Poland has been a member of the European Union since 2004 and a member of the Schengen area since 2007. As Poland isn’t a Eurozone member, zloty is the national currency. So, if you’re travelling around Europe you will probably want a travel card with no currency conversion fees for transactions in Euros and Zloty.
Compare travel cards for Poland
How much zloty do I need to bring Poland?
Poland is still cheap compared to Western Europe, with one pound being worth roughly five zlotys. How you choose to travel will dictate the final cost of your trip. If you eat out (and drink out) every night and stay in nice hotels, your trip will be much more expensive than somebody who rents a bed in a dorm and cooks with food from the market.
40zł – 80zł per night
|2 star hotel
100zł – 250zł per night
|5 star hotel
400zł – 700zł per night
||Zapiekanki (Polish pizza)
Pierogi (Polish dumplings)
|Restaurant and wine bar
30zł – 60zł per dish
|5 star restaurant traditional set 3 course menu plus drinks
220zł a head
||1 hour river cruise
Bike tour of Krakow
100zł per person
|Auschwitz-Birkenau guided tour from Krakow plus museum entry
170zł per person
|Private wine tour of Krakow over 2 nights with accommodation
700zł per person
*Prices are approximate and for one guest in summer.
Which travel card, debit card or credit card?
You won’t have a problem using your Visa or Mastercard debit card, credit card or travel money card at point of sale terminals and Polish bancomat machines. Like in Britain, American Express is not accepted in as many places as Visa or Mastercard. Card payments are the norm in supermarkets, shops, petrol stations, restaurants and more, especially in major towns and cities such as Warsaw, Krakow, Lodz, Wroclaw and so on. There are two charges to worry about: compare products which waive the currency conversion fee when you spend in zloty and compare cards that let you withdraw from Polish ATMs without paying the international ATM withdrawal fee.
Travel money options for Poland at a glance
|Travel money option
|Debit cards for travel
- No currency conversion, international ATM withdrawals or both
- ATMs are the common feature of the public spaces in Krakow
- There is a fee for ATM cash withdrawal (approx. 8.50zł) from bankomats
|Prepaid travel money cards
- Convenient and safe
- Prepaid travel cards can be used to spend and withdraw (fees may apply)
- There are cheaper travel money products to use than a prepaid travel card
|Credit cards for travel
- Credit cards are widely accepted, especially Visa and Mastercard
- Some cards have no annual fees, no foreign exchange fees and they perform currency exchanges at the best possible interchange rate
- Credit cards can usually only be used in larger cities and tourist areas and you may be charged to use them
- Smaller businesses and out-of-city areas credit card acceptance might not be so common
- Traveller’s cheques can be exchanged at the larger hotels
- Only accepted by main banks and hotels
- They are not accepted by kantors.
- Greater payment flexibility
- More difficult to manage expenses
- Higher risk of theft
This table is a general summary of the travel money products in the market. Features and benefits can vary between cards.
How travel cards, debit cards, credit cards and more work in Poland
Using Australian debit cards
Transaction accounts with travel features don’t charge for currency conversion, international ATM withdrawals or both. Because Poland is not a Eurozone member, you’ll pay a local ATM operator fee when you withdraw cash (approx. 8.50zł) from bankomats.
Using credit cards
Travel credit cards let you spend in zloty without paying the additional 3% charge to convert British pounds into a foreign currency. This is a handy feature when you’re overseas as it allows you to use you credit card in Poland for approximately the same price as Britain. In Poland, as in most developed countries, credit cards are widely accepted, especially Visa and Mastercard. However, be mindful that in smaller businesses and out-of-city areas credit card acceptance might not be so common.
Tip: Some credit cards offer complimentary insurances when you meet conditions like pay for your return airfare with your credit card.
Exchange rates. When you make a transaction in zloty using your credit card or debit card, the Visa or Mastercard (or American Express) foreign exchange rate applies. This rate is usually better than the rate you’ll get on a travel card and is pretty close to the market rate.
Using travel prepaid cards
Only some British travel money cards support Polish zloty. Unless you have Zloty loaded on to it or you’re using a no currency conversion fee travel card, you’ll pay an additional fee when you use your travel card to spend and withdraw. The cards which don’t charge for currency conversion charge for ATM withdrawals and vice versa. While travel cards may be suited to take to trips to Eurozone member countries, there are cheaper travel money products to use in Poland than a prepaid travel card.
Using traveller’s cheques
Traveller’s cheques are a travel money dinosaur. These products have been replaced by debit cards and travel cards and you will have trouble finding a place where you can get your traveller’s cheques cashed. Taking traveller’s cheques to Poland is not advised.
Paying with cash in Poland
You will find that you can pay using your card in Poland in a similar number of places to Britain. The difference is the time it takes for the transaction to process. It can be minutes rather than seconds with some merchants, and you may get the odd look while a line builds up behind you. Some stores will only take cards for transactions over the Polish equivalent of £10 British pounds. Pubs and clubs are frequently cash only as with some restaurants. Of course, markets are cash only.
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Top Deck Tour: One day in Krakow
For her 19th birthday, Kacey visited Poland as part of a 13 day Top Deck tour. She spent a day travelling from Vienna to Poland and one day in Krakow before continuing to the Czech Republic.
Where could you use your cards?
She didn’t have a problem with card acceptance. When she arrived in Poland, she made one ATM withdrawal of about 200 Polish zloty (about £40 GBP), which was more than enough to cover her for a day and a half — the tour paid for breakfast, but not lunch, dinner, drinks or activities for the day. She didn’t want to withdraw too much money as they headed to the Czech Republic the next day, and she had to make another ATM withdrawal so she could get Czech Koruna.
What about ATM withdrawals?
Kacey made a withdrawal from a Bank Polski bancomat around Krakow’s main square and was charged a fee of 5zł, which is about £1. She says that the ATM offered an English language option and displayed exactly what she would be charged before she accepted the transaction.
Do you have any travel money tips?
- Reload time. Kacey says it took at least 2 or 3 days to transfer money. She says watch out for weekends, she tried to make a transfer on a Friday and the funds didn’t clear until Wednesday (5 days).
Buying Zloty in the U.K.
Whilst you can buy Zloty in most high street or online travel shops, you will get a better deal if you wait to purchase Zlotys in Poland as the rate is likely to be worse than what you’ll get from an exchange office or ATM when you arrive. You can compare travel money services here.
Punds, euros and US dollars can all be easily changed at Polish ‘Kantors’ or exchange offices. Kantors can offer a very good exchange rate. Always use a Kantor which displays a ‘buy’ and ‘sell’ rate, if there is only one rate on display, there’s a good chance it’s a dodgy exchange office and you may get ripped off. In Krakow, head to Slawkowska Street close to the main square of the city to find a decent place to exchange cash. There should be no commission but double check before you start the transaction. Avoid changing money at the airport. If you find yourself in smaller villages, banks will usually change foreign currency, but come prepared with enough Zloty beforehand.
Tip: Some towns near the border of Eurozone member states may accept euros as a form of payment. Always pay in the local currency to avoid an unfavourable exchange rate.
Finding cash and ATMs in Poland
Contactless payments are extremely handy when you’re overseas. This form of payment eliminates the minimum transaction limit so common among merchants. Poland has had an enthusiastic uptake of contactless payment technology and is currently the biggest market in Europe for Visa PayWave. Almost half of all Visa payments in Poland are contactless and all Visa point of sale terminals will support contactless payments by the end of 2017.
Why you’ll need a combination of travel money options
The best advice for how to carry and use your travel money while in Poland is to split up your travel funds between cards, always have access to cash to make small payments, and carry enough cash on your person to get you through any small emergency. In larger cities like Krakow and Warsaw, pulling out your card to pay for lunch is not likely to raise an eyebrow; paying with card is perfectly normal. There will definitely be some situations where cash is the preferred, if not the only way to pay. That’s why it makes sense to keep your options open, and have easy access to both cash and cards. If you are planning a trip to Poland, or are considering travelling to Europe, compare the travel money options before you leave. If you have any other tips for travelling wisely and using travel money in Poland, leave a comment in the forum. If you have any questions, ask us using the form below.