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Money Matters in Eastern Europe

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We are taking Uniworld Bucharest/Budapest. Each country on the itinerary has their own currency.

For those who have done this cruise in the past did you obtain the foreign currencies in the US or purchase

in each country. Did you have any issues with using your credit cards? Were you able to use Euros at all?

I appreciate any information you can share.

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I did this itinerary on Uniworld in 2017.  I only got local currency in Romania, from the ATM at the hotel.  We weren't in the other countries long enough to need local currency, Uniworld is all-inclusive for my needs, and I'm not much of a shopper.  I don't recall being able to use euros except at the airport.  Small stores and vendors in countries such as Bulgaria and Serbia don't take credit cards.  When I used my credit card at the hotel in Romania, it did raise a red flag, and I got an alert email that I had to respond to, letting them know it was a legit transaction.  Otherwise they were going to deny additional use of the credit card.

 

May I ask why you need the currency of each country?  It seems like a lot of trouble to me, and you may end up with a lot of useless money.

 

Roz

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I am taking a similar cruise on Viking   I like to have local currency so have the flexibility to purchase what ever may catch my eye If they do not take credit cards what does one do ? 

 What about WC charges like in other European countries?  One always needs small currency to use the WC 

Always notify your ATM bank that you will be out-of-the-country   Always !

 

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9 minutes ago, cruiser02 said:

I am taking a similar cruise on Viking   I like to have local currency so have the flexibility to purchase what ever may catch my eye If they do not take credit cards what does one do ? 

 

Please don't take this the wrong way, but there's not much to buy in these countries.  They are still catching up from 50 yrs. of Soviet domination.  Consumer goods aren't the same as Western Europe, and they're still developing their tourism industry.

 

9 minutes ago, cruiser02 said:

 What about WC charges like in other European countries?  One always needs small currency to use the WC 

Always notify your ATM bank that you will be out-of-the-country   Always !

 

 

I didn't run into any situations where we had to pay to use the toilet.  Maybe because of communism, everyone had an equal right to pee. 

 

I went to the website of my credit card to find out who to contact about out of country travel, and it said there was no need to contact them, that there were security measures in place.   For future reference, what dept. do I contact?  Thank you for the admonishment.

 

Roz

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13 minutes ago, Roz said:

 

Please don't take this the wrong way, but there's not much to buy in these countries.  They are still catching up from 50 yrs. of Soviet domination.  Consumer goods aren't the same as Western Europe, and they're still developing their tourism industry.

 

 

I didn't run into any situations where we had to pay to use the toilet.  Maybe because of communism, everyone had an equal right to pee. 

 

I went to the website of my credit card to find out who to contact about out of country travel, and it said there was no need to contact them, that there were security measures in place.   For future reference, what dept. do I contact?  Thank you for the admonishment.

 

Roz

 

each bank is different and one I use told me what you were told - bot not the other ones. If in doubt, just call the customer service number on the back.

 

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We did this itinerary in April and withdrew local currency from bank ATMs.  We also used our Chase Sapphire CC exclusively as there are no Foreign Transaction Fees.  IIRC we also exchanged some USD at the large food market in Budapest for Forints.  We didn't bring any Euros but saw other passengers paying with Euros at some gift/souvenir shops.

 

I have been told in the past from cc companies that they didn't need to be notified when traveling abroad.  I did find, however, links at Chase to make travel notifications:

 

 

travelntf.PNG

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RE: Credit cards & ATM cards:    Not fun to need to use a card and find it denied    We have found ourselves sitting in a foreign airport ( Amsterdam ) calling our credit card company so we could get a cup of coffee and a cab.    

Now we  just contact them before we leave the country.  

Traveling is fun   One learns a LOT 

 

 

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To the OP, better to be safe than sorry. Sound advice to check each cc and atm provider and follow their policy.

 

We used  bank ATMs avoiding Travelex ( exchange rates not as good usually). I did shop in Budapest and found some lovely hand made, local items and  Paprika of course.I used both a credit card without a foreign transaction fee and cash.. As for shopping in general, I have yet to visit a country and I have traveled to many, that did not have unique and interesting things to buy. I have also found that prices are much more reasonable in some European countries that don’t use the Euro.  Just my personal experience. BTW no problem using a credit card in places that serve tourists. Off the beaten path could be difficult if your cc isn’t a chip and pin. If you plan to buy metro, train or bus tickets from a machine then chip and pin is usually needed. Hope you have a great trip.

 

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We took a Danube cruise ending in Budapest in June and then flew to Romania to drive around for three weeks.  We had plenty of cash in Euro and local currency and our chip and pin MasterCard.  We found that we were able to 'tap' and pay nearly everywhere we went.  We just waved our watches (or phone) in front of everything from the transit machines in Budapest and Bucharest to the handheld machines waitstaff brought us in restaurants, and in tiny rural grocery stores as well.  It worked like that everywhere except the gas pumps.  We even waved our watches in front of a turnstile into a pay toilet in Germany.  My iphone/watch 'wallet' is linked to my Chase Sapphire, and we didn't notify them of our travels (they emailed me last year and told me to stop telling them where I was going) but we did notify the MasterCard company that has our chip & pin, which we ended up not needing like we have in the past.  It's almost like those are more in use in Western Europe, and in Eastern Europe they're building new infrastructure.  The internet speeds in parts of Romania were stunningly fast, up to 300mps, and they said it was because they're building new, not piggybacking on older 2G technology like we have (not sure if that's true, but it sounded legit). 

 

Anyway, I never ever leave home without enough local currency to take a cab from the airport to the hotel and a little bit extra.  I learned that lesson the hard way, and also learned I don't want to be standing in front of a cash machine in a jetlagged state.  The rest you can probably get at ATMs along the way if you need it.  We had TONS of Romanian Lei, and ended up using most of it to pay various hoteliers along the way because they offered a discount for cash.  We didn't need it out and about much at all.  Oh, we used it for tips and the occasional private tour as well.  When you pay by credit card there's no tip line, and, at least in Romania, they were sure to let you know that tips were extra and appreciated - 10 percent. 

 

 

 

 

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I have notified Chase, WF and Citicard all on their website. 

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Like Coral mentioned; go on your credit card website and you can put in the dates you are sailing or out of the country. That way your card will not be denied.  I think it is called a travel notification.  

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On 7/31/2019 at 3:29 PM, cruiser02 said:

 

 What about WC charges like in other European countries?  One always needs small currency to use the WC 

 

 

On our recent Viking cruise, it was mentioned that the main service desk on the ship was able to exchange for small coin amounts in local currency if you had concerns about pay toilets on that day's excursions. 

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16 hours ago, sumiandkage said:

 

On our recent Viking cruise, it was mentioned that the main service desk on the ship was able to exchange for small coin amounts in local currency if you had concerns about pay toilets on that day's excursions. 

EXCELLENT NEWS.

Viking's policy is no currency exchange onboard (yes, they do make change for Euros, but not currency exchange) so this modified policy on this cruise of many currency countries is welcomed by those of us who are frequent customers of toilets

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Like others have said, we find using local ATMs the easiest (and best financially) to get foreign currency.  As we have been more or less nomadic since February 2018, we elected to get a Schwab checking account (actually moved all our investments to simplify our life) as they reimburse all ATM fees anywhere in the world.   They also have no transaction fee so the only cost is in the exchange rate and from what I can tell (frankly haven’t bothered to check after the first few transactions) their rate is competitive.  

 

Typically we only get cash if we are going to be in a country for a while and then only a small amount which we try to use up before we leave.  We have found almost everywhere we can use our credit cards in lieu of cash.  

 

Have a great cruise-Budapest is amazing!

 

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Clay - with what you have mentioned in the above post, you should look into getting an Amex Platinum card with the Schwab linkage [unless you already have it].  With the annual payment into my Schwab account, plus up to $200 in airline fee reimbursements, Hilton and Marriott Gold membership, TSA Global Entry fee reimbursements, 5% back on airline ticket costs, Priority Pass membership – I am easily able to recoup the $550 annual fee for the card.  This really makes sense for Schwab customers.

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We did the Budapest-Bucharest itinerary in April of this year with Viking, and did the following:

 

In Budapest (since we were there for a couple of days) we got some Forints at an ATM for small purchases. We also used our CC for larger purchases

 

In Croatia, we paid for the few items bought in US dollars (vendors here, including winery in Ilok took both Euros and USD as well as local currency)

 

In Belgrade, we again got a small amount of Dinar at an ATM, but used our CC here as well.

 

In Bulgaria, we just paid with CC. 

 

And in Romania, we used the ATM again for a small amount of Lei to use on little purchases, but used the CC for larger purchases.

 

We found that most smaller vendors pretty much throughout the trip would take USD, Euro or local currency and were happy to accept whatever you had.

 

At the end of the trip, I think that we only had a 5 Lei bill left over 🙂

 

LOVED this trip, and your money goes *very* far in this part of the world.


Enjoy!
 

Jeff

 

 

 

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We did  Budapest-Bucharest with Viking in June

 

Only local currency we had was a few Hungarian notes given us by our son who'd been there earlier. We used them to tip the hotel man in Budapest who showed us to our room and carried our bags.

 

Rest of time credit cards did for meals in Budapest and Bucharest and Euros did elsewhere. We didn't buy any souvenirs except for two bottles of Bulgarian wine (for Euros).

 

Guides pointed out cafes and souvenir shops that would take Euros, US Dollars and cards and they had small coins for those needing toilets on  trips. We found they were good at taking us to places with free toilets - and of course the coaches are equipped with toilets

 

 

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