A Smart Traveller's Guide to Currency in Estonia
It might be a small country but Estonia packs plenty into its charming old towns, stunning islands, and sandy beaches.
Of course, you’ll want your money to go far. And it hurts to squander savings on unnecessary fees and poor exchange rates just to pay for things overseas.
Read this guide for a comprehensive overview of Estonia’s currency so you become a savvy traveller when it comes to getting value for money. In this guide, you’ll learn about:
- The official currency of Estonia
- The pros and cons of using a bank card in Estonia
- What the Estonian Euro looks like
- The average costs of things in Estonia
- How the euro converts
- What to do with leftover euros
- How to exchange the currency in Estonia
- Some hot tips to help you save money
- How to buy Euros before you leave
What Currency is Used in Estonia
The official currency of Estonia is the euro, commonly written as the currency code EUR or with the sign €. One euro is a base unit, made up of 100 cents.
The euro is a mighty currency, used by 19 European countries that make up the powerful ‘eurozone’. It’s now the second most traded currency on the foreign exchange market.
Interestingly, Estonia was the first former Soviet Union Republic to join the eurozone. It joined adopted the euro in 2011, replacing its old currency, the Estonian kroon (with the currency code EEK or the symbol Kr).
You can exchange Estonian kroon banknotes and coins for euros at any Eesti Pank, free of charge, in unlimited amounts, and for an unlimited time.
Estonia joins many other European countries in writing its prices with the currency symbol following the price and decimal commas replacing decimal points (as in 10,50€ rather than €10.50).
The Euro: Familiarise Yourself with Estonia’s Currency
The European Central Bank is responsible for ensuring there are enough euros in circulation, though individual eurozone countries are charged with designing and producing their own coins and bills.
Euros are available in coins and bills in different denominations, with eight coin denominations and a further seven banknotes.
Coins come in denominations of one cent, two cents, five cents, ten cents, 20 cents, and 50 cents, as well as €1 and €2.
They all feature a common side (with the numerical value and a map of the European Union) and a national side (which in Estonia is a map of the Baltic country). You can use all coins throughout the eurozone, regardless of where they were issued.
Euro banknotes come in denominations of €5, €10, €20, €100, €200, and €500, although the €500 banknote is rare and being phased out of circulation. Many retailers will refuse the three largest banknote denominations.
Using a Currency Converter
The euro is a floating currency, with its value influenced daily by factors such as supply and demand of the currency, economic policies, and political events both regionally and globally.
Our foreign currency converter below will show you the mid-market exchange rate - the midway point between the buy and sell rate. This is the ‘truest’ rate you’ll find (the one shown on Google and XE).
Use this tool to get a real-time rate of AUD to EUR and find out how much it will cost you to buy euros with S Money.
How to Exchange Currency in Estonia
It’s easy, not to mention convenient, to buy your currency once you arrive in Estonia. But where you decide to exchange the currency can affect how much you spend on the foreign exchange.
ATMs in Estonia
If you’re heading to Estonia, chances are you’ll be visiting some of the major towns. Who would want to miss the fairytale Tallinn?
You’ll find plenty of ATMs thanks to an extensive bank network. The ATM provider may charge a fee for you to withdraw cash but this is more common for independent ATMs than for local bank ATMs.
On top of this, you could be hit with a double-whammy paying fees not just to the ATM provider but to your home bank for overseas ATM withdrawals and currency conversions.
Many of these ATMs will give you the option of being charged in your home currency. Although enticing, avoid this at all costs! You’re likely to be ripped off by a terrible exchange rate. Instead, opt for the local currency and let your bank sort out the rate.
If you’re set on exploring the road less travelled, keep some cash on you for remote villages that may not have ATMs.
Currency Exchange Outlets
If you arrive in Estonia by plane or ferry, you can exchange your currency right away. But foreign exchange bureaus in international terminals and airports are notorious for their poor exchange rates and high commissions.
If you’re exchanging your money anywhere with a lot of tourist traffic (particularly in Tallinn), expect large exchange rate margins and high commissions.
And for those bureaus that advertise ‘zero commissions’? They’re likely to roll their fees into a bad exchange rate. Avoid this by looking up the mid-market exchange rate
Not a particularly popular option these days, not just in Estonia but worldwide. Most businesses and bureaus won’t change them and banks that do will likely apply high rates and fees.
With the rise of more secure bank cards and the proliferation of ATMs, travellers cheques are more hassle than they’re worth.
Buying Euros Before You Go
If you like the reassurance of having the local currency readily available from the moment you step off the plane, you have three options to pick up the cash before you go:
- Buying euros online to be delivered or for you to pick up in-store.
- Swapping AUD for EUR at a currency exchange store.
- Buying euros at the airport.
Online money changers like S Money often have the best exchange rates by offering the real mid-market exchange rates you see on Google or XE.
Travelex and Travel Money Oz also offer foreign exchange services online but it takes between two and five business days before the currency is ready for pick-up or delivery so you need to be organised!
Buying your currency in-store can be a good option but it all depends on where you go. The money changers in the centre of the main cities tend to be more competitive than smaller stores in the suburbs.
Only change money at the airport as a last resort. The exchange rates and fees at Australian airports are among the worst in the world so avoid it at all costs if you want to get the best value.
Using Your Bank Card in Estonia
Chances are you’re going to use your card at some stage during your travels. Even Estonian taxi drivers accept card payments. But the value you get from a bank card varies wildly with the type of card you use.
All the major providers, including Visa, Mastercard, Maestro, Cirrus, and (to a lesser extent) American Express are widely accepted in tourist areas. It’s still a good idea to carry cash if you’re heading out of town.
Though the most commonly used cards, debit cards tend to have the worst currency conversion rates and fees.
There are a few outstanding exceptions with excellent exchange rates and low fees. These include:
Visa and Mastercard – and sometimes American Express – are widely accepted in Estonia, especially in hotels, restaurants, and shops.
Pay attention to the fees you may incur by using your credit card overseas. These could include cash advance fees for ATM withdrawals, international transaction fees, and overseas ATM withdrawal charges.
Prepaid Travel Cards
A prepaid travel card is made for international travellers so surely it’s the best option, right?
Though you avoid some fees, you might end up squandering those savings on other charges, such as reload fees and inactivity fees. Travel cards also usually apply ATM withdrawal fees.
Not only that, it’s often expensive and tricky to convert remaining balances on the card back to Australian dollars upon your return.
It can also take days for your currency to actually load onto your card, leaving you potentially cash-strapped.
But don’t fret! There are some good alternatives. The Revolut and TransferWise debit cards allow you to prepay or buy your currency ahead of time. Plus they both use the best online market exchange rate you see on Google or XE.
But if you do want to use either of these cards, plan ahead. It takes 1-2 weeks for delivery.
The Average Cost to Travel Around Estonia
Estonia is known as a relatively affordable destination but it still helps to budget your trip so you know just how much currency to buy.
And to help in your budgeting endeavours, here are some of the average Estonian costs you’re likely to encounter:
A double room in a mid-range hotel
A two-course meal
A local beer
A single journey on public transport
Entrance to a museum
Leftover Euros at the End of Your Trip? What to Do with That Unused Cash
It’s annoying returning from a trip with a wad of foreign cash but there are plenty of ways to dispose of these unwanted coins and notes:
- Your airline might distribute envelopes for currency collection to donate to charities (check out Qantas’s Change for Good program with UNICEF).
- Australian international airports often have collection boxes for unwanted currency, which is donated to charity.
- Drop off your currency at any branch of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, which then gives every cent to UNICEF.
- Change your currency either at the airport or, better yet, with a money changer in the city.
- Why not hold onto those euros for a friend just heading off? It’ll be a lovely surprise and going away gift for them!
- Keep your money for later trips to Europe. The euro is the official legal currency of 19 eurozone countries and accepted by many more.
7 Travel Money Tips for Trips to Estonia
Many tourists waste money through not finding the best ways to exchange their currency.
To help you avoid this predicament, here are a few practical tips to help you get the most bang for your … euro:
- Avoid the airports! Currency exchange bureaus at the airport charge epic fees. If you like a good deal – or even just a reasonable one – avoid these at all costs.
- Only carry what you need – It can be expensive to change euros back into AUDs so only take what you think you’ll spend. Not only this – nobody likes to tuck wads of notes into their socks and toiletries for safekeeping on longer journeys.
- Ask for a mix of denominations – Make it easy on yourself and the vendors by getting a mix of smaller notes.
- Check your exchange rate – Google and XE.com are the standard market exchange rate but you’ll notice how wildly bank and currency exchanges can vary their rates. Try to get as close to the market rate as possible.
- Look out for hidden fees – The bane of our (financial) existence, hidden fees will often make a huge difference to the cost of your holiday. Be particularly wary of hidden bank fees for overseas card usage.
- The right card makes all the difference – Having a card is convenient but it can take a hit to the bank account if you have the wrong card. Research and arm yourself with the best card for travel for big savings.
- Mix it up! Many travellers only use their credit card while some only think about cash. But the best option depends on your situation. Save the card for huge purchases such as hotels and car hire and reserve your cash for smaller wins – transport, attractions, or meals out.
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