Banking in Hungary is available to all citizens, local people and migrants. Expats are advised to set up Hungarian bank accounts as soon as they can after arriving in the country. Local banks in Hungary also provide a wide range of services, including exclusive packages to expats.The official currency of Hungary is called the forint, abbreviated as HUF or Ft. It is issued in both and note form. Forint notes comprise of 500HUF, 1000HUF, 2,000HUF, 5,000HUF, 10,000HUF and 20,00HUF. Coins are issued in denominations of 100Ft, 50Ft, 10Ft, 5Ft, and 20Ft.
Hungary also accepts currencies from both EU and non-EU currencies. It is possible to make purchases with US dollars, euros and pounds. However, the euro is given priority over all other currencies, with most monetary transactions and pricing carried out in euros. Expats are advised to have local bank accounts to make most of their transactions.
Most Hungarian employers prefer wiring salaries for their workers to local bank accounts. Companies that provide electricity, rubbish collection, water and gas services also prefer to receive payments directly into their bank accounts. If you need a loan for a mortgage or to buy a car, all transactions will be made via a Hungarian account. Your money is safe in a local bank, since financial institutions in Hungary provide depositor’s guarantee.
Banks open from 8am to 4pm every week day. All banks remain closed on the weekend except for those with branches in malls. Hungarian banks expats can use include K&H bank, Budapest Bank, MagNet Bank, OTP Bank and FHB Mortgage Bank. There is also the Hungarian Development Bank and Hungarian National Bank.
Hungarian banks offer all services you are accustomed to in your home country. General services provided by local banks include deposits and withdrawals, account management, overdrafts, credit services, mobile banking, savings account as well as loans and mortgage services. ATM and mobile SMS services are available as well. Some banks may add travel insurance to their list of services.
As well as travel insurance, Hungarian banks provide life, property, health and car insurance. Expats can borrow mortgages of up to 80 percent of the value of the property. The loan applicant is required to submit a salary certificate, a local bank account number and their latest telephone bill to complete the application. The application may take between four and six weeks to be processed.
Internet banking and mobile SMS services have recently been introduced for convenience and security purposes. Through the mobile banking SMS service, account holders receive alerts each time a withdrawal, deposit or credit card transaction is made on their account. Internet banking is a 24-hour service that is available to all expats and Hungarian citizens. You can review and pay bills, withdraw or transfer money, check account balance, apply for credit, recharge for prepaid services such as phone minutes and access foreign exchange rates online. Internet banking is also cheaper compared to physical banking.
However, migrants are warned to be cautious about online banking. Though the online financial service is convenient and attracts fewer charges, its security is not 100 percent guaranteed. As a safety measure, always ensure your computer or smartphone security setup is updated, and that a firewall is turned on.
Expats can hold accounts with local banks. It is also possible to open several accounts with different banks, provided you have all the required documents with you. You will be asked to produce a valid residence permit and address card in order to open an account. There are banks that are lenient enough to allow account opening only with a valid passport.
Hungarian banks charge clients for opening bank accounts with them. You will also pay to process your ATM card, as well as being charged a general account management fee. Other costs that include credit card fees and money withdrawal commissions by the bank.
Generally, it should cost 5,000HUF to open an account with any bank. Account maintenance fees across banks are somewhere between 200HUF and 3000HUF. Credit card charges will depend on the type of card held by the account owner. Credit cards used domestically attract a fee of 1000HUF to 2000HUF, while international credit cards attract charges of between 3000HUF and 4000HUF. Withdrawal charges at any ATM will attract a charge of 75HUF per transaction.
There are ways to waiver some of the charges levied by local banks. One of them is by opening an account directly online from websites such as www.hvb.hu. Opening a bank account with such websites is free of charge, and has no hidden costs. Another option is to go with a local bank account that does not charge a fee for opening an account. There are plenty of banks in Hungary that offer these advantages, so it pays to shop around first.
Hotels, restaurants, fuel stations and mall outlets accept credit card payments. Top credit cards accepted in Hungary include Diners Club, American Express, MasterCard, Visa, JCB and Eurocard. It is also good to walk around with some cash on you, especially if you need to pay a shopkeeper or a roadside food vendor. Cash payments in US dollars, pounds or euros will also be accepted in many places. Only a select number of establishments in Hungary accept traveler’s checks. However, banks accept both traveler’s checks and regular checks.
Expats are always advised to open accounts with banks that have several ATM outlets in the region they work in. This makes access to cash easier if you want to make quick cash payment. Money transfer services are offered by both banks and post offices. Hungary has over 3,200 post office outlets, which open from 8am to 6pm. You can transfer money or pay your bills directly through a post office.
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