The Easiest Way to Get the Best Deal Changing Money in Europe

The days of changing money are a distant memory for many travelers — thanks both to ATMs, and to the common euro country shared by much of the Continent. And, while ATMs are every bit as abundant in Eastern Europe as in the West, most of these countries have still retained their traditional currencies. If you wind up with a few Czech koruna or Hungarian forints when you cross into Poland, you may need to track down an exchange booth to turn them into Polish zlotys.

Anytime you need to use an exchange booth, comparison-shop by looking carefully at the various rates. Look for places that do not charge a commission and that show both the buying and selling rate. And confirm that the buying and selling rate are within a few percentage points of each other.

There are about 3 zlotys to a dollar. These two photos (taken on the same day and on the same street) show two different exchange bureaus. One has a decent mark-up (as indicated by the spread in the buying and selling rate — buying and selling for 3.10 or 3.15), while the other is a terrible rip-off (with a huge spread — buying and selling at 2.33 or 3.20).

Avoid exchange booths like this one, with a huge gap between the buying and selling rates.

Avoid exchange booths like this one, with a huge gap between the buying and selling rates.

The small gap between the buying and selling rates suggests this exchange bureau is a good deal.

The small gap between the buying and selling rates suggests this exchange bureau is a good deal.

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