The Czech Republic is a European Union member state. Like neighbouring Poland, the Czech Republic is not a member of the Eurozone. The Czech Crown (Koruna) is the national currency of the Czech Republic. Since the end of communism in 1989 and subsequent split with Slovakia in 1993, The Czech Republic has transformed into a modern European economy.
Like so many destinations in the region, westernisation in recent years has lifted the living standards, monthly salaries and daily costs, which in turn has increased expenses for travellers. Although the Czech Republic is not as cheap as it used to be, with a good dose of local know-how and a bit of travel savviness, your visit there doesn't need to be expensive, either.
How much Koruna do I need to bring to the Czech Republic?
Although the Czech Republic still enjoys a lingering reputation as a bargain basement destination, in reality prices have risen considerably in recent years. Travellers will still find it affordable in comparison to western European countries, though.
$15 per night
2 star hotel
$80 per night
5 star hotel
$250 per night
Trdelnik/ Kürtőskalács/ Kurtosh (Rolled Pastries)
$2.50 - $3
$10 - $25 per dish
$130 a head
Walk Charles Bridge — the most beautiful bridge in the world — at dawn or dusk Free
Private guided walking tour of Prague Appr. $20 per hour (prices can vary depending on the size of your group)
Prague communism and nuclear bunker tour $40 a head
*Prices are approximate and based on summer seasonality and are subject to change.
Exchange rate history
Since the European debt crisis, 1 Australian dollar will get you about 16 - 17 Czech Korunas.
Average annual exchange Australian Dollar (AUD) to Czech Koruna (CZK)
*Exchange rates are accurate as of 3 September 2017
Which should I opt for: travel card, debit card or credit card?
Travellers to the Czech Republic will find debit, credit and travel cards can be used throughout the country, especially in major cities such as Prague, Brno and Ostrava for example. Visa, Mastercard and American Express branded products can be used at point of sale terminals for purchases and ATM machines (bancomats) for withdrawals. Diners Club cards are accepted in few places in the Czech Republic. In Prague, cards are accepted at restaurants, hotels, supermarkets, retailers, train and metro stations. Bars and small eateries are cash only. Outside the capital and cities, you'll need cash more often. Most Czech banks don't charge ATM usage fees (non-bank affiliated ATMs generally will) so a product which waives the currency conversion fee and international ATM withdrawal fee is most suited for a trip to the Czech Republic.
Travel money options for Czech Republic at a glance
Travel Money Option
Debit cards for travel
Widely accepted in the Czech republic
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 transaction / savings 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
Allow 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
No travel cards allow you to load and spend in Czech Koruna
Reload fees could be high
Only two budget conscious options available — a no currency conversion fee travel card or a no international ATM withdrawal fee card
Credit cards for travel
Protected by PIN & chip
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 can charge you fees and high interests
Higher spending limit (depends on your approved credit limit)
Attracts an annual fee
Availability to cash at banks and exchange offices in Prague and the Czech Republic
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%).
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 different travel money products work in the Czech Republic
Using a debit card
A travel friendly debit card provides a cheap way to buy things over the counter and make withdrawals from ATMs overseas. These cards can be used throughout the Czech Republic where Visa and Mastercard are accepted (which is everywhere you can use your card), and you can make contactless payments too. According to a report published in the New Europe Investor, the Czech Republic is the number one country in the European Union for contactless card payments (there are a similar number of contactless cards compared to Germany despite the fact Germany has almost 10 times as many people as the Czech Republic).
The things you need to look for in a travel friendly debit card are: no currency conversion fee and no international ATM withdrawal fee. The Citibank Plus Transaction Account ticks both boxes, and costs nothing to own too. Citibank have a number of bankomat cash machines in the Czech Republic, Citibank cardholders can make free withdrawals from any Citibank ATM worldwide. This isn't as important in Europe as in other parts of the world, as bank ATMS in the Czech Republic do not charge a local ATM operator fee.
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.
Using a credit card
A travel friendly credit card gives you a cost effective way to make purchases outside Australia. Look for a card which waives the fee for currency conversion when you transact 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 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 the Czech Republic.
Tip: Credit cards offer up to a number of interest free days (usually up to 55). You can make interest free purchases if you pay your account in full by the 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 and will be charged with high interest immediately. Instead, leave your debit or prepaid travel card for withdrawals.
Using a travel prepaid card
The main benefit of these products is you can load the currency of the destination you're travelling to. Unfortunately, no Australian travel cards allow you to load and spend in Czech koruna. There are only two budget conscious options if you want to take a prepaid travel card to the Czech Republic: a no currency conversion fee travel card or a no international ATM withdrawal fee card. There are cards which waive one fee, but not the other. But, if you're travelling to other countries in Europe, these products shouldn't be overlooked, especially if the Czech Republic is only a short stop on an extended European holiday.
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 a traveller's cheques
Traveller's cheques can be cashed at banks and exchange offices in Prague and the Czech Republic. Although these products are not a popular way to carry funds to another country any more, traveller's cheques are still in use. 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 to Czech Republic
While cards are widely accepted in Prague, Plzen, Kutna Hora and Olomouc, for example, there are more than a handful of times when you'll need cash — markets, hole in the wall bars, small transactions at some stores and rural areas are all cash only.
Tip: Tipping is expected in Prague and the Czech Republic and should be given unless the service you got was extremely bad. Add 10% - 15% for good service. Leaving money on the table as a tip is rude.
Citibank is Greg's financial institution in Australia. He used the Citibank Plus in Australia because he wanted to take advantage of the free Citibank Global Transfer service to the U.K. He's also a bit of a jetsetter, he says he needed a card which he could use both in Australia and overseas for cheap. The Citibank Plus Visa Debit Card lets him spend overseas without paying extra for currency conversion and he doesn't pay international ATM withdrawal fees. He originally applied for the Citi Clear Card for the balance transfer promotion, but used this account to pay for his return flight so he could be covered by the complimentary international travel insurance feature. He used this card sparingly on his trip.
Where could you use your cards? Greg says card acceptance in Prague was pretty good, there were a couple of times where he couldn't use his card when he was having a beer at old town, but he could pay with his card when he went out to eat at restaurants and when he bought food from supermarkets and convenience stores. He says that he could use his card in less places in Cesky Krumlov and Kunta Hora than in Prague. He booked the Pilsner Urquell Brewery Tour online using his debit card and paid cash for beers when he was there.
Did you make ATM withdrawals? Greg says he made a couple of ATM withdrawals in the Czech Republic. He says he could take out the koruna equivalent of $300 (6,000CZK) each time, this limit varied from machine to machine, but 6000 was all he needed each transaction. Greg says he didn't pay anything to withdraw from ATMs attached to banks in the Czech Republic.
What's your travel money recommendation? Greg says it's worth the effort applying for the Citibank Plus Transaction Account. The debit card worked everywhere he tried to use it, and he says you've got nothing to lose even if you don't use the account, there are no account keeping fees.
Do you have any travel money tips?
Use cash. Greg says his Citibank Plus Account made it that easy and cheap to withdraw cash, he used cash for the majority of transactions throughout the Czech Republic. Using cash meant he never gave a thought about how to pay when he sat down for a beer or a meal and it helped him feel a little bit more like a local.
Use the metro. Surprisingly, Greg says using the metro was a highlight of his trip. Like nothing in Sydney, the metro in Prague is ridiculously efficient, cheap, easy to use and operates 24 hours a day. It saved him a taxi fare from the airport.
What is the official currency of the Czech Republic, the Euro or Czech koruna?
A full member of the European Union since 2004, The Czech Republic has yet to introduce the Euro as the official currency. Although the Czech economy is relatively stable and it is considered ready to integrate into the Eurozone, popular opinion remains against the move.
As is the case in so many neighbouring countries, the Euro does act as a kind of unofficial currency in the Czech Republic, often readily accepted, sometimes even more than cards. Unless you are sure of the exchange rate between the Euros and the Koruna, it's advised to change Euros into Koruna and pay with that instead; often the exchange rate you will get will be less than accurate.
Getting familiar with banknotes
Buying Czech koruna in Australia
You can purchase koruna in Australia before you depart. Your bank will be able to sell you cash (Westpac don't sell Czech koruna online), you can also buy koruna from Travelex, Australia Post and other foreign exchange providers in shopping centres and airports. The main difference between a provider like Travelex and your bank is the commission (NAB charge $0 commission for online orders).
Tip: There's no limit to the amount of cash you can bring into the Czech Republic. If you're carrying more than the foreign currency equivalent of $10,000, you must declare your cash at customs when you arrive.
It is easy to get cash exchanged in Prague and all over the Czech Republic, even smaller towns. Look for the word 'valuty', literally 'change'. If you have foreign currency to change to Czech Koruna, you are looking for the 'buy' rate. 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 fixed rate is better for larger amounts. Stay away from the exchange places in the Old Town, Wenceslas Square and other tourist centres as they often have poorer exchange rates and higher commission designed just for tourists. Banks generally charge two percent.
Tip: The best rates are usually around the main Railway station and some exchange offices are most reliable than others. Never change money on the street, avoid exchanging cash at the airport and using automatic exchange machines.
Find cash and ATM's in Czech Republic
Why you'll need a combination of travel money options
It's important to have more than one way to access your money when you're in the Czech Republic, 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. A travel card may not be the best product to use in the Czech Republic; however, prepaid travel cards are worth considering if you're on a extended trip in the European Union. Travel friendly debit cards combine some of the benefits of a travel card minus the fees. You might want to take a credit card so you can access an emergency line of credit, and there will be times when you'll need to put down a credit card as a security deposit.
Prague and the Czech republic remains a firm favourite with travellers visiting Europe, and with good reason. Its beautiful, rich in culture and history and still reasonably priced.Get your finances in order before you go so you can make the most out your holiday. The best travel money for the Czech Republic will allow you to spend and withdraw Czech koruna for around the same price as transacting in Australia.
Find travel insurance for your trip to Czech Republic
The Czech Republic allows travellers to take a set back into a world long forgotten. The country has been a draw for tourists many years, offering a glimpse into its Romanesque history.
If you are planning Czech adventure, make sure your holiday is protected against the unexpected, with the help of travel insurance. Travel insurance can provide you and your family with protection from the unknown. Situations protected by travel insurance include:
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