The Czech Republic is not as cheap a destination as it was a few years ago but remains generally less expensive than western Europe. Prices for everyday travel expenses like food and drink (especially beer), hotels, and museum admissions are substantially less than they would be in Paris or London. The exceptions are rental cars (and gasoline), hotels, and imported clothing and other luxury goods, for which prices are as high as anywhere else.
At press time, one U.S. dollar was worth about 18Kc, one euro about 25Kc and one British pound about 30Kc.
Frommer's lists exact prices in the local currency. The currency conversions quoted above were correct at press time. However, rates fluctuate, so before departing consult a currency exchange website such as www.oanda.com/convert/classic to check up-to-the-minute rates.
The Czech currency is the crown (koruna in Czech). It is usually noted as "Kc" in shops and "CZK" in banks. One crown, in theory, is divided into 100 haler, though halers no longer circulate. Coins come in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 crowns. Bills come in denominations of 50, 100, 200, 500, 1,000, and 5,000 crowns. The euro is not in circulation in the Czech Republic, though euros are sometimes accepted at large hotels and larger shops. Many hotels list their rates in euros for the convenience of foreign guests, though of course you always have the option of paying in crowns. Long gone are the days when Czech merchants would accept U.S. dollars as payment for goods.
Changing money is not a problem in the Czech Republic. If you're arriving at Prague Airport, skip the currency-exchange booths in the arrivals hall and instead use the ATMs that are lined up just as you enter the main airport hall from customs clearance. Banks and ATM machines generally offer the best rates and lowest commissions. Local ATMs work with a four-digit PIN; before leaving home make sure that you have a four-digit PIN and let your bank or credit card company know that you will be abroad so they don't protectively block your account once they see a few foreign transactions come through.
Resist the temptation to use one of the private currency-exchange offices that line Václavské námestí and other areas with heavy tourist concentrations. These outfits seldom pay the rates they advertise on the outside and the commissions (and hidden commissions) can be prohibitive, especially on relatively small amounts of money. If you must use one of these private currency exchanges, before surrendering your bills, show them to the teller through the window and then ask him or her to write down the amount in Czech crowns that you will receive. Once you've handed over the money, it's too late.
Komercní banka has three convenient Prague 1 locations with ATMs that accept Visa, MasterCard, and American Express: Na Príkope 33, Spálená 51, and Václavské nám. 42 (tel. 800-111-055, central switchboard for all branches; www.kb.cz). The exchange offices are open Monday to Friday from 8am to 5pm, but the ATMs are accessible 24 hours.
Credit and debit cards are increasingly common and many shops, restaurants and hotels accept them. Stores may impose a minimum purchase amount for using a card. Traveler's checks, on the other hand, have become much less common in recent years and much harder to use. As a rule, only large banks will cash traveler's checks; hotels and restaurants are not likely to accept them.