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Currency in Budapest, Hungary – Money Exchange Tips
Hungary’s official currency is the forint (FT, HUF). The country is expected to join the Euro zone around 2020.
TIP: It is best to pay in the local currency (you pay less than you would in EUR or other foreign currency), Forint, for most everything: services, food, in shops, tours, museum tickets etc.
Larger shops, popular restaurants in the Budapest’s city center accept Euro, and US Dollar but usually at higher exchange rate, so you end up paying more than you would in the local currency.
So it’s best to have cash in Hungarian forint with you.
Don’t exchange money at people offering it to you on the street (Vaci Street is a typical place where people might approach you and offer you to exchange your currency), however tempting may their offer seem avoid them because you’ll likely get cheated (you get fake money or a bunch of papers for your money).
Avoid changing money at the airport or train stations too: exchange bureaus at at these places usually work with inflated rates.
Exchanging Money in Currency Exchange Bureaus in the City center
TIP: For the most favorable exchange rates, change money at a reliable exchange merchant in the city, they have lower rates than most banks, or withdraw currency from an ATM (you’ll find plenty of them in the city center and in major shopping centers ), but do find out how much your card provider charges for transactions in a foreign country (usually between 0.5 – 1.5 % of the midpoint exch. rate.
Hungary is a pretty safe and good (meaning financially favorable) place to change currency.
Check rates and calculate how many Forints you will get before doing the transaction. Exchange bureaus display two prices for each currency: a “Buy” Rate and a “Sell Rate”. If you want to buy Forints you need the “Sell rate” (it is lower than the “Buy rate”) because you’re selling your local or other currency for HUF.
Calculate the difference between the two rates (known as “spread” in the monetary world): you are good if it is less than 2 % ( less than 1 % off the midpoint – For up-to-date midpoint exchange rates between other countries’ currencies use the XE website .. TIP: a good website to search for the best exchange rates in Budapest: Valutacentrum (it’s only drawback is that it is only in Hungarian).
Ask how much the commission is.
Count your money both before handing it over, and the amount you receive before leaving.
Reliable Exchange Bureaus in Budapest’s City Centre, District V.
These are trustworthy, legitimate companies offering favourable rates:
Northline – they have several bureaus in district V.:
Two in Vci Street at: No. 86. (near the Great Market Hall) and 36.
at No. 2. in Kgy utca ( a small side street of Vci utca)
Two in Petfi Sndor utca runs parallel with Vci Str.) at No. 1. and 12.
One in Sas utca at No. 10-12., near the Basilica
in Rgiposta utca at No. 15 (a small street crossing Vci Str. between Vrsmarty Square and Elizabeth Bridge).
at Klvin tr 1. (at Hotel Korona)
Using Credit Cards
If you don’t want to carry cash with you you can pay with your credit card (Visa, Master Card, American Express are widely accepted in larger stores, and in most restaurants – in small shops and food markets you can pay in cash only -, the sticker of the accepted cards are displayed in shop, and restaurant windows) .
Coins: 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 200 (introduced in June 2009 to replace the 200 banknote).
Bank notes: 500, 1 000, 2 000, 5 000, 10 000, 20 000
How Much Money to Bring?
Budapest is said to be a low-cost city though we locals think otherwise because Hungarian wages are much lower than in the US or Western European countries.
So if you come from these regions you can have a really good time here on a low budget.
If you have your accommodation sorted out and don’t plan to do anything fancy or eating at a Michelin-star place then you can calculate with a 40-50 EUR daily budget.
Cost and Prices in Budapest, Hungary