Finding a place to use a credit card in Greece is relatively easy given that it’s a major tourist destination. While larger establishments, such as hotels, bars and museums will mostly accept cards, smaller restaurants, hotels and shops may not. Having cash as a backup is a good idea.
But beware of hidden ATM fees if you’re planning to make a cash withdrawal.
Mastercard and Visa are widely accepted across Greece. Owners of American Express credit cards will find it easier to pay at most locations than those who own Discover cards.
For an ATM cash withdrawal, Discover card owners can only use Citibank ATMs. For American Express cards, look for Alpha Bank, Ethniki Trapeza (National Bank) and Euronet ATMs among others.
Potential credit card fees in Greece
There are two major fees to watch out for when you use a card to pay for products and services in Greece:
Foreign transaction fees. Depending on your card, you could pay a fee of up to 3% of the amount of every transaction you make. This could quickly add up if you spend too freely.
Currency conversion fees. If you pay a vendor in US dollars, you could be subject to a Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC). This has additional fees as it’s a poorer conversion rate you’d otherwise get at a bank.
Can I incur both fees?
Yes. Avoid this by choosing a credit card without foreign transaction fees and declining DCC if offered.
Compare cards for use in Greece
Consider getting a credit card without foreign transaction fees to save money on all of your purchases. In addition, you can save on flights with an airline cobranded credit card.
If you often travel to Greece, save money with these cards:
United Airlines is a member of the Star Alliance, which means you can earn and redeem miles on Turkish Airlines and Aegean Airlines flights between the US and Greece.
Delta Air Lines is a member of the SkyTeam Alliance, which also has a number of flights — including the partner French airline KLM — between the US and Greece.
Is it safe to use my credit card in Greece?
Greece is a safe country when it comes to credit cards. However, it’s always recommended to follow certain safety tips, such as:
Select ATMs with care. Opt for ATMs in banks rather than ones on the street. Bank ATMs are less likely to have card-skimming devices.
Take two cards. Ensure you’re covered with a backup card in case something happens to your primary card.
Keep your card in sight. When you give your card to the counter, make sure you keep an eye on it.
How to prepare before traveling to Greece
Get a credit card without foreign transaction fees. This way, you’ll avoid paying up to 3% fee for each transaction. That’s up to $150 for every $5,000 spent in Greece.
Visa and Mastercard are universally accepted. However, American Express owners could also find it easy to pay with their card. If you own a Discover card, look for the Diners Club logo.
Notify your bank. Otherwise, they might interpret purchases made abroad as fraudulent, and block your card.
Get your bank’s phone number. Resolve issues more quickly by simply calling.
Get a backup card. Keep it in your hotel room safe and use it in case something happens to your primary card.
Get some cash. Carry cash for incidentals or small restaurants and shops that may not accept credit cards.
Should I use my credit card to get cash in Greece
You’ll find ATMs in most Greek cities and resorts, including at train and bus stations, shopping malls and popular tourist destinations. Some ATMs may charge a withdrawal fee of around $2 to $3 per transaction and could have additional fees. As of February 2019, some customers claim that Alpha Bank ATMs haven’t imposed these fees, but this could change any moment.
Using a credit card to make cash withdrawals will incur a cash advance APR and a cash advance fee for cash withdrawal. Avoid paying these fees by using a debit card for ATM withdrawal.
Do taxis in Greece accept credit cards?
Some of the taxis have POS terminals. You can also try the Taxibeat app to get rides and pay through the app with your card.
Chip and PIN credit cards
Chip and PIN cards are widely used in Greece. You could use a chip-and-signature card, but to be on the safe side — ask your bank to provide you with a four-digit PIN for your card before traveling.
As a major tourist destination in Europe, Greece is a credit card-friendly country. You can easily pay with your card in your hotel, in restaurants, bars and even taxis as long as you use a Visa or Mastercard. Note, American Express and Discover have limited acceptance, although you can still find merchants that accept these cards.
Kliment Dukovski is a credit cards and investments writer. He's written over 600 articles to help readers find and compare the best credit cards. Kliment has also written on money transfers, home loans and more. Previously, he ghostwrote guides and articles on foreign exchange, stock market trading and cryptocurrencies.
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