Where to exchange money in Budapest?

Currency Exchange guide in Budapest Hungary

Budapest is one of the famous travel destinations where people from North America, Australia,Asia and Europe frequently visit.

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You must be wondering what is the currency used in Hungary in 2024 and as a visitor what is the Budapest currency.

One of the common understandings among Budapest travelers is that since Hungary is part of the European Union, Euro will be used.

Whereas the reality is different, as Forint is the currency used in Hungary.

Unit of Currency in Budapest Hungary

The official currency of Hungary in Forint as of 2024.The unit of currency in Hungary is written as Ft, or Huf.

The smallest entity of currency in Budapest is the 5 forint coin.

Other currency coins to be seen in Budapest are 20,50,100 and 200.

The currency notes of Hungary are 500,1000,2000,5000,10000 and 20000.

Do you need cash on your Budapest trip

Despite having a very old city architecture, Budapest businesses are pretty much having a good cashless system in 2024.

It means, in most of the places in Budapest, you can pay with a debit or credit card.

For visiting Danube Cruises in Budapest ,Gala Concerts in Budapest and late night pool parties in Budapest, you can always pay in advance with a card.

Hence, if your stay in Budapest is for 1-2 days around the city center, then, you can easily survive by paying through your debit/credit card.

Just ensure that if you plan to use public transport buses, you have already bought the pass from BKK ticket machine or BKK offices in advance,where you can pay with card.

Budapest currency for car parking

In case you are coming by car, you will need to pay parking in Budapest on working days.

Parking machines in Budapest accept only HUF coins as of 2024.

As these do not accept cards or currency notes, you must get some Hungarian currency in order to pay for street parking.

There are some online apps which may be used to pay online, but you need to install them in your mobile phones before your trip or at the stop.

Hence, requiring internet, which may be planned with DrimSim packages.

Currency in Budapest for public transport tickets

Hungarian forints Currency in Budapest for shopping
Hungarian forints Currency in Budapest for shopping

All the public transport ticket machines in Budapest have the option to pay by debit or credit card.

By paying with debit or credit card, you will have the rate that your bank charges.

Even if you buy public transport tickets in Budapest by machine, you can pay with a master/visa card.

However, the cash option to buy public transport tickets from the machine only accepts Hungarians forints coins and banknotes.

Also, buying tickets in Budapest from drivers of buses and trams is only possible with exact coin money of the ticket.i.e. 450 HUF per ticket.

Best currency for buying Budapest souvenirs?

Which currency to use for buying souvenirs in Budapest
Which currency to use for buying souvenirs in Budapest

If you are looking to visit souvenir shop Budapest around the city center, i.e. Vorosmarty ter and Vaci Utca.

There is a good chance that a card payment option is available.

However, if you plan to buy a 2 to 5 Euro item, the shopkeeper may push for cash.

In such scenarios, cash payment in Euros is preferred by the shopkeepers.

In case you are at the Central Market hall Budapest for buying souvenirs, most of the traders will push for cash money and even accept Euros if you don’t have HUF.

If you are buying stuff more than 50 USD/GBP/EUR, and paying by cash, you may ask for a discount as many shopkeeper try to avoid taxes with cash payments.

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Currency exchange in Budapest for shopping

Do you know what is the best time for shopping in Budapest?

What is the best shopping mall in Budapest for foreigners?

Not only Vaci street Budapest, Fashion street and Andrassy Avenue Budapest has lot of shopping options in Budapest as of 2024.

The prices of goods, items, and fashion apparel are mentioned in HUF in all the major outlets of Budapest.

You will have no issues in paying with your debit/credit for shopping in an international fashion outlet in Budapest.

Although all the international apparel stores list their products’ price in HUF, you can pay in Euros too, but at an unfavorable currency rate.

Budapest currency for grocery

Currency to pay for grocery shopping in Budapest
Currency to pay for grocery shopping in Budapest

All the prices in grocery stores of Budapest are in forints and it is the acceptable currency.

Not all grocery stores in Budapest accept foreign currency.

As of 2024, some grocery stores in the tourist areas and city center accept Euros, but paying with dollars could be problematic.

Even if they accept Euros, they return in HUF currency and with a difference of 20 to 30 forints compared to standard rates of currency.

The next question you would be thinking that what are prices in Budapest for food items?

In any case you want to have cheap breakfast in Budapest, the majority of the grocery stores spar, lidl, Aldi,CBA,TESCO do accept debit or credit cards.

Even the Chinese grocery shops do accept payment with debit/credit cards.

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Currency in Budapest for restaurants

Which currency to use for eating out at restaurants in Budapest
Which currency to use for eating out at restaurants in Budapest

The primary mode of paying in restaurants in Budapest is in forints.

Paying with foreign currency(Euros) for eating in restaurants in Budapest city center is also possible.

Streets including Vaci Utca, Andrássy Utca, Király utca and vorosmarty square are part of the area where you can pay in Euros in Budapest for dining in.

Restaurants near Heroes Square also accept debit/credit cards as they are in the tourist area closer to Heroes Square.However, food restaurants near Budapest Keleti train station are not well developed to accept Euros in cash, but card payment is definitely there.

Paying in Euros with cash is also possible in restaurants around Basilica and streets connecting Zrínyi u.

Just make sure that Forint exchange rate may be unfavorable for you. Otherwise, you will have to pay with a debit/credit card.

On the other hand,if you want to eat at Budapest Airport restaurants, better to use your card.

Currency for Budapest taxis

Budapest Taxi Payment
Budapest Taxi Payment

If you are coming from Budapest Airport to the city center with a Taxi, you can pay the taxi fare with Euros.

It is best to book the taxi from the taxi booth right next to the exit of the arrivals terminal. There are no Budapest Uber operations, hence you have to resort to other taxi options like KiwiTaxi.

You can also check the receipt given by the Budapest taxi booth about the estimated fare of your planned journey.

The receipt contains the price of fare in HUF as well as euros.

You can definitely check when booking the taxi,if the there is an option for payment with Debit/credit card.

However, for a normal ride within the city, it’s better to pay with Hungarian forint.

Places to avoid for currency exchange in Budapest

If you plan to stay in Budapest for a longer time, it’s a good option to convert the foreign currency into HUF.

There are numerous currency exchange services in Budapest.

However, you need to be careful where to exchange the currency.

There are numerous places that you must avoid for currency exchange at all costs.

Budapest Airport currency exchange

The currency exchange at Budapest airport terminals is right next to the arrivals.

As in any other country, it is not advisable to exchange currency at the Budapest airport.

It is not a good idea to exchange currency at Budapest Airport as the commission may go up to 15% and the rate they offer is quite low.

Budapest currency exchange in tourist areas

Most of the currency exchange shops around tourist streets in Budapest also charge hefty commission.

These include Vaci Utca, Vorosmarty square, Andrassy Avenue , Octogon, Fashion Street and area around Basilica.

After Covid, many shops for currency exchange in Budapest have closed down, while some operate in very shady shops.

While wandering around the Budapest city center you will encounter many exchange shops, but there is one that is discussed regularly on expats groups and called the best exchange in Budapest.

Do you due diligence before exchanging currency in Budapest.

Currency exchange at Budapest Banks

As a tourist, its not a good option to exchange currency from Banks.

There are several reasons for not going to banks for exchanging your foreign currency to Hungarian forints.

Aside from the high commission charged by the banks, you may face issues of language, as not all branches of banks have English-speaking representatives.

Currency exchange in Budapest 24 hour shops

Doing grocery in Budapest with foreign currency like euros is possible in international chains like SPAR,LIDL,Tesco and aldi, which are in the city center.

Although their exchange rates are quite high but still manageable.

In case you want to buy anything after 10pm in Budapest (when normal shops are closed), you can buy from 24 hr shops which may accept euros.

These shops are even expansive if you buy in local currency of Hungary.ie.Forints.

However, the smaller shops in Budapest have very bad exchange rates and will cost you around 1.4 times of the original price for any goods you want to purchase.

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Budapest currency for Hospitals 2024

If you are an EU citizen visiting Budapest, you may have an EU insurance card that can help you avoid paying any money in case you have to visit a Budapest hospital for emergency.

On the other hand, people coming from outside Europe to Budapest must book a health insurance to avoid heavy charges in case of Hospital emergency visit in Budapest.

As medical emergencies in Budapest are mostly handle by the public hospitals, they accept card as well as cash payment. But why not book a travel insurance through Travelex to avoid paying hefty amounts for medical emergencies in Budapest.

In case you want to buy medicine in Budapest, all the pharmacies accept card payments.

There are limited 23 hours pharmacy in Budapest and drugstores in each district where you can pay with Card. Paying with Euros will cost you very bad conversion charges.

Budapest Hotels Money exchange services

If you have not performed any currency exchange prior to reaching your hotel in Budapest.

You might feel tempted to exchange the currency to huf in your Budapest Hotel.

Many hotels offer currency exchange services, but their rates are also unfavorable to tourists, hence it is recommended to stay  away from exchange currency in these hotels.

Currency exchange on the Budapest streets

While walking in the Budapest city center, you will encounter many people offering either some perfumes, mobiles and scarfs on reduced rates.

Sometimes, there are people asking you to exchange your foreign currency for Huf.

Additionally, you may be encountering random people in front of currency exchanges who offer currency exchange services. try to avoid these at all cost.

You should avoid all such kind of people in Budapest who sell you any services,which may lead to possible Budapest scams.

Budapest Exchange rate

In Hungary the exchange rate is controlled by Magyar Nemzeti Bank. (Hungarian national Bank)

Before exchanging currency, you can check the conversion rates of HUF from their website.

In addition, you can also check the rates through XE.com which is a well known international exchange.

Based upon comparison from the official sources, you can identify if the rate you get from the exchange is good or not.

Buying Hungarian currency

Hungarian currency is not considered as a foreign currency globally.

Therefore, it is almost impossible to find an exchange in any country that would give you HUF in exchange for any other currency.

Either you are coming from USA,Canada,India,UK,Africa,Arab world or any other part of Europe.

Hence, if you are traveling to Budapest for the first time, the best option to buy Hungarian currency is only in Budapest.

The reason that, as you have not seen the Hungarian currency before your Budapest trip,someone may trick you with fake currency exchange or any  from another country which has bad exchange rates.

Tips for Budapest Money exchange

Here are some tips that are helpful for tourists when visiting a currency exchange in 2024.

  • Check the exchange rates displayed on the board in front of the exchange office,with sell and buy column.
  • Compare the rate of currency you want to exchange with xe app. It should not have a difference of more than 3 to 4 forints.
  • Check what the commission they take, as many currency exchanges in Budapest have windows of commission for various ranges.
  • Always ask for a calculation of the overall conversion and commission to have a better overview of the HUF you will get for your offered currency.
  • Do not exchange currency from any shop after 20:00 as few currency exchanges open during that time will charge you crazy exchange rates and take advantage of your situation.
  • Some exchanges offer to waive off commission if you do not want the receipt of the exchange.
  • There are fewer chances of getting fake currency notes, as these shops will save money by paying less taxes on an undocumented transaction.

Best currency to use in Budapest pubs and clubs

It is recommended to bring Hungarian forint if you are willing to spend some time in pubs and clubs in 2024.

You can buy drinks with debit/credit card in pubs.

But if you are visiting clubs, and want to use the washroom, which costs around 100 huf, it may be tricky to give 30 cents to the admin.

As a tourist are exploring pubs while on a walk in the city, there are some pubs where you can be charged heavily even in case of a simple drink. Hence its better to carry Hungarian forints with you.

What is the best currency exchange in Budapest

For the best exchange rate of foreign currency conversion in Budapest, the trusted place is located near the town center.

It called Sarafi Kiani exchange and offers one of the best rates in Budapest.

If you are coming with a group of friends, do Book the beer bus that allows you do sightseeing as well.

What currencies can be exchanged in Budapest at exchange shops.

Although, Euro is the currency that will be easily accepted by shops around the city center in Budapest.

However, you will need to change your currency in Budapest for use.

Here is the list of currencies which can be exchanged in currency exchange shops in Budapest.

  1. EUR – Euro
  2. USD – US Dollar
  3. CHF – Swiss Franc
  4. GBP – Great Britain Pound
  5. AUD – Australian Dollar
  6. CAD – Canadian Dollar
  7. CZK – Bulgarian Lev
  8. DKK – Danish Krone
  9. HRK – Croatian Kuna
  10. JPY – Japanese Yen
  11. NOK – Norwegian Krone
  12. PLN – Polish Zloty
  13. RON – Romanian New Leu
  14. RUB – Russian Rubel
  15. SEK – Swedish Krona

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What are charges of cash withdrawal with ATMs in Hungary ?

In Hungary, the bank ATMs and HUF/EUR ATMs are quite common.

So if you do not want to exchange currency through currency exchanges, you may try to withdraw Hungarian forints by ATMs.

Only thing you need to check is with the issuer of your debit/credit card what are the charges of cash withdrawal in Budapest.

As some banks do have partnerships with certain international banks, and you may be charged less if you withdraw money from the recommended banks.

Then there are ATMs available in every corner of Budapest named as Euronet “not recommended at all”.

Tourist in Budapest think “what a great facility we have”

While in reality, these charge one of the highest Budapest ATM fees for cash withdrawal.

ATM machine in Budapest for money and cash withdrawl
ATM machine in Budapest for money and cash withdrawl

Is Budapest currency exchange possible with INR?

Budapest is the home to many multinational companies which have offices in India.

One of the key attractions for movie lovers are the Bollywood movies shot in Budapest and their locations.

Every year, thousands of engineers and experts in various industries are coming to Budapest for short-term assignments.

Despite so much influx of Indian experts, there is still no acceptance of Indian currency in Hungary.

Hence, it is still a better option to convert Indian rupee in India and exchange euros for forints after arrival in Budapest.