Czech currency is easy to spend when you're not use to it. It can have that very foreign "play money" feel to it - or so we've heard.
We thought it might be useful to get a few answers and tips about using the local currency.
First of all, euros are NOT widely accepted in Czech Republic.
Czech currency is known as koruna česká which simply means Czech crown.
It's easiest just to say Czech crowns when you're visiting. Although you can also use the term Czech koruna. Both are understandable to Czechs.
Most payments you make will likely be in cash. Credit cards are increasingly accepted, but certainly not everywhere. It's always best to ask if a business takes credit cards before paying.
The best way to do this is through a cash machine. Cash machines have lower fees and won't confuse you. There are machines at the airport and train stations - and everywhere in the city center. Of course, you should check with your bank regarding limits and fees.
We suggest avoiding exchange offices if you can. They have high fees and can be confusing. Their store windows post rates that seem attractive but are often misleading.
We've seen countless tourists completely confused and angry after exchanging money in such offices.
Sorry, we don't use euros in Prague. It's true that some restaurants and stores may accept euros, but the number of businesses accepting euros is small. You will just confuse yourself and waste your time trying to figure out who does and doesn't use euros.
Our advice... don't count on using euros in Prague unless you want to pay for your hotel or apartment rental this way. Aside from places of accommodation, euros just won't be of much use to you.
The euro may be adopted around 2020. But who really knows?
Politicians drag out a new possible date every year.
For official exchange rates, try the Czech National Bank.
I know this might sound strange, but I often suggest going straight to your accommodation before getting any local money. It's easy. Just book an arrival transfer through your accommodation.
Most hotels and apartments can arrange a transfer for you. This way you can worry about money after you get settled. If you need to pay upon arrival, ask your accommodation where the nearest cash machine is - you'll need to know anyways.
A transfer will cost you a little more in the end. But it's worth it especially after a long flight or train ride.
If your budget doesn't allow for an arrival transfer, then use Prague metro. You can get money from a cash machine in the airport or train station. But, the cash machine won't give coins. And, often the bus driver won't have change for the big bills that the machine dispenses. To get coins, you'll have to use an exchange office. And, that's where you'll lose money. Just exchange as little as possible. Then use a cash machine in the city to get more money for your stay.
It's also smart to arrive with a bit of your country's cash or at least a few euros. Euros are the most preferred after Czech crowns.
A few friendly tips for saving money while here:
• Tip modestly. Czechs don't tip like people in the U.S. or other western countries. If the bill is under 100 crowns just round up to the next 10. Otherwise, a 10% tip is usually plenty.
• Watch for pickpockets! Crowded areas are a good spot to lose your money.
Carry only the cash you need. It's tempting to carry a lot of cash especially when it might appear to be play money.
•Use cash machines to get money. And, never exchange money with someone on the street.
• Traveler's checks, bank checks and money orders are absolutely NOT acceptable. You might find a rare place that accepts traveler's checks, so they are really not worth the bother.
• Visit Prague in the winter. Deals are everywhere in the winter (aside from the holidays). Hotels are largely empty in November and February and offer lots of Last Minute deals.
• Share expenses with friends and family. You can save a lot of money by booking an apartment over individual hotel rooms.
• Use AAA Taxis. These yellow taxis are everywhere in Prague and are the most reliable. It's still best to get an estimate before getting in any taxi. And, make sure the driver uses the meter.