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Amount of euros to bring on a Greece trip

I was reading an article where it was recommended that one brings the full amount of euros needed for a trip because of the possible shortage of money in the banks when you may need to use your ATM card to withdraw money. It stated gas stations may not accept credit cards and same for merchants and restaurants. That being said, I was wondering if anyone has been to Greece in the past month or two and if obtaining money at an ATM was problematic for you, or you found places I mentioned did not accept credit cards. We are leaving May 25 for a 2 wk. trip to Athens, Santorini and the Peloppennese and it seems like an awful lot of euros to be carrying around for a 2 wk. trip. But if we must then we must. What do you think? Thanks for your help!

Posted by
5450 posts

We were in Athens recently and had no issues getting cash from ATMs.

Posted by
7050 posts

I think you're thinking of the time before Greece got bailed out again and had currency limits at ATMs...that should not be the case now and you shouldn't feel the need to carry cash beforehand.

Posted by
1396 posts

I was in Athens a fortnight ago and had absolutely no problem drawing money from ATMs. There is still a limit for Greek citizens but has never been one for tourists: the government is desperate for the the income.

Have a great trip.


Posted by
3130 posts

Even during the worst part of the economic crisis in Greece there was usually money available in the ATMs, and foreign tourists had no limits put on the use of their debit cards while Greeks did have limits imposed. Any problems were caused by local panic that only lasted as long as it took for the Greek public to realize that things were improving as the crisis progressed. I think the worst case was long lines and one or two banks closing for a day or two, but that was it. Anyway, it's all in the past now.

Posted by
5837 posts

Grexit is no longer daily financial news. The refugee crisis is the new daily headlines.

While Greek bank liquidity is no longer daily news, Greece is still in search of a solution to their financial issues.

EU-Turkey deal fails to stem refugee flight to Greece
Reuters March 21, 2016

Under the European Union deal with Turkey, all migrants and refugees,
including Syrians, who cross to Greece illegally by sea from March 20
will be sent back to Turkey once they are registered and their asylum
claims have been processed.

That is expected to take effect from April 4, by which time Greece
must have in place a fast-track process for assessing asylum claims.
The EU has pledged to help Greece set up a task force of some 4,000
staff, including judges, interpreters, border guards and others to
manage each case individually.

On the front line: Greece’s biggest banks may appear to be out of danger, but they are not
Economist March 12, 2016

On the face of things, Greece’s four big banks are in their best shape
in years. In November they received their third bail-out in as many
years. The extra €14.4 billion ($15.9 billion) they got then (some of
it from private investors) raised their capital ratios to 18%, well
above the European average of 13%. Recent legal changes make it easier
for them to repossess collateral and to sell loans to third parties.
Better yet, recent data suggest the economy shrank by only 0.2% last
year, much less than initially feared. The Bank of Greece predicts
that growth could return as early as this summer. After eight years of
crisis and recession, normality at last seems within reach.

But beneath the cushion of fresh capital, cracks remain. Greek banks
are still losing money. Piraeus Bank, the country’s second-largest
lender, this week reported a net loss of €1.9 billion in 2015.
Deposits have barely begun to grow again after last year’s run; the
capital controls it prompted remain in place. Fully 40% of loans and
55% of mortgages are not being paid down, compared with a European
average of 5%. Big losses on non-performing loans (NPLs) and debt
securities could erode the banks’ capital once again. Greece is rowing
with the other members of the euro zone about the conditions of its
bail-out, raising the spectre of another crisis. A fourth
recapitalisation is not out of the question, says Josu Fabo of Fitch,
a rating agency. The markets remain nervous: bank shares are down by
36% since the start of the year.

The banks are largely innocent bystanders in the endless back and
forth between the Greek government and its creditors....

Posted by
326 posts

Many smaller businesses in Greece do not accept credit cards. Just something to consider when planning.

Posted by
1068 posts

Don't believe every article you read. Most experienced travelers, IMHO, have little difficulty withdrawing the appropriate local currency from ATMs when they arrive at their destination.

Posted by
5837 posts

RE: Many smaller businesses in Greece do not accept credit cards.

It seems that times may be a changing at least with respect to debit cards:

Excerpts from the CS article:

A SHIFT IN THOUGHT When banks set limits on cash withdrawals last
year, many Greeks adopted plastic payments for the first time – laying
a paper trail that could bring light to Greece's 'shadow economy.'

For all of the hardship that capital controls have placed on Greek
society, there’s been one upside: across generations and class and for
differing motivations, more Greeks are turning to plastic, in a nation
where cash has always reigned. It’s what Aristides Hatzis, an
associate professor of law and economics at the University of Athens,
calls an eight-month “natural experiment in cards.”

Shift in practice Greece’s cash-loving culture is deeply rooted.
Ninety percent of payments are made in cash, according to Visa Europe.
In 2013, Greeks made the least number of digital transactions per
inhabitant in the European Union, according to the latest EU figures.

Still, the financial situation forced a clear shift in practice.
According to Visa Europe, the use of Visa cards in general increased
by 80 percent in the second half of 2015, compared to the same period
of 2014. For debit cards specifically, the increase was 265 percent.
With capital controls still in place, limiting withdrawals to 420
euros a week for the foreseeable future, such tendencies are expected
to grow, especially as more card terminals are installed.

... the number of card terminals used in the Greek market continues to
rise, with some 250,000 in use today, up from 157,000 in 2014. The
group aims to add an additional 80,000 terminals by end of this year
as they attempt to cover the entire market of 450,000 small

Posted by
83 posts
  1. Are Greek business' interested in the US dollar or just the Euro?

  2. What have the fees at the ATM's been like?

Posted by
1382 posts

Just the Euro.
I don't actually recall the fee but one just has to look at it as a cost of the vacation. We take out enough euros to last us for three or four days to minimize the number of ATM withdrawals but don't carry large amounts of cash. That is simply not a good idea.

Posted by
3335 posts

Steve, your question sounds like something from the late 1940s (when the dollar was THE universal currency, post WW II -- a carton of cigarettes worked at that time too). No of course the Greeks ( and the French,Germans, Italians, Spanish, Dutch etc), want only their currency, not yours. The fee to exchange $$ for €€ at their banks would be prohibitive. Imagine if, at your local diner, someone wanted to pay for lunch with some Euros. Of course they wouldn't take them, and that wouldn't surprise anybody.

Also stanbr is right, use your ATM card to withdraw a sufficient amount to carry you for a few days. Since this will be your first trip, a few tips: if your account is a "plain garden variety" with no special perks, ask a bank staffer straight out -- what are the charges/fees for ATM use abroad. All the "biggie banks" are greedy -- they not only charge about $5 for each transaction, but also 3% (!!) of the amount withdrawn. Thus, getting $300 worth of Euros would cost you $9. Wow. It's worthwhile to think about getting a no-fee account Strictly for travel-abroad purposes (either an online bank like Capital One, or a Credit Union account). Also, whatever account you use, NOTIFY them you'll be withdrawing funds in Europe from (date) to (date). Otherwise, as a fraud precaution, the bank would freeze your account on the first withdrawal attempt. In my many trips to Greece, I use a credit-union ATM card, w. no transaction fee, and carry my "biggie bank" ATM card just as a fallback.

Ah, you may say, well, I'll just avoid all that by using my credit card at all times. Not a complete answer. FIrst of all, in USA most places now will take your CC for as minor a purchase as candy or coffee, and -- if you pay your account off in full each month, there is NO fee to you at all. However that same CC ( if it's a "plain garden-variety" on a "biggie bank) when used abroad, will charge you 3% of every purchase. Thus, if you stay at a hotel 9 days @ $100 nightly = $900, add on $30. Why? Because they can, no other reason. And $30 can be a nice meal for 2 at a Greek taverna! If you begrudge this fee, same answer as above... either get a CC from a Credit Union, online bank or other lowfee/no-fee institution, or else upgrade current "biggie bank" CC to a more privileged level. If you don't want to do that, restrict CC use for important purchases. Awareness and consumer savvy is everything.

Posted by
3130 posts

There are no transaction fees from the ATMs owned and operated by the Greek banks. It's your bank that may impose such a fee. Mine (Charles Schwab & Capital One) do not.

Posted by
3 posts

No worries about the money. There are ATM's everywhere even in the little villages so it would be nor problem ;)

Posted by
11507 posts

The US dollar.. no.. no one wants them.. especially small businesses..

We bring about 100 to 200 euros to start trip with.. just to get taxis from airport and first coffee break.. then we find an ATM..