To enjoy all that Hungary offers, you will need a combination of cash and credit cards while traveling. Plastic is accepted throughout Budapest, the Lake Balaton region and other popular tourist hotspots.
Although credit and debit cards are widely accepted, some smaller towns and establishments accept cash only. You might even entice a discount from market vendors or in low to mid-range accommodation if you pay in Hungarian forint (HUF) cash.
Mastercard and Visa are the most commonly accepted card network in Hungary under Maestro and Cirrus for both paying in-store and withdrawing cash. American Express is accepted in some places, but this is less common.
Compare cards to use in Hungary
All credit cards we list come with no foreign transaction fees worldwide. Consider a cobranded airline credit card to further save money on flights.
If you travel to Hungary often, save more with select cards
Because United Airlines is a member of Star Alliance, you can earn and redeem miles on partner airlines that fly between the US and Hungary, like Turkish Airlines, Swiss International Air Lines and Lufthansa.
American Airlines and its Oneworld Alliance partners also offer flights between the US and Hungary. Partners include British Airways, Iberia and Finnair. An AAdvantage credit card can help you earn and redeem miles on these airlines and use your card abroad without foreign transaction fees.
Potential credit card fees in Hungary
Depending on how you use your credit card in the Pearl of the Danube, you might incur:
Foreign transaction fees. You could be charged up to 3% of the amount of each transaction.
Currency conversion fees. Some vendors accept credit card payments in US dollars. This is called dynamic currency conversion (DCC), and it typically comes with fees and a poor conversion rate.
Is it possible to incur both fees?
Yes. To avoid it, choose a credit card without foreign transaction fees and decline DCC if offered.
Which credit card issuers are accepted in Hungary?
Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted across Hungary; American Express credit cards are more widely accepted than Discover cards. Even so, you can still find places with the Diners Club logo that accept Discover.
Citibank and Bank of Budapest ATMs accept Discover cards. OTP Bank and Euronet ATMs, among others, accept American Express credit cards.
Should I use my credit card to get cash in Hungary?
You can — but watch for extra fees. ATMs in most parts of Hungary, including tourist centers, require a four-digit pin to make a cash withdrawal.
Make sure to use an ATM branded with a Hungarian bank, rather than an independent machine that could charge extra fees. Euronet ATMs are particularly renowned for poor exchange rates.
Aside from potential ATM fees, cash withdrawals come with cash advance fees and a high APR. Avoid these fees by using a debit card, making it the best choice for ATM cash withdrawals.
Most taxis in Hungary have POS terminals that accept Mastercard, Visa and often American Express credit cards. When you pay, make sure it’s in local currency to avoid dynamic currency conversion fees.
Chip-and-PIN credit cards
Chip-and-PIN debit and credit cards are widely accepted in Hungary and are issued by Hungarian banks.
If you have a chip-and-signature card, you can use it in Hungary just about everywhere you find a staffed credit card machine. If you don’t have a PIN, an attendant may make you sign for your purchase. However, you may run into situations where your chip-and-signature card won’t work.
Is it safe to use my credit card in Hungary?
Yes. But as in any country, exercise caution to avoid trouble:
Select ATMs with care. ATMs within a bank are generally more secure. If the ATM happens to hold your card, you can quickly retrieve it from a teller.
Take two cards. A backup can keep you travels on track if your primary card is lost or blocked.
Keep your card in sight. Watch your card when you’re handing it over at the counter or to the waiter.
How to prepare before traveling to Hungary
Get a credit card without foreign transaction fees. If you don’t, you could pay a fee of up to 3% on every transaction you make. That’s $90 in fees for every $3,000 you spent in Hungary.
Pack a Visa or Mastercard. Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted, though you can manage with an American Express card. If you own a Discover card, look for the Diners Club logo for credit card acceptance.
Notify your bank. Many banks no longer require it. If yours does and you fail to call, you could end up with a blocked card.
Write down your bank’s phone number. If something happens to your card, you may be able to resolve your issue with a simple call.
Take a long cash. Have some cash on hand for those small restaurants or shops that don’t accept credit cards.
It’s easy to pay for food, stays and souvenirs with your credit card in Hungary. Especially if you have Visa or Mastercard. American Express and Discover are less popular, but some merchants may accept these cards. To save money, carry a travel credit card without foreign transaction fees and always decline to pay in US dollars if offered.
Jeremy is finder's Global Head of Publishing & Editorial. Jeremy has been with finder since the very beginning and is part of the founding team working closely with Fred and Frank to build finder.com into the comparison network it is today.
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