Poland’s visitor numbers steadily increase year on year, with tourists and expats alike arriving to hike in the soaring mountains, take a dip along the Baltic coastline, wander the atmospheric old towns, and party in the vibrant cities.
Whether you’re planning a short trip to Poland just for fun - or moving over to work or study - you’re going to need some cash. Getting cash from local ATMs is a convenient choice for many travellers and expats, and means you can get the money you need, when you need it, rather than exchanging everything you need for your stay in advance.
Here’s all you need to know about using ATMs in Poland.
Poland has a developed banking system and is well served by local, regional and global banks. You’ll have no problems finding an ATM in the towns and cities - but if you’re heading off somewhere more rural you might find them somewhat more difficult to find. Grab the cash you need when you pass an ATM, just in case.
Find the most convenient ATM, using one of the following ATM locators from large global and national banks:
- Citi Handlowy (Citibank) ATM locator
- Millennium Bank ATM locator
- mBank ATM locator
- Bank Pekao ATM locator
- Raiffeisen ATM locator
Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted in Poland. Discover cards have ‘moderate’ acceptance rates - they’ll be accepted at some ATMs, including those run by Citibank, and those marked with the Euronet logo - but not necessarily elsewhere.
Amex cards can be used in ATMs run by a number of local banks, including Millenium and Pekao, so if that’s your main card you’ll want to get familiar with local branches, using one of the ATM locators below.
Find a handy ATM to suit your needs using one of the following locators:
- Maestro ATM locator
- Mastercard and Cirrus ATM locator
- Visa, Plus, and Plus Alliance ATM locator
- Discover ATM locator
- American Express ATM locator
Bank cards issued in Poland have 4 digit PINs. If you have a chip and PIN card with a 4 digit PIN - from another country in Europe, the UK or Australia, for example - it should be accepted in Poland with no problem.
Of course, not all bank cards have a PIN for everyday use. If, for example, you use an American-issued magnetic stripe card, you’ll need to request a PIN for the card from your bank before you travel.
If you’re not sure whether your card can be used internationally, or just need a little reassurance the first time you try, use an ATM in a bank branch during working hours. That way you can easily check with staff if you have any problems.
There is no standard limit for ATMs in Poland. What you can take from a single ATM, or on a single day will depend somewhat on your home bank, too. That’s because, if you’ve set a maximum daily cash withdrawal limit with your home bank, you’ll find that it’ll apply in Poland just like in your home country.
If you have no maximum limit on your card then the ATM provider will apply its own limit. Although this can vary, travellers report encountering ATM limits in the region of PLN1,200-PLN2,000 during their stay in Poland.
Being on holiday with no access to money is no fun at all.
To make sure you can use your card as normal in ATMs, shops and restaurants, during your trip, you’ll need to tell your bank where you plan on travelling.
If not you might find yourself abruptly unable to get your hands on your cash, as bank fraud departments might block or limit your card if they spot unusual spending patterns until they can confirm it’s you using it.
If your regular bank account is with one of the international banks represented in Poland, such as Raiffeisen or Citibank, you might get free or cheap cash withdrawals if you stick to their ATMs.
But even if you strike lucky, there are a few extra fees - and scams - to watch out for if you use your foreign card in an ATM in Poland.
If you’re a regular traveller then you’ve probably been asked, in a bar, or restaurant, for example, if you’d like your card transaction to be processed in your home currency instead of the local currency. This is because of something called dynamic currency conversion (also known as DCC for short) - and you might see it in action at ATMs, too.
DCC is a pretty common rip-off for foreign ATM customers. You only ever see the cost of your withdrawal expressed in your home currency, which means you don’t get to check to see if the exchange rate used is fair. And to make sure the vendor makes a profit, the exchange rate used is often not the real, mid-market rate - the one you’d find on google. Instead, the ATM provider or merchant can mark the rate up and pocket the difference. You’ll get a better deal if you always choose to pay in the local currency instead.
Many regular bank accounts charge for international ATM usage. That means that as well as avoiding DCC, you have to know what your own bank will charge you. These fees can mount up, and give you quite a shock when you check your account balance.
Find all the details for your specific account online, or on the back of a bank account statement - before you travel.
Finally, you could also be charged a fee by the local bank, or ATM provider for the use of the ATM. This is especially likely if you’re using a private ATM, in a bar or nightclub for example.
Many Polish banks, however, don’t add any extra fee - and you should be shown the costs before you complete the transaction. That means it’s worth shopping around if you’re in a city and have a choice of ATMs. You could find that there’s one nearby with lower fees.
And as we mentioned above, if you’re already banking with a regional or global brand which is represented in Poland, you could also find you get cheap or fee-free withdrawals, if you stick to their ATMs.
This depends very much on where you bank normally and whether they have a local presence or partner in Poland. Often banks work together to offer their customers free or reduced fee cash withdrawals if they use specific ATMs while travelling. Ask your home bank before you travel, to make sure you get the best deal.
Even if you can’t get rid of fees altogether, you can reduce ATM fees in Poland with a few simple tricks.
Some bank accounts offer better terms for international ATM use than others. There are some accounts, for example, which are specifically marketed to travellers and promise free - or cheap - withdrawals wherever you are.
If you have more than one bank account check out which offers the best deal for overseas cash withdrawals. You might even consider opening a new account specifically for travel, which offers a good deal on overseas cash withdrawals.
Remember DCC? It’s a frustrating - but entirely avoidable - expense for travellers and expats using a foreign credit or debit card. Choose to pay in local currency, to make sure you dodge DCC’s high fees and poor exchange rates.
For a convenient - alternative, check out TransferWise. TransferWise only uses the real, mid-market exchange rate for transfers, with just a small fee per transaction. And there are no nasty surprises to worry about - there’s a transparent fee structure for each transaction, so you know exactly what you’re getting.
If you have a local bank account in Poland, or you’re visiting someone who does, you can transfer money between accounts before your trip. Then withdraw cash from the local account using fee-free ATMs, as and when you need it.
Or, see if you could save even more with a borderless multi-currency account from TransferWise. You can keep your cash in any one of dozens of different currencies, including Polish zloty, and there’s no monthly service fee added to your account. If you set up a debit card for the account and spend using that, you might even be able to avoid ATM fees, and rip-off exchange rates, entirely.
ATMs are popular with travellers because they’re convenient to use, and as long as you’re careful about DCC, you can often keep fees down to a minimum. Alternatively, why not give TransferWise a try. Send money to a local account, and avoid international ATM fees altogether.
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