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How much cash to bring

Hi,

Traveling to Greece later this month, how much cash should I be bringing? From Athens, I'll be going to a mix of islands for 2 weeks or so. I've read some articles saying bring as much as you are going to spend the whole trip. Is that too much or does that number seem right?

Thanks!

Posted by
21863 posts

First, the general recommendation is zero to hundred Euro. After that use a debit card at a bank owned ATM to get all the local currency you need. The cheapest and most convenient way to obtain local cash is a debit card at bank owned ATM in the country. Given some of Greece's recent banking problems, I might be tempted to bring maybe 200 Euro. Greece needs that tourist dollar so I assume that they will keep the ATMs full in the tourists areas.

Posted by
4 posts

We will be in Greece in Sept and will bring plenty of Euros in a money belt. I am also going to try a different approach to a Visa card this time. I don't like using a debit or Visa card attached to my personal bank due to the high limits/high risk. I have tried a bank travel account and their fees to have the card were huge and they wanted me to have $1500 in the account at all times, so I closed that account. This time I will get a AAA travel money card for myself and another for my husband, so we have 2 different cards. The fees aren't any worse than the old travelers checks of days gone by and when I return, I can use the cards locally to draw out the unused money. We travel much internationally, China, Russia, Europe, Mexico in the past 2 years and want to have ready access to cash. I hope this approach works. Have any others tried the AAA.com Visa travel money?

Posted by
2901 posts

I usually use an ATM card attached to a separate Credit Union bank account (because there are NO % and only a $2 transaction fee), which I use ONLY for my trips, and has only my money for the trip. I do carry 2 back=up ATM cards on accounts in other banks, just in case. The AAA visa card sounds over-costly frankly.

Posted by
650 posts

@Mary, I used the AAA visa card last year in Paris and Switzerland along with my debit card. It worked perfectly and I didn't think the cost was an issue at all.

Posted by
1940 posts

It couldn't hurt to bring a couple hundred Euros with you. But I believe that ATMs in Greece are now working normally. From what I've read, you may find an occasional ATM out of cash, but that can happen anywhere. To reassure yourself, if you're still worried, you could email a couple of your hotels (in Athens and islands) and ask what the ATM situation currently is. Be aware that many restaurants (and some small hotels) do not accept credit cards so you will need plenty of cash.

It would be very helpful if you would report back and let other travelers know about the ATM situation, once you get there (or soon after your return).

In case you're tempted by the prepaid American Express card mentioned above, there was a long discussion of it within the last week and the consensus is that it's a bad idea. Here's a link to that thread.

I do what Janet does ... I have a separate checking account with ATM cards that we use only for travel. Ours is through USAA Federal Savings Bank. Anyone can open an account there. It's totally free ... no monthly charges. No minimum deposit. No ATM fees. No foreign transaction fees. I think there's a small foreign currency conversion fee. We have this account linked to our everyday checking account, so we can automatically transfer money back and forth as needed. Easy and secure. We have one account, but they gave me and my husband each a separate account number, so if we lose one card we can still use the other. And like Janet, we do carry a back-up ATM card as well, as well as a couple of credit cards.

Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
2 posts

I was intrigued by the VISA AAA card, but I just looked it up and it has the same fees as my debit card: 3% transaction fee plus ATM fee. All the regular banks seem to have switched to the foreign transaction fee, so using a credit union seems like a good future plan.

Posted by
975 posts

We never bring any Euros with us. We wait until we arrive at the Athens airport, leave the arrivals area and go to the ATMs there. It's quick, easy, and low cost. Our bank in the US charges a huge fee to get Euros regardless of what the rate is. Rather than spending money on an unnecessary fee we just go the airport ATMs. Never had a problem with safety. Since the economic crisis in Greece is letting up travelers will have no problem getting Euros out of ATMs. We normally withdraw about 400 euros when we arrive, enough for paying for any hotel that doesn't take Credit Cards, eating, drinking, shopping, etc. When we run low on Euros we go to a local ATM and withdraw cash. It's quick, simple, and saves on any transactions fees. Just make sure you let your local bank know where you are going and the dates and you'll have no problems.

Posted by
4535 posts

Although the banking crisis has mostly passed for now, it still may be a good idea to bring a $200 worth of euro with you. I'd keep that as a reserve until the end of your trip, then spend it the last few days or to pay off part of your hotel. That way, if you do find an empty ATM, you'll have cash.

Even during the height of the crisis, foreigners were allowed to withdraw cash from ATMs (within the standard limits). It was only citizens who were restricted in cash withdrawls. But some ATMs were running out of cash.

Posted by
75 posts

I am in Greece right now with a RS tour. I brought euros with me due to all the comments and hype but it wasn't necessary. All the ATMs are working fine. Just make sure your atm card has a chip on it. Some ATMs accept a debit card without a chip but most require it. That goes for London also were a chip is required. I have a chip on my Visa card so it hasn't been a problem. You will have a blast in Greece and the only thing I wish I didn't bring was the sweater I have never used. The temp averages between 90 and 100 so hanging out in the Aegean during the day is the best way to keep cool.
Liam

Posted by
672 posts

Liamof,
Our ATM cards don't have chips in them and they've worked fine all over Europe. Are you using a Visa card in ATM machines? I'm leaving for Greece next week and I want to be sure I understand what you're saying.

Posted by
2951 posts

ATM cards without a chip work just fine, don't worry. Just be sure to notify your bank of your travel itinerary so your card accounts aren't frozen due to suspicion of ID theft.

Posted by
672 posts

Thanks, Lee. We've always found that true, too. We do have ATM cards with chips coming, but not in time for our next trip.

Posted by
2901 posts

Nancy, as Lee said, ATM cards WITHOUT chips work just fine! If you are planning to use credit cards also, most larger places will Visa & Mastercard CCs .... but not the cute little 6-room B & B on the water in a small island, or the tiny taverna on a beach... their prices are low & the owners can't much afford the % charged them by card companies. Otherwise, the only place than a non-chip card is a problem is an automated-pay petrol station on a big highway that requires CCs with chip & PIN.

Posted by
4 posts

I just returned from Greece last week and had no trouble getting money. I did take 700 Euros with me just in case, but hit up three separate ATM machines with a Visa card with no chip, and had no problems. I also tried to pay with cash as much as possible for my spending so merchants didn't need to wait for credit card transactions to clear. This was on the Cyclades islands.

I did not get any money in Athens and was told by someone I met on a tour that his credit card was 'eaten' by an ATM at the airport, so make sure you have alternate plans for cash. I usually go to ATMs at banks that are open to avoid this situation.

If you want to take some money with you before you go and belong to AAA, you can order money from them at a decent exchange rate and there's no fee over a certain dollar amount.

Enjoy your trip! The food and wine are fabulous there and the people could not have been any nicer. If you're going to Santorini, make sure to go to Santo Winery to see the sunset - spectacular!