The Czech Currency guide
Also listed on this page are different Czech currency exchange rate calculators with instructions on how to use Czech resources to see clearly what exchange rates are being offered by commercial banks and cambios so you may get an idea of where you want to exchange your cash. The last section deals with wire transfers, large currency transfers, credit cards and the "Euro". If you intend on using an ATM here, take a look at the ATM section on this page. At the airport you will find ATMs at gate "D" (in Terminal 1) or on the right by the window of the arrival area in Terminal 2. If arriving by train then the Stations page lists the ATM locations of these places. From 2008 banknotes printed in 1993 are no longer valid currency. They can be exchanged for free at the Central Bank near Namesti Republiky.
The 20kc banknote has ceased to be legal Czech currency and been replaced by the 20kc coin.
The 50kc banknote has ceased to be legal Czech currency and been replaced by the 50kc coin. Old notes can be redeemed at the CNB (National Bank) in Na Prikope.
The 100kc Czech banknote is possibly the most popular in the Czech Republic. It's Czech currency that is small enough to pay for a coffee yet big enough to deal with things like lunch.
The 200kc banknote has become more widely used following the Czech currency devaluation of the Korun in 1997. I would expect to use this for lunch and get about 80kc back in change.
The 500kc Czech currency banknote is another good utility note where you'll be able to get change reasonably easily. I wouldn't try to pay for a coffee with it.
The 1000Kc is the first of the BIG banknotes. The old version of the note (1993) is still in circulation but, does not have to be accepted by businesses if they don't want it. This Czech currency note was replaced in 1996 by another more secure version. Commercial banks stopped changing this Czech currency in June 2004 and now only the central bank (opposite the Powder Tower) will exchange them. To be sure, just quickly scan your 1000kc banknotes and make sure that the "head" side does not have 1993 in the bottom left corner of the graphic. You are bordering on credit card usage at this level.
This is a serious Czech currency. The 2000kc is more than the English 50 pound note and how often do you see one of those. Suitable for dinner etc but, I wouldn't be carrying around too many of these. Certainly restaurants should be accepting credit cards for this level but, for instance "Malostranska Pivnice" is cash only (doesn't bother me because I recommend people don't go there as they get ripped off). When using an ATM to withdraw cash you can expect to get these if asking for more than 4000kc. Don't try and exchange this outside of a bank.
Waiters will laugh at you if you try and pay with a 5000Kc note unless your bill is more than 2000kc. Czech currency that was widely used before the banking system became more reliable as many things i.e. cars and houses, were paid for in cash.
Czech Currency - Terminology and rules
Czech currency - WE BUY - this means that we buy amount x of the local Czech currency in cash and give you your own currency. This figure is always worse than the "sell" rate.
As a general rule if you see the buy and sell figures side by side, the bank or office with the least amount of difference between the Czech currency rates is generally the best although you do then have to watch out for "commission" or "fixed charge". Commission is normally a percentage of the amount you want to change. Fixed charge is a set amount regardless of how much you want to pay and benefits people changing more money. Some places have a commission rate up to a certain amount which then becomes the fixed charge.
All numbers quoted on the boards like "0% commission" apply to cash only. American Express is my preferred option for T-Cheques as they are cashed by the local AMEX offices without commission.
Best Czech Currency Exchange Rates for Cash (in Czech terms - Valuty)
Exchange.cz (www.exchange.cz) has the most convenient "Old Town" location close to Old Town Square in Kaprova and has 6 Czech currency exchange booths, excellent exchange rate but, minimum 150 Euros or Dollars. The Exchange.cz calculator is on the right hand side of their homepage called "Kurzovy Kalkulator" and works like this:
1) Next to the words "Chci za" enter the amount of your own currency that you want to exchange.
2) Underneath the words "Chci za" you'll find a small dropdown box, select your own currency i.e. GBP or USD etc.
3) Next to the word "Nakoupit" is another currency dropdown box. Select the Czech currency CZK (right at the top of the list).
4) Click the button called "Kolik Dostanu?" (How much will I get?) and you'll see how much Czech currency you would get at the counter.
Alfa Prague (www.alfaprague.cz). Alfa Prague offers the best Czech currency exchange rate I've found (whole week) for less than 100 Dollars or Euros. Located in the passageway about 20 metres before TGI Fridays (Panska Pasaz formerly the Rathova Pasaz) down the steps on the right. One regular booth and a "discreet" booth.
Best Czech currency - Exchange Rate for Bank Transfer (in Czech terms - Devizy)
Citibank (www.citibank.cz) beats the regular Czech bank exchange rate by about 0.5%. Not much normally but, makes a big difference when transferring large amounts of Foreign Exchange into CZ which expats may have to do quite regularly. Has one main city branch in Rytirska and a smaller one in Revolucni. Offers all the usual banking add ons. NOTE: if you have a Citibank account then try and withdraw money from a Citibank ATM otherwise you pay a hefty charge.
Sending and Recieving Money Orders
Western Union (www.westernunion.com) offers the most reliable and well known transfer service into Czech currency.
ATMs (cashpoint machines)
Many people are happy to use ATM's as they are reliable, quite common and UK "Nationwide" Visa card users don't pay commission so it works out to the best exchange rate. I've now written a How to.... guide that details how to use a Czech ATM.
Since 1996 the number of shops accepting credit cards has gone up to the point where it is now less likely for a shop NOT to accept them. Two warnings though. The first is that many shops will impose a limit like for electrical goods and I must show my passport if I want to buy something over 15,000 kc. The second warning is the risk of card blocking i.e. you try and use your card for something expensive and the transaction is refused. Unfortunately your card may now be blocked and you must contact the controlling bank for a security check. Sometimes it does not ask for the check and just says "refused". I can help out here if you have an English visa/mastercard supported by Barclays. If this kind of card gets blocked then you can call +44 1604 614811 and reverse the charges. Other card holders should note their own contact numbers. Note that not all restaurants accept credit cards.
Since May 1st 2004 the Czech Republic has been a member of the European Union. It is not however a member of the Euro Zone and as such it is not required to use the Euro as its main currency until at least 2010. Currently there are a few places that take the Euro but these are limited to towns close to the German and Austrian borders. In Prague itself if a restaurant etc accepts the Euro it will state that your change will be in Euros if available. Others will state immediately that change is in Czech Korun. On my last visit to Cesky Krumlov, to pay in Euros was actually cheaper than to pay in Korun and you'll also find this in the Vietnamese markets on the border. If a shop accepts Euros I would ask what the exchange rate is before paying as it's normally a pretty bad rate i.e. Prague airport shops accept Euros but change is in Korun.
This is just starting in the Czech Republic. Currently the CSOB bank in association with the Albert supermarket chain as well as the "post insurance" company offer the service. It's bad enough trying to make yourself understood in Czech let alone trying to persude a cashier in English that you want cashback so, I expect it will take some time to get fully working. It's the same as in the UK. If you've purchased something and you want extra cash then you just make a separate transaction with the credit card. The Czech cashback system does not appear to support debit cards at present (at least one's not supported by the CSOB bank).