There’s no money exchanging hands at Sziget Festival. Once you enter the grounds you need to buy a Sziget Festival money pass and top up as you go.
When you buy the pass you have to leave a deposit for the card (500HUF / £1.25) and buy a bin bag (same price) which you’re meant to fill and return for your money back. Unfortunately I didn’t see one person make any effort with the bag the whole week.
You need to put as much money on your card as you think you’re going to spend if you want to avoid going back to queue. Of course you can look for these booths and top up as you go if you prefer. It’s not a one-chance saloon.
At first I thought it was really annoying. I hate it when festival organisers do this. I remember having loads of tokens left over at EXIT that we just couldn’t get rid of. As the days went on at Sziget Festival though – maybe as early as day two, I realised just how brilliant it was.
5 reasons why the Sziget payment card is brilliant
1. You don’t have to work out the currency. Trying to convert the Hungarian Forint into British Pounds is hard. Harder than you’d expect, especially as the night goes on. It’s 1,000 forints to 2.50. Once you start getting over a certain amount all those zeroes are far too confusing, even for a sober person.
2. It feels like you don’t have to pay for anything. Hand over the card, get the beer. The end.
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3. You don’t have to work out the notes. My purse was stacked full of notes. You know how it is when you’re in a new currency and you have to get them all out to inspect what’s what? Yeah, well there’s none of that.
4. The queues went quickly. Considering there were 415,000 people at Sziget over the week the queues were pretty sweet. I didn’t queue for longer than five minutes at the bars and it was thanks to these cards taking all the faff out of needing change.
5. You could get your money back. The Sziget Festival payment card wasn’t just a way to scam more money out of first day enthusisam and spending too much to start. You could actually claim any leftover money back off the card up to midnight on the final day. I think they did in fact do the payment card for us, not for them. Amazing.
1 reason why the Sziget payment card is not
1. You can’t check how much money you have without buying something. I was totally paranoid every time I went to use it that I wouldn’t have enough money to pay. You can’t find out your balance at the Mastercard booths, or at the Mastercard centre that had been set up, which seemed a bit odd seeing as they were sponsoring the whole thing. Day three, my Hungarian had got better and I realised the balance was at the bottom of the receipt once you’d paid. Not before my money had ran out and I had to slink off from paying for my round though. Still think they need a check point so you can see as you go, but that’s my only grumble!
All the instructions are in Hungarian, yet the hashtag is in English. Real useful.