad and want extra coverage in case you get sick, injured, or need to cancel your trip, Allianz International Travel Insurance is the perfect solution.
    • Trip coverage - Depends on plan
    • Baggage coverage - Up to $1,000
    • 24-hour hotline assistance
    • Existing medical coverage - Up to $1,000,000
    Go to site More info
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