You'll be pleased to know that Visa and Mastercard are now widely accepted at shops, restaurants and ATMs in Serbia, making it easy to access your money when you're there without the need to carry large amounts of cash. To avoid being stung with hefty bank fees and foreign exchange charges, compare travel money options for Serbia before you leave for your trip.
You can compare a range of prepaid cards, debit card, credit cards and foreign cash solutions in this guide.
Serbia and the Balkans are cheaper than Western Europe and you can find prices to suite both shoestring and unlimited budgets.
Hostel dorm bed: $7–20 per night
3 star hotel: $20–40 per night
5 star hotel: $150–300 per night
Lunch at a small Serbian grill: $3–6 per item
Lunch at a pizza & pasta restaurant in the city: $6–12 per dish
Fine dining. 5 star restaurant: $20–30 per main
Downtown Belgrade walking tour: Free
Section 1 seats for the opera at the Serbian National Theatre, Belgrade: $15
Private guided food tour: $150 per person
*Prices are approximate and are subject to change.
Exchange rate history
The Aussie dollar peaked against the Serbian dinar in 2012 when 1 AUD was equal to 100 dinars – over the past few years the average rate has been about 80 dinars. Travel cards and traveller's cheques let you lock in a rate; however, no travel cards support RSD and Serbian dinar traveller's cheques are not available from American Express or Thomas Cook.
Average annual exchange Australian Dollar (AUD) to Serbian dinar (RSD)
Which should I opt for: travel card, debit card or credit card?
Visa and Mastercard can be used at most merchants – look for the Visa/Electron Mastercard/Maestro symbol at the point of sale or on the front of the ATM. You'll need cash for smaller purchases and when outside the major cities: Belgrade, Nis, Novi Sad and Zemun for example.
There are no travel cards which support spending in Serbian dinars. A travel card can be used throughout Europe; just look for a card that waives the currency conversion fee if you want to use a prepaid travel money card in Serbia. There are debit cards and credit cards on the market which waive currency conversion fees – you can compare these cards below. Some products even waive international ATM charges, too.
A quick summary of travel money options for Serbia
Travel money option
Prepaid travel money cards
Lock in exchange rates
Convenience to spend money overseas
Additional card is available
A fee may be charged upon card purchase, loading of funds or when card has been inactive for more 12 months
Exchange rates are lower than credit cards and debit cards
Debit cards for travel
Can be used at ATMs and over the counter
Waived currency conversion fees for purchases
Waived overseas ATM withdrawal fees
No account keeping fees
Only one option: Citibank Plus Transaction Account
Credit cards for travel
Waived international ATM fees
Waived currency conversion fees
Interest-free days on purchases
Won't be covered for card's no liability guarantee
Exchange traveller's cheque to banks
Cannot be used in-store
Greater payment flexibility
How cards, cheques and cash work in Serbia
Travel prepaid cards
The Commonwealth Bank Travel Money Card, the Qantas Cash and the STA Travel CashFLEX Visa Card are some products that could be used in Serbia due to their lack of currency conversion fee. These products can be a convenient way to spend your own money overseas with the security of an additional card. Using any other travel card will cost you at least 3% extra. The American Express GlobalTravel Card also doesn't charge for currency conversion; however, you may encounter issues with American Express acceptance in Serbia.
Depending on the card, you might be charged a fee when you purchase a travel card, load the card with funds or when the card has been inactive for more than 12 months. Prepaid cards often let you lock in the exchange rate that's in place at the time of loading your funds, but they often don't charge as competitive exchange rates as credit cards and debit cards.
Travel debit cards can be used both over the counter and at ATMs. Our comparison of travel friendly debit cards includes just one transaction account suited for overseas spending. The Citibank Plus waives the currency conversion fee for purchases and ATM withdrawals, it waives the international ATM fee and there's no monthly charge to keep the account. It comes with a Visa Debit Card. You can also use the account to make free Citibank Global Transfers to international Citi accounts.
Serbs have been able to make contactless payments for years; Australian debit cards (and credit cards) with a CHIP can make contactless payments in Serbia. However, the limits may be different. For example in Australia, you can tap and go for purchases under $100. The Citibank Plus Visa Debit can be used for contactless payments up to about $20 in Serbia. You may need to enter your PIN if you want to make a larger purchase.
The Latitude 28° Global Platinum Mastercard, Bankwest Platinum cards and Coles Rewards Mastercard waive the 3% fee for spending in a foreign currency. The Bankwest Platinum cards waive the international ATM withdrawal fee as well as the currency conversion fee. However, using your credit card for a cash advance is an expensive transaction. These cards give you interest free days on purchases when you pay your balance off in full each month; there are no interest free days when you use your card for cash withdrawals. While it is possible to transfer your own money to one of these credit cards to avoid interest charges, you won't be covered by the card's no liability guarantee.
You can change traveller's cheques at banks; however, there's no guarantee the bank will accept traveller's cheques and they can't be used in-store. This form of travel money has largely been replaced by travel cards and debit cards. Using a Visa or Mastercard product to make an ATM withdrawal is a reliable way to get foreign cash and the card schemes offer no liability guarantees which means you'll get your money back if someone gets your card and uses it.
You must declare cash (including traveller's cheques) over the amount of $10,000 when you enter and exit Serbia. If you're planning on bringing cash you can exchange Australian dollars for dinars at most banks and exchange offices. Banks offer a worse rate than exchange offices; there should be no commission on the transaction other than a small margin on the rate.
Travel, debit and credit cards are accepted in the cities but you'll more than likely need cash if you're shopping for food, clothes or souvenirs at markets, buying bread and baked goods from bakeries, cigarettes, beer or wine, lunch at a hole in the wall restaurant and so on. You will need dinars in Serbia; petrol stations near the borders may take euros at an unfavourable exchange rate.
ATMs are common throughout the cities; however, availability can be a problem in villages. The local post office may be able to give you a cash advance if you find yourself in an area lacking ATM and banking facilities. Bank ATMs do not charge a local ATM operator fee.
Finding cash and ATMs in Serbia
Victor and Salome's travel tips to Serbia
Victor and Salome went to Serbia's famous EXIT electronic music festival in the Petrovaradin Fortress, Novi Sad, near Belgrade. They'd just come from Hungary and the festival was only a short stop on a longer trip through Europe. They arrived in Belgrade and took a train to Novi Sad.
Victor paid for their flights using his Vertigo Platinum Visa to take advantage of the complimentary insurance benefit. Salome was also covered by the insurance because Victor is her husband and they were travelling together. The Citibank Plus is Salome's transaction account in Australia; it doubles as her travel account because she doesn't pay any international transaction fees or withdrawal fees. She says there's no monthly fee either.
Where could you use your cards?
Victor didn't have any trouble using his credit card when he needed it. He took Salome out to dinner in Belgrade when they arrived and bought some supplies for the festival. They visited Kalemegdan Park to see Belgrade Fortress – Salome says there were lots of stalls selling souvenirs and they only accepted cash.
What about ATM withdrawals?
Salome didn't pay ATM fees when she made a withdrawal from an ATM operated by a bank. She used a Banca Intesa ATM in Belgrade. Citi didn't charge her for currency conversion or an international ATM fee and the Serbian bank didn't charge a fee either, she says.
What's your travel money recommendation?
The couple says it's hard to look further than the Citibank Plus Transaction Account if you're conscious about saving money on overseas bank fees.
Do you have any tips?
Have a look at the Belgrade Pass. It gives you discounts on admission to museums, discounts on dinner at selected restaurants, hotels, hostels, car rental and a comprehensive city guide for €19, says Victor. Salome adds that you should always tell your bank when you're leaving the country, otherwise they may block your cards if they see an overseas transaction.
Buying dinars in Australia
Your options are limited if you want to purchase dinars in Australia. It's better to wait till you arrive in Serbia to buy them. Due to the exotic nature of the currency, dinars can be hard to find here and the rate and commission applied by institutions in Australia is much higher than in Serbia.
Compare travel insurance for your next trip to Serbia
Pick a mixture of ways to access and spend your money when you're in Serbia so you have options if a card goes missing. A credit card is a convenient line of credit you can use on holiday, while a debit card or prepaid travel card is a good option when you want to make an ATM withdrawal. If you have any questions about travel money for Serbia, get in touch with us using the form at the bottom of the page.
Jeremy Cabral is the chief operating officer and global head of publishing for Finder. He has written hundreds of comparisons covering everything from credit cards to travel money to Netflix TV shows. Jeremy has a Bachelor of Business (Marketing) from the University of Western Sydney.
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