Banking & exchange

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Prices in Poland are still generally lower than in western Europe, even if product prices are changing very fast and in tourist hot spots, you may find that many products turn out at about the same as you would find at home. As a traveler in Poland you will not have any trouble exchanging money and will be able to do this in most banks and exchange offices, the later often having the best exchange rates. Debit/credit card payments are becoming more and more common and larger Hotels, and restaurants will now accept all the normal payment cards. If you do not have cash on you, then it is always best to ask first if you are not sure if cards are accepted. From our experience of traveling in Poland it is always a good idea to have some Polish zloty in your pocket, just in case.

Where to exchange money and preform other financial services:

In most large cities and towns, there is never a problem to find banks that will be able to assist you with all your financial needs. One of the biggest problems for tourists is that many people working in banks do not speak English, once you leave the main tourist routs. However, in most cases there will be someone who can assist you in English. If you do not speak any Polish, then go to the bank's information desk and ask to speak to some that can help you in English, unless you are just going to complete a standard exchange, they will then direct you to an English speaking member of their staff.

Most banks are open all day, but are often busy around lunch time as bank staff are having lunch at the same time as you sometimes get more clients dropping in during their own lunch breaks. It is normal to have to wait in Poland, and the banks are no exception to this rule.

For exchanging money then we would recommend you to use one of the many exchange office "Kantor" that you will find in almost any towns. The rates are normally better here, and they do generally not charge you any commission, like the banks frequently do. When using an exchange office or a Kantor then we would recommend you to use one that looks representable and preferably on a main street. Take your time and make sure that you understand the exchange rate you are being given and that the money you receive is the correct amount. Most offices that offer such services are very good and offer you a very good rate, but once you leave the main tourist routs, and if you cannot speak Polish then it is easy for misunderstandings to arise. This may be an honest mistake from the cashiers' side, however, it can be complicated to put right.


Credit and Debit Cards

Credit and debit cards are becoming more and more common and are often accepted as a form of payment in hotels, restaurants, shops and petrol stations. However, often in small town or outside of the tourist routs you will still find places that do not accept card payments and sometimes even places that can be shocking to think, they do not have a simple facility like this. When leaving the main tourist area, we would recommend you to carry a small amount of cash on you for emergencies.

Check with your card issuing company before you travel so your card is opened to be used outside of the United Kingdom, or you may find it will not work in ATMs or other places using the chip and pin. If you are in Poland and find that your card will not work in ATMs, then a phone call to your bank is normally enough to activate it. Furthermore, remember that some debit cards may not work outside your own country, such as Solo, Switch and cash cards.

ATMs are very common, and you can find cash dispensers in all towns and large villages. They should all have the option of different languages, normally English and German as a minimum. Remember to protect your pin from the pubic the same as any responsible person in any other country would.

Financial services in your Hotel

Many large and well establish hotels will offer you financial services, such as currency exchange and exchange of traveler's cheeqes. These services may be very convenient for you to use, but is often not very favorable to you as the exchange rate is sometimes low, surcharges are common, and in addition, you are sometimes charged an extra fee if you use this service outside of business hours.

Where not to exchange money or conduct any form of financial arrangements.

Here like in any other tourist area in the world you can meet people that are out to take advantage of you. This is more so in the areas around train stations, bus station, market squares and other busy places with lots of victims for such people to pray on. You should not agree to exchange money with anyone who offers to do this on a street corner for you, even if it seems the rates are good, and you will be getting a decent deal,  this is frequently if not always a scam. Often such people will give you a packet of cut up news papers or out of date currency that will be worthless to you. Never disclose to anyone if you are carrying a large amount of money that you wish to exchange.

If you are approached by a civilian dressed Police officer after or around any ATM or exchange office, then use your wits and always ask to see a Police identification badge. Never disclose your credit/debit card details to such a person and remember that the Police would not ask you to do such a thing. If you are in doubt, then ask them to accompany you across to one of the many uniformed police officers that are walking around in-town centers.




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