Whether you are a tourist traveling in Croatia temporarily, or you are a foreigner who has moved to Croatia, it is vital to know how you can get access to the money in your foreign bank account. Luckily, it is a lot easier to transfer or withdraw money from abroad in Croatia than you might think.
In this post, we’ll go over all of your options including currency exchange.
Withdrawing money from an ATM (bankomat)
Withdrawing money from your bank account in your home country using an ATM is the easiest method, assuming that you’ve notified your foreign bank of your trip/move to Croatia. ATMs (called “bankomat” in Croatian) and banks are prevalent and accept most major cards including Visa, Mastercard and PIN. American Express is even common here.
The limit for most ATMs is 5.000 kuna per day (about 660 EUR). Note that your foreign bank sets their own limit for how much you can withdraw in a day, so keep that in mind.
To get the best exchange rate, do not accept the ATMs’ conversion rate. Instead, decline their conversion and let your bank do it.
Sometimes, I’ve experienced cash machines that don’t recognize my foreign bank card. If this happens, do not fret. Just walk about 20 meters and you are sure to run into another bank’s ATM.
In 2019, Croatian banks started charging withdrawal fees on cards not associated with their bank. This fee is usually between 12 and 26 kuna per transaction. You will be prompted to accept this fee before proceeding with the withdrawal.
Withdrawing money at the post office
Hrvatska Pošta, the Croatian post office, will allow you to withdraw up to 6,000 kuna per day per card. For example, if you and your spouse each have a debit card for the same account, you could each withdraw 6,000 kuna totaling 12,000 kuna for one day (if your daily limit is not exceeded with your bank). All you need is your debit card and your passport.
You can find the closest post office to you using this interactive map.
Charging directly to your card
Cash is definitely king in Croatia. Locals predominantly use cash for all of their purchases. Caffe bars, farmer’s markets (pazar) and informal shops such as the ones that surround the markets only take cash. However, department stores, supermarkets, (most) restaurants, tourist agencies and tourist shops all take credit cards.
As already noted, you will get the best exchange rate from your own bank. This makes using your debit or credit card from your home country an easy and affordable option, eliminating the need to carry tons of cash around. If you plan to use your foreign bank card to make a purchase in Croatia, it is critical that you are using a card that doesn’t have foreign transaction fees.
Being charge for every foreign transaction can end up making this option more expensive than any of the other ones. There are a plethora of credit cards without foreign transaction fees.
There is one more important tip to know about charging to a foreign card in Croatia. Some credit card terminals will ask in which currency you want to be charged. Just like with the ATMs, you want to charge in the local currency. If you choose your home currency, the company who manages the terminal will decide your exchange rate, not your own bank. Make sure you always let the purchase be charged in Croatian Kuna (HRK).
If you’re making big purchases at department stores or tourist shops and you are not a resident of Croatia, you can get the PDV (value added tax) included in your purchase refunded upon departure as long as you follow the rules. This tax is currently as high as 23%, so it is quite a big chunk. You can read about how to get a sales tax refund here.
Transfer funds using Transferwise
If you have a Croatian bank account and you want to transfer money from your foreign bank account to your account in Croatia, your best and cheapest option is Transferwise. Their rates are usually 8x cheaper than standard wire transfer services plus you can send money between 30+ countries. You can read their reviews on Trustpilot here.
It is important to note that any deposits into Croatian bank accounts above 1000 EUR not tied to a salary trip a wire with the tax authority. It doesn’t mean you’ll hear from the tax authority, but it’s important to understand that this limit exists.
Exchanging foreign cash into kuna
This is the least desirable option of all, which is why it is at the bottom of this post. The Croatian word for “currency exchange” is “mjenjačnica”. You can use “mjenjačnica” or “exchange” when searching on google for the closest currency exchange office.
Mjenjačnica that are outside of the city center/tourist hubs will usually give you the best rates. There are stand-alone exchange offices, as well as bank and government institutions that offer currency exchange services.
When evaluating an exchange rate, make sure you compare it to the latest exchange rates published by the Croatian National Bank. You can view those rates here.
The primary downside to exchanging physical cash is that you have to carry around a lot of physical cash, which can be easily stolen or lost. You are better off withdrawing money from an ATM rather than bringing cash to exchange locally.