Before arriving in Prague, I thought it would be a good idea to purchase some Czech crowns (korunas). My bank sells foreign currency at no additional fee if you have an account. Although there is about an 11% cost on top of the going exchange rate that the bank’s provider tacks on, it’s nice to have cash in hand—removing one logistic task before your arrival.
If your bank is like mine, you will first need to go to your bank in person to place the order before you can actually pick up the currency. I had to pay in advance. The amount is determined by the foreign currency’s closest denomination to the amount you would like to purchase. I was able to choose whether I wanted the currency in mixed denominations or in lowest denominations. I picked mixed but next time I will pick lowest. I think it’s best to have money in the lowest denominations—you don’t want to give a vendor a 2000 Czech crown when buying a cup of coffee, for example. After this, I waited a day before the currency arrived at the bank. When I went the second time to the bank, I was required to sign a receipt showing I picked up the currency.
Overall, it wasn’t a bad experience although it takes two visits. One final note: the Czech Republic, a member of the European Union, has yet to adopt the euro like its neighbor Slovakia, which started using the euro on January 1, 2009. There is talk that it will in 2012.