Best ways to spend travel money in Poland: Debit and 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 Poland.

Poland has been a member of the European Union since 2004 and a member of the Schengen common travel area since 2007. But it isn’t a Eurozone member, its national currency is the Polish złoty. So, if you’re travelling around Europe you will probably want a travel card with no currency conversion fees for transactions in euros and złotys.

Low-cost travel money options for Poland

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Zero fees when spending abroad
  • Includes interest on your balance
  • No foreign cash withdrawal fees
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Earn interest on your holiday money with a savings pot
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Spend in 20 major currencies for free
  • No monthly fees
  • Up to 3.5% cashback
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Can I use my debit card in Poland?

Yes, you can use your debit card in Poland. In general debit cards are accepted at most local businesses including shops, restaurants and bars. However it is always a good idea to carry a small amount of cash as certain smaller businesses may not accept card. Be aware that your bank may charge you overseas fees, so it may be worth looking for a debit card with low or no overseas fees.

Current accounts with travel features don’t usually charge for currency conversion or international ATM withdrawals. But you may find that some ATMs, or bankomats as they’re known locally, charge a local ATM operator fee when you withdraw cash using a card from a non-Polish financial institution.

Using credit cards

Generally speaking, yes. Most shops, restaurants and bars accept debit cards from UK banks, but some smaller businesses may not accept them and it would be worth taking cash too. Also be aware that your bank may charge overseas fees each time you make a transaction or withdraw money.

Travel credit cards let you spend in złotys 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 your 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 travel insurance when you meet conditions such as paying for your return airfare with your credit card.

Exchange rates. When you make a transaction in złotys using your credit card or debit card, the Visa or Mastercard (or American Express) foreign exchange rate applies. This rate can be better than the rate you’ll get on a travel card and is pretty close to the market rate.

Using travel prepaid cards

A few widely available British travel money cards support the Polish złoty, including cards from Revolut, Wise and FairFX. Unless you have złotys loaded on to the card 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 can charge for ATM withdrawals, so keep an eye out before you pop your card into a machine.

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. Pubs and clubs are frequently cash only as with some restaurants. Many markets are also cash only.

How many złotys do I need to bring to Poland?

Poland is still cheap compared to Western Europe, with 1 pound being worth roughly 5 złotys. 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.

to-sleepHostel dorm
£30–£45 per night
2-star hotel
£40–£100 per night
5-star hotel
£150–£300 per night
to-eatZapiekanki (Polish pizza)
Pierogi (Polish dumplings)
Restaurant and wine bar
£10–£20 per dish
plus wine
£11 (500ml)
5-star restaurant traditional set 3-course menu plus drinks
£45+ a head
camera1-hour river cruise
Bike tour of Kraków
£20 per person
Auschwitz-Birkenau guided tour from Kraków plus museum entry
£25 per person
Private wine tour of Kraków over 2 nights with accommodation
£130 per person

*Prices are approximate and for 1 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 bankomat 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, Kraków, Łódź, Wrocław and so on.

There are 2 charges to worry about: Compare products which waive the currency conversion fee when you spend in złotys 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 optionProsConsiderations
Debit cards for travel
  • No currency conversion, international ATM withdrawals or both
  • ATMs are the common feature of the public spaces in Kraków
  • There can be a fee for ATM cash withdrawal (approximately 8.50 złotys) 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
  • Security
  • 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
  • Convenience
  • 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.

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Buying złotys in the UK

While you can buy złotys in most high street or online travel shops, you will get a better deal if you wait to purchase złotys 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.

Exchanging cash

Pounds, 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 Kraków, head to Sławkowska 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 złotys 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.

Contactless payments

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.

Bottom line

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 Kraków 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.

We show offers we can track - that's not every product on the market...yet. Unless we've said otherwise, products are in no particular order. The terms "best", "top", "cheap" (and variations of these) aren't ratings, though we always explain what's great about a product when we highlight it. This is subject to our terms of use. When you make major financial decisions, consider getting independent financial advice. Always consider your own circumstances when you compare products so you get what's right for you. Most of the data in Finder's comparison tables has the source: Moneyfacts Group PLC. In other cases, Finder has sourced data directly from providers.

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