Best ways to spend travel money in The Czech Republic: 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 The Czech Republic.

Bisected by the Vlatava River, Prague’s Gothic grace and Renaissance architecture is enough to draw millions of tourists every year, not to mention the pull of its many world-class museums and baroque churches.

While the city lies at the heart of central Europe, the Czech Republic is not actually a member of the Eurozone. The national currency is the Czech Crown (Koruna).

As with any trip it’s important to get your finances in order before you go. Here, find out how many Koruna you might need and the best forms of payment to use.

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Can I use my debit card in The Czech Republic?

Generally speaking, yes. Most shops, restaurants and bars accept debit cards however your bank may charge overseas fees. Having a travel-friendly debit card with you means you are able to buy things cheaply over the counter or make withdrawals from ATMs overseas, without being charged a fee.

These cards can be used with ease in Prague where Visa and Mastercard are accepted, and you can make contactless payments too.

For the best travel-friendly debit card options you’ll need one with no currency conversion fee and no international ATM withdrawal fee. If you bank with a digital-only bank like Monzo or Starling you can avoid these extra fees. Find out more here.

  • Tip: When you use your credit card or debit card to make a purchase or withdrawal in the Czech Republic, the Visa, Mastercard or American Express exchange rate is used for the transaction. This is the best rate consumers can access using a travel money product.
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Using a credit card

A travel-friendly credit card gives you a cost-effective way to make purchases outside the UK. Look for a card which waives the fee for currency conversion when you make a transaction in Czech Koruna.

These accounts also offer handy features for travellers such as providing complimentary travel insurance when you charge the cost of your return travel ticket to your card, and you’re also protected by the card scheme (Visa/Mastercard/American Express) anti-fraud guarantees (debit cards and travel cards are also covered), which should allay any fears about card fraud in Prague.

  • Tip: Credit cards offer a number of interest-free days (usually up to 55). You can make interest-free purchases if you pay your balance in full by the monthly statement due date.
  • Tip: Avoid using your credit card to withdraw cash if possible. This will be considered a cash advance and will cost you a fee. You’ll also be charged with high interest immediately. Instead, leave your debit or prepaid travel card for withdrawals.

Using a travel prepaid card

These are good for allowing you to load the currency of the destination you’re travelling to. There are a handful of widely available prepaid travel money card products that allow you to load and spend in Czech Koruna. These include the Post Office Travel Money Card and Wise.

Otherwise you can get a no currency conversion fee travel card, or a no international ATM withdrawal fee card. Be aware that there are cards which waive one fee, but not the other.

If your stay in Prague is temporary and you have plans to move onto other European countries, these products shouldn’t be overlooked.

  • Tip: Prepaid travel cards offer other benefits to travellers such as a separating your travel funds from your savings or line of credit, and you get two cards when you open an account in case the first card is lost or stolen.

Using traveller’s cheques

Traveller’s cheques can be cashed at banks and exchange offices in Prague. Although these products are not a popular way to carry funds to another country any more, they are still in use in the city. When you cash your cheques, you’ll pay a commission. Exchange offices (up to 10%) charge a higher commission than banks (2%).

  • Tip: You can cash American Express traveller’s cheques for no commission at the American Express exchange office in Wenceslas Square, Prague.

Taking cash with you

While cards are widely accepted in Prague, there are more than a handful of times when you’ll need cash — markets, hole-in-the-wall bars, small transactions at stores and in rural areas.

  • Tip: Tipping is expected in Prague and should be given unless the service wasn’t up to standard. We recommended adding 10% – 15% for good service. But, remember that leaving money on the table is considered rude!

Can you use euros in Prague?

Despite being a full member of the European Union, The Czech Republic has yet to introduce the Euro as the official currency. Although the economy is relatively stable and is considered ready to integrate into the Eurozone, popular opinion remains against the move.

But, as is the case in so many neighbouring countries, the Euro acts as a kind of unofficial currency in Prague, often readily accepted, sometimes even more than cards.

However, it is still advised to change euros into Koruna and pay with that instead, because of the unpredictable exchange rate.

Buying Czech Koruna in the UK

You should also try to purchase Koruna in the UK before you depart. Your bank will be able to sell you cash and you can buy the currency from the Post Office and other foreign exchange providers in shopping centres, but be sure to avoid airports.

  • Tip: There’s no limit to the amount of cash you can bring into Prague. But if you’re travelling from outside the EU and are carrying more than the foreign currency equivalent of €10,000, you must declare your cash at customs when you arrive.

Exchanging cash

It’s relatively easy to get cash exchanged in Prague. Look for the word ‘valuty’, meaning literally ‘change’. If you have foreign currency to change to Czech Koruna, you’re looking for the ‘buy’ rate. But look for the ‘sell’ rate if you need to change your Koruna back to foreign currency.

If there is a large difference between the ‘buy’ rate and the ‘sell’ rate, take your business elsewhere.

Some exchange places will charge a flat fee for the service, and others will charge a commission. A commission is more suitable if you are changing a small amount of money and a fixed rate is better for larger amounts.

Stay away from the exchange places in the Old Town, for example, as they often have poorer exchange rates and higher commission designed just for tourists. Banks generally charge 2%.

  • Tip: The best rates are usually around the main railway station, though some exchange offices are more reliable than others. Never change money on the street and try to avoid exchanging cash at the airport, or using automatic exchange machines.

How much Koruna do I need to take to Prague?

Although the city still enjoys a lingering reputation among British tourists as a bargain basement destination, prices have risen considerably in recent years. It remains affordable in comparison to western European countries, though, with £1 worth around 30 Koruna.

Find out some typical holiday prices in Prague

Prague examplesBudgetMidrangeExpensive
bldg

Hostel

£15-£25 per night

2 Star hotel
£40 – £90 per night
5 star hotel
£120 – £300 per night
utensilCoffee and a pastry

£5-£7

Dinner for two at a traditional Czech restaurant
£15 – £30
3 course set menu at Michelin star restaurant
£55+ per person
cameraSightseeing
for free!
Visit the Castle of Prague
£9 per ticket
Guided historic pub tour (drinks included)
£40 per person

*Prices are for example purposes only.

Travel card, debit card or credit card?

Travellers to Prague will find debit, credit and travel cards can be used throughout the city. Visa, Mastercard and American Express branded products can be used at point of sale terminals for purchases and at ATM machines (bancomats) for withdrawals too. Expect to be able to use these cards at restaurants, hotels, supermarkets, retailers, train and metro stations throughout the city.

If you need to withdraw more cash, the good news is that most banks in Prague don’t charge ATM usage fees.

Most digital banking apps, which are a great option owing to very low if not flat transaction and withdrawal fees, come with either a Visa or Mastercard bank card. They work as normal bank accounts do, so the “topping up” process simply consists of transferring money into the account.

Debit cards for travel

  • Widely accepted in Prague
  • Protected by PIN & chip
  • Cheap way to buy things over the counter and make withdrawals from ATMs overseas
  • Directly linked to your bank account, which means not having to worry about being charged ‘cash advance’ fees
  • Save on overseas ATM fees
  • Card is linked to your current account. If it’s stolen, thieves may have access to your entire travel funds.
  • Not a credit product. No emergency funds available though a cash advance facility.

Prepaid travel money cards

  • Allows you to load money in multiple currencies
  • Secured by PIN & chip technology
  • Emergency card replacement and backup cards
  • Easily reloadable via a secure online platform
  • Few travel cards allow you to load and spend in Czech Koruna
  • Reload fees could be high

Credit cards for travel

  • Protected by PIN & chip
  • Accepted worldwide
  • Great for larger expenses such as booking hotel rooms as many won’t charge fees for currency conversion
  • Interest-free days when you pay your account in full
  • Emergency card replacement
  • Withdrawing cash can be considered a “cash advance” and may result in fees and a high interest
  • Higher spending limit (depends on your approved credit limit)
  • Attracts an annual fee

Traveller’s cheques

  • Availabile to cash at banks and exchange offices
  • Secure and can be easily replaced if lost or stolen
  • Expect to be charged a commission when cashing your cheques
  • Exchange offices (up to 10%) charge a higher commission than banks (2%)

Cash

  • Payment flexibility
  • Convenience
  • More difficult to manage expenses
  • Higher risk of theft

Bottom line

It’s important to have more than one way to access your money when you’re in Prague, or anywhere for that matter. While emergency cash assistance from companies such as Visa and Mastercard can give you the money in your account if your card is lost or stolen, this request can take a up to a couple of days to process.

While there are a handful of prepaid travel money cards that can hold Czech Koruna, you may find that a travel card not be the best product to use in Prague, given the small selection of currency-compatible products. However, prepaid travel cards are worth considering if you’re on an extended trip within the European Union.

Travel-friendly debit cards combine some of the benefits of a travel card, minus the fees and you might also want to take a credit card so you can access an emergency line of credit. This may also be useful if you need to put down a credit card as a security deposit. Similarly, most leading digital banking apps offer a range of benefits, not least of which is zero transaction and withdrawal fees.

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