Slovakia is a mountain paradise in the heart of Europe. Thousands of tourists visit every year, to see the medieval sites of Bratislava, wonder at the soaring castles, or get out and about exploring in the unspoiled nature the country has to offer.
Whatever your reason for visiting Slovakia, you’re going to need some cash. Using ATMs to withdraw local currency is a convenient choice for many travellers and expats. Here’s all you need to know about using ATMs in Slovakia.
Slovakia has a sophisticated banking system, meaning you’ll not struggle with finding an ATM in populated areas. Look in or near bank branches, shopping centres and supermarkets. If you’re there to get out into the more rural areas, then you can expect fewer ATMs - take cash with you to tide you over.
Find the most convenient ATM - bankomat in Slovak - wherever in Slovakia you happen to be, using one of the following ATM locators from large national and regional banks:
- Tatra Banka branch and ATM locator
- OTP Banka branch and ATM locator
- Unicredit Bank ATM locator
- Prima Banka ATM locator
All major card networks, including Discover and Amex, are accepted in Slovakia.
Don’t forget, though, that not all bank cards can be used in all ATMs. You’ll need an ATM which is on the same network as your card. 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
Like most other European countries, bank cards issued in Slovakia tend to have chip and pin technology, with a 4 digit PIN code.
Magnetic stripe cards, often issued in the USA, can still usually be used in ATMs in Slovakia, but you’ll need to get a PIN from your bank before you travel. Similarly, if you have a 6 digit PIN you might find it easier to have a new 4 digit PIN issued by your bank before you travel. However, chip and pin cards from elsewhere in Europe, the UK and Australia, for example, should be accepted with no problem.
This depends on your own home bank, and the specific ATM provider you’re using. If you have a daily maximum withdrawal limit set up at home, then this will be applied to withdrawals overseas, too. Sometimes this is a default amount selected by your own home bank, which you can change if you choose.
If you don’t have a maximum set up, then the ATM providers rules will apply instead. These vary pretty wildly, and can also be set based on the number of notes the ATM can issue at the time, rather than the specific maximum amount you can withdraw. If you can’t get as much as you need from an ATM in one transaction, you might need to make multiple withdrawals - which will usually mean, multiple fees, too.
If you’re travelling to Slovakia for the first time, it's worth telling your bank before you go. That’s because bank software quietly monitors customers’ transactions in case of fraud, and blocks or limits accounts with unusual spending patterns. If the fraud department thinks that there’s something suspicious about a sudden spike in spending overseas, then you could find your card blocked, leaving you abruptly out of cash. Just call your bank in advance of travelling to let them know your plans, and avoid the hassle.
Relying on ATMs to get the euro cash you need for your trip to Slovakia is convenient but it’s unlikely to be free. It’s pretty standard to charge even local customers for withdrawals made from ATMs. And on top of this, there are a few extra fees - and potential ripoffs - you’ll want to avoid if you use your foreign card in an ATM in Slovakia.
If you’re travelling, you need to understand dynamic currency conversion (DCC). You’ve probably come across DCC already - it’s where you’re asked if you want to pay in your home currency when you’re in a store or restaurant or using an ATM abroad.
Banks describe this as a ‘service’, but DCC transactions are a poor value as they leave you exposed to hidden fees. The exchange rate used is often not the real, mid-market rate that you’d find if you googled it. Instead, if you choose DCC, the exchange rate is set by the ATM provider, rather than your home bank, and they might offer a poor rate, to protect their profit. That means that you lose. You’ll get a better deal if you always choose to pay in the local currency instead.
It’s common for banks to charge their customers for withdrawing cash overseas. This could be a flat fee or a percentage, so it can be fairly pricey. Check out the small print in your terms and conditions.
It’s common for fees to apply for all ATM withdrawals in Slovakia. Unicredit Slovakia, for example, charges their customers EUR 0.30 for transactions through their own network in Slovakia, and up to EUR5 for transactions at ATMs abroad.¹
If you’re using a foreign card, there’s a high chance there will be a fee to pay the local bank or ATM provider as well as anything added by your home bank. Choose an ATM with an English option, so you can understand the fees as they’re posted on the screen.
The best bet, if you want to get free or cheap withdrawals in Slovakia, is to choose an ATM attached to your own home bank, or a partner institution working with your bank. If this isn’t an option then the chances are, you won’t find completely free ATM withdrawals in Slovakia.
Even if you can’t eliminate them, you can reduce ATM fees in Slovakia with a few simple tricks.
As mentioned above, it’s worth asking your home bank ahead of time, if they have any local partner institution in Slovakia. Banks often operate these networks to give their customers some perks - like cheap ATM withdrawals - while they’re overseas. If your bank works with a local Slovakian institution, you could get free or reduced-fee ATM use while you’re there, if you stick to ATMs run by the partner bank.
If like many people, you have several different local bank accounts, it’s well worth checking the small print and choosing the one which offers the best deal on foreign ATM withdrawals. The terms applied by different banks can be very different, and some are a far better value than others.
Foreign currency cash advances using a credit card, however, are usually an expensive choice due to the interest charge which is often immediately applied and should be avoided if at all possible.
Independent ATMs in tourist locations, pubs, nightclubs and other places with a captive audience, often don’t offer great value. They’ll apply a high fee, and are usually not hugely secure, either. Stick to ATMs attached to banks, in supermarkets or shopping centres if you can.
Dynamic currency conversion - discussed above - is one of the most common pitfalls for travellers. Pay in local currency or you could be hit with DCC’s high fees and poor exchange rates.
For many expats and travellers, TransferWise is a convenient and cheap alternative to get local cash when they need it. TransferWise offers fairly priced, and transparent transfers, with the real, mid-market exchange rate applied every time.
If you have a local Slovak bank account, or if you’re visiting a friend or family member who does, you can transfer money between accounts before your trip. There are no nasty hidden fees, and you’ll get a quick and convenient transfer - then you can simply use ATMs in Slovakia to withdraw cash from the local account when you need it.
A borderless multi-currency account from TransferWise is another great choice for frequent travellers, and expats living abroad for the longer term. You can hold your cash in any one of dozens of different currencies, including euros, and there’s no monthly account fee to pay. Set up your debit card for the account, and pay with your euro balance in shops and restaurants, avoiding ATM fees, and rip-off exchange rates, entirely.
To get the most out of travel, you need to control and eliminate unnecessary costs. Using ATMs can be a good way to do that, and get your euro cash without being hit by unfair fees. Alternatively, use TransferWise, to send money to a local account, or spend using your borderless multi-currency account card, and avoid ATMs altogether.
¹https://www.unicreditbank.sk/content/dam/cee2020-pws-sk/en-documents/about-bank/priceList/15856_UCB_CENNIK_RETAIL_ENG_FIN.pdf (Jan 29 2018)
This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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