Katowice Internationals Foundation


Places to exchange money

Every time we go to a foreign country, one of the most important things we need to consider is the local currency. In the European Union, many countries share the Euro as the common currency, but this is not the case in Poland since the local currency is zloty. Here one euro, for example, equals approximately 4.65 zlotys (November 16th 2021). However, we cannot trust that this is always the case. Many people make the mistake of carrying euros with them and try, in a second time, to change them at the airport from some agencies without knowing where to do it properly. At the airport, for example, exchange rates are very high, so you must pay a lot of attention and be careful while doing these operations. Normally, you must pay a fee to some of these agencies to change some currencies. Other companies just simply distort the exchange rate for their own benefit to make scams. If you have no experience, it could have happened to you.

Here you can find some advice, from the best options to the worst ones, to avoid losing money unnecessarily:

1) Change some money in your bank.
Yes, exactly. In your bank, you can order some currency to have in cash. Banks respect the current exchange rate. You will only have to pay a small fee and it is safer. Plus, you’ll have the option to have it directly shipped to your house.

2) Transfer money from your bank in your home country to your account in Poland.
If you want to transfer large amounts of money, this might be your best bet. It’s probably the safest and most straightforward option if you’re opening a new account in Poland, but it can be quite expensive. It is advisable to minimize your commission fees by doing this operation only a couple of times when opening a polish account. 

Be careful where you exchange money

3) Use your credit/debit card or a prepaid card
In the last decade, Poland investments in digital payments have made the country one of the most advanced banking markets in Europe. Every shop, gym, restaurant, or service provider of any sort will take card and contactless payment, even with your smartphone. If you’re a tourist or you plan to work in Poland for a short period of time, you may also want to consider a prepaid card, for its safety and ease of use. Prepaid cards are also a great way to manage your spending, with the possibility to control every expense and easily split bills with your travel partners. Some of the new debit and credit cards even offer a standalone IBAN code, which makes your cards work exactly as a bank account, without the hassle and complications of one. They usually come in different plans, starting with a free subscription all the way up to a €10 or €15 premium plan with benefits and dedicated support. For example, most premium plans include unlimited currency exchange with no fees, with no need to open a polish bank account in the local currency and saving you a lot of headache. You’ll pay with the current standard exchange rate, without losing any money in the process; plus, if you really need physical currency, you can always withdraw local currency from an ATM, with little to no charge depending on your bank or card company. Most credit cards nowadays even offer travel insurances such as phone/laptop coverage or baggage insurance, something which you might want to consider when traveling with expensive equipment. Here are some of the most famous banks and cards that offer privileges to travellers like the possibility the keep funds in various currencies or to pay with zero conversion fees using your own account.
– Revolut: https://www.revolut.com/
– Wise: https://wise.com/
– N26: https://n26.com/
– PayPal: https://www.paypal.com/

4) Change your money at Kantor the city you are visiting.
These agencies provide you immediate currency when you go to them. If you are in a hurry, these are the best options to get some cash. You only need to be aware of the exchange rate at which they change the currency, since normally, it is a bit altered in their own benefit. For small amounts it is not a big deal, but for large amounts, you can lose a lot of money.
For example, one of the best know agencies in Poland is Kantor. If you check their website, you can know the exchange rate at which they are changing the currency in that moment and they usually stick to the market value. That means, that the operation is not risky.

5) What to avoid: changing currency at the airport.
Try to avoid at all costs changing currency at the airport. Normally, it is the easiest place where you can get the local coin. However, these offices usually distort the exchange rate at their own benefit. For example, it is possible that if the exchange rate is 1 euro equals to 4,65 zloty in town, at the airport can be that 1 euro equals to 4,1 zloty. As people usually do not know how exchange rates works, these offices make great business by changing currency at the airport. Remember to exchange money at the airport ONLY when you are in an emergency.