Guide to Polish Currency
The official currency in Poland is still the Złoty. Although Poland is one of the EU member states there are no plans at present for the country to adopt the Euro.
It is important to emphasise there is no dual currency in Poland so the only currency you can spend in the country is Polish money i.e. the złoty.
It can sometimes be a little intimidating and bewildering being in a new country and having to deal with unfamiliar currency but there’s really nothing to worry about and I hope that this guide will help to make your stay in Poland anxiety-free.
There are six types of groszy coins: 1 grosz, 2 grosze, 5 groszy, 10 groszy, 20 groszy and 50 groszy.
The groszy is the Polish equivalent of our pennies (or cents) and there are 100 groszy in one Złoty. These coins are clearly marked so there should be no confusion.
So…when you do use Polish groszy?
These are very low value coins. If 1 Polish zloty equates to about twenty English pence then 1 grosz is worth 100 times less.
These coins still have their uses though.
There are still some public toilets in Poland where you need to pay to use them. Some still have toilet attendants with a coin bowl. Although these type of toilets are becoming rarer you may still come across them if you travel to some tourist sights outside of the city.
I would be wary about advising using groszy to tip.
It’s tempting to pile lots of coins onto the table if you decide to tip but if those coins are predominantly groszy then you may only be giving pennies in tips which is insulting to the server and makes you look like a foreign cheapskate!
Accept the inevitability of being given groszy in change when buying things in cash and then probably bringing them all home and sticking them in a coin jar until your next visit to Poland.
Polish zloty coins
There are three units of Polish zloty in coin format.
1 zloty, 5 zloty and 10 zloty.
Bank notes only start at 10 zloty so anything less than that and you will be given coins.
Polish zloty coins are used extensively and no doubt you will have a wallet/purse full of them during your stay.
Polish bank notes:
There are six different types of bank notes: 10 złoty, 20 złoty, 50 złoty, 100 złoty, 200 złoty and 500 złoty. All of the bank notes are coloured differently and clearly marked with their own unique designs so it is very easy to identify them.
Now that you are familiar with the look and different types of Polish money then the next question is how do you get your hands on them !
There are three main options.
In the UK there are an increasing number of places where you can buy Polish money including travel agents and banks.
It really depends on how determined you are to get the best exchange rates.
Years ago, options were a lot simpler. If you wanted to buy Polish zloty or any other currency then you would either go to your high street bank or to a travel agent.
These options still apply but there are other methods of squeezing the most out of your cash, some of which we will discuss below.
It makes a lot of sense to have some Polish money on you BEFORE you arrive in Poland. It saves you running to the first exchange counter at the airport upon arrival and as we all should know…..airport foreign exchange counters offer the worst exchange rates!
1/ Buy Polish currency at home
It should be a no brainer to prepare yourself at least with some Polish money before you land on Polish soil.
You could either go all the way and buy all your Polish spending money before you fly out or use our preferred method of buying enough Polish money to last you 1-2 days and then buy the rest in Poland (exchange rates are better in Poland).
The old school method, and probably still THE most popular way of buying currency, is to walk into a bank, post office or travel agent and buy your Polish zloty over the counter.
There is a simplistic beauty about this method. You walk in, you walk out, you get your money. Is it THE most competitive rate on the market? No. Is it the least hassle? Yes.
There are plenty of comparison sites around where you can compare exchange rates around your area. The truth is that if you wanted to exchange £ 100 to Polish zloty then the difference between all the different exchange counters would be around £ 1 so it’s not really worth the hassle of driving around for the best rate.
Another method is to use specialist foreign exchange companies where you buy online and the money is delivered to you. They will offer a better exchange rate than the high street but there will usually be a delivery charge for the service and that charge can skew the exchange rate in their favour. You can save money by collecting the money yourself but that comes with all the related hassle of finding somewhere close enough to make it worthwhile.
A specialist travel credit card can be a good option if you shop around. Unlike other cards which will charge you an exchange fee whenever you make a purchase specialist travel cards do not charge a fee. However, if you use these cards to withdraw cash from a machine in Poland then most of these type of cards will charge you interest (even if you pay the amount off in full).
Prepaid cards are also a good option for avoiding card transaction fees. You can load up the card with the amount of your choice (useful if you want to stick to a budget)
2/ Take no cash and use ATM machines in Poland
Quite a risky strategy as it’s always a good idea to have some cash when you arrive in a foreign country. It is true that some ATM machines may convert your money at a more favourable rate than you can get back home but you would need to locate the correct banks that offer the best rates and do you really need this hassle when you’re supposed to be on holiday ?
3/ Buy Polish currency in Poland
In my opinion this is the best policy for getting a favourable rate and there are plenty if places in Poland where you can easily exchange your currency. Banks will be happy to exchange your foreign currency for Polish currency.
Hotels can sometimes offer currency exchange services but be vigilant about the rates they charge as they can sometimes be expensive
By far the best method of buying Polish money in Poland is getting your money at currency kiosk.
There are also thousands of kiosks around the country that specialise only in buying and selling foreign currency. Known as a “kantor” they are a very common sight in Polish cities, towns and shopping malls. They usually have the rates displayed outside and it’s always good practise to make sure the rates are favourable so you do not buy blindly.
One word of advice is to avoid using a kantor in the heart of any tourist spot as the rates are likely to be hiked up whilst the ones just off the main tourist centres usually offer better rates.