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ATM's in Mykonos, Santorini and Crete

Hello. My wife and I are traveling to Greece in mid-September for two weeks, visiting the islands mentioned. We don't want to take a lot of cash with us and are afraid that our U.S. Visa may not be accepted in may places outside of our hotel.

We are thinking of obtaining a pre-paid ATM debit card that charges no foreign transaction fees, but wanted to know if anyone has used this technique and can offer any advice on which ones may be worthwhile obtaining, based on which ones are used in the islands mentioned.

We are researching the Chase Liquid prepaid ATM debit card, but thought we should ask experienced Greek travelers how they managed their funds as they needed to obtain more while hopping around the Greek islands.

Posted by
3134 posts

I don't know about prepaid cards. I use my regular debit cards to get cash whenever I'm in Greece. Greek banks don't charge any transaction fees so I found 2 US banks that don't either, and the only fees are the 'hidden' ones that the credit card companies charge (VISA & Mastercard -- 1%), not the banks. I go with Capital One and Charles Schwab.

Posted by
4174 posts

I checked into a prepaid debit card once and there was a charge just for getting the card. There was also the issue that if it was lost, the money is gone, even if no one tries to use it. Another issue was that we could not add money to it if needed. That was a long time ago, so things may have changed. Before committing the funds, other things to consider would be potential daily withdrawal limits and branding.

We travel with 2 debit cards each. They are Visa and MC branded from 2 separate credit unions. When I consulted with both CUs about our coming trip to Greece and Turkey with a day going and coming in Italy, one of the CUs had no problem with any of the countries. The other was only concerned about Italy (!).

Can you guess that the Italy-fearing CU is the same one that has the ridiculously low daily withdrawal limit that they refuse to raise "to protect us from fraud"?

Posted by
2788 posts

We were in Greece in May and June of this year. We used Debit Cards tied to two different bank's checking accounts. Never had a problem. Then again, we go to Europe every summer for a month in 12 of the last 13 years and have only had one problem using debit cards tied to checking accounts in all of those years. That one problem was the fault of a bank here in Seattle with whom we no longer do business. Thankfully, we had two debit cards, one for a back-up. I hope that you are aware that using a credit card to get money from an ATM is considered a "cash advance" by most every financial institution with its outragious fees and exchange rates.
If you have a checking account with a financial institution here in the US, check with them about getting a debit card tied to your checking account.

Posted by
3134 posts

And be sure to notify your banks of your intention to use your debit cards while traveling so they don't freeze the accounts for suspicion of fraud or ID theft.

Posted by
11294 posts

As the posts above indicate, the best way to get cash is with an ATM card, not with a prepaid debit card, as the former method usually has much lower fees.

I don't know where you live or what your current bank is. Start by calling them and finding out their fees for foreign ATM withdrawals. If it's high (my Chase account charges $5 plus 3% for every foreign withdrawal), investigate setting up another account, even if you just use if for travel. Credit unions and Charles Schwab have already been mentioned, and I use TD Bank (no percentage fee; $3 per foreign withdrawal for basic accounts, or $0 for fancier accounts). If you live near a TD Bank, you can set up an account and get you ATM card on the spot (branches have a machine to make your ATM card, so there's no waiting to get it in the mail).

Here's Rick's page of links to his money tips. Read all the links, and you'll be an expert: http://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/money

Posted by
23466 posts

Historically the prepaid debit card has had a lot of fees attached - some hidden and some stated. It doesn't have the same protection under banking laws because it is a gift card and not a credit instrument. The best bet for cash is always a debit card at a bank owned ATM.

Posted by
123 posts

I echo the comments above. The pre-paid cards usually not only carry fees but also give you a bad exchange rate so each time you use the card you are losing a small amount of money. Take out somewhat large amounts of cash with each withdrawal to limit the fees your bank might have for international withdrawals. ATMs are also guaranteed to give you the best exchange rate. Use cash for as many purchases as possible and save your credit card usage for larger purchases. As said before, ATMs are all over the place and will nearly always accept our ATM/debit cards. I usually look for one attached to a bank though. Have a great time.

Posted by
272 posts

been to mykonos the last 3 summers. last summer also included crete. summer before included santorini. i have a chase debit card. no problems at all. ATM machines are plentiful and i was able to access cash with no issue. can't comment on the "no fee card" part of your inquiry as i just used my regular debit card. just wanted to add my two cents in case you do wonder about just using a regular debit card.

Posted by
11 posts

I've traveled to Greece (and other European hotspots) with my local ATM credit union debit card with never a problem. The same was true with the 50 plus students I had with me on various tours.The only problems any of us ever had are detailed below:
1. One girl's prepaid card wouldn't work. She's the only student that I ever had carry one. 2. One student left his card somewhere and had trouble contacting bank because of the time difference. He contacted his mom and she dealt with it. Message is always have someone at home who could do that if you are afraid of a problem. 3. If you are waiting for a direct deposit, don't forget that time lag.
I personally traveled with a visa that a used for purchases and a MC debit card that I used to pull out cash. The visa had slightly better transaction rates, but I never used it to get cash.