Exchange rates:

Cash in Hungarian forints (HUF)

History of the Hungarian currency

The name "forint" comes from the gold coins "florins", printed in Florence in 1252. The original name of the forint was "florentin" — this currency started to be used in Hungary in 1325 during the reign of King Charles Robert, who also ruled Croatia.

The Florentin was renamed the forint in 1862, but in 1927, it was replaced by a new currency, the penge, which was part of a plan to stabilize the economy after the First World War. However, the plan was unsuccessful, and the currency experienced the worst hyperinflation in history between 1945 and 1946, after which the Hungarian forint was put back into circulation on August 1, 1946. Since then, the currency has been used as Hungary's main means of payment to this day.

After the currency was put back into circulation, the value of 1kg of gold equated to 13,210 forints. The exchange rate remained stable for the next two decades, but in the 1970s and 1980s, the Hungarian economic system became uncompetitive, causing the forint to lose its purchasing power and depreciate rapidly. From 1898 to 1990, annual inflation reached 35 per cent, but by reforming monetary policy, the Hungarian government eventually managed to restore stability to the exchange rate.

The forint was divided into 100 forints, but due to inflation, money with a face value of less than 1 forint was taken out of circulation in 1999.

Coins and banknotes

The current coins in circulation have been produced since 2012 — after the renaming of the Hungarian Republic to Hungary, it was necessary to rename all old coins. The circulating coins are in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 forints. Unlike the currencies of many other countries, the Hungarian forints do not depict any persons or significant symbols, but only their denomination. The coins are mostly made of brass or copper-nickel alloy.

As for banknotes, there are banknotes with denominations of 200, 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, 10 000 and 20 000 forints in circulation. The banknote of each denomination differs in colour. As on banknotes of many other countries, the front side or obverse depicts a famous figure, while the reverse depicts a landmark:

  • 200 forints (green) — King Charles Robert of Hungary and Croatia and the Diosdjör fortress in Miskolc;
  • 500 forints (orange) — Prince Ferenc II Rakoczy of Transylvania and Szaroszpatak Castle;
  • 1000 forints (blue) — Hungarian king of Hunyadi family Matyas I and Hercules Fountain in Visegrad Fortress;
  • 2000 forints (brown) — Gábor Bethlen, Prince of the Kingdom of Hungary and Prince of Transylvania, and Viktor Madaras's painting "Bethlen among Scientists";
  • 5,000 forints (purple, green) — Hungarian count, reformer and writer István Széchenyi and his ancestral home in Nagytsenka;
  • 10,000 HUF (red) — István I Svátlény, Grand Duke of Nitra and the first king of Hungary of the Arpad dynasty, and a painting by Hubert Sutler with a view of the city of Esztergom;
  • 20,000 forints (grey) — Hungarian politician and father of the Austro-Hungarian Agreement of 1867, Ferenc Deák, and Hungary's first parliament building in Budapest;

The role of cash Hungarian forints in the national and regional economy

The 2008 financial crisis was one of the worst economic periods for Hungary. As a result, the exchange rate of the Hungarian forint showed a noticeable decline, leading to high inflation.

Hungary's economy did not start to recover until 2011. Although Hungary fulfills the Maastricht criteria and can introduce the euro into circulation, the government still prefers to use its national currency.

In 2022, the amount of cash forints began to decline rapidly, but deposits in Hungarian banks also fell. For example, the amount of foreign currencies held by citizens increased by 35 per cent during that year, with the euro accounting for most of it.

This is explained by the fact that Hungarians are losing confidence in the national forint and increasingly prefer foreign currencies. However, at the end of the same year, the Hungarian National Bank raised its key rate, which attracted more investment in the national currency and may have been one of the main reasons for the forint's appreciation in 2023.

Hungarian forint exchange rate

The Hungarian forint is denoted as HUF on the stock exchanges. Against the dollar, as of November 2023, the HUF exchange rate was 0.0028 against the US dollar.

Over the past 10 years, the Hungarian forint's exchange rate against the dollar has fallen almost 2-fold, but since the beginning of 2023, its price has increased by nearly 6%. Thus, the HUF has become one of the few currencies to appreciate against the USD in 2023.

The Hungarian forint reached its minimum price of $0.0022 in October 2022 but has only risen since then. The HUF currency has shown a similar trend against the EUR.

What can I exchange cash for in Hungarian forints?

The forint is Hungary's only legal currency so you can exchange forints for any available currencies and assets, including stocks, commodities and even cryptocurrency.

If you come to Hungary as a tourist and do not have cash, you can buy forints at any available bank or forint. You do not need to have a bank account to exchange for cash. However, do not get cash or exchange currency at airports, as the commission for such transactions can be as high as 20%. On average, exchangers and banks charge about 0.3 per cent for exchange, but some exchange offices allow you to convert currency into forints and back even without commission.

© – , updated 11/13/2023
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