Practical Life in Prague


Bank services in Prague


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Currency

The national currency is the Czech crown or koruna, abbreviated as Kc or CZK. One crown is equal to 100 haliru (hellers). Hellers are only available in coin denomination of 50 hellers. Banknotes are available in denominations of 50, 100, 500, 1,000, 2,000 and 5,000 crowns. The value of the crown to the Euro, Dollar, etc. change frequently so check a currency calculator to find current rates.

The Czech Republic delayed the conversion to the euro to 2012. Some places will still accept euros, such as large hotels, but they will offer an unfavourable exchange rate. Also note- pre 1993 Czechoslovak banknotes are no longer valid.

Cash Point / ATM and Credit Cards

Machines accept debit/credit cards backed by Visa, MasterCard/EuroCard, Maestro and American Express. Most ATM's will provide operating instructions in English, German and French. Generally there is an excellent exchange rate, although your card provider will likely charge a small transaction fee (check with your bank). Machines can be found everywhere, including banks, metro station, and post offices.

Credit cards are accepted in most hotels, international shops and more expensive restaurants. Many local shops and cheaper restaurants do not accept credit cards. Cash is king to most Czech businesses.

There have been some issues in the past with external ATMs. ATMs within a bank should be available, but if you use an external ATM, be sure to cover the keypad with your free hand as you enter the pin code.

Exchange

Visitors will normally receive a better exchange rate for the Czech Crown in Prague then at home. Only exchange money at an official currency change office with posted prices. Never deal with a street money-dealer! Do not believe offices that advertise 0% commission, that fee will come up somewhere and may be very high. Good places to exchange include banks and official tourist information centres. Like many things in Prague- the further you are from the tourist centres, the better the prices. If a situation seems at all shady, leave. Protect yourself by asking for the actual rate you will pay before making the transaction.

Note that the best rates are by taking money from an ATM. This depends on your home bank, but this continues to be the safest and cheapest way to get koruna.

Open an Account

Opening a bank account in the Czech Republic is relatively easy. Some banks are easier to navigate then others, and some offer better fees, so shop around.

Most banks only need your passport, one other form of identification (i.e. driving license), and an initial deposit. How much of a deposit depends on the bank, but is usually between 200 and 2,000 CZK. The deposit is not a fee, but the first in-payment on your account.

Some banks allow users to open an account online. However, users would still need to go to the bank to verify their identity and sign a contract.

If you want an ATM card, this will take additional time. Be patient as it is common problem among Czech banks to be slow to issue debit and ATM cards. Most debit cards are Visa Electron. Credit cards are only available to Czech citizens and permanent residents.

Fees

Note that Czech banks offer an obscene amount of fees. The monthly fee for a bank account is usually between 30 to 50 CZK. The annual fee for a debit card is between 150 and 200 CZK. Some banks charge a fee for ATM, about 6 CZK (provided your use their ATM). There are also banks that offer overdraft protection- for a fee. Interest is often paid on overdraft as well. To block a debit card if you lose it, there is a fee of about 2,000 CZK. And to be issued a new card, it will again be a long wait period and expensive.

Banks

There are many, many banks within the city of both Czech and international origin. Hours are usually from 8:00-17:00.

Ceska Sporitelna
Address: Praha 1, Vaclavske nam. 26
Hours: Mon-Thur 08:30-18:00, Fri 08:30-16:00, Weekends Closed

Citibank
Address: Praha 1, Revolucni 6
Hours: Mon-Fri 09:00-17:00, Weekends closed

Commerzbank
Address: Praha 2, Jugoslavska 1
Hours: Mon-Tue 08:30-16:30, Wed 08:30-19:30, Fri 08:30-15:30, Weekends closed

Deutsche Bank
Address: Praha 1, Jungmannova 34
Hours: Mon-Thur 09:00-16:00, Fri 09:00-14:30, weekends closed

GE Capital Bank
Address: Praha 4, Vyskocilova 1422/1a
Hours: Mon-Fri 08:30-18:00, weekend closed

KB Komercni banka
Address: Praha 1, Na Prikope 33
Hours: Mon-Fri 08:00-17:00, weekend closed

Raiffeisenbank
Address: Praha 1, Vodickova 38
Hours: Mon-Fri 08:30-18:00, weekends closed

Update 27/01/2011



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