Spain: Travel Money Guide

Everything you need to know about using money in Spain.

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Hola, amigos! Planning on heading to the land of Paella and flamenco? Organise your travel money options ahead of time and you can spend more time soaking in the rich culture rather than worrying how you’re going to pay your way. One of the things that makes Spain so travel friendly is the use of euros as the national currency. But when you go abroad, the way you take, withdraw and spend your travel money can make a big difference to your hip-pocket. Foreign ATM fees, currency conversion fees and foreign transaction fees can eat at your travel budget. The good news is that if you take the time to get your finances in order before you go, you can easily avoid all the extra charges, and have more to spend on sangria instead.

Which option is right for your next trip?

TorFX International Money Transfers

TorFX International Money Transfers

You can always get the best rate on international money transfers using TorFX.

  • Best price. If you can find a competitor’s foreign exchange quote for a better price, TorFX will be it.
  • Transfer options. TorFX give you a variety of ways to make international payments.
  • Secure. TorFX is a safe and secure way to transfer money overseas and is subject to government regulations.

    Compare travel money services for Spain

    Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
    GBP 5 GBP 0.00 1.102 EUR
    551
    Prepaid card – Get £10 travel money free! Join WeSwap today and get £10 free on your WeSwap card (T&Cs apply). Go to site Show details
    GBP 200 GBP 0.00 1.094 EUR
    547
    Prepaid card – Chip and Pin protected, and accepted everywhere you see the Mastercard® Acceptance Mark worldwide. Go to site Show details
    GBP 100 GBP 0.00 1.085 EUR
    543
    Prepaid card – Travelex Group is a foreign exchange company based in London. It's the biggest foreign exchange bureau in the world. Go to site Show details

    Compare up to 4 providers

    Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
    GBP 5 GBP 0.00 1.102 EUR
    551
    Get the best travel cash rates delivered within 24 hours to your place. All deliveries are free for orders above £750. Go to site Show details
    GBP 300 GBP 6.50 1.098 EUR
    542
    Cash via post – Griffin Financial is a specialist dealer in foreign currency and can offer some of the most competitive rates around. Go to site Show details
    GBP 300 GBP 5.00 1.101 EUR
    545
    Cash via post – Travel FX Ltd is a specialist dealer in currency providing an alternative to banks and bureaux de change. Go to site Show details
    GBP 5 GBP 0.00 1.091 EUR
    545
    Cash via post – eurochange deliver convenience and value, both online and in over 145 branches. They provide travel money in over 70 currencies, and next day home delivery is free on orders over £400. Go to site Show details
    GBP 300 GBP 2.99 1.091 EUR
    542
    Cash via post – Travelex Group is a foreign exchange company based in London. It's the biggest foreign exchange bureau in the world. Go to site Show details
    GBP 400 GBP 4.95 1.091 EUR
    540
    Cash via post – Free delivery on all orders of £800 and over. All orders are dispatched fully insured through Royal Mail Special Delivery Go to site Show details

    Compare up to 4 providers

    Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
    GBP 250 GBP 0.00 1.1 EUR
    550
    Go to site Show details
    GBP 5 GBP 0.00 1.102 EUR
    551
    Get the best travel cash rates delivered within 24 hours to your place. All deliveries are free for orders above £750. Go to site Show details
    GBP 1 GBP 0.00 1.086 EUR
    543
    With over 240 stores, Debenhams offers travel money, money transfer and money exchange services. OFFER: Get £5 off £20 spend voucher; load your leftover currency on to a Debenhams gift card, and get an extra 20% free. Go to site Show details
    GBP 5 GBP 0.00 1.09 EUR
    545
    Click & collect – eurochange deliver convenience and value, both online and in over 145 branches. They provide travel money in over 70 currencies. Click & Collect in 60 seconds in branch. Go to site Show details
    GBP 0 GBP 0.00 1.09 EUR
    545
    Click & collect – One of the UK’s most popular foreign exchange retailers, with a network of stores across the country. Local service and customer commitment are the two main features of No.1 Currency’s service. Go to site Show details
    GBP 10 GBP 0.00 1.085 EUR
    543
    Click & collect – Travelex Group is a foreign exchange company based in London. It's the biggest foreign exchange bureau in the world. Go to site Show details

    Compare up to 4 providers

    How many euros do I need to bring to Spain?

    Spain is an enormous and diverse country. Prices and expenses will vary depending on the region. Even in the more expensive urban centres of Madrid and Barcelona, there are options for food, accommodation and activities to suit most tastes, and budgets.

    Low budget Mid-range High budget
    eat-in-greece Great street food, free tapas, or munch on local produce for the market. If you really try, you can get by on £5.00 – £8.00 a day for food. Seafood paella and sample a drop from the best Spanish vineyards. Cost for two people £50+ Dinner at the ABaC restaurant
    £150 per person
    accomodations-in-greece Barcelona and Madrid are teeming with low cost accommodation. A bed in a dorm will be £10.00 – £30.00 per night depending on the season. A 3 star hotel in Barcelona
    £100-£150 per night for a standard double room.
    A 5 star hotel in Barcelona
    £200+
    Walk around the fascinating ruins, wander through seaside towns and lounge on the beach. It’s free! City Sightseeing Barcelona Hop-On Hop-Off Tour £25 Hot air baloon flight over Catalonia
    £150

    *Prices are indicative and subject to change

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    Travel card, debit card or credit card?

    The national currency for Spain is the euro. As one of the major global currencies, all travel cards let you load and spend euros. But is a travel card the best travel money product for your trip? Visa and Mastercard have wide acceptance at shops and ATMs throughout Spain. You can use your debit card or credit card like you would in the UK; just look for the products which waive the currency conversion fee when you spend.

    Travel money options for Spain at a glance

    Travel money option Pros Considerations
    Debit cards for travel
    • Ability to use your ATM card in most places
    • Protected by PIN & chip
    • Debit cards will not incur an interest rate as it uses your own money from your transaction account
    • Most of the debit cards will charge an additional currency conversion fees
    • Not a credit product
    • No emergency funds available though a cash advance facility.
    Prepaid travel money cards
    • Ability to hold Spanish Euro on almost every prepaid travel on the market
    • Ability to lock in the exchange rate for the funds that you ‘load’ on to the card before you go
    • Secured by PIN & chip technology
    • Comes with a backup card if yours goes missing
    • International ATM withdrawal fees, card issue fees and initial load fees may apply
    • Reload fees could be high
    • Some travel cards charge for inactivity fee
    Credit cards for travel
    • Protected by PIN & chip
    • Access to funds up to your credit limit
    • Accepted worldwide
    • No currency conversion/ transaction fees
    • Benefits including rewards points on spending, 0% purchases, frequent flyer perks
    • Some credit cards offer complimentary travel insurance
    • Interest-free days when you pay your account in full
    • Emergency card replacement
    • Can charge high withdrawal and cash advance fees
    • Higher spending limit (depends on your approved credit limit)
    • Withdrawing cash can be considered a “cash advance” and can charge you fees and high interests
    • Card scheme anti-fraud guarantees don’t apply in a credit card with a positive balance
    • Higher spending limit (depends on your approved credit limit)
    • Attracts an annual fee
    Traveller’s cheques
    • Have the added security of needing ID to be cashed
    • Availability to cash at banks
    • Secure and can be easily replaced if lost or stolen
    • Card schemes such as Mastercard give you a money back guarantee if you’re a victim of card fraud
    • Expect to be charged a commission when cashing your cheques
    • Fees for purchasing and cashing traveller’s cheques may apply
    • Currency exchange rate varies over time
    • Not common in Spain for the simple reason that ATMs are everywhere and offer a more competitive exchange rate and that’s what most people use
    Cash
    • Greater payment flexibility
    • Convenience
    • More difficult to manage expenses
    • Higher risk of theft

    This table is a general summary of the travel money products in the market. Features and benefits can vary between cards.

    How each travel money option works in Spain

    Here’s how different travel money products are going to work in Spain.

    Using travel prepaid cards

    You can load euros onto all travel money cards and spend without incurring the fee for currency conversion. This is the main feature of any travel money card, and one of the main reasons why they’re popular with travellers. With that box ticked, choosing the right travel money card to take to Spain will require a comparison of the cards other features such as reload fees, inactivity fees and ATM withdrawal fees.

    • Tip: You reload these products via online transfer and BPAY while you’re overseas. It can take up to 3 business days for a BPAY payment to clear, even more so if you try to reload your card over a weekend or public holiday. With this in mind, avoid letting your balance drain to $0 before loading to avoid being stranded without any funds.

    Using debit cards

    Travel-friendly debit cards can give you the best of both worlds: the ability to spend your own money abroad and the freedom to withdraw cash without incurring extra charges. The best debit cards for travel in Spain will allow you to withdraw euro from an ATM without incurring foreign ATM usage fees. Over the length of a trip, ATM fees can add up to the price of a night out. Have a look at the Citibank Plus Transaction Account. You get a Visa Debit card to use over the counter or at ATMs, Citibank don’t charge for currency conversion, there’s no international ATM charge and no account keeping fee either.

    • Tip: Although Citibank are not the biggest bank in Spain, they have a number of branches throughout the country where you can use your Citibank debit card to make cheap ATM withdrawals.

    Using credit cards

    There are a number of competitive credit card products designed for travellers. Credit cards often come with other bonuses such as complementary travel insurance and rewards for spending. You shouldn’t be using your credit card to get cash from an ATM. Cash advance charges and interest can add up quickly and eat away your available credit.

    Using traveller’s cheques

    Traveller’s cheques give you security. Only you can cash your cheques. Given the money back guarantees in place from card providers if you’re the victim of card fraud, traveller’s cheques have been made redundant. You’re able to spend conveniently and safely in Spain using your debit card, credit card or travel card.

    Paying with cash in Spain

    Although many places accept over the counter card payments it is always advisable to have some cash with you in Spain. Expect to use it to pay for smaller purchases of up to €20 at many shops and restaurants. Familiarise yourself with the Euro’s below to make sure you’re not accidentally paying too much on your holiday.

    euro-banknotes

    Buying currency in the UK

    There’s no limit to the amount of cash you can bring with you to Spain. However, you’ll need to make a declaration at customs if you’re travelling with more than €10,000 cash (this includes traveller’s cheques). You have a number of options for picking up euros in the UK. Your bank can sell you euros for a competitive rate; however, you will be charged a commission for the service.

    Providers such as the Post office also sell you euros — you can order online and collect your cash from the airport before you leave. There’s no commission and they offer a slightly better rate than the banks. For example, buying $1,000 worth of euros gives you €641.80 with Travelex and €635.70 at Commonwealth Bank.

    Exchanging cash

    If you have foreign cash to change you will be overwhelmed with choice in Barcelona and Madrid. Exchange offices away from tourist attractions and banks will have better exchange rates. If you want to get the most competitive exchange rate, don’t get money changed at the airport.

    Using ATMs in Spain

    You will be able to find ATMs in all Spanish towns and cities, petrol stations, shopping centres and bus and train stations. Bank affiliated ATMs generally won’t charge you for usage except for Catalunya Caixa Bank, who will charge a couple of Euros. Most ATMs, and almost all in larger towns and cities will have an English option.

    Why you’ll need a combination of travel money options

    A combination of travel money products is the best approach to funding your trip to Spain. Use a debit card or a travel card to withdraw cash from ATMs and to make over the counter purchases when available and use a credit card for emergencies and big ticket purchases. Credit cards offer up to 55 days interest free on purchases if you pay your account by the statement due date and there are cards which provide complimentary insurance to protect important purchases against damage and loss.

    By spreading your travel money across a couple of accounts, you won’t be caught without cash if a card goes missing and you can take advantage of money saving travel perks. Travellers to Spain may be surprised at how easy it is to get by without spending a fortune. With a few travel money tricks up your sleeve, it’s easy to sample all of the joys of Spain, from flamenco to Dali.

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    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%.

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