Money in Czech Republic: Banks, ATMs, cards & currency exchange

20.06.17
5 minute read

Over 3 million visitors had already visited Czech Republic by June 2016. An early sign that 2016 will be another year of growth for tourism in Czech Republic. It’s easy to see why, with plenty of history and spectacular castles, the Czech Republic and it’s popular capital Prague, has a lot to offer its tourists. And if you’re planning a trip then you’ll want some cash to spend.

This guide will let you know everything you need to know about currency in the Czech Republic, including which banks are in the country, where and how to find an ATM and how to get the best currency rates. Now all you need to worry about is what to see and how to fit it all into one trip.

Currency in Czech Republic

The Czech Republic is legally bound to join the Euro by its 2003 treaty of Accession. Yet there has been considerable public opposition to adopting the Euro following the European debt crisis. But many shops and restaurants already accept Euros, expect your change in Czech Koruna though. Paying in Euros isn’t really advisable as you’ll be subject to the vendors exchange rate, which might not be favourable.

Characteristics of the Czech Koruna (CZK)

Names & Nicknames Crowns
Symbols & Abbreviations CZK, Kč
1 CZK One crown equals 100 halers, but you won’t see halers in circulation even though they’re listed on prices. Advertised pricing is subject to rounding.
HRK coins CZK coins are available in denominations of 1, 2, 5,10, 20 and 50.
HRK banknotes Crown notes start at CZK 100 and follow the same denominations as coins only in hundreds (eg, CZK 200, 500, 1000, 2000, 5000).

Exchanging currency in Czech Republic

Getting currency locally usually gets you a better rate than purchasing it at home. Make sure the cash you wish to exchange is in good clean quality condition. Many exchange services will refuse to exchange cash that is in any way damaged.

If you need cash upon arrival you could exchange a small amount at the airport when you arrive. It’s better not to use airport exchanges for large amounts as the rates at these places vary wildly. You can usually get a better rate elsewhere, this is also true of hotels.

Be aware that currency bureaus advertising “no commission” or “no fees” will often hide their charges in a bad exchange rate. Find out the current mid-market rate before you travel, this is the real market value of a currency. It can help you to compare the exchange rates on offer and know whether you‘re getting a good deal or not. You can usually find the mid-market rate via a currency converter or a Google search.

Whatever you do, don’t exchange cash on the street. There are plenty of scammers selling discontinued old crown notes or Hungarian forints of lesser value. You can exchange currency at most banks in Czech Republic, many of which often have currency exchange machines installed. Alternatively use a private X2 exchange office. In-bank exchanges normally cost a minimum of 2% of the total exchange.

But getting cash could also be as simple as using an ATM, these often offer the most reasonable rate of conversion.

Using Travellers cheques in Czech Republic

You can cash travellers cheques in banks and exchange offices in Czech Republic. Most banks in Czech Republic will charge a minimum of 2% commission whereas exchange offices charge between 3 and 10% commission.

Komerchní bank will cash Euro cheques free of charge and American Express and Thomas Cook offices will cash their own travellers cheques at bank rates free of charge. Though there are some offices in Prague, these will be harder to find outside of the big cities.

The exchange rate for cashing traveller’s cheques can often be unfavourable, so it’s usually better to exchange cash or use ATMs.

Using Credit cards and Debit cards in Czech Republic

Cash machines in Czech Republic will accept credit and debit cards backed by Visa, Mastercard/Eurocard, Maestro and American Express. Credit cards are accepted in most hotels, international shops and expensive restaurants, but cash is king in Czech Republic. Most local shops and cheap restaurants won’t accept credit cards so always carry cash.

When using your credit or debit card, be sure to choose to pay the charge in the local currency if you have an option. Dynamic Currency conversion (DCC) allows you to see exactly how much you have been charged in your home currency. But because it means the machine can charge you it’s own conversion rate, which might not be preferable to the exchange rate of your home bank, you might end up paying more for your money.

If you plan on using your debit or credit card whilst in Czech Republic then tell your home bank before you leave, otherwise they might put a stop on your card due to suspicious behaviour.

ATMs in Czech Republic

ATMs are commonly available in Czech Republic but withdrawals will still be subject to your home banks daily limit, so be mindful that you’ll only be able to withdraw a certain amount (depending on your withdrawal limit) a day.

You can find out where your nearest ATM is using one of these global ATM locators:

Your home bank will most likely charge you for a withdrawal abroad, unless they have a partner bank (as explained earlier). Some ATMs will tell you a charge is applied but won’t tell you the rate, avoid these ATMs if possible and find one where the charge is stated upfront.

If there is an option to pay the withdrawal fee in local currency then always select to do this as explained above.

Banks in Czech Republic

It’s worth checking if your local bank has a partner bank in Czech Republic before your visit. You can often use the ATM of a partner bank for a reduced or, in some cases, no fee.

Československá obchodní banka (ČSOB), owned by Belgium-based bank KBC, is one of the largest banks in Czech Republic. It operates ČSOB branded branches as well as Česká pošta (Czech postal company) branches under the brand name Poštovní spořitelna. Komerční banka is another major bank in Czech Republic with 399 branches which serve its 1.6 million customers.

Below is a table of the most common retail banks in Czech Republic:

Major Retail Banks in Czech Republic
Ceska Sporitelna
Československá obchodní banka (ČSOB)
Komerční banka
Czech National Bank (CNB)
Czech Export Bank (CEB)

Alternatively here is a list of foreign banks with branches in Czech Republic:

International Banks Operating in Czech Republic
Citibank
GE Capital
Unicredit Bank
HSBC
Sberbank (formerly Volksbank)

For simple access to your money abroad, and an even better deal, consider using Transferwise.

If you plan to open a bank account in Czech Republic, or know someone who already has one, you can transfer money between your accounts using the real mid market exchange rate. It's a quick and convenient way to get your cash, with no hidden fees.

TransferWise is the smart, new way to send money abroad.

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