It’s surprisingly easy to avoid paying ATM fees in Hungary. I lived in Hungary for a month and never had to pay any ATM fees at all. That’s not to say none of the banks in the country levy foreign currency charges at their machines. There are lots of banks in Hungary I never tried to use.
I was very surprised to discover Raiffeisen Bank doesn’t charge any ATM fees in Hungary. Raiffeisen Bank is a Romanian bank that’s active in many European countries. I’ve tried using its ATMs in a number of them and have always had to cancel the transaction because Raiffeisen Bank wanted to charge me a fee. To be honest, due to my past experiences, I was going to walk past the bank without trying its machine. I only offered it my card out of curiosity and was flabbergasted when it allowed me to withdraw money for free.
Here’s a full list of the banks I tried. All of them let me withdraw cash without paying any ATM fees.
5 Hungarian Banks That Don’t Charge ATM Fees
- Raiffeisen Bank (avoid this bank in most other European countries)
- BUDAPEST BANK
- CIB Bank
All of the banks in Hungary may be as tourist-friendly as the ones on my list, but I doubt it. There were plenty of other ATMs I didn’t try.
The problem is, not all ATMs warn you before they hit you with a fee. One of the ATMs I used in Albania hit me with a transaction fee right out of the blue. There was no warning at all. I only discovered the fee when I checked my bank statement. I’d withdrawn 10,000 LEK, but my statement said 10,450 LEK. That was an extra €3.65. If it can happen with an Albanian ATM, I figure it could happen elsewhere.
If you are visiting Hungary and want a sure-fire way to avoid paying any ATM fees, I recommend you try the banks on my list first of all.
Dynamic Currency Conversion: Don’t Do It! The Banks Will Charge You More
Here’s another tip: Always decline the offer of making the transaction in your own currency. ATMs often give you this option. It’s called Dynamic Currency Conversion and it always works out more expensive than completing the transaction in the local currency.
Dynamic Currency Conversion is just a sneaky way for greedy banks to rob you of a little extra money. You can sometimes end up paying up to 18% more. If you are not familiar with the system, you can learn more about it here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dynamic_currency_conversion
How to Avoid Bank Charges Back Home
Although picking the right bank and avoiding Dynamic Currency Conversion can help you avoid paying unnecessary ATM fees while you are visiting Hungary, there’s a good chance you will still get hit by charges imposed by your bank back home. Fortunately, it’s possible to get around this too. You work hard for your money, allowing the banks to make easy money on all your foreign transactions does not make good sense.
Seriously! What are the banks doing to earn these charges? Nothing. It’s all automated processes. The banks see a chance to grab extra money and go for it. I see such fees as theft.
I travel full-time and have banks in the UK and the Netherlands. My Dutch bank charges me for making any kind of transaction that doesn’t involve Euros. My British banks charge me for any kind of transaction I make that does not involve GBP. None of them have been able to hit me with such fees for more than a year because I discovered a new way of doing things.
Have you ever heard about the TransferWise Borderless account?. It’s a special kind of bank account that has no borders. As with a normal checking account, it comes with a debit card. It’s easy to open an account, it’s totally free, and TransferWise will deliver your debit card to an address in any country you want. I had mine sent to a temporary residence in Spain and it arrived in less than a week.
I still use my usual banks in the normal way but transfer some money into my TransferWise account every week. The money generally arrives within a few minutes and it’s never taken more than an hour. That’s fast for an international transfer. TransferWise does charge a small fee on certain transactions, but it’s always considerably less than normal banks do. I’m talking cents/pennies here instead of euros/pounds/dollars. It’s a cheap way to make international transactions and the currency conversion is always done at the most up-to-date rate.
I like TransferWise. It saves me a lot of money and I recommend it 100%. If this type of account appeals to you, you can find out more information about how much money you could save by visiting this page on the TransferWise website. The card works in ATMs in Hungary and most other countries of the world. If the machine bears the Mastercard symbol you should be good to go and, in my experience, it works in many ATMS that don’t bear the symbol as well. It certainly works in ATMs belonging to all of the banks listed on this page.