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Travel money guide: Serbia

A guide on using your money in Serbia

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Serbia is home to mountains, monasteries, vampires (well, maybe), raspberries and an edgy nightlife scene. This Balkan nation is a growing destination for tourists, but remember your cash. Serbians rely on cash, more so than other countries in Western Europe. Visa and Mastercard credit cards are accepted by merchants and at ATMs. And you’ll find banking services in Belgrade and other large cities are modern and safe — however, you may have problems using your cards for purchases and ATMs outside the big cities.

You’ll get a lot for your US dollar against the Serbian dinar (RSD). To help you get the most from your travel, we compare products you can use to spend in RSD without paying international transaction fees.

How much dinars do I need to bring to Serbia?

Travel to Serbia and the Balkans is cheaper than most countries in Western Europe. Budget travelers can find food, entertainment and a dorm bed for under $15 a day. Mid-range travelers can travel for under $30 a day, and luxury travelers can live it up for under $80 a day.

BelgradeBudgetMid-rangeExpensive
to-sleepHostel dorm bed:
$4–$10 per night
3 star hotel:
$10 per night
5 star hotel:
$20–$50 per night
to-eatLunch at a small Serbian grill:
$3–$6 per item
Lunch at a pizza & pasta restaurant in the city:
$5–$10 per dish
Fine dining. 5 star restaurant:
$15–$20 per main
to-seeDowntown Belgrade walking tour:
Free
Section 1 seats for the opera at the Serbian National Theatre, Belgrade:
$15
Private guided food tour:
$150 per person

*Prices are approximate and are subject to change.

Exchange rate history

The USD has grown significantly against the RSD in the past 10 years. Watch the forex markets and determine a good time to buy dinars and lock in a favorable rate with traveler’s checks.
Compare money transfers to Serbia

Travel card, debit card or credit card?

Most major credit cards are accepted at merchants in major cities like Belgrade. And you’ll easily find ATMs that support both credit card debit cards. However, once you leave the big cities be sure you have cash on hand. You won’t always find vendors that take credit.

Wait until you arrive in Serbia to exchange your USD. Exchange companies in the US charge high commission, taking a cut of what could go a long way in Serbia. You’ll find exchanges at the airport and in the cities or in banks — all offering about the same rate.

There are no travel cards that support Serbian dinars. If you’re traveling though Europe using your travel card, be sure to find one that waives the currency conversion fee when you spend in dinars.

A quick summary of travel money options for Serbia

Travel money optionProsCons
Prepaid travel money cards
  • Lock in exchange rates
  • Convenience to spend money overseas
  • Additional cards available
  • Doesn’t hold Serbian dinars
  • Comes with lots of fees for loading and reloading, inactivity and ATM withdrawals
  • Exchange rates are lower than credit cards and debit cards
Debit cards
  • Can be used at ATMs and over the counter
  • Waived currency conversion fees for purchases
  • Waived overseas ATM withdrawal fees
  • No access to cash advance
Credit cards
  • Rewards program and travel insurance
  • Waived international ATM and conversion fees
  • Interest-free days on purchases
  • Fees and interest for cash withdrawal
Traveler’s checks
  • Accepted at most banks
  • Security
  • Fees for purchasing and cashing
  • Hard to find merchants that accept them
Cash
  • Accepted anywhere
  • Convenient
  • More difficult to manage expenses
  • High risk of theft

How cards, checks and cash work in Serbia

Travel prepaid cards

No travel cards support Serbian dinar, so look for a card which waives the currency conversion fee, such as Travelex if you’re set on taking a travel card. It won’t apply the additional charge for currency conversion when you spend in dinar, which can be higher than what you’d pay if you use your regular debit or credit card. The compromise is it charges you to use an international ATM withdrawal in Serbia, which is a couple of dollars for each withdrawal. You can 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. The benefit of a prepaid card is that they let you lock in the exchange rate when you load your funds, however they often don’t charge as competitive exchange rates as credit cards and debit cards.

  • Tip: When you get a travel card, you’ll get two for the same account. This comes in handy if your first card is lost or stolen, so make sure to keep the second card in a safe place.

Debit cards

A travel debit card lets you spend your own money through ATM withdrawals and making purchases anywhere Visa or Mastercard are accepted. You can use a debit card over the counter and to withdraw money from ATM. Because you’re spending your own money, you avoid interest charges you’d pay with credit cards. The Citibank Plus waives the fee for international ATM withdrawals and doesn’t charge a monthly account keeping fee.

  • Tip: Serbs have been able to make contactless payments for years. So, if your card is a CHIP card, you can tap and go at most merchants.

Credit cards

Travel credit cards give you a line of credit to use for emergencies, large purchases or over the counter transactions. 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 the ease of cash advances, though we don’t recommend it. You’ll pay high fees and interest rates apply the moment you get your money.

Traveler’s checks

If you bring traveler’s checks, you can cash American Express and Visa issued checks at most banks. Though, don’t try to use them in store as they won’t accept them. Traveler’s checks have been replaced by credit cards and travel cards.

Using cash

Once you arrive in Serbia, look for a bank or exchange office to exchange your dollars for dinar. There are also money exchange machines that are open 24 hours a day. They take eros, sounds and US dollars and exchange up to $200 at a time. Though travel, debit and credit cards are accepted in the cities you’ll likely need cash if you’re shopping at smaller vendors or markets. You will need dinars in Serbia; petrol stations near the borders may take euros at an unfavourable exchange rate.

  • Tip: Avoid carrying large amounts of cash, as tourists are often the target of criminals, especially in big cities.
  • ATMs are common throughout the cities, though availability can be a problem in villages. The local post office may be able to give you a cash advance if you find yourself in an area lacking ATM and banking facilities. Bank ATMs do not charge a local ATM operator fee.

Compare travel credit cards

Name Product Welcome offer Rewards Annual fee Filter values
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
80,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months, a value of up to $1,000 through Chase Ultimate Rewards
5x points on Lyft, 2x points on travel and dining and 1x points on all other purchases
$95
This popular travel card's signup bonus is worth up to $1,000. Get even more value out of your travel, dining, and Lyft rewards by transferring them to miles.
American Express® Gold Card
35,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
3x points on directly-booked flights; 4x at restaurants; 4x at US supermarkets on up to $25,000 annually (then 1x points)
$250
Earn 4x points at restaurants worldwide. Rates & fees
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
10x points on Lyft rides, 3x points on dining and travel after earning your $300 travel credit and 1x points on all other purchases
$550
Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
Hilton Honors American Express Card
75,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
7x points on Hilton Honors purchases, 5x at US restaurants, US supermarkets and US gas stations, 3x on all other purchases
$0
Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the card within your first 3 months of card membership. Rates & fees
Luxury Card Mastercard® Titanium Card™
N/A
1x points on all purchases with 2% point value when you redeem for airfare and 1% for cash back
$195
Enjoy unique excursions, privileged access to exclusive events and insider opportunities.
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Compare up to 4 providers

A guide to the Serbian dinar banknotes

The official currency in Serbia is the Serbian Dinar RSD and comes in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000 and 5000 dinars, each a different color. Be sure to pay the right amount when you make your purchases, and always count your change. Familiarize yourself with what the currency looks like and how it works will avoid confusion when handling your money.

serbian-banknotes


Case study: You might also be interested in:Victor and Salome’s travel tips to Serbia

Victor and Salome went to Serbia’s famous EXIT electronic music festival in the Petrovaradin Fortress, Novi Sad, near Belgrade. They’d just come from Hungary and the festival was only a short stop on a longer trip through Europe. They arrived in Belgrade and took a train to Novi Sad. We interviewed them to see what experiences they had using travel money while in Serbia.

What card did you take with you?

Victor says he had his BankAmericard Travel Rewards card and Barclaycard Arrival Plus

Salome says she took the Citibank Plus Debit Card and the Simmons Visa®

Why did you take these cards?

Victor paid for their flights using his Barclaycard Arrival Plus card to take advantage of the double reward points on travel purchases in addition to travel accident and trip cancellation insurance. Salome was also covered by the insurance because they are married and are traveling together. The Simmons Visa® is what Salome uses in the US for her day-to-day transactions and pays it in full each month. She likes it because she doesn’t pay an annual fee.

Where could you use your cards?

Victor didn’t have any trouble using his credit card when he needed it. He took Salome out to dinner in Belgrade when they arrived and bought some supplies for the festival. They visited Kalemegdan Park to see Belgrade Fortress — Salome says there were lots of stalls selling souvenirs and they only accepted cash.

What about ATM withdrawals?

Salome didn’t pay ATM fees when she made a withdrawal from a bank ATMs. She used a Banca Intesa ATM in Belgrade that didn’t charge any withdrawal fees. Her Citi didn’t charge her for currency conversion or an international ATM fee either.

What’s your travel money recommendation?

The couple says it’s hard to look further than the Barclaycard Arrival Plus card if you’re conscious about saving money on overseas bank fees.

Do you have any tips?

Have a look at the Belgrade Pass. It gives you discounts on admission to museums, discounts on dinner at selected restaurants, hotels, hostels, car rental and a comprehensive city guide for $15, says Victor. Salome adds that you should always tell your bank when you’re leaving the country, otherwise they may block your cards if they see an overseas transaction.

Our pick for a prepaid travel card
Travelex Money Card

Buying dinars in the US

Your options are limited if you want to purchase dinars in the US — wait until you arrive in Serbia. Because dinar is considered exotic currency, they can be hard to find in the US, and the rates and commission is higher than in Serbia.

Cash pickup services in Serbia

Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
$1 3 - 5 days USD 20.00 96.837 RSD 94,900 The biggest name in money transfers can get your funds to friends, family, or businesses in almost every corner of the globe. Show details

Compare up to 4 providers

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

Choose a combination of travel money options

Pick a variety of ways to access and spend your money while you’re in Serbia so that you have options. A credit card is a convenient line of credit you can use on your vacation, while a debit or prepaid travel card is a good option when you want to make ATM withdrawals.

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