How to save on travel fees when you’re vacationing in Greece
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.
INTERESTING POINTS ABOUT TRAVEL MONEY GUIDE: GREECE
Our pick for travel
Chase Sapphire Reserve®Read more
Compare travel cards for Greece
Why we like: Travelex Money Card
Load GBP, EUR, CAD, AUD, JPY or MXN onto this prepaid travel money card and use it at millions of locations worldwide.
- Not linked to your bank account for safety.
- Convert currency with a 5.50% Foreign exchange fee.
- Contactless payments.
- Reload, withdraw, or replace your card for free.
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.
$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
|Meal of traditional greek food and wine for two
|Fine dining overlooking the sea
$200–$300 per couple
|Do||Walk around the fascinating ruins,
wander through seaside towns and lounge on the beach
|Get a ferry ticket for an island hopping adventure
|Luxury cruises from Athens to Istanbul for around
*Prices are approximate and based on summer seasonality and are subject to change.
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.
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.Back to top
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.
- Tip: It’s worth researching credit cards that offer travel benefit and rewards for things you’ll buy anyways like flights and hotel stays.
Using a 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.
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.
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.
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.