Travelling to a new destination is extremely exciting, but can also be quite daunting. Especially when it comes to managing your spending in an unknown currency. If you’re planning a trip to Budapest, you’ll experience this first hand. Although in a lot of places they do accept the Euro, the national currency here is the Hungarian Forint. From currency exchange, using ATM’s to making card payments, in this guide, we’ll cover all things money to help you make the most out of your trip.
What is the Hungarian Forint?
The Forint (Ft) is Hungary’s national currency and was first introduced as such back in 1946. This was part of the process to help the Magyar nation’s economy stabilise post-second world war. Also known as the HUF, the currency has remained in use since then, even after Hungary joined the European Union on the 4th May 2004.
If you decide to use cash in Budapest, you will probably see some of the faces pictured in the image above. All in all, the forint exists in six different denominations of notes and coin.
- HUF Banknotes: 500 Ft, 1000 Ft, 2000 Ft, 5000 Ft, 10.000 Ft, 20.000 Ft
- HUF Coins: 5 Ft, 10 Ft, 20 Ft, 50 Ft, 100 Ft, 200 Ft
What’s the Exchange Rate?
If you’re travelling from a country that uses the Euro, Pound Sterling or US Dollar, then you’ll get plenty of bang for your buck. The exchange rate for the date this article was published can be seen in the table below.
|Currency||Currency name||Unit||Value in Forints|
However, if you want to find out the most up to date exchange rates, you can do so by following the links below:
- MNB – Magyar Nemzeti Bank – This is Hungary’s official central bank – Website
- XE – This gives accurate real-time currency value updates – Website
How Can You Exchange Currencies in Budapest?
If you arrive in Hungary with foreign banknotes, you can visit the currency exchange bureaus to switch to Forint. All of these offices charge you a fee for transactions. Some places add a predetermined upfront fee, whilst others make you pay extra money hidden in the exchange rate. Therefore, make sure to compare the offered rates with the mid-market rates and choose the bureau with the most correct proposal.
In addition to the above, there are a number of other top tips which we’d advise if you’re planning exchanging currencies in Budapest.
- Avoid Scammers – Make sure you don’t become a victim of scams. Avoid people who try to approach you with cheap money changing offers. Usually what you get is a mix of wrong banknotes you can’t use for paying.
- Avoid exchanging at hotels or the airport: Even though it’s a safe option, exchanging money at the airport or hotel is the worst. They offer the worst exchange rates. So it’s wiser to do cash changes in the city centre, where you can find secured offices operating at fair rates to avoid unnecessary expenses during your stay.
Below are some potential and reliable currency changing offices in Budapest:
Using an ATM in Budapest
ATMs are everywhere in Budapest, including airport terminals, train and bus stations and shopping centres. You can withdraw cash in either forints or Euros. If you are in Budapest, you’re probably not too far from an ATM. To find the nearest cash machine around you, try these ATM locators:
Privately owned ATMs: These should be avoided at all costs. In essence, they are complete scams and charge extortionate commissions after each transaction. They are easy to find since they are usually placed in the most touristy places. Euronet cash machines are one of those examples with excessive charges for withdrawal, what you might want to avoid when withdrawing cash.
Choose the banks instead – Hungarian banks do not have cash withdrawal charges and additional fees, so the amount it costs to take money out from an ATM will depend on the fees from your bank. If you need to withdraw money in Hungary, use the big banks such as OTP, ERSTE, MKB, Raiffeisen, Budapest Bank or K&H.
Making Card Payments
Contrary to a lot of misconceptions, the majority of places in Budapest accept credit and debit card payments. Despite this, you may still come across some spots in the city that are cash-only, but these are slowly getting few and far between.
Visa & Mastercard: These are the most widely accepted cards that are accepted by vendors across the city.
American Express: Unlike Visa and Mastercard, most places in Budapest don’t accept AMEX. So it’s always good to check before you head anywhere in the city.
Most places that accept card payments don’t add additional transaction fees. If they do, there is usually a minimum spend which must be exceeded to avoid any charges. However, what you should look out for the most are the hidden fees that your banks charge per transaction. These interbank fees are taken per transaction, by the bank for directly converting the currency of your account, to that of the city at which you’re in.
Alternative Payment Methods and Tips
Before you leave for a new destination, let your bank know where you are going. This is because when international transactions are detected, the banks may freeze your card for security purposes.
Aside from this, there are some other great options where you can directly make payments in different currencies, minus the interbank fees that banks charge. You can use multi-currency accounts as other alternatives to exchange your currency to Hungarian Forint. Tranferwise and Revolut give the best possible solutions for direct exchanges.
Transferwise provides a service where you can benefit from the flexibility of stress-free money transfer when travelling abroad. Using TransferWise, you can transfer money to any other users in close to 100 currencies. You can also transfer money to a bank account. You can use money from your account with the Borderless MasterCard.
Revolut offers one of the best and most efficient money transfer services. You can open a current account and transfer money to bank accounts, as well as other users.
- You can transfer and hold money in around 140 currencies.
- You get free currency exchange for up to £500 per month.
- If you exceed this limit then you’ll be charged a 0.5% fee per transaction.
- Fast effective and easy to use.
Hopefully, this article will give you some hands-on information about managing money in Budapest. For more practical articles check The Complete Budapest Transport Guide and 33 Useful Hungarian Expressions to Learn Before Visiting Budapest. And if you would need some more useful tips to plan a fantastic trip to Budapest, download the Like Locals app for free. Available on both iOS and Android devices.