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Travel money guide: Greece

How to save on travel fees when you’re vacationing in Greece

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Its stunning beaches and unique islands makes a vacation to Greece a trip to paradise. Casting aside the unsteady financial market and refugee crisis, Greece is a hot spot for American and European travelers alike. But figuring out what credit cards to bring or how to get cash once you’re there can leave you feeling uncertain. Let us help you find the right travel money for your trip to Greece.

How much should I budget for my trip to Greece?

Despite problems in the Greek economy, it’s still on the expensive side to travel to Greece. Budget travelers should plan on $50 a day, while mid-range to luxury travelers can expect to pay between $150 to $350 a day, or higher if you plan to visit more than one of its 200 islands.

GreeceBudgetMid-rangeExpensive
sleepSleepHostels
$20 dollars per night
Hotel room (depending on season and location)
$30–$80 per night
5-star hotel in Mykonos with a sea view and a private pool
$2,500 a night
foodEatGyros
$1.50–$3
Meal of traditional greek food and wine for two
$20–$30
Fine dining overlooking the sea
$200–$300 per couple
cameraDoWalk around the fascinating ruins,
wander through seaside towns and lounge on the beach
Free!
Get a ferry ticket for an island hopping adventure
$15–$50
Luxury cruises from Athens to Istanbul for around
$3,500.

*Prices are approximate and based on summer seasonality and are subject to change.

Did you know?

While there is no limit to the amount of cash you can bring into Greece, you must declare anything over 10,000 euros. Traveler’s checks, bills, personal checks and money orders are all considered cash. There are restrictions on the amount of money you can take out, but the majority of people don’t need to worry about this limit.

Exchanging cash at Greek banks

Greek banks tend to have the best exchange rates and are open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m, but be prepared to wait as long lines are typical. While you’ll find ATMs in most tourist areas, but they usually charge a big fee.

Exchange rate history

As a result of an economic crisis, Greece experienced a period of unstable deflation and inflation over the last few years. The price of goods and services relative to the value of the currency is likely to change as the economy improves.

Compare money transfers to Greece

Travel card, debit card or credit card?

Though most merchants prefer cash, credit and debit cards are accepted at most larger businesses — especially aimed at tourists. Though it’s not guaranteed that every island will have ATMs, so be sure to get cash before you sail away.

All travel money cards let you load and spend euros while avoiding foreign transaction fees.

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How each travel money option works in Greece

Start comparing the different ways you can spend in Greece and find the right combination for you:

Using a prepaid travel card

Travel cards can lock in conversion rates once you load USD. Use it for purchases without worrying about rates each time you spend — debit and credit cards often charge 3% for each transaction.

Where you save in the conversion rates you may pay in fees. You’ll pay fees each time you load the card, ATM withdrawals and sometimes even an inactivity fee.

Using a debit card

A debit card could be a good travel money choice to take to Greece. You’ll have access to cash each time you come across an ATM, without carrying lots of cash on you all at once. Because you’re spending your own money, you avoid interest charges. The Charles Schwab card waives the fee for international ATM withdrawals and doesn’t charge a monthly account keeping fee.

Using a credit card

Credit cards are great to have for large purchases and emergencies. Find yourself a credit card that waives foreign transaction fees. Carrying a credit card gives you the added benefit of travel insurance and discounts, depending on your provider. For added savings, take advantage of the interest-free period by paying your balance in full each month.

A credit card is a great idea to have as a backup for a large or emergency purchases. Look for cards that don’t charge a currency conversion fee and never use you your card to withdraw money from the ATM — cash withdrawals on credit can lead to hefty fees.

Using a credit card in Greece

Using traveler’s checks

Forget about traveler’s checks — the days of carrying a physical check are pretty much done. Credit, debit and travel card providers all give you a money back guarantee if you’ve genuinely been the victim of card fraud. Plus, there are fewer places than ever where you can actually cash your checks.

Paying with cash in Greece

Whether genuine or not, vendors in small shops seemingly never have any change. If you’re purchasing little souvenirs, presents or other bits and pieces, keep smaller denominations around to avoid the losing money. You can change larger notes at banks, although even banks will sometimes give you a hassle about changing more than 500 euros.

Always have an emergency supply of cash and a back-up card you can use over the counter in case of emergencies.

MUST READ: Using ATMs

Don’t be afraid to try the ATMs that don’t have signs written in english. Often, especially during tourist season, ATMs with english signs will run out of money first. Even if the machine is in Greek, when you insert a foreign card the ATM display will usually pop up in English.

Compare travel credit cards

Name Product Welcome offer Rewards Annual fee Filter values
Luxury Card Mastercard® Titanium Card™
N/A
1x points on all purchases with 2% point value when you redeem for airfare and 1% for cash back
$195
Enjoy unique excursions, privileged access to exclusive events and insider opportunities.
Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®
50,000 miles after spending $2,500 in the first 3 months
2x miles on eligible American Airlines purchases, at gas stations and restaurants and 1x miles on all other purchases
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($99 thereafter)
Earn 50,000 AAdvantage® bonus miles after you spend $2,500 in the first 3 months.
The World of Hyatt Credit Card
25,000 points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. 25,000 points after spending another $6,000 in the first 6 months
9x points at Hyatt hotels as a World of Hyatt member, 2x on gyms, commuting, dining and airlines and 1x on all other purchases
$95
Earn 25,000 points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. 25,000 points after spending another $6,000 in the first 6 months.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
5x points on Lyft, 2x points on travel and dining and 1x points on all other purchases
$95
This popular travel card's signup bonus is worth up to $750. Get even more value out of your travel, dining, and Lyft rewards by transferring them to miles.
Luxury Card Mastercard® Black Card™
N/A
1x points on all purchases with 2% point value when you redeem for airfare and 1.5% for cash back
$495
Receive an annual $100 air travel credit toward flight-related purchases including airline tickets, baggage fees, upgrades and more.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Our pick for a prepaid travel card
Travelex Money Card

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Buying euros in the US

having euros in your pocket when you land can give you peace of mind for the start of your trip, as we’ve heard stories about empty ATMs. Your bank will be able to give you euros in cash, but have a look at Travelex for money transfers, as it offers competitive rates and has shops at major airports where you can grab your cash right before you hop on the plane.

Why you need a combination of travel money options

A combination of travel money products is the best way to finance your Greek trip, especially since there may be times when you can’t get cash from an ATM. Try to get a card that has no fee for foreign transactions and never use your credit card at an ATM to get cash. A credit card cash advance charges fees and immediate interest charges that come with it.

Case study: Jessica's experience

Jessica profile photo
Jessica

Interview with Jessica about spending money while on her trip to Greece

Jessica visited Athens, the Greek capital and a large Greek island, Ios.

What cards did you take with you?

  • Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard
  • Bank of America debit card

Why did you take these cards? Jessica took these two cards with her because they were the credit card and debit card she used in at home. She also exchanged dollars to euros before she left the country so she had money to pay for immediate expenses when she landed.

What about ATM withdrawals? She used her debit card to withdraw money from ATMs in Greece. She looked for the Visa logo on the front of ATMs and her Visa card worked every time. Jessica says she didn’t encounter any ATMs that were out of cash — although she heard of other travelers who ran into this problem.

She used a special passport case that protected her credit cards from scanners at ATMs throughout the city. She knew that scanners, the the aim at stealing credit card numbers was common in Europe.

She was charged an international and local ATM fee of about $10 each time she made an ATM withdrawal in addition to a currency conversion fee of 3%.

Where could you use your credit cards? Excluding her airfares to and from Greece, Jessica says she only used her credit card a few times during her vacation — to book a ferry ticket to and from Ios, to pay for her accommodations and to pay for dinner at a restaurant.

She didn’t try to use her card to pay for drinks while she was out. Instead she left her credit card at home. Most island clubs and bars could get wild, and she didn’t want to chance losing her credit card while dancing the night away.

What do you think is the best travel money for Greece? Jessica was able to get her Barclaycard right before she left on her trip. This was idea because it waived the currency conversion and international ATM fees. She calculates that she saved about $60 to $70 on international transaction and ATM charges over the course of a three-week vacation.

Do you have any Greek travel money tips? Jessica says she got a better price paying cash in some places, especially on the smaller islands. She also recommends keeping 10 and 20 euro notes handy for shopping as she had a little trouble getting change for 50 euros when she was buying souvenirs in Ios.

Why you’ll need a combination of travel money options

If you are planning a trip to Greece, do some research and choose a travel money product that suits you. You’re going to have to take multiple cards so you can really relax on your trip to Greece — having only one card just isn’t going to cut it.

Cash pickup services in Greece

Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
USD 0 2 days USD 9.99 0.898 EUR 889 No fee for transfers of $5,000 or more to 177 countries, backed by an International Payments Price Promise. Go to site Show details
USD 1 Within an hour USD 3.99 0.893 EUR 890 Use promo code 3FREE to send your first 3 transfers with no fee. Send to 110+ countries for bank-to-bank deposit, cash pickup or mobile top-up. Go to site Show details
USD 0 1 - 2 days USD 1.99 0.88 EUR 878 Special offers like free transfers and better exchange rates available for new customers.
Quick, affordable transfers around the world with both express and economy options.
Go to site Show details
USD 1 Same day USD 8.00 0.877 EUR 870 Easily transfer cash to more than 350,000 locations around the world. Show details
USD 1 3 - 5 days USD 20.00 0.875 EUR 858 The biggest name in money transfers can get your funds to friends, family, or businesses in almost every corner of the globe. Show details

Compare up to 4 providers

Disclaimer: Exchange rates change often. Confirm the total cost with the provider before transferring money.

Get travel insurance quotes for your vacation in Greece

Name Product Trip Cancellation Emergency Medical Expenses Baggage Coverage Trip delay
Travelex Travel Basic
100%
$15,000
$500
$500
Essential travel coverage — with the option to customize — that can protect the cost of your trip.
Travelex Flight Insure
$10,000
$1,000
$100
Protect the cost of your flight and choose the coverage amount that meets your needs — trip delay protection included.
RoamRight Essential Travel Insurance Plan
100%
$15,000
$750
$500
Basic policy with coverage that includes trip cancellation insurance, tourist health insurance and baggage insurance.
Travel Guard Silver
100%
$15,000
$750
$500
Budget-friendly coverage with basic travel protections that include trip cancellation and trip interruption.
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2 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    DaphneJuly 4, 2019

    Will my American Express or Discover Card be accepted in Greece

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