Travel cards, debit cards, credit cards to take on holiday to Serbia
Serbia is home to mountains, monasteries, vampires (well, maybe), raspberries and an edgy nightlife scene. The Balkan nation is growing as a destination for tourists and is very much cash based compared to other countries in Western Europe. Visa and Mastercard credit cards are widely accepted by merchants with point of sale card payment facilities as well as ATMs. Banking services and facilities in Belgrade and other large cities are modern and safe; however, you may have problems using your cards for purchases in towns and rural areas. ATM access may be limited in these places, too. The currency of the Republic of Serbia is the dinar (RSD). We compare products you can use to spend in RSD without paying international transaction fees.
- How much dinars do I need to bring to the Serbia?
- Exchange rate history
- Travel card, debit card or credit card?
- Quick summary of travel money options for Serbia
- Victor and Salome's travel tips to Serbia
- Buying currency in Australia
- Find cash and ATM's in Serbia
- Find travel insurance for your trip to Serbia
Which option is right for your next trip?
Compare travel cards for Serbia
How much dinars do I need to bring to Serbia?
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:|
|Section 1 seats for the opera at the Serbian National Theatre, Belgrade:|
|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.
|Year||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||Pros||Considerations|
|Prepaid travel money cards|
|Debit cards for travel|
|Credit cards for travel|
How cards, cheques and cash work in Serbia
Travel prepaid cards
The CBA Travel Card, the Qantas Cash and the STA CashFlex Travel 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 GE Money 28 Degrees 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.
What card did you take with you?
Why did you take these cards?
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
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Choose a combination of travel money options
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.