ATMs widely available. Credit cards accepted in most hotels and restaurants.
ATMs are ubiquitous in cities and towns, and even the smallest hamlet is likely to have at least one. The majority accept Visa and MasterCard.
- Polish ATMs require a four-digit PIN code.
- Inform your bank before travelling abroad to avoid having your card blocked by bank security when overseas transactions start appearing on your account.
- You'll often be given the choice to convert your ATM transaction to your home currency on the spot, but you'll get a better rate if you decline the option and choose 'Polish złoty'.
Change money at banks or kantors (private currency-exchange offices). Find these in town centres as well as travel agencies, train stations, post offices and department stores. Rates vary, so it’s best to shop around.
- Kantors are usually open between 9am and 6pm on weekdays and to 2pm on Saturday, but some open longer and a few stay open 24 hours.
- Kantors usually exchange cash only against major world currencies and neighbouring countries’ currencies. The most common and easily changed are US dollars, euros and UK pounds.
- There’s usually no commission on transactions – the rate you get is what is written on the board (every kantor has a board displaying its exchange rates).
Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted for goods and services. The only time you may experience a problem is at small establishments or for a very small transaction. American Express cards are typically accepted at larger hotels and restaurants, though they are not as widely recognised as other cards.
Credit cards can also be used to get cash advances.
Have money sent to you through the Western Union (www.westernunion.com) money-transfer service, which is generally quick and reliable, though fees can add up. Western Union outlets can be found in all Polish cities and most large towns.
Poland’s VAT is calculated at various rates depending on the product. The top rate is 23%. The tax is normally included in the prices of goods and services as marked.
- When to tip Customary in restaurants and at service establishments, such as hairdressers; optional everywhere else.
- Restaurants At smaller establishments and for smaller tabs, round the bill to the nearest 5zł or 10zł increment. Otherwise, 10% is standard.
- Taxis No need to tip, though you may want to round up the fare to reward good service.
- In restaurants, tip 10% of the bill to reward good service. Leave the tip in the pouch the bill is delivered in or hand the money directly to the server.
- Tip hairdressers and other personal services 10% of the total.
- Taxi drivers won’t expect a tip, but it’s fine to round the fare up to the nearest 5zł or 10zł increment for good service.
- Tipping in hotels is essentially restricted to the top-end establishments, which usually have decent room service staff and porters, who all expect to be tipped.
For current exchange rates, see www.xe.com.
The Polish currency is the złoty, abbreviated to zł and pronounced zwo-ti. It is divided into 100 groszy, which are abbreviated to gr. Banknotes come in denominations of 10zł, 20zł, 50zł, 100zł and 200zł, and coins in 1gr, 2gr, 5gr, 10gr, 20gr and 50gr, and 1zł, 2zł and 5zł. It’s a stable currency that has held its own with respect to the euro and US dollar in recent years.
Keep some small-denomination notes and coins for shops, cafes and restaurants – getting change for the 100zł notes that ATMs often spit out can be a problem.