The forint (HUF) has been the local currency in Hungary since August, 1946. The forint’s name comes from the city of Florence, where golden coins had been minted since 1252.
Banknotes come in denominations of 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, 10,000 and 20,000. All of them are watermarked, contain an embedded vertical security strip of thin metal and are designed to be suitable for visually impaired individuals.
6 different coins are in use: 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 forint coins.
Until 1 March, 2008 1 and 2 coins were also in use but they were eventually withdrawn from circulation because their production cost was higher than their actual value. (It is essential to be aware of this when you pay by cash because the rules of rounding are used, i.e. the bill will be rounded up or down so that the last digit will always be five or zero.)
Since January 1997 the forint has been fully convertible, making life easier for everyone visiting us. Changing currencies is a service offered by banks or ATMs but the best way to do it is to find ‘no commission’ currency exchange shops near inner city shopping prescincts. Most banks do not charge any commission so your money in forint will be counted according to the daily exchange rate.
Credit cards are accepted in many more place that before. If in doubt, ask the shop assistant or look out for symbols and tags on shop windows. The most popular credit cards are Visa, Mastercard and American Express.
You can also open a bank account as the non-residential account service is designed especially for foreign nationals. All you need is your passport. Your can open a HUF account or any other currency account.
Cost of living
The minimum wage in Hungary is HUF 78,000 (280 EUR) that meets the requirements of a very modest living. To be able to pay your rent, buy proper food and afford an occasional evening out, you need more cash than this – a minimum of HUF 100,000 HUF (370 EUR).
Here is a list of essentials to get an idea of prices: