Best ways to spend travel money in Croatia: Debit & prepaid cards

Learn more about the best card to use, if you should use a UK debit card and other ways to take spending money to Croatia.

Whether you’re into medieval ramparts, breathtaking coastline or island-hopping adventures, Croatia is one of the most fashionable holiday destinations right now, and for good reason. But before you jet off on your travels, you’ll need some travel money to take with you.

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The best way to take travel money to Croatia is to use a card with low or no currency conversion fees, as well as one that won’t charge you foreign ATM transaction charges, meaning you can withdraw, spend and use the local currency with ease.

Croatia currency update, 2023

Croatia officially adopted the euro as its currency on 1 January 2023. Prior to 2023 you would be able to pay using a combination of euros and Kunas for certain items. However, this has since changed and you’ll now need to use euros for all your payments.

Cash machines are widely available all over the country and Visa or Mastercard cards can be used in most shops, supermarkets, cafés, restaurants, bars, hotels, hostels and when buying transport tickets too.

Using debit cards

Travel-friendly debit cards can give you the best of both worlds: the ability to spend your own money abroad and the freedom to withdraw cash without incurring extra charges. The best debit cards for travel in Croatia will allow you to withdraw euros from an ATM without incurring foreign ATM usage fees. Over the length of a trip, ATM fees can add up to the price of a night out.

Using prepaid travel cards

You can load euros onto all travel money cards and spend without incurring the fee for currency conversion. This is the main feature of any travel money card, and one of the main reasons why they’re popular with travellers. With that box ticked, choosing the right travel money card to take to Croatia will require a comparison of the cards’ other features such as reload fees, inactivity fees and ATM withdrawal fees.

  • Tip: You reload these products via online transfer while you’re overseas. It can take up to 3 business days for some types of payment to clear, and even longer if you try to reload your card over a weekend or public holiday. With this in mind, avoid letting your balance drain to €0 before loading to avoid being stranded without any funds.

Using credit cards

Visa and Mastercard credit cards — the majority of cards issued in the UK — are widely accepted in Croatia. The currency conversion fee (or lack thereof) is what to look for.

There are a handful of credit cards which let you spend in another currency without paying the extra 3%. Check with your credit card provider to see if this is a favourable option for you. But be sure to watch out for cash advance fees and charges if you make a withdrawal on credit, it’s one of the most expensive ways to get cash.

  • Tip: Some credit cards offer complimentary international travel insurance when you charge the cost of your travel ticket to your card.

Using traveller’s cheques

Avoid traveller’s cheques if you can – this travel money product is more hassle than it’s worth in Croatia. Card payments are the norm and provide a money back guarantee if you’re the victim of fraud. These features have made traveller’s cheques redundant over the last few years.

Using an ATM in Croatia

ATMs, called bankomats, are easily found all over Croatia. Croatian ATMs use the four-digit PIN and chip system so all UK debit and credit cards will be easily accepted. If you are withdrawing a large sum of money, you may get stuck with large bills.

How many euros should I take to Croatia?

It’s true that a holiday in Croatia is no longer as affordable as it once was, but you’ll still find it noticeably cheaper than the rest of Western Europe. If you’re travelling during summer, especially along the coastal stretch, expect to fork out more money than you would for a holiday during the rest of the year.

But if this can’t be avoided, there are other ways. If you’ve got a more modest budget, say if you’re travelling with friends, you could save on accommodation fees by staying in hostels and cheap hotels.

But on the other hand, if you have cash to splash, there’s no better place than Croatia to let loose and live that glamorous life, even for just a week…

Dubrovnik serviceBudgetMidTop
Accommodation icon
Accommodation
Hostel: £20-£35 per nightHotel / Motel: £45-£60 per night5 star hotel / Superior suite: £175-£300 per night
Food icon
Food
Fast food: £50-£10 per personRestaurant: £!5-£25 per dish5-star restaurant: £30+ per dish
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Entertainment
Free walking tourMt. Srd cable car: £15 per adults one-way ticket Dubrovnik City Walls: £20-£25 per persson

Should I use a travel card, a debit card, a credit card or a digital bank?

In Croatia, you should have little trouble with Visa and Mastercard acceptance. American Express is accepted in some places, but not others, so make sure to bring an alternative form of payment with you.

If you want to avoid extra bank fees, make use of a variety of cards and use each one for a specific purpose. For example, choose a card that won’t charge you for currency conversion for over-the-counter payments and a different card for ATM withdrawals — even better if you can find a card that suits both purposes.

A great option for this is to use a challenger bank like Monzo, Starling, Revolut or N26, offering no transaction fees and free ATM withdrawal. You can find out more about digital banks here.

Pros and cons of different travel money methods in Croatia

Now that you know what currency you’ll be needing and how much of it to take, find out whether to use debit and credit cards, traveller’s cheques, cash or prepaid cards on your trip.

Digital banking apps

Pros
  • No transaction or withdrawal fees.
  • No charges for “topping up”.
  • Can be managed from your mobile phone.
  • Some apps, Starling for instance, offer interest payments on current account balances.
Cons
  • Limited support if something goes wrong.
  • Lost debit cards while overseas can be easily blocked, but not easily replaced.
  • No backup cards.

Bank cards

Pros
  • Protected by PIN security.
  • Debit cards widely accepted in Croatia.
  • Access funds from an ATM.
  • Emergency cash facilities.
  • Pre-load and secure your exchange rate in multiple foreign currencies.
  • Emergency card replacement and backup cards.
Cons
  • Currency conversion fees on foreign transactions.
  • Lost debit cards while overseas can be easily blocked, but not easily replaced.
  • No backup cards.
  • Reloading time.

Credit cards

Pros
  • Protected by PIN security.
  • Accepted worldwide.
  • You can avoid currency conversion/transaction fees with dedicated travel credit cards.
  • Benefits including rewards points on spending, 0% purchases, frequent flyer perks, complimentary travel insurance.
  • Emergency card replacement and backup cards.
Cons
  • Can charge high withdrawal and cash advance fees.
  • Easy to build up debt (subject to your personal credit limit) – and if you repay slowly, it’s an expensive option.

Using credit cards in Croatia

Traveller’s cheques and cash

Pros
  • Secure and can be easily replaced if lost or stolen.
  • Photo I.D. needed to cash cheques.
  • Greater payment flexibility.
  • Convenience.
Cons
  • Can be costly with initial purchase charges.
  • Not all merchants accept traveller’s cheques.
  • More difficult to manage expenses.
  • Higher risk of theft.

Exchanging cash

Exchanging cash is a simple affair in Croatia. Exchange booths (Mjenjacnica), banks and post offices will change euros, American dollars, Australian dollars, Pounds, Serbian dinar, Hungarian forint and Swiss francs.

Post offices and banks are usually the most dependable places to get your money changed.

  • Exchanging currency on the Islands. If you’re heading to one of Croatia’s many beautiful islands, it’s best to exchange foreign currency into the euros on the mainland (or just use an ATM — operator fees apply). Tourist agencies and exchange offices are plentiful on the islands, but the rate is often unfavourable.
  • For road-trippers. If you are arriving to Croatia by car, one of the first things you see once you cross the border will be exchange booths. Just change enough to get you to the nearest town unless you are absolutely sure of the exchange rate as these roadside exchange booths are unlikely to give you a good rate. Even if you are arriving from neighbouring countries that don’t use euro, make sure you have euro to change. It is by far the most accepted foreign currency for exchange. You will be surprised at the unwillingness of exchange booths to accept Serbian Dinar on the Croatian/Serbian border or Hungarian Forint on the Hungarian/Croatian border, for example.
  • For jet-setters. True for almost everywhere in the world: do not get your money changed at the airport. If you need cash and you don’t have euros, just change a small amount to get you into town.

Buying currency in the UK

You have a number of options for picking up euros in the UK. Your bank can sell you euros for a competitive rate; however, you will be charged a commission for the service.

Providers such as the Post Office also sell you euros – you can order online and collect your cash from a branch near you before you leave. There’s no commission and they offer a reasonably competitive rate compared with many banks.

Exchange rates

It’s worth getting a good exchange rate, as this will leave you with a little more to spend on your trip. Compare your options and make sure you’re getting the best exchange rate possible.

Why you’ll need a combination of travel money options

Taking a prepaid card is a good, safe option for your holiday, as is a debit card with no transaction or withdrawal fees, but it’s also worth taking some cash for small payments such as bus journeys or snacks, as they may not take cards.

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8 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    KatieAugust 23, 2019

    Me and my partner are traveling to Croatia (Mlini) October 15th – we are fully self catering. Would £500 be enough for us both? I’m aware that’s around 4000 kunas? Or would we need more?

      AvatarFinder
      JeniAugust 24, 2019Finder

      Hi Katie,

      Thank you for getting in touch with Finder.

      You may bring that cash and have travel cards as your backup. Basically, how much you need depends on how long you’re staying, what would be your travel itinerary and needs, plans of buying souvenirs etc. Since cash machines are widely available all over Croatia and Visa or Mastercard cards are accepted in most establishments, just have cards with you in the event that you’re needing more than the cash you bring.

      I hope this helps.

      Thank you and have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Jeni

    Default Gravatar
    JulieAugust 5, 2019

    We are travelling to the Dubrovnik area in September and anticipate our spending money to be £1400.
    Should we take the majority in cash (kuna) or use the ATMs when we get there?

      AvatarFinder
      nikkiangcoAugust 6, 2019Finder

      Hi Julie,

      Thanks for your question! Dubrovnik is a wonderful destination to go to! While most ATMs will accept your card (depending on what card you have) you may be faced with overseas transaction and withdrawal fees if you can keep taking cash out of an ATM. If your spending will be for transportation, food, thrift shopping, and the likes, having cash is very handy. You may save your credit card for big-ticket purchases, hotel stays, and emergencies. Ultimately, this will depend on how your trip is planned so it’s always good to plan well and do a lot of research as you can.

      Hope this helps and have a great vacation!

      Cheers,
      Nikki

    Default Gravatar
    JoApril 3, 2019

    What is the currency of Slovenia?

      AvatarFinder
      JoshuaApril 3, 2019Finder

      Hi Jo,

      Thanks for getting in touch with Finder. I hope all is well with you. 😃

      The Slovenian tolar was the currency of Slovenia until it was replaced by the Euro.

      I hope this helps. Should you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach us out again.

      Have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Joshua

    Default Gravatar
    maxAugust 1, 2018

    can you pay your hotel bill in Croatia in sterling, euro or US dollar cash and if yes-what is the upper limit, if at all?

      AvatarFinder
      JoshuaAugust 8, 2018Finder

      Hi Max,

      Thanks for getting in touch with finder. I hope all is well with you. :)

      Although Croatia is now part of the European Union, at present the currency is still the kuna (code HRK). For this reason, you might find it difficult to pay your hotel bill in Sterling, Euro, or USD. However, if you use a debit or credit card with any of these currencies, your money will automatically be converted to Kuna using the specified exchange rate of your card. You may also incur other fees.

      Regarding the limit, it depends on your card. You might want to check with your provider.

      To learn more about traveling to Croatia, please review this page.

      I hope this helps. Should you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach us out again.

      Have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Joshua

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