The unit of Hungarian currency is known as the Forint (HUF). The Hungarian "cent" (Fillér) is long since obsolete. Bills come in 20000, 10000, 5000, 2000, 1000, 500, 200(until November 2009) HUF denominations, coins are 200 (two colored, similar to €1), 100 (two colored, similar to €2), 50, 20, 10, 5 HUF. As of March 1, 2008, the 2 and 1 HUF coins have been withdrawn, too.
Euro is now accepted at most hotels and some of the restaurants and shops. Make sure you check the exchange rate though, sometimes even well known places (like McDonald's) will exchange at unrealistic rates. Forint is scheduled to disappear in coming years in favor of Euro, but no date and realistic way is fixed yet.
You can use major credit cards (EuroCard, Visa) in major shops and larger restaurants, but never expect that without checking first. Small places cannot afford to handle cards. ATMs are available even in small cities, the coverage is good.
While completing any monetary transactions, it is best to pay in HUF when you can. Some restaurants and hotels charge a steep rate for Euro exchange and often due to the fluctuation in HUF, cost and services stated may vary drastically.
There are 219 forints to the USD and 290 forints to the EUR (04 March 2012). Shopping in Hungary is extremely cheap for people from the US and Euro-zone.
Exchange rates for EUR and USD are roughly the same within downtown (at least in Budapest and Eger). Rates will likely be much worse in airports and large train stations - so change exactly what you need to reach downtown. A good habit is to compare the buy and sell rates: if they are drastically different, you're best going somewhere else. Official exchange offices always give a receipt and normally have a large glass between client and a cashier making all steps transparent for client.
Travellers report that unofficial money changers operating nearby an official money changing booth offer unfavourable rates--and recommend to use official exchange offices. It's worth noting that such exchanges are illegal.
If you arrive to Budapest at late nights or state holidays it is quite likely you won't be able to find any working bank or exchange office. In this case you may attempt to exchange your money with any random taxi driver. They will rip you off by 100-200 forints (around 1 EUR), but it's better than nothing. There is an ATM in the arrival hall at Budapest Ferihegy, and the rates for using ATMs with a card are often better than the bureau de change. There are many banks machines in Budapest which will accept European and North American debit/credit cards, if it becomes necessary, it maybe in your best interest to draw a sufficient amount for your stay and it will often give a more much favorable rate.
Adventurous locals in Budapest report they change EUR unofficially with Arabs on a train station, but they don't recommend it to unaccompanied travelers.
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