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ATMs in Greece, should I get Euros before our trip or at the airport etc.

Hi all- we are going to Greece March 28 and was wondering if I should get euros at home or in Greece, Belgium, Netherlands and Paris? Any cheap suggestions for banks to go through would be helpful, thanks

Posted by
16768 posts

I would get cash from ATMs starting in Greece and of course more as you need it. It doesn't much matter which European bank owns the cash machine. Some will give you more or less cash in a single transaction. They don't tend to add fees, unless they're an off-brand machine inside a convenience store, or similar. Your entire transaction should always be in euros. Do not allow the machine to translate the withdrawal amount into dollars, which is called Dynamic Currency Conversion and doesn't use as good a rate as you'd otherwise get through the same machine. See more at https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/money/cash-machine-atm-tips.

Posted by
4504 posts

Cheri,

To add to Laura's great advice.

You'll get the best exchange rate when you get the local currency from a local ATM.

Having said this, I always take around €100 from the U.S. just so I don't have to stress trying to find an ATM upon my arrival.

I also like to use bank ATM's, preferably the ones inside the bank, just in case I run into problems, such as the ATM "swallowing" my debit card.

I also take 2 debit cards and 2 credit cards (from separate bank accounts) in case I encounter any issues... Fortunately, this hasn't happened.

Edit to add:

A couple more things...

  • Find out what your daily cash withdrawal limit is and consider increasing it.
  • Make sure you notify your bank(s) regarding your travel plans.
Posted by
2525 posts

If I don't have the local currency in hand from a prior trip, I just gain such at a bank ATM at the arrival airport. Never a problem in all my years and in many countries not on the euro. Worst case, never happened, just convert a few dollars to the local currency at a change booth until I find a functioning ATM. Good advice to use ATMs at banks during open hours. I recommend Schwab Bank...free to set up, free to maintain, no foreign transaction fees for their VISA debit/ATM card, and any fees assessed by using ATMs are rebated. Another nice feature, the two cards used by my wife and I have different numbers, so if one is non-functional or compromised, the other one can still do the trick. Can easily set up without being near a branch.

Posted by
132 posts

We always travel with some local currency.

I appreciate that you can save money by purchasing currency at a local ATM, but we like the comfort of not having to source money upon our arrival. Yes we pay a small premium, but for 100 Euros, what is the premium you pay.

It really is your choice, but whatever you do will not significantly affect the cost of your trip.

Posted by
2313 posts

The previous poster is right. Land with Euros in your pocket, 100-200. You're in Seattle so plenty of banks can sell you those. I've found Wells Fargo to be the easiest. Then, when you are settled in your hotel, find an ATM associated with a bank and get as much as you feel comfortable carrying.

Posted by
962 posts

My last time landing in Athens I used my Citibank ATM card to get Euros at a Citibank stand alone machine in the arrival area and got a terrible exchange rate and a fee as well. It was about 8 years ago, so things may have changed, but now I bring at least 100 Euros (or more, usually left over from a previous trip) and wait for an actual physical bank ATM in town.
Right now my local Wells Fargo is selling Euros for about the same as I would be paying in Europe (taking into account the 3% plus $5 per transaction.) So I'll bring a few hundred more than I usually would and be able to relax and find a bank when it's more convenient.
Others here on the forum can suggest cheaper banks to use but I've had my accounts for a long time ...

Posted by
63 posts

thanks for the info...i plan on getting some euros before we go just to have money handy...

Posted by
6543 posts

My problem with a bank like Wells Fargo is they'll take advantage of you on exchange rates, etc. if you order Euros through them. Even to use their ATM card is $5 plus a 3% discount--outrageous.
I do carry their ATM card, but I load another credit union ATM account with funds prior to leaving for my trip.
And don't forget to use ATM cards from a real bank--not from Travelex or American Express bank machines. They're available in all airports and many train stations.
If I have Euros on me when I arrive in Europe, it's leftover from last year's trip. When we're traveling, we use a Capital One Venture card that pays back funds for future travel. And we charge every thing possible--using as little cash as possible. That lets us use the ATM card very minimally.

Posted by
2525 posts

The current rate for euro from Wells Fargo is $1.1132 v. $1.063494 (VISA network ATM). If ordering by mail from Wells Fargo, add another $15.00.

@ SharYn: your comment about the "terrible exchange rate" at a Ciitbank ATM using a Citibank card is is perplexing. More details?

Posted by
962 posts

Bruce, it was about 8 years ago and I really don't remember the details, just the unhappy surprise. I usually use my Wells Fargo card and had the Citi one as a backup. I hadn't investigated the terms of overseas usage and I think I thought there would be no fee since the machine "belonged" to the same bank as the card. It was an impulsive act on my part, arriving jet lagged and needing cash and thinking " Oh, this will be great." And it wasn't.
I've used other ATMs in the lots of different airports but I know what to expect.
As for WF and getting Euros in advance, the bank is 1 mile from my house and they have them on site, so no shipping. I'm sure other banks offer a similar service.
( On this upcoming trip I am staying in a convent and need to pay in cash on arrival. Otherwise I'd be content with my seed money left from my last trip.)

Posted by
167 posts

If you or a family member has a credit union bank account you may be able to order euros at no charge ar the current exchange rate. My credit union charges me nothing for the transaction,usually can pick them up in 3-4 days. I always do this so I have euros with me and can take my time to get more from an ATM when I need more. Personally I would nevet get euros at an airport or anywhere that is not physically conected to a bank unless it was an emergency situation.

Posted by
2525 posts

Saving euro from a trip to the next trip in the eurozone is standard procedure for me, however not all trips start or end where euro is the local currency. Further, while using a bank related ATM physically tied to the bank and during open hours is the ideal, I've NEVER had a problem finding a functioning ATM at airports around the world. I always carry some cash and can exchange a small amount to get by and pay the related premium. By easily avoiding fees, etc., I'm able to buy additional travel.

Posted by
64 posts

Before you return to the US, bring home €s with you because the exchange rate is really beneficial toward the $. You'll then have a head start on your next trip to Europe.

Please explain this to me as I have a similar question in another post.

Posted by
16771 posts

I think what MrsEB means is that a lot of us remember when it cost $1.30 to $1.40 (or perhaps more) to buy 1 euro, so we are very pleased at being able to get euros out of European ATMs at a cost of about $1.06 each. We figure (we may well be wrong) that our cost to get euros may go up in the future because of a weakening of the dollar, so we are happy to come home with some euro currency to be used at the beginning of our next trip.

Even if you figure the conversion rate will stay close to where it is today, bringing home some euros from a European bank ATM is nearly always less expensive than buying them at home. Some suppliers may say they do not charge a fee. That does not mean they are giving you as good an exchange rate as the bank ATMs in Europe. It just means they aren't adding on a fee of X% or $5, etc.

Posted by
210 posts

What Priscilla said.

Plus......

I do not like to waste time searching for a "cheaper" ATM. I want to be doing other things.

I also keep about 40-50 euros when I return home. This gives me more of an incentive to go back to somewhere in Europe and spend it next year. Plus....I have my taxi fare when my plane lands on the next trip. I can get out of the airport faster and stand in line at the ATM machines.

Posted by
4 posts

Be careful of ATMs in Greece and Rome, especially - 2 friends just had their debit cards "skimmed" by readers - next thing you know, someone was using the Bank of The Phillipines to suck out their funds. Be uber careful...