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Currency Exchange advise, please

Currency Exchange advise, please

Old Dec 31, 18, 2:21 pm
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Currency Exchange advise, please

My husband and I will be visiting Germany, Austria, Hungary and Czech Republic in March. With the need for Euros, Fornits and Korunas should we, A-get all 3, here in the US, not knowing when we will use any excess Fornits and Korunas, B-Get lots of Euros and exchange for Fornits and Korunas as needed or C-get some Euros and exchange USD's as needed? Excess Euros will not be an issue due to other upcoming travel. Also, any advise on the amount of cash on hand recommended, per day/person, in Hungary and Czech Republic? Thanks!
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Old Dec 31, 18, 2:27 pm
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I would probably get a load of Euros from my bank in your situation. That's likely to be about the best exchange rate, although you could also use an ATM in Germany if your bank doesn't charge fees for this.

Just buy the 'weird' currencies as an when.

Cash on hand? Totally depends on what you want it for. I usually have only a little on hand and use my Amex (no foreigh transaction fee).
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Old Dec 31, 18, 5:21 pm
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Originally Posted by tanglin View Post
I would probably get a load of Euros from my bank in your situation. That's likely to be about the best exchange rate, although you could also use an ATM in Germany if your bank doesn't charge fees for this.

Just buy the 'weird' currencies as an when.

Cash on hand? Totally depends on what you want it for. I usually have only a little on hand and use my Amex (no foreigh transaction fee).
Thanks! My AMEX is in the arsenal with a couple other no FTF cc's. My concern is Hungary and Czech Republic where there appear to be quite a lot of restaurants that are cash only and, of course, tipping for taxis and the like is preferred in cash.
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Old Dec 31, 18, 9:43 pm
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Firstly the currency of Hungary is the forint, not the fornit.

In these countries ATMs will give you the best exchange rate on the day that you withdraw, but if you don't have a card with no cash withdrawal fees it may be cheaper to exchange at home, or bring US cash, bearing in mind that any time Trump or Merkel or Macron or whoever says something the rates will change.

What I can say is that leftover korun or forint will not be a problem, as you can easily exchange them without losing out (at least in Prague and Budapest - YMMV if you leave those countries from some small town).

You can get spreads as low as 0.5% for both euros and US dollars. So if you exchanged $1000 then spent exactly half of your money, you might get $490-$495 instead of $500 if you exchanged the remainder back immediately. $5-$10 is not really worth worrying about, and you might even get back more than $500 if you are lucky.

Also the refusal of Americans to embrace the dollar coin works in your favor, as if you exchange to USD, you won't be left with more than $1 worth of those currencies.


You can try these two companies in Prague. There are plenty more similarly priced but do you want to waste time wandering from shop to shop comparing rates? Show the coupon on your phone to get the VIP rates.
https://www.exchange.cz/vip-coupon.php
Sm?nárna Nekázanka Exchange ? nejvýhodn?j?í kurzy valut a deviz.


For Hungary you can use A legjobb valuta árfolyamok Budapesten és vidéken - Pénzváltók, pénzváltás, euró árfolyam,dollár árfolyam, valuta árfolyam ma, valutaváltó, pénzváltó helyek, valutaváltás, valuta, napi árfolyam, valuta középárfolyam to find the best rate (in Hungarian).
https://correctchange.hu/en/home/ is quite good and has several branches.


Without knowing your tastes, I guess an average spend might be 2500Kč per day in Prague and 25000Ft in Budapest
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Old Jan 1, 19, 8:59 am
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Originally Posted by :D! View Post
Firstly the currency of Hungary is the forint, not the fornit.

In these countries ATMs will give you the best exchange rate on the day that you withdraw, but if you don't have a card with no cash withdrawal fees it may be cheaper to exchange at home, or bring US cash, bearing in mind that any time Trump or Merkel or Macron or whoever says something the rates will change.

What I can say is that leftover korun or forint will not be a problem, as you can easily exchange them without losing out (at least in Prague and Budapest - YMMV if you leave those countries from some small town).

You can get spreads as low as 0.5% for both euros and US dollars. So if you exchanged $1000 then spent exactly half of your money, you might get $490-$495 instead of $500 if you exchanged the remainder back immediately. $5-$10 is not really worth worrying about, and you might even get back more than $500 if you are lucky.

Also the refusal of Americans to embrace the dollar coin works in your favor, as if you exchange to USD, you won't be left with more than $1 worth of those currencies.


You can try these two companies in Prague. There are plenty more similarly priced but do you want to waste time wandering from shop to shop comparing rates? Show the coupon on your phone to get the VIP rates.
https://www.exchange.cz/vip-coupon.php
Sm?nárna Nekázanka Exchange ? nejvýhodn?j?í kurzy valut a deviz.


For Hungary you can use A legjobb valuta árfolyamok Budapesten és vidéken - Pénzváltók, pénzváltás, euró árfolyam,dollár árfolyam, valuta árfolyam ma, valutaváltó, pénzváltó helyek, valutaváltás, valuta, napi árfolyam, valuta középárfolyam to find the best rate (in Hungarian).
https://correctchange.hu/en/home/ is quite good and has several branches.


Without knowing your tastes, I guess an average spend might be 2500Kč per day in Prague and 25000Ft in Budapest
Forgive my misspelling, I do actually know the proper one.
I think I'll get $100 equivalent for the forints and korunas from my bank and get more as needed when we are there. Thank you so much for the links and your suggestions on amounts per day.
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Old Jan 1, 19, 9:52 am
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As a very general rule, one gets bad or very bad exchange rates and fees when trying to change US$ to foreign currency in the USA. In many cases, you must order it in advance (especially for less common currencies) from your (major commercial) bank, which is also a hassle, or use one of the currency exchange places in major airports (which sometimes don't have stocks of the currency you need) in major USA airports. If you'll mostly be using credit cards, so that we're not talking about carrying huge amounts of cash (remember that movements of $10,000+ must be reported), you can just carry nice new US$ bills in larger denominations (but not larger than what you'll need to change) and do a cash to cash exchange in a bank at the airport.

Also, if the amounts are reasonable, it might not be worth inconveniencing yourself greatly in order to get a slightly better deal on the exchange rate and fees. Nevertheless, this doesn't mean that you should plan to change money in hotels/shops/restaurants in most countries.

Do not engage in "black market" exchanges, for instance on the street or near the main square in Prague as you risk (at best) getting counterfeit money or otherwise being cheated.

Especially if you have one or more credit cards that don't impose foreign transaction fees, try to pay as much as possible by credit card in the local currency. Do not accept any offers to charge your card in dollars, aka dynamic currency conversion.
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Old Jan 1, 19, 11:07 am
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While using ATMs would generally result in the best rates, in Budapest, Hungary the best rates for € or $ are at the numerous small exchange offices in town. (The shiny ones, also at the airport are daylight robbery) If you intend to spend little cash (1-200 $) it's probably not worth the hassle, just go for the ATM at the airport and chose "I want to be charged in local currency" (!!) and confirm it. If you chose to be charged in your home currency, you'll lose 10-15% on the exchange rate.

The easiest way to see if they are a good deal or robbery is to compare the selling and buying rates. If the two are within a few-%, it's a good rate. If the spread is 10-20-30%, avoid them.

In Budapest you won't need much cash, mainly for taxis or smaller restaurants. Visa/MC/Amex are widely accepted.
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Old Jan 1, 19, 11:59 am
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My method is to never get foreign currency ahead of time. Been there, done that and it’s more expensive. I only use bank ATMs to withdraw money when I’m in a foreign country. Usually, as soon as I get off a plane, I look for a bank owned ATM in the airport to get cash.
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Old Jan 20, 19, 7:42 pm
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Many exchange places in Prague won't just rip you off, they will skin you alive! I highly recommend going to YouTube and searching "Honest Prague Guide Change Money"

Janek Rubeš deserves a medal for the work he is doing! As a matter of fact, watch all of the Honest Guide videos you can before you go.

Most places in Prague take credit cards and many accept Euros (often at better rate than exchange offices), so you won't need a lot of crowns unless you plan on travelling outside of "tourist" Prague.

Cabbies are also notorious scammers in Prague, too! Metro and trams can get you almost everywhere you need to go in the city, even from the airport to downtown. Best part is, the price, a 24 ticket (unlimited rides on metro, trams, buses, ferry and funicular) is 110Kč which is about $4.88
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Old Jan 21, 19, 7:29 am
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Originally Posted by Mr. Kipper View Post

Most places in Prague take credit cards and many accept Euros (often at better rate than exchange offices), so you won't need a lot of crowns unless you plan on travelling outside of "tourist" Prague.
Have you ever done the math to convert the Euros to Crowns in this situation? My experience is that you are being charged a hefty "exchange rate" if you use Euros. So you can pay for the convenience, but as others have said, the best recommendation is use a bank-owned ATM in both countries to get the best deal.

Same goes for Euros too. Even here in Chicago, the rate to buy Euros at the bank was higher than what I pay through an ATM in-country, the one time I looked, and it required me to go to a main office rather than a local branch.

My overall strategy for Europe is local ATM + credit card with no foreign transaction fees.
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Old Jan 21, 19, 11:41 am
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Originally Posted by JBord View Post
Have you ever done the math to convert the Euros to Crowns in this situation? My experience is that you are being charged a hefty "exchange rate" if you use Euros. So you can pay for the convenience, but as others have said, the best recommendation is use a bank-owned ATM in both countries to get the best deal.

Same goes for Euros too. Even here in Chicago, the rate to buy Euros at the bank was higher than what I pay through an ATM in-country, the one time I looked, and it required me to go to a main office rather than a local branch.

My overall strategy for Europe is local ATM + credit card with no foreign transaction fees.
My experience in using Euros in Prague was that I did get a pretty nice exchange rate. It may have been the shop owner, but it was a good deal.
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Old Jan 21, 19, 12:42 pm
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Originally Posted by kipper View Post
My experience in using Euros in Prague was that I did get a pretty nice exchange rate. It may have been the shop owner, but it was a good deal.
Fair enough, I think it probably does depend on the merchant. Even Prague has a few honest ones!
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Old Jan 21, 19, 1:00 pm
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Originally Posted by JBord View Post

My overall strategy for Europe is local ATM + credit card with no foreign transaction fees.
This is the most practical advice.
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Old Jan 21, 19, 1:09 pm
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Unfortunately, my bank does charge foreign transaction fees+ATM fees. What banks don't charge those fees? I'm in the US. Also, I am able to get foreign currency with no fees and free shipping from the same bank.
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Old Jan 22, 19, 9:16 am
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Originally Posted by hipquest View Post
Unfortunately, my bank does charge foreign transaction fees+ATM fees. What banks don't charge those fees? I'm in the US. Also, I am able to get foreign currency with no fees and free shipping from the same bank.
Sign up for a Charles Schwab bank account. Do a quick google search for a referral link and you can get $100 when you sign up. No ATM fees anywhere and Schwab will reimburse your fees charged by any local bank within 30 days. I use it in conjunction with my main account and transfer over cash before a trip. It's worked like a charm in several European countries and Turkey when I need cash (put all my spend on no foreign fee credit cards that I can),
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