Money Exchange, Prague
1.As a general rule Never use exchange booths in Prague. It's a con. Simple.
2. Never exchange money in the street. It's a robbery unfolding in front of you.
3. Wear a money belt hidden under your trousers/pants. Stuffed well out of reach! Still amazed to see tourists walking about with bum belts on externally and cameras and wallets in full view. Prague isn't violent but assume pickpockets are operating especially Charles bridge, old town square and busy trams etc.
4. Carry a small wallet with minimum notes but no cards. If it does get taken its no big deal
5. As a canny Scot I regularly use ATMs to get my Czech Crowns. Generally on arrival at the airport or in town from one of the well known main banks. Rates are better than travel bureau at home in Glasgow and I don't need to carry or take out too much at once. Use ATMs inside banks in daylight.
6. Find a credit card that doesn't charge fees to use abroad and use this for ATM withdrawals and meals etc. Pay off balance online while you are still away a couple of days later so you don't pay interest on the card and you should get one of the best possible exchange deals and be safe.
There are plenty of Money Exchange Bureaus all over the town. I highly recommend to check a couple of them, before changing money. There are some differences between the rates. All publish "0 % COMMISSION" but many of them refer this only to "SELL" and not to "BUY" transactions.
In 2003 I found a few which don't charge for buying transactions. So before exchanging your money alway ask how much you really get for your currency. It is well worth it.
Don't change your money on the street, as these people usually cheat you with other foreign currencies (e.g. Bulgarian money).
Apparently, there is a lot of deception going on with exchanging currency. Though the Czech Republic is part of the European Union, they do not use the Euro for their currency. They use their own currency the Czech Crown or Koruna. Though a few restaurants we went to offered to collect the Euro and even US Dollar. However, in calculating the exchange rate, the Czech Crown or Koruna was always the best way to pay.
In Prague's Old Town Square, there is a warning of exchanging currencies.
From outside looks big and legitimate business with many employees inside. I read the displayed exchange rate for British Pound to be £1=31.37 CZK. I entered the big shop and asked about the rate for Scottish notes and the answer was that it is the same as the English notes which is not very common. I handed the clerk £80 and got 1770 which is a rate of about £1 = 22CZK. When asked why is it SO different from the outside displayed and promised rate with 0% commission, the reply was that because it is SMALL transaction. I asked to cancel the transaction and they refused saying that the transaction is DONE. I asked for the manger and he was more rude than the clerk. I reported them to the police but it seems a very common legal scam that they can do nothing about it. Be aware of these legal scammers hiding behind pullet proof walls and covering their scam with fine print. I use the ATM machine and I get a rate of 29 CZK which is way better than the rate offered by Chequepoint scammers who will ruin your day which is way more upsetting than the money lost. Be aware and have good time in Prague.
If you must have to exchange currency, beware of the scams. We went to Western Union in the Starometske Nam. next to a restaurant. The posted Buy rate for Euro was 26.70 Koruna, next to it was the "Sell Price", then there was this 299.99 Koruna column (didn't quite understand what that was for and my mistake for not asking), followed by 16.00 Koruna. Four columns in all. I gave the man behind the counter euro 100.00, and he gave me 1,600.00 Koruna. Earlier at the border, we got 23 Koruna to one euro. I told him that wasn't the rate and he told me "you're under the limit", 16.00 Koruna is all you get. He pointed to the 299.99 Koruna column. Then it dawned on me what that column was--the minimum amount to get the 26.70 Koruna rate. And because I exchanged below the minimum, I only got the very low rate of 16.00 Koruna to a Euro. I tried to cancel the transaction, but I was told that the transaction was legal and cannot be cancelled. Between me and my friend, we lost over 2,000 Koruna!
Recommend you ask for the rate first, or get your Koruna at your bank at home. There were some places that only post two rates-- the buy and sell rates. I don't know if they run a different scam.
This definitely put a damper on our visit to the city.
Many shops, restaurants and other services indicate that they accept Euro.
BUT beware! All these places set their OWN exchange rate!
For example, todays rate in exchange office is 24.5 CZK/1 EUR
At the entrance of supermarket you most likely will see" We accept EURO, todays rate is: 23.3".
And when you pay in EUR you get change back only in CZK, never in EUR.
For example you gave 50 EUR bill for 245 CZK (around 10 EUR) worth food in supermarket - they re-calculate 50 EUR into CZK (1165 CZK), take 245 CZK and give back to you 920 CZK. So this whole transaction would make around 60 CZK loss to you.
I recommend to use only CZK, change EUR into CZK (in carefuly checked exchange office, banks have worse rates) or, if Your bank has low ATM fees - use ATM.
Have a nice time in Prague.
Prague Money Exchange, Watch Out for the Small Print!
I was in Prague in the fall of 2005 and got some local currency at the bank counter in the airport. I spent more than I thought I would so I needed to exchange money again on the last evening. I saw a Western Union stall near the southeast end of Charles Bridge and it bannered "No Commission" and "xxx Exchange Rate for US$). The exchange rate was about the same as the airport so I slipped a $100 note to the cashier who was behind the bulletproof glass counter. He slipped back the local currency and I complained that it was much less than what was shown on the board. He pointed at the small print at the bottom of the board and said that was their exchange rate. Classic "bait and switch" even by a supposed reputable outfit like Western Union. Now I know why they hide behind bulletproof counters! Lessons learned, use the ATM or exchange your currency at the banks. Of if you really have to, write on a piece of paper "How much do I get for my $__" and let the cashier write the exact amount of local currency before you turn in your money. Another way is to ask the storekeeper how much her exchange rate will be if you pay in $ or Euro for your purchases. I did that later that night and the storekeeper gave me a better rate than the bank! Except for the "Bait and Switch" trick at Western Union, Prague is a very beautiful city.
This place (in the picture, very close to Charles' Bridge) is a scam. They offer you a rate of 1 euro - 25 CZK. So you do the transaction and later you realize the rate they gave you was not even close to 1 - 17. I saw this happening at least 4 times, one of those to me. In the door they make some deceiving publicity, and even though they clearly KNOW they are going to give you a crappy rate, they don't even have the decency to tell you. They just sit down and legally rob you in your face.
I attach the pictures of the place, so others can see the typical looking of this locals and don't fall in the scam.
I have to say I changed money 2 other times in good places, so be prepared if you must change, there are decent places, but always ask first how much are you getting for your money.
In the end what makes me mad is that it's a legal scam!
I arrived Prague this morning and following is my experience.
After reading about the money exchange scams on this site and others, I decided to exchange some money to buy a day pass from Munich (en route).
I bought 100 CZ for 6.6 Euro (not a good rate but ok)
I bought my 1 day travel pass for 100 CZ and after checking in my hotel went straight looking for the exchange places recommended on this site.
Chequepoint exchange on Staromestske Namesti was selling 24.6 CZ for 1 Euro
Change Prague" on namesti Republiky was selling 25 CZ for 1 Euro
Both the places close at 8 PM.
I found out KFCs out their accept Euro for a very generous 25 CZ per Euro.
I am truly amazed that anyone exchanges money in Prague. First you have the little exchange offices that offer seemingly great rates. Then you get back half of what you expected and start shouting for the police. I have seen this maybe five times, especially in Mostecka street near the Charles Bridge. They are actually not robbing you. It is you who are not reading the fine print which says that you need to exchange some huge sum before they give you the favorable rate. And should you be willing to do so you will discover that suddenly they need to close or else they are going through a temporary shortage of money. So you will NEVER get the favorable rate.
The safest, cheapest way to exchange money is to get it out of an ATM at the established banks. Deutsche Bank, Zivnostenska Banaka, Komercni Banka, Ceska Sporitelna, CSOB, Raiffeisnbank. They are all over central Prague. However, never take out more than about two hundred dollars from any machine at a given time. The exchange rate you get on these is outstanding and the commissions nugatory. I have been doing this for the last ten years without a problem.
Also, don;t bring travellers cheques. Bank tellers can be extremely obnoxious and pretend your signature is false. Just use the ATMS! I fly into Prague with no Czech crowns in my pocket. I exchange nothing in the airport. Once I get through customs I go straight to the ATM and pull out what I need.
The greatest robery I ever had was last weekend in Western Union Exchange office in Prague.
Exchange rate in whole Prague on that day was 2410 to 2430 CZK per 100 EUR. Same information was scribed in the entrance in all Western Union exchange offices, but when I give them my money I received 1754 CZK for 100 EUR only. I claim that and ask to give me my money back but young lady from the other side of thick glass give me an answer that it is not possible now. I was asking menager but receive from the other side only a business card with company address: Global Travel, spol.s r.o., Palackeho 15 11000 PRAHA 1.
This was ordinary steal and I would like to inform and warn all potencial victims : DO NOT CHANGE YOUR MONEY IN WESTERN UNION !
Well, if you've been around VT long enough, then you've heard it before: don't exchange money in the streets. In Prague, the whole money exchange thing seems to be quite a business, because even in banks there are all these hidden comissions. For instance you're planning to sell 100 euros and the display says it's worth 2500 crowns, however once you give the employee the money, you receive only 2250, which means they charged you 10% "for the procedure". I exchanged my money at Panska street, which is near Wenceslas Square (on the right from the monument, easy to find on the map) where they charge you what you expect to be charged. Anyhow, always be careful with your cash and ask how much you'll receive before handing over your money.
*** DO NOT CHANGE MONEY WITH THIS MAN!! ***
He waits around close to official Bureaux de change and interrupts tourists as they are about to enter to change money. He will offer to change money a rate that is c.20%+ better than that advertised at the B de C however the notes that he will give you are NOT LEGITIMATE CZECH CURRENCY! but old-issue Hungarian currency that bears a superficial resemblance to Czech money.
On our first day we changed £50 with him at the B de C close to the Charles Bridge (Kampa Park side) and received a (supposed) CzK 2,000 note. It was not until we tried to pay for entrance tickets to Prague Castle that we discovered that the note was an old-issue Ft 2,000 bill (Hungarian Forints) with a value of c.5% of the Czech currency he had purported to give us.
Unfortunately for him we were strolling past the Powder Tower close to the old Town Square on our last day and spotted him waiting outside a B de C next to a Kenzo Store. We engaged him in conversation and were able to take the attached photograph of him - which we passed on to the local Police. He ran off before the Police arrived.
There are currency exchange kiosks are all over the downtown area. I would advise bringing Euros with you and checking out the rate lists posted outside these shops before you change money. Make sure you choose one that has a 0 percent commission sign.
You have probably read this before, but let me say it again: Don't do any money changing on the street. The people who approach you on the street will rip you off! A friend of mine accepted an offer from someone who took his dollars and handed him a fistful of old outdated bills from some other country.
Euro is accepted by some shops, restaurants and hotels. In most cases it is a rip-off.
Hotel has the set prices for long periods, so EUR price might be better than CZK price in on-line reservation systems in some cases, but generally opposite is true.
Be aware, that not the "offical" exchange rate is used - each shop/restaurant/hotel sets it's own exchange rate (which often is not advertised explicitly). For example on 17.08.2008 supermarket "Albert" was using exchange rate 23.4 CZK/EUR while at exchange office you would get 24.1 CZK/EUR. And shops/restaurants take EUR banknotes only giving the change in CZK using the same rate....