How to save on travel fees when you’re on holiday in Greece
Since the euro crisis in 2007, Greece’s economic instability has been televised globally and has left many travellers uncertain about the best way to take money to Greece. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
Compare travel cards for Greece
How many euros do I need to take to Greece?
Travellers frequently look for advice and estimates about the cost of a holiday in Greece, or want to know how much money they should take. The answer is relative. Greece can be a great budget travel destination if you know how to do it. It can also be very expensive if you come with a short time to enjoy and a mood for indulgence.
|Greece on a budget||Inbetween||Greece in luxury|
|On the street. Gyros will keep your tummy full, your spirits high and set you back only about £2-£3.||Traditional greek food and wine at one of the many restaurants. Estimate around £20-£25 for a meal for two, and two glasses of wine.||Overlooking the sea at an upmarket fine dining establishment. The cost will depend on what you order, of course, but count in hundreds.|
|Walk around the fascinating ruins, wander through seaside towns and lounge on the beach. It’s free!||Get a ferry ticket for an island hopping adventure, tickets are around £15- £45 depending on the length of the journey.||The mediterranean in real-time and retrace the voyages that defined seafaring ancient civilisations. Luxury cruises from Athens to Istanbul for around £3000.|
|In one on Greece’s many hostels targeted to young travellers on a budget. Prices vary depending on the season, and of course the location, but expect around £12 for a dorm bed per night.||Some of the warmest hospitality you will find in Greece exists in the homely, cosy and authentic tavernas, low cost hotels. Costs will depend on the season and location but the price for a room is generally around £25 to £75 per night.||A suite with a sea view and a private pool in one of the 5 star hotels in Mykonos will set you back a cool £2,000 a night.|
While there is no limit to the amount of cash you can bring into Greece, you must declare anything over 10,000 euros. Traveller’s cheques, bank bills, personal cheques 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
Banks tend to have the best exchange rates and are open from 9am to 2pm. Come prepared for a wait; long lines are a frequent occurrence in Greek banks. Automatic foreign exchange machines are also a common feature in tourist centres. They can be a convenient and wait-free way to change your cash but be advised: they charge a sizable commission.
Exchange rate history
Greece has been through a period of instability as a result of the economic crisis, with fluctuations in deflation and inflation. The price of goods and services relative to the value of the currency is likely to change marginally in the future as the economy corrects itself. Brexit may have also had an effect on exchange rates and prices, so make sure you’re aware of what costs what.
|Year||Average annual exchange British Pounds (GBP) to Euro (EUR)|
Travel card debit card or credit card?
Greece is a European Union member, and euros have been the official currency of Greece since 2001. All travel cards let you load and spend using euros. The advantage of a travel card is you avoid the fee for international transactions. Some debit cards and credit cards also give you this feature — Travel cards aren’t your only travel money option for Greece. If you have booked a holiday on a particular island that is a little more off the map, do a quick search before you go to see if it has an ATM. It will be a tiring first day if you need to take a boat back to the mainland so you can pay for your hotel or apartment.Back to top
How each travel money option works in Greece
You can pay your way in Greece a few different ways, so start comparing some of the options available on the UK market to find the right combination for you:
Using a prepaid travel card
Travel cards let you load British Pounds, and then transfer them to euros to spend in Greece. You can avoid currency conversion fees for purchases and ATM withdrawals, just watch out for reload fees and ATM fees (some travel cards waive these fees). Travel money cards make sense in a place like Europe. With so many countries so close together all using the same currency, a travel card gives you the freedom to explore Greece and the rest of the European continent without needing to change finance products.
Using a debit card
When you choose a debit card, currency conversion fees and foreign ATM transaction fees should be among the features you compare. Barclays will charge a 2.75% non-sterling transaction fee, Lloyd’s will charge a 2.99% non-sterling fee on cash withdrawals and purchases, and NatWest/RBS will charge a fee of 3% (minimum £3). In the case that you find yourself needing to use a debit card abroad, it’s worth checking if your bank is part of the Global Alliance, a group of banks with an agreement to give customers a cheaper way to withdraw money abroad.
Using a credit card
Look out for cards that don’t charge a currency conversion fee. If you only use your credit card to pay for over the counter purchases, use another type of card (debit or travel) to withdraw money from the ATM — cash withdrawals on credit are quick way to end up in debt. If you pay your balance off each month to take advantage of interest free days, credit cards can be a great travel money option for Greece. Some credit cards give you complimentary travel and purchase protection insurance when you meet conditions too. A credit card is also a good idea to have as a backup for a large or emergency purchases.
Using a traveller’s cheques
Don’t worry about traveller’s cheques, the days of carrying a physical cheque 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, such as skimming, and there are fewer places than ever where you can actually cash your cheques.
Paying with cash in Greece
Greece is a nation of a thousand islands famous for history, hedonism, nature and nightlife. Given the current economic climate, take heed of the following:
ATMs running dry
Reports during the peak tourist season of ATMs running out of cash on the weekend, and not being restocked until mid-week, are common.
- Always have an emergency supply of cash with you in Greece, 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, and, even if the machine is in Greek, when you insert a foreign card, the ATM display will usually pop up in English.
- Tip: Whether genuine or not, vendors in small shops that cater to tourists seemingly never have any change. If you are out to purchases little souvenirs, presents or other bits and pieces, better take a collection of smaller denominations with you to avoid the ‘no-change situation’. You can change larger notes at banks, although even banks will sometimes be less than gracious about changing 500 euro notes.
Things to consider before traveling to Greece
- UKcredit cards, debit cards and travel cards will work in Greece. The government has assured travellers capital control measures do not apply to transactions made with a debit or credit product issued in the UK.
- ATMs may be short of cash. It’s advised to take cash from the UK (pounds or euros) so you don’t run out.
- Take a combination of travel money options to Greece. A combination of cash, credit, debit or travel cards is the best approach. You can compare these options on this page.
Buying euros in the UK
Economic uncertainty is the word in Greece at the moment. Euros in your pocket when you land can give you peace of mind for the start of your trip. Your bank will be able to give you euros in cash, but have a look at our Travel Money providers to get the most competitive rates and options to pick up your cash.
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. If this is the case, you’ll need to rely on making over the counter purchases — a no currency conversion card is best in this situation. If you want to avoid paying ridiculous charges, never use your credit card at an ATM to get cash. This is a cash advance and there are fees and immediate interest charges to think about.
Greece is a magical destination with much to discover for any kind of traveller. If you are planning a trip to Greece, do some research, have a think about what kind of trip you would like 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. Just a travel card or credit card isn’t going to cut it, so make sure you have a variety of options available to make the most of your trip.Back to top