Best places to exchange currency in Budapest

03.04.17
4 minute read
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Budapest is fast becoming a popular city to visit. Tourism to Hungary has been increasing in past years, and it’s easy to see why the city is growing in popularity. From the healing waters of the 125 thermal springs that Budapest is built on, to the beautiful architecture on the banks of the River Danube. Budapest is a city of history, stunning landmarks and spa life. And with so much to see and do, it’s important you know exactly how to get the fairest deal for your currency in Budapest. Here’s our guide to the best places to exchange your money into Hungarian forint (HUF).

Things to know before exchanging your money

Know the actual exchange rate

While planning for your trip, be sure to also research how exchange rates work. The rate to keep your eye on is the mid-market exchange rate. This is the real rate you’ll find on google, and which banks use to trade between themselves in large quantities. But this is not the rate you’ll be offered at a currency exchange bureau. When a currency exchange advertises ‘no commission’ what it means is there's no upfront fee, instead the charge will be hidden into the exchange rate. You can use our online currency converter to compare the mid-market rate against the tourist rate you’re offered, and calculate the extent of the commission charged.

Remember - exchange rates always change

Exchange rates vary, and are determined by several factors such as interest rates, economic decisions, confidence in an economy and economic growth. Keeping updated on global and local events during your visit can help you to pick a favourable time to convert your money. You can sign up for our rate tracker which will give you alerts for your selected exchange rates.

Research your home bank’s partnerships before you leave

In our age of global world markets many banks now have international partners. These partnerships often offer much better ATM rates for participating customers. And in some cases withdrawals are free. So find out if your bank has an international partner in Hungary.

Always choose to be charged in the local currency

When withdrawing money from an ATM, always choose to be charged in the local currency. If you choose the other option, to be charged in your home currency, the ATM will apply its own conversion rate. For a fairer conversion, avoid having the ATM perform the conversion for you. Opt instead be charged in HUF.

Avoid airport and hotel currency exchanges

It might be easy to exchange your currency at the airport once you arrive in Budapest, or at the hotel before you head off to see the sights, but it’ll usually cost more. Hotels and airports cater for a captive market meaning they can afford to charge more than elsewhere. If you need cash for your airport transfers then exchange a small amount to cover that and convert the rest in a more competitive location. Alternatively, withdraw cash directly from a trusted ATM operator.

Spend your money before leaving

Just like in your day-to-day life it's important to have a budget for your holiday. Calculate what you’ll need for your trip and try to exchange only this amount. You’ll pay conversion fees twice to re-exchange money back at the end of your travels. Spend your forints instead, especially the coins.

Where to exchange money in Budapest

There’s no such thing as a ‘no commission’ currency conversion. You'll either pay an upfront fee or a fee hidden in the exchange rate, or both. But if you know the real mid-market rate you can work out the best deal on offer. Below are some currency exchange bureaus in Budapest.

Currency Bureau Address Contact Information
Correct Change Budapest, Szent István krt. 23, 1055 Hungary +36 1 302 3863
Joker Valuta Váltó Budapest, Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út 65, Nyugati térnél a Skála áruház melletti épület, 1065 Hungary +36 1 708 1910
Exclusive Change Budapest, Teréz krt. 21, 1067 Hungary +36 70 457 7572
Ibla Change Pénzváltó Budapest, Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út 5, 1065 Hungary +36 1 317 9564

The bottom line

If you decide to change cash at a currency exchange bureau, be sure to check their offered rate against the live mid-market rate. Add in any upfront fees to determine the true cost of the conversion. To obtain a fairer rate than you’d get at a currency exchange office, withdraw cash directly from a trusted ATM operator. Always choose to be charged in the local currency, so HUF in this case. As you’ll be charged an ATM fee for each transaction, make one or two larger withdrawals instead of numerous smaller transactions.

Better yet, if either you or a friend have access to a HUF bank account in Budapest, use TransferWise and make the transfer ahead of time. Not only does TransferWise use the real mid-market exchange rate to convert your money (which almost always beat the banks), but since your currency is received and sent via local banking systems in both your home country and in Hungary, all those nasty international bank fees magically disappear.

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

Find out more