The Polish zoty (z, international abbreviation: PLN) is the legal currency in Poland. The zoty is split into 100 groszy (check the box to details). Poland was anticipated to adopt the Euro (€) after 2014, but such plans are still in the works.
Private currency exchange offices (Polish: kantor) are extremely prevalent and provide Euro or USD exchanges at rates similar to commercial banks. Exchanges at tourist hotspots, such as railway stations or famous tourist sites, tend to overpay. Avoid “Interchange” Kantor sites, which are readily identified by their orange hue; the rates they give are very low.
There is also a large network of cash machines, commonly known as ATMs (Polish: bankomat). The conversion rate will vary depending on your bank, but it is generally very advantageous and similar to fairly reputable exchange offices; nevertheless, you will most likely discover extremely large “service fees” on your bank account when you return home.
Credit cards are accepted nearly everywhere in major cities. Even single bus rides may be paid for using a card in big cities if the customer purchases them from vending machines at bus stops. Small companies and post offices are the exceptions, since acceptance is not ubiquitous. Visa, Visa Electron, MasterCard, and Maestro are all popular credit cards. AmEx and Diners’ Club may be used in a few locations (most notably the large, business-class hotels), but they are not widely accepted and should not be relied on for payment. In certain shops, you will be offered the choice of having the card instantly charge you in Zoty or your home currency. In the first case, your bank will convert the transaction for you (subject to the foreign currency costs it sets), while in the latter case, the rates established are typically worse than what your bank uses; therefore, opt to be charged in zoty.
Cheques were never very popular in Poland, and they are no longer utilized. Customers are not issued check books by local banks, and businesses do not accept them.
When you pay for beverages or a meal at a restaurant or pub and are given a check, offer the amount you need to pay and wait for the change. If you hand over the money and say “thank you,” it will be considered a “keep the change” tip. This also applies to taxis. The typical gratuity is between 10% and 15% of the total bill. Tipping is considered disrespectful in Poland since it implies that you were dissatisfied with the meal or service (unless it was bad).
Don’t forget to tip tour guides and drivers, but only if you’re satisfied with their services.
Super and hypermarkets
Western supermarket companies, such as Carrefour, Tesco, Auchan, and Real, dominate the market. Some are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Typically found at shopping malls or in the suburbs.
However, Poles often buy at local small shops for bread, meat, fresh dairy, veggies, and fruits, all of which need freshness and quality.
Poland has some of the lowest prices in Europe.
Many towns and bigger suburbs have traditional weekly markets, comparable to the popular farmers’ markets in the West. Fresh fruit, baker’s goods, dairy, meat and meat products are available, as are flowers and garden plants, as well as Chinese-made clothes and bric-a-brac. Wild mushrooms and forest fruit may also be purchased when they are in season. Markets are hosted on Thursdays/Fridays/Saturdays and are a wonderful opportunity to experience the local flavor. Prices are generally fixed, but if you purchase many things, you may attempt a little good-natured haggling.