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.
What's in this guide?
- How much dinars do I need to bring to Serbia?
- Exchange rate history
- Travel card, debit card or credit card?
- How cards, checks and cash work in Serbia
- Compare travel credit cards
- A guide to the Serbian dinar banknotes
- Buying dinars in the US
- Cash pickup services in Serbia
- Choose a combination of travel money options
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.
|Hostel dorm bed:|
$4–$10 per night
|3 star hotel:|
$10 per night
|5 star hotel:|
$20–$50 per night
|Lunch 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
|Downtown Belgrade walking tour:|
|Section 1 seats for the opera at the Serbian National Theatre, Belgrade:|
|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 option||Pros||Cons|
|Prepaid travel money cards|
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.
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.
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.
- Tip: It’s worth researching credit cards that offer travel benefit and rewards for things you’ll buy anyways like flights and hotel stays.
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.
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
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.
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?
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.
- Load your card with your choice of 6 available currencies: Euros, British pounds, Australian dollars, Japanese yen, Canadian dollars, and Mexican pesos
- Lock in your exchange rate
- Use your card abroad at millions of locations
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
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.Back to top
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