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Be careful in how you exchange 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.
Chequepoint exchange on Staromestske Namesti Scam
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.
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Watch out for the rate
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.
Using EUR in shops instead of Czech Crowns
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.
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Prague Money Exchange, Watch Out for Small Print
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.
SCAM- 0% commission - No hidden charges
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.
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The simple way to avoid all money exchange problem
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.
Western Union Exchange
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.
Prague: DO NOT CHANGE MONEY WITH THIS MAN!
*** 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.
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A Fistful of Nothing
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.
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EURO in shops/restaurants/hotels
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....
Never change money at a money changer !
These are actually licenced extortionists.
They can and do make up any exchange rate they want and move the decimal point to any position they fancy as they know as long as they display it on the board and they only sucker foreign tourists they are not actually breaking Czeck law.
Usually the commision is seperate and can an many instances be up to to 50% of the transaction!.
IF you are stupid enough to be scammed by these characters expect no sympathy from the cops. They are on the take from these guys.
Best do the exchange via a cash machine.
The 'official' money exchgs are the real criminals
A lot of tips here are about changing money with guys on the street. Well... yeah, no kidding, but don't be fooled into thinking that just because somebody is changing money from behind glass, it's a legit operation...at least with some shady guy on the street you should know what you're gettiing into.... I mean c'mon, the dude smells like alcohol and has about 3 teeth... of course he's up to something! Money exchanges, which are assumed to be more legitimate, will take your money and laugh all the way to the bank. And don't even think about reversing the transaction, or arguing that they made a mistake... when it comes to these places, the customer is always wrong... that is, if it means that the currency exchange can somehow justify taking your money.
Classic tricks include:
- the sell rate posted large, with the buy rate in small print
- having signs that say 'no commission'...but not for cash, only for travellers cheques
- posting two exchange rates... one for over extremely high amounts of money that you'd probably only spend if you are part of some kind of royal family... the other at a very poor rate for us 'regular folks'
- taking your money and pretending not to hear your instructions, such as 'how much?' or 'only exchange (insert amount here)... or exchanging it so fast (less than 5 seconds), so that you cannot argue afterwards, because apparently it's a complete transaction, which they refuse to reverse or even give you a legitimate number of a manager to call
-BTW... don't even think about the police being any help. There's a reason that Czech police are the laughing stock of Europe...they're more corrupt than the criminals! They will show you a piece of paper saying that they don't deal with currency exchange problems (maybe because the currency exchanges are all crooked, and there were too many complaints), and that it has to be handled by the Czech National Bank... which isn't open on Saturday or Sunday... so if you're visiting just for a weekend, forget about it. If you try to explain the situation, they (the police) get beligerent and tell you that in the Czech Republic you should speak Czech or get out of their country... if you try to speak in broken Czech (I know a few words, and some Polish, which is similar), they will throw you against the window and then throw your money on the street, and walk away laughing. Oh, and the kid working the shop that day also told me he would kill me (from behind glass of course), his girlfriend arrived and spit at me, oh yeah, and the security showed up and smashed my friend's head against the wall... sounds like fun, doesn't it?
NEVER TRUST A MONEY EXCHANGE OR A POLICE OFFICER IN PRAGUE!!! THEY ARE BOTH CRIMINALS!!!
Best thing to do is CHANGE YOUR MONEY BEFORE ENTERING CZECH REPUBLIC. Exchanges in Poland or Germany for example are much more reliable. Don't support crooked 'businesses'.
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Prague Travel Guide
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