Exchanging Money in Prague
Currency exchange shops in Prague
A currency exchange stand or shop is called Smenarna in Czech, but it usually has its label in many languages (most frequently you will see Exchange or the German expression Wechsel).
The density of money exchange stands in the centre of Prague is extremely high, as it is a lucrative business given the high number of foreign tourists. This is also the downside for the tourist. In the popular tourist destinations (Prague Old Town being the first one on the list), the exchange rates offered are mostly very unfavourable.
There are much more people selling foreign currency and buying Czech Koruna than people doing the opposite. Therefore the exchange office keeps the rates slightly tilted and makes buying the foreign currency (which less people do) much more favourable than buying Czech Koruna (which most people need when they are tourists in Prague). Besides, the currency exchange shop also keeps a wide spread between buy and sell (you buy for more and sell for less).
In short, if you want to buy Czech Koruna in the top tourist places in Prague, you have to accept worse rates.
Other places to exchange currency in Prague
Obviously the best would be to have a Czech friend who may want to buy your euros or dollars and you would agree on a fair and mutually favourable rate.
You can also try to exchange money outside the city centre in a less tourism-dense area. The downside of this is that exchange offices are less frequent and harder to find there.
Another easy solution is to go in a bank and exchange money there. The banks still keep wide bid-ask spread and may also have a commission on the transaction, but at least their exchange rate is probably not tilted and you can be sure that you get approximately the market rate. The biggest Czech banks which have many branches in all parts of Prague include:
- Komercni Banka (KB), part of Societe Generale group (it has the same logo as SG),
- Ceska Sporitelna, part of the Austrian bank Erste,
- Ceskoslovenska Obchodni Banka (CSOB), part of KBC group (it has similar logo to KBC),
- UniCredit Bank, part of the Italian UniCredit group.
The best advice is probably to ask in your hotel. They should have experience and good knowledge of the immediate surroundings and navigate you to a good foreign exchange office. In some hotels, they may even provide this service to you.
Checking the fair Czech Koruna rate
If you want to check the current exchange rate between Czech Koruna and other currencies, go to the website of Czech National Bank. Czech National Bank (CNB) quotes the official “reference“ exchange rates of Czech Koruna against about 30 other currencies every working day. This rate is only for reference and may have accounting and tax implications, but does not bind banks or companies to use it in real transactions. Czech Koruna is freely convertible and has a floating exchange rate.
You will find the reference CZK rates in the top right corner of the CNB website. If you want to see the rates for other currencies than euro and dollar, click on Kurzy.