Payment methods in Hungary

Hello everyone,

Once you’re settled in Hungary, you will need to make some basic purchases, like groceries or pay bills. Hence, it is essential to know the payment methods available in your host country.

Which are the most common payment methods in Hungary? Why would you prefer some forms over others?

Does the amount of money or the type of paid services (groceries, bills, rent, etc.) determine the choice of payment methods?

Are there any apps at your disposal which make the payment process easier in Hungary?

Can certain foreign currencies be used to make payments?

Have your habits in terms of payment methods changed since moving to Hungary?

Thanks for sharing your experience,

Priscilla

Cash and carry.

Cards, cash or transfer.  Never heard of cheques (US: checks) being used in HU.

Only thing I've noticed recently is the ability to pay multiple Yellow Giro "Cheques" by debit card at the PO. 

Cash is obviously the best - anonymous, free to use and instant settlement

But the banks will charge you for taking the cash out the ATM so they get you in the end one way or the other.  Cheaper to take the money at the ATM than OTC (Over The Counter). 

Transfer is the worst - very expensive - even with SEPA* rates

*SEPA: Single European Payments Area

fluffy2560 :

Never heard of cheques (US: checks) being used in HU.

I use to be able to cash US Checks in Hungary at OTP. I even opened an OTP USD account specifically for this purpose. But a few years ago all HU banks stopped offering this service. So I also closed my OTP account.

fluffy2560 :

Cash is obviously the best - anonymous, free to use and instant settlement

Cash if fine. But not sure I really care if I am anonymous or not when I buy groceries. And I don't always have small currencies all the time. And the cashier often asks for coins to make the exact amount, which I also rarely have. So much easier to just swipe and go.

fluffy2560 :

Transfer is the worst - very expensive - even with SEPA* rates

Be careful of large cash payments when dealing with private parties here. For large payments, I am very suspicious of cash. Even when I say I prefer to do it by bank transfer, and will pay all bank transfer costs I have had people try to convince me not to, and walk away from the deal when I insist on having a record of the transaction. Clearly, something fishy going on there with them or their money. IMHO, bank transfer can help one avoid being party to possible criminal behavior.

klsallee :
fluffy2560 :

Never heard of cheques (US: checks) being used in HU.

I use to be able to cash US Checks in Hungary at OTP. I even opened an OTP USD account specifically for this purpose. But a few years ago all HU banks stopped offering this service. So I also closed my OTP account.

fluffy2560 :

Cash is obviously the best - anonymous, free to use and instant settlement

Cash if fine. But not sure I really care if I am anonymous or not when I buy groceries. And I don't always have small currencies all the time. And the cashier often asks for coins to make the exact amount, which I also rarely have. So much easier to just swipe and go.

fluffy2560 :

Transfer is the worst - very expensive - even with SEPA* rates

Be careful of large cash payments when dealing with private parties here. For large payments, I am very suspicious of cash. Even when I say I prefer to do it by bank transfer, and will pay all bank transfer costs I have had people try to convince me not to, and walk away from the deal when I insist on having a record of the transaction. Clearly, something fishy going on there with them or their money. IMHO, bank transfer can help one avoid being party to possible criminal behavior.

When we last visited the US and parked our car in an inclosed unit we set up an account with our bank to make monthly payments/. We usually are cash and carry people but in many cases it is best to have a record of payments.
Long story short even with all this paper trail they never gave us back our last months deposit on the unit. We personally called the owner and went to the garage several times to get our money back but, as it usually goes in Hungary. it is buyer beware.
All good they just lost a future client.

klsallee :

...

fluffy2560 :

Transfer is the worst - very expensive - even with SEPA* rates

Be careful of large cash payments when dealing with private parties here. For large payments, I am very suspicious of cash. Even when I say I prefer to do it by bank transfer, and will pay all bank transfer costs I have had people try to convince me not to, and walk away from the deal when I insist on having a record of the transaction. Clearly, something fishy going on there with them or their money. IMHO, bank transfer can help one avoid being party to possible criminal behavior.

I agree.  But it's also a matter of risk exposure.  Anything over about say 200K-250K HUF should be on a transfer.  But it's obvious to know why people want transactions in cash!  But that's just one reason, the other one is the percentage charges.

I will only take larger amounts of cash at a bank premises with myself and the payer present, paid into my account and accepted by the bank.  Even then I always wonder why they want to do that.   With that kind of messing about transfer is a better idea.

Cost of bank transactions are pretty high in HU, especially using cards and the quasi-Tobin tax on cash movements.  I've never really understood how this would encourage people to take up electronic payments.  There's also the question about how this might work with Blockchain technology.

I will pay people in cash say max 200K HUF if they give me a "proper receipt" but that's a flexible concept for some people.  I'm not running a business so it's more proof of payment for my records.

In many countries, it's not acceptable to use cash.  In fact, these days transactions in cash have to be reported which of course causes lots of stupid reporting and time wasting because people just report everything for CYA.  Even 100 Ft equivalents!

Some people are surprised to know that the US Treasury is a major data collector -  ALL (and I mean ALL)  USD transactions are reported to the Feds, whoever and wherever they are even if it doesn't involve parties within the USA, i.e.  a person in Australia transfers 1000 USD to someone in Singapore - it's reported to the US government.  Better to use EUR, AUD or JPY to avoid being monitored and being dragged into US sanctions hassle (i.e. transactions about Cuban cigars or Iranian magic carpets). But each to their own.

I did have an OPC bank account for many years and i paid my utility bills by direct debit. Then I discovered that the bank charges were higher than my spending so I paid to close the account.

I now use my International uk credit card for all but the smallest purchases. I also use it to withdraw cash and for any online purchases.
I pay all my utility bills by credit card  at the posta.

If i was away on my travels I would set up an on line bill paying application. I am told that it is fairly easy. I will use the same interest free credit card . I do tend to pay My balance in full at the end of the month so this is the best thing for me.

My Pilates teacher moves all over the world and uses one of these and she will help me set it up when I need to.
In addition I have also opened a transferwise account but have only used it once or twice but i am considering using it for a regular sterling payment to myself because there are low charges for taking the money out in HUF but i have not looked it up recently .

fluffy2560 :

Cost of bank transactions are pretty high in HU

I made a 37,000 HUF transfer payment online last week from my HUF account, to another HUF account in Hungary, and was charged 317 HUF. That is less than 1%. I don't find that high. And if you live full time as a resident in a country and do not have a bank account in the local currency.... I think that is silly.


fluffy2560 :

I will pay people in cash say max 200K HUF if they give me a "proper receipt" but that's a flexible concept for some people.  I'm not running a business so it's more proof of payment for my records.

Legally speaking, there is no such thing as a reliable "proper receipt" in Hungary except from a business. Been to court on such an issue. We lost.


fluffy2560 :

Some people are surprised to know that the US Treasury is a major data collector -  ALL (and I mean ALL)  USD transactions are reported to the Feds, whoever and wherever they are even if it doesn't involve parties within the USA, i.e.  a person in Australia transfers 1000 USD to someone in Singapore - it's reported to the US government.  Better to use EUR, AUD or JPY to avoid being monitored and being dragged into US sanctions hassle (i.e. transactions about Cuban cigars or Iranian magic carpets). But each to their own.

Meh. Who cares but criminals. The US Dollar is the world currency at the moment. So, duh, it will be the most monitored. And? So what. And I am sure all countries track transactions in their currencies. The international banking system is specifically setup to monitor such things. People only freak out about the USA. Weird.

Side note: I have bought Cuban Cigars from a company in Germany online, paid in USD online, all recorded. Nobody cared. Nobody pulled me aside and searched orifices during my trip to the USA in April. Seriously, don't be over paranoid. The US Treasury has bigger fish to fry.

klsallee :
fluffy2560 :

Cost of bank transactions are pretty high in HU

I made a 37,000 HUF transfer payment online last week from my HUF account, to another HUF account in Hungary, and was charged 317 HUF. That is less than 1%. I don't find that high. And if you live full time as a resident in a country and do not have a bank account in the local currency.... I think that is silly.

fluffy2560 :

Some people are surprised to know that the US Treasury is a major data collector -  ALL (and I mean ALL)  USD transactions are reported to the Feds, whoever and wherever they are even if it doesn't involve parties within the USA, i.e.  a person in Australia transfers 1000 USD to someone in Singapore - it's reported to the US government.  Better to use EUR, AUD or JPY to avoid being monitored and being dragged into US sanctions hassle (i.e. transactions about Cuban cigars or Iranian magic carpets). But each to their own.

Meh. Who cares but criminals. And I am sure all countries track transactions in their currencies. The international banking system is specifically setup to monitor such things. People only freak out about the USA. Weird.

Side note: I have bought Cuban Cigars from a company in Germany, paid in USD, nobody cared. Nobody pulled me aside and searched orifices during my trip to the USA in April. Seriously, don't be over paranoid. The US Treasury has bigger fish to fry.

Small amounts of cash being transferred they are not going to care, but when large sums of money go moving around then that would ring alarm bells I'm guessing?

SimCityAT :

Small amounts of cash being transferred they are not going to care, but when large sums of money go moving around then that would ring alarm bells I'm guessing?

Correct. But that is also true of most any currency. That is why crypto currencies were created. Because any "real currency" is subject to monitoring through the banking systems.

That is also why the 500 Euro note was discontinued -- used too much in criminal activity. And that became known, because the currency use was monitored in various ways.

klsallee :

....
Meh. Who cares but criminals. The US Dollar is the world currency at the moment. So, duh, it will be the most monitored. And? So what. And I am sure all countries track transactions in their currencies. The international banking system is specifically setup to monitor such things. People only freak out about the USA. Weird.


Side note: I have bought Cuban Cigars from a company in Germany online, paid in USD online, all recorded. Nobody cared. Nobody pulled me aside and searched orifices during my trip to the USA in April. Seriously, don't be over paranoid. The US Treasury has bigger fish to fry.

But yes, your Cuban cigar transaction would have been recorded if actually in USD.  From what you say, your transaction was however to a German company, not to a Cuban one. If you'd paid in USD to a Cuban supplier direct then that's  where you would have come unstuck as you'd be sanctions busting albeit in a trivial way.  They could get you if they wanted - if you used a USD card then already you're on the wrong foot.   

If you paid in EUR or even HUF then that's another matter as there are no sanctions on European transactions to Cuba. But any USD conversions and settlements are reported.   All banks in Europe have correspondent banks in the USA and that's how they monitor as they all use SWIFT.   

A topical case in point is the Iranian oil tanker in Gibraltar was let go because US sanctions don't apply in Europe although the EU has sanctions specifically against Syria.  I don't know why the US tried to use US sanctions as a way to prevent the tanker's onward journey.   

Another one is the US data gathering from SWIFT in Belgium.   That's been a source of overreaching for a long time. It's worth a read here if only for interest (including cigars specifically): TFTP. Worth also noting it doesn't apply to SEPA transactions. SEPA is what possibly you used to pay for your cigars (it's a lot cheaper paying inter-EU via SEPA in EUR than say by SWIFT).   

Note the  specific TFTP incident on cigars and the apparent US extraterritorality (the Danish mistake was paying in USD and not some other currency):

2012 February 26:
Danish newspaper Berlingske reported that U.S. authorities evidently have sufficient control over SWIFT to seize money being transferred between two EU countries (Denmark and Germany), since they have seized around $26,000 which were being transferred from a Danish to a German bank. The money was a payment by a Danish businessman for a batch of Cuban cigars previously imported to Germany by a German supplier. As justification for the seizure, the U.S. Treasury has stated that the Danish businessman has violated the United States embargo against Cuba.


BTW, transfers in HUF at the same bank are cheap or almost free.  But transfers to other banks are not.  We're opening a bank account in HUF for our eldest Fluffyette and the transaction costs are pretty high.

I would disagree that the USD is the world currency at the moment.  There are plenty of other reserve currencies to use instead - like the EUR, JPY, GBP or AUD to name a few.  In the past, pre-EUR days, we'd have used primarily the DEM (Deutschmark) in Europe as the benchmark.

I have a work related technical interest in these matters rather than being paranoid.

More money, more problems.

Visit China if you want to see the future of e-money: everything everywhere -- down to the woman selling steamed dumplings for a few cents on the street -- is now being paid for by scanning QR codes on/with mobiles. All day all you see is people putting out their phones to pay.

Indeed, this can be a problem for foreign tourists, who can't easily use the QR code apps, since they have to be linked to a Chinese bank account. Some places like food courts are QR code payment only.

Will Hungary ever move so far? I somehow doubt it, but I'm not sure why. Maybe an older population not so quick to adapt to technology? Maybe a banking system which likes to just keep things the way they are?

Hello everyone,

Please note that i have removed some off-topic posts from this thread. Could we please focus on Hungary here ?

There is already a China forum where interested members may share their views on the same topic.

- https://www.expat.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=860170

Thanks in advance,
Bhavna

It is relevant to Hungary by comparison to what is developing elsewhere. Will Hungary go in that direction and if not why not?

Nobody likes to take the time to write a carefully considered post only to see it tossed in the trash.

[at] Zif, you can still open a new thread to share your views on a more global level and maybe more in depth. In my opinion, it is a different topic from what has been asked in the first post, that is why i kept only one post. Your brief comparison is okay and most welcomed, however, here the thread was drifting away towards China + off-Topic

zif :

Visit China if you want to see the future of e-money: everything everywhere -- down to the woman selling steamed dumplings for a few cents on the street -- is now being paid for by scanning QR codes on/with mobiles. All day all you see is people putting out their phones to pay.

What if your battery dies? Can you then buy anything?  :/

Have had this happen, in a way, in Hungary. With the new "real time" payment system network connection failed, and the merchant could not sell anything to me "legally".

Even happened when shopping at Aldi, when the banking system went offline, and I could not use my debit card. It was then cash only.

Technology is not perfect. Sometimes, paper (money) is still a solution. It is a backup. In so many issues.... even in the ballot box (not trying to go off topic, but to show that digital solutions are not singular perfect solutions that the younger generations believes (or rather has unwavering, but maybe misplaced, faith.... for) them to be).

zif :

Nobody likes to take the time to write a carefully considered post only to see it tossed in the trash.

Reply moved to "Absolutely Anything Else"

Marilyn Tassy :

More money, more problems.

Having more money than I know what to do with is a problem I'd rather like to have.

fluffy2560 :
Marilyn Tassy :

More money, more problems.

Having more money than I know what to do with is a problem I'd rather like to have.

Got so used to living on a budget that I am afraid our son is going to  be over joyed when we pass on and he gets his hands on our savings.
Hard to shop here for me in Hungary as my husband holds the purse strings. I tend to always buy the bargain food on special that day and change my cooking style to what is offered that day in the shop.
We always overload of fresh veggies though, can't always save on that. Lots of chia and flax seeds with oils from pumpkin or flax, coconut oils ect. Try hard to get all the vitamins and mineral that we can for our money, no junk food eating out.
Got so used to doing this that it actually hurts when we blow money on food that we could of made at home for half the price of eating out. It spills into other purchases too, always checking which shop as a better deal that day before leaving the house to buy. Guess have turned into my parents over time, always looking for a bargain.
Can't even believe I used to be a person that would drop hundreds of dollars on one outfit just to wear it a few times before getting bored with it. Oh, well better late then never with learning to respect the energy value of money, not for the sake of having it but not wasting it either. Never know when that rainy day will come.
That's why we always pay in cash, credit cards can be so dangerous, I know went down that road a long time ago...

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