Interview with Michael about travel money and his trip to Spain
Merrymaking in Barcelona and Madrid
Michael visited Barcelona and Madrid on his way to Lisbon from Paris. Barcelona was his first stop in Spain, and visiting the Sagrada Familia was number 1 on his to do list. All up, Michael spent two weeks in Spain. One week in Barcelona and one week in Madrid. He travelled on the Eurostar, which was a little expensive, but convenient and a great way to see the European countryside.
What cards did you take?
Michael says he took 2 debit accounts and a credit card to Spain.
- Citibank Plus Transaction Account
- Existing credit card
Why did you take these cards?
Michael used his Citibank card as a travel card. It was free to open and cost nothing to keep so he wasn’t concerned if he didn’t use it once he got back home. He transferred money from his original account to his Citibank account and then used the Citibank Plus to withdraw from ATMs. Many bank ATMs throughout Europe do not charge local operator fees. His Citibank card doesn’t charge for international ATM withdrawals or for currency conversion so he was getting a pretty good deal each time he took out cash. He also used his Citibank Plus card to make over the counter purchases where you could to avoid the 3% fee for currency conversion. He used his credit card to pay for flights and secured complimentary international travel insurance.
Where could you use your cards?
Michael says he used his card more than cash in Madrid, there were lots of places where he could use his Mastercard and Visa cards. He says minimum transaction amounts were a problem, for example, he had to buy three or four packs of cigarettes at a time to get over the 10 or 20 euro minimum transaction amount. There is a very low or minimum limit for card payments at supermarket chains such as Mercadona and Carrefour.
Did you use ATMs?
Michael says he made withdrawals from ATMs with an affiliation to his banks: Citibank, Barclays Bank and Deutsche Bank. He didn’t have to look far to find one of these machines in Madrid.
What tips do you have for using travel money in Spain?
The Madrid tourist card was offered to Michael but he turned it down. This gives you free entry to museums, free guide books and access to guided tours. Michael says this is only a good idea if you plan on spending a couple of days filled to the brim culture spotting. There’s a saving on museum entry fee of approximately €10.00 but prices for the card start at €50 for a 1 day pass. Michael also says watch out for the IVA tax, which isn’t included in some bills and can be as high as 20%.