The Czech Republic still uses cash transactions a lot for everyday purchases (in shops, cafés, etc.), although the use of debit and credit cards (including contactless payment) is becoming relatively widespread and cards are accepted in all supermarkets, tourist attractions and many restaurants.
Internet banking is very commonly used, primarily by the younger generations. Most employers will transfer wages directly into a Czech bank account and many common transactions (rent, tuition, courses, etc.) are also made using direct debit. The Czech does not use cheques at all, but most banks recognise travellers cheques and are capable of redeeming them.
You can exchange money at a bank or a bureau d'echange (exchange office). Exchange offices tend to offer better conversion rates than banks, and almost always without commission. On the other hand, you may feel that the transaction is safer in the bank – rather than at a window on the street – and at the bank there is a lower risk of forgery.
If you exchange money at a bank, you will usually be charged commission, which is a percentage of your transaction and usually subject to a minimum per transaction.
A few pieces of advice:
- Only exchange money at an official exchange office and before exchanging your money carefully read all the information provided, including the exchange rate and details of any other charges.
- The exchange office will usually refer to "Purchase and sale of foreign currency and travellers cheques" and will display a list of buy/sell rates for each currency. If you wish to obtain Czech Crowns instead of your foreign currency, you will need the "buy" rate.
- Exchange rates and commission or fees can vary widely from one office to another. Each exchange office sets these independently, and is not tied to the Czech National Bank exchange rate in any way.
- Do not present cash to be exchanged until you have obtained the necessary information and are sure you wish to go ahead with the transaction.
- Once your money has been exchanged, ensure you are given a receipt with the details of your transaction – the exchange office is required to issue one upon request.
Foreign bank transfers
In general, a transfer of money from/to a foreign bank (into/out of the Czech Republic), takes at least 2 days and at most 7-10 days. The transfer could be delayed if there is a public holiday in either of the countries, or if it is over a weekend, and can take longer if the transaction involves a currency exchange.
Most foreign transfers incur banking transaction fees. Within the EU they are sometimes for free, or for a low fee, as part of the standardised European SEPA system. SEPA (Single Euro Payment Area) is a single payment and receipt area for EURO transactions across the EU/EEA countries.
A basic condition for being able to open a bank account is that you must be aged 18 or over - some accounts can be opened earlier (e.g. student accounts from age 15) but only in the presence of a parent/guardian. For foreigners, it is essential to have a Czech residence permit in order to open an account.
Banks differentiate between foreigners from the EU/EEA and those from other countries. EU citizens are usually required to present an identification document valid in the EU (ID card or passport) and as a second piece of identification a document such as their birth certificate, driving licence, or Czech residence card. For citizens of non-EU countries the main piece of ID must by their passport, accompanied by their Czech residence permit, and then a further piece of identification (such as birth certificate or driving licence). Banks always prefer documents that have your photograph on them.
If you are a student and wish to open a special student account, the bank will also need to see confirmation that you are enrolled in studies in the Czech Republic.
- Air Bank. http://www.airbank.cz/
- Equa bank. http://www.equabank.cz/
- Česká spořitelna http://www.csas.cz/
- Československá obchodní banka https://www.csob.cz/
- Fio banka http://www.fio.cz/
- Komerční banka http://www.kb.cz
- MONETA Money Bank https://www.moneta.cz/
- Raiffeisenbank http://www.rb.cz/
- UniCredit Bank Czech Republic http://www.unicreditbank.cz/