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Use an ATM machine!
The ATM is the most convenient way to get money from a machine because it doesn't rip you off and it's convenient. The only things you need to think of when using an ATM is:
1. Your bank will most likely charge a minimum transaction fee, so make sure you get at least a few thousand Kc's for each withdrawl or your transaction costs will add up like a commission from the exchange bureau. You can call you bank in advance and ask them how much they charge.
2. The ATM's will give you big bills like 2,000 Kc notes, and some places don't like to take those. You should punch in your own amount like 4,900 to ensure you have small bills to begin with until you can find a place to break down your big note.
3. The ATM's let you choose the operating language in most cases.
Watch their hands...
Even though, they were aware of the danger, my friends wanted to exchange their money on the streets. An exchange rate 50% better then banks sounded just to nice.
So this guy asked how much we wanted to change and he got the money from somewhere. He came back and had a bunch of bills on the top of his purse. He counted everything correctly and even the bills were allright. I kept his purse in eyesight, while my friend wanted to finish the deal. Then suddenly the guy flip over his purse and on the other side of the purse was the excact same bill on the outside but probably nothing on the inside....
I asked him to count it again.... yes, he got mad and we had to run..... but he didn't catch us, neither our money! Ha, ha!
Be careful with taxi
Taxi drivers in Prague are well known for their spoofing of tourists. However there are a few taxi services, that can be relied on. As a metter of fact there is one that can realy be trusted. We used their services several times and had no problems what so ever. The name of the company is AAA Taxi and their phone number is 14014. They can be called from reception for you, but make clear to the receptionist that you want that concrete taxi company, as many Hotels have their own deals with some drivers or taxists. Once we even took this taxi on the street and there were no problems eather.
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 most of them refer this only to "SELL" and not to "BUY" transactions. In fact 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 worth it ...
Don't change your money on the street, as these people usually cheat you with other foreign currencies (e.g. Bulgarian money).
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Exchange scams: Mr. Nice Guy
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.
Changing Money - watch out for counterfeits
This is probably a standard warning that you would be careful of anywhere in the world (although I have to admit I have dabbled myself in the past). The poster is warning you not to change money with people on the street. The risk being that you can be passed counterfeit currency that isn’t worth anything.
This poster was displayed in the middle of the Old Town Square. There was a big Police van parked there, and this poster was proper up against the side of the van. To be quite honest, I can’t see the attraction of changing money on the street in a place like Prague, there are plenty of cash machines, and the Czech currency is a hard currency, so you don’t get the higher exchange rates that you could get in the past in the Eastern European countries where people were after hard currency to avoid the rapid depreciation of their own local currency.
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Never do it on the street. Check a few places before changing. Ask how much exactly you are going to get for your money. Carefuly read the notes writen with small letters on the botom of the excange board. Sometimes the rates seem fear, there is no commision but when you chang a money, you are given far less than it was writen you should. The trick is that on the botom of the board it is writen that the rates are valid only for exp. over 600 hundred euros. Once the transaction is made , you can,t pull your money back. I almoust made a full of myself with this trick in the excange office in Tesco. Fortunately, at the last moment I saw that tiny sentence.
money exchanges on the street
if someone offers to exchange money with you ON THE STREET, don't do it. my friend's mother didn't listen to her and she thought the guy must be ok, and got hungarian or belgium money or something odd like that. go to a proper place like a bank, or exchange place - they're all over town, or even just use the bank-o-mats/ATMs. much much safer.
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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....
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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Exchange scams: Two exchange rates
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?
Exchange scams: Commision
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.
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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.
0% commission - my arse!
You would have to be pretty green not to know this one already - but people still fall for it.
What they say is true - but they give you an awful rate.
Also look out for the'free' map they may give to you - it will be charged to you.
Use a real bank or the ATM.
Don't even think about using someone on the street.
Exchange scams: OFFER of the DAY
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.
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