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Croatia - Banking

When it comes to important jobs to do as you settle into your new life in Croatia, sorting out your money and banking issues will be top of the list.

Currency Use In Croatia

The kuna is the national currency of Croatia, and has been since 1994. It can be divided into 100 lipa.

Coins are issued in units of one, two, five, 10, 20 and 50 lipa, as well as one, two, four, and 25 kuna. Meanwhile banknotes of five, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000 kuna are available, although the five and 1,000 kuna notes are not often used.

The country is now legally obliged to join the Eurozone and implement the euro as its national currency. However, there are a number of legal and financial barriers which must be overcome before this can be achieved.

The political situation and local currency in Croatia is stable, and the country has had several years of low inflation. The Government’s commitment to the protection of human and minority rights is strong. Unfortunately, the government’s many attempts to curb tax evasion have had limited success. Organised crime is still a reality, as is the strictly illegal practise of bribery. Whilst these are matters of concern, they are unlikely to affect the lives of law abiding expats.

Debit And Credit Cards In Croatia

Debit and credit cards are accepted at most large businesses, including branded hotels and upscale restaurants. Mastercard and Visa cards are much more likely to be accepted than American Express cards, as the latter have higher transaction fees levied against the retailer.

However, small businesses often work on a cash-only basis. This applies to family hotels, restaurants and tavernas. The cashless society will not be happening in Croatia anytime soon, although the EU rules capping interchange fees may help attitudes and behaviour work towards this more quickly.

In common with most countries around the globe, Croatia uses chip-and-pin technology to reduce card fraud. If you hold a chip-and-signature card from the US, and you are using it at a location where the staff have experience of these cards, it will be accepted. However, be prepared for the staff to be unsure what to do or even to refuse the card.

Make sure you pay in the local currency. If you allow a retailer, hotel or restaurant to convert to a different currency, the conversion rates means you will overpay the original bill.

ATMs In Croatia

If you are using money from an overseas bank account, an ATM will offer you local currency, usually at a better rate than you can obtain at an exchange bureau, hotel or airport kiosk. However, be aware of the foreign exchange fees you will incur for the credit or debit card you are using, including the rate of currency exchange.

You will need to enter your four-digit pin number to access your cash at the ATM. Withdraw the amounts in local currency and refuse on-screen options to convert the charge into a different currency. Otherwise, an unattractive conversion rate will be applied and you will pay over the odds for the cash you have withdrawn.

Even if you are not in a position to open a Croatian bank account, perhaps because you will only be living there for a few months, you can obtain the best overseas cash-access card available in your home country before you arrive in Croatia. Small differences in exchange fees and currency conversion rates mount up over time. However, do remember to tell your card retailer where you will be staying, in case they stop your card while you are in Croatia.

Since cash is still widely used across Croatia, especially by family and small businesses, ATM coverage is fairly good. Obviously, remote rural areas will necessitate a trip to the nearest market town, but in cities, the ATMS will be located near most retail centres as well as at supermarkets, train stations, post offices and banks. Most machines will give you the option to see the instructions on screen in English.

Maximum withdrawal amounts apply to most machines, so don’t expect to withdraw your month’s salary in one go.

Bank Opening Hours

Most mainstream businesses run Monday to Friday, 7am to 3pm or 8am to 4pm, and give workers the weekend off. These are quite early hours compared to the European average. Obviously, there are a lot of business, such as restaurants and other leisure-based industries, where staff are busiest when the general population are not at work. Retail stores are often open 8am-7pm on weekdays plus 8am-2pm on Saturdays. They can only open on Sundays during peak tourist season; even restaurants may close on Sundays at quieter times of the year.

Bank branches and post offices vary in their opening hours depending on where they are located. However, in cities the likely opening hours are 8am-7pm Monday to Friday, plus 8am-12 noon on Saturdays. They are all closed Saturday afternoon and all-day Sunday.

Banks For Expats

To open a bank account in Croatia, you will be required to visit in person and bring along your passport. Depending on the location, you may struggle to find someone at the bank who speaks fluent English. Italian and German have been more important languages in Croatia for a while, but the growing number of English speaking tourists means that over time, there should be an increase of staff with basic English skills.

You can open an account in Croatia in kuna or euros, or sometimes both. Each bank will have its own set of charges, and often a monthly fee. Consider how you use your account to decide which is best for your personal circumstances, as well as your work and home proximity to a branch.

Accounts are normally opened quickly, while you are still in branch. It can take a further week before you have your confirmation documents and ATM PIN code, and you may have to pick up the debit card from the bank branch when it is ready. Luckily, the long banking hours make this fairly easy to do.

You have plenty of options when deciding which retail bank to choose. These banking websites offer pages written in English and will provide a starting point for your search:

Zagrebacka Banka
Primorska Banka
Jadradska Banka
Erste & Steiermärkische Bank
Societe Generale Splitska Banka
OTP Banka

In addition, take note of which bank branches are located near your home or business, and then look them up online. You’ll soon get a clear picture of what your options are.

Read more about this country

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