Money Exchange, Prague
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'.
We need to exchange some extra Euros to CZK's so we went to this bureau situated in the first yard inside the Prague Castle.
We asked for the rate and the amount was almost 2044CZK's but the girl at the desk told me 75 CZK's less. I asked why but I receive no answer. I repeat my question and i said this is fraud and they are try to stolen us because outside the door a big screen wrote 0% commission (see 1st photo). Then she start to speak to me in Czech language and very slow...
We need the money and we ask to exchange it in spite of that was 75 CZK's less...
My surprise was when she gave me the receipt.
Was 2 receipts in 1 piece of paper. What she did ???
The one receipt was the money exchange wrote the exactand legal amount of money.
The other receipt wrote "1 map of Prague" = 75 CZK !!!!!! ......... and she dropped in front of me a small map. I told her that's redicules but she didn't react.
WHAT THEY DID TO THE PEOPLE ?? THEAFING AND STOLEN THEM IN FRONT OF THEIR EYES.
Because of the thousands of tourists every day in Prague some people try to stolen them on many ways. But this is a policy of a company not from an employee. They do the same every day in many people. Ignore them.
This is a brand you will find it in all tourist places of the city. JUST AVOID IT . THEY ARE NOT HONEST.
The better place to exchange money is at your hotel.
The official currency of the Czech Republic is still the Czech crown (koruna). 1 crown consists of 100 hellers (halér). 100 CZK is approximately 3 EUR/4 USD.
And now, several pieces of advice:
Always change money in a bank or take cash out of ATM machines, which are plentiful in Prague and every larger town. ATM machines are a very convenient way to get Czech crowns.
Be careful when using money exchange offices. Many of them target tourists (especially in Prague) and you may end up paying a high commission or getting a bad rate without even knowing about it.
Never agree to changing money on the street. The purpose of this practice is not to exchange money, but to steal it from you.
Don't carry large amounts of cash with you. Carry a credit card and take money out of a cash machine as you go. You can also use your card to make payments. Major credit cards are accepted in most locations.
Always try to pay in Czech crowns. Even though euros are accepted at eg. the Tesco department store and some restaurants, the exchange rate is not always favourable. The change you receive will be in Czech crowns.
The best rates are in the airport or withdrawing money from the ATM machines. You have to be very careful when exchanging money and read the small print because they usually offer you a better rate when exchaging big amount of money (300 euros won't do it!). I went late in June 2008 and the exchage rate was 24 crowns for every euro. When I checked my bank account they gave me an exchange of 22 crowns. Not a bad deal compared to the 18 crowns you get in most places.
on almost every street in the tourist areas of prague are currency exhange booths. some charge commission and some don't. every one i saw advertised different exchange rates. i suggest that you use bank ATMs when you need czech money in prague.
Be careful where you exchange your money in Prague!!!
After doing some research, I found 3 places that offer reasonable rates:
- The best place in town is located on a small street called Panska, 6. It is not far from Mustek metro stop, walk on Na Prikope Street and then turn to Panska.
No comission, no hidden charges. In the early October they were offering 19CZK for 1 dollar.
- At the Malostranska metro stop.
- At the Staromestska metro entrance.
Always be prepared to tally up your charge at the food vendors and postcard shops. Some will short change you, unless you confront them immediately. They hold back the change and put aside, or just do not give you enough back-stating they do not have change. I called a couple out on this and we "settled: but they become indignant when caught in the act.
I am not used to this type of fast change situation and did not like it. It happened 3 times in one day. At least you can be more attuned for pickpockets, but the some vendor help either keeps the excess or puts in the family cash drawer.
Watch out the change rate and eventually pickpockets around you (if you are in one of the thousands moneychangers along the road), but don't change at your arrival at the airport: rate is very bad, whether you try at the bank or at the authomatic.
You'd better buy your weekly pass at the public transports office (they DO ACCEPT YOUR CREDIT CARD!), take first the bus 119 and then your metro and reach your hotel; THEN take a walk and look for a change desk.
In Prague, try to avoid exchange desks with big signs commission “0%”.
Exchange desk which has not bad rate is located in two steps from Old Town square. They don’t have the sign 0%, instead of it there is a board where they write real amount which you will get changing 100euro, or 100$ and some other currency.
Its address is Praha 1, Celetna 3.
Most exchange offices have TWO "buy" rates depending on the amount of CZK you are buying - for example "rate 1" for up to 20000 CZK, and "rate 2" for more than 20000 CZK. Of course "rate 2" is much better, but are you really changing over 700 EUR?
While studying exchange ranges at the office you can be approached by person, offering you "better deal" for your money.
DO NOT discuss anything with him and get rid of that person IMMEDIATELY. If you agree he will take you somewhere isolated place to make the transfer. It is not likely he will physically harm you but you will end having:
A- old type banknotes which are withdrawn from circulation,
B- BULGARIAN banknotes,
C- "sandwich" with one banknote on top and bottom and newspaper in between.
Some exchange offices advertise "No commision" others do not. If you compare just the exchange rates you might be shocked that "better rate" office will give you back ammount of crowns substantialy less than expected, because thay charge COMMISION for each transaction - usually writen somewhere in small print.
Ask about commision and rate BEFORE giving any money to the operator. You have NO CHANCE to get your money back if you change your mind later.
Many exchange offices have some big flashy advertisment saying like "Today offer 1EUR=30CZK". Catch is that it is the SALE rate, i.e. they will sell you 1 EUR for 30 CZK. Usualy you want to do opposite - exchange the euros/dollars for crowns. And then you will find that rate is not so good. Study well the currency listing before making any operation! You will NEWER get the money back as soon as you give banknotes to the operator - no pleading or shouting will help. They are not breaking any law explicitely, so police will not help either.
When changing money at an exchange office have a good look at the sign board. Most of the time they will show the exchange rate for selling "euros", which of course is a higher rate than selling krones. It is still better and cheaper to exchange your money in a proper bank or at an ATM. Never exchange money in the street. They are all cons.
When you see the hundreds of currency exchange places you will see that they say no FEE's, this is a lie as what they dont tell you until its too late that there is a 20% service charge on top so you are worse off anyway.
You will also be stopped by people offering you money for your pounds, beware of these people like the plague!
The best thing that you can do is to use a cash point and it will tell you if there is a charge, we paid about £1 to use the VISA machines and is a much better option.