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Credit cards in Greece

I have been reading on some sites that many restaurants in Greece do not take credit cards and that we should make sure we have access to enough cash. Is this correct?

Posted by
1812 posts

I think it depends on where you are. Larger restaurants in large cities (i.e. Athens & Thessaloniki) will likely accept credit cards. On the islands, we always use cash in restaurants (and often for hotels as well).

Posted by
101 posts

We will be in Athens, Santorini, Crete and Rhodes.

Posted by
2858 posts

It's true that not all businesses accept CCs because the transaction fees are too high for many of the small, local merchants to absorb. There are ATMs, everywhere so you will definitely have access to cash as needed, though, so don't worry. Just be sure to notify your card's banks of your intention to use them in Greece so they don't freeze your accounts for suspicion of ID theft. And don't use your CC to get cash. Use your debit card or you will be charged an extra high interest rate plus a transaction fee for getting cash with your CC.

Posted by
1246 posts

John Any smarter restaurants that are catering for tourists will take credit cards. Unfortunately these are often the least interesting and most expensive! Smaller family run places are more interesting, cheaper and less likely to take cards. Lee's advice is good: there are plenty of ATMs and it is better to use cash. Alan

Posted by
101 posts

The problem is knowing how much cash to have available. Credit cards are so much easier to pay when you get back home.

Posted by
4522 posts

This is true for just about anywhere in Europe: many small family run businesses don't take credit cards and few places will accept CC payment for small purchases. Always make sure you have a reasonable amount of cash on you for such things. After a couple of days, you'll know how much cash you'll need for the day. And if you run low, hit the ATM.

Posted by
11261 posts

John: Since you will be in Greece for a while, just get several hundred euros from an ATM upon arrival. If you end up spending them, just get more as needed. If you don't spend them, you can always use them to pay your last hotel bill (putting any remaining balance on a credit card). You can also save euros for future trips, by you or by your friends, to any eurozone country (it's not like you'll be "stuck" with a currency that can only be used in one country).

Posted by
2556 posts

John, another consideration to weigh is the kind of credit card u have. If, due to your higher level of use, or annual fee, you have a "premium" card ("sapphire" etc) then it will cost no extra to use the card. But if like me, u have a "plain vanilla" CC, Visa or Mastercard, will stick you for 3% of every purchase. Thus, a €300 hotel bill costs you €309. In the US, this doesn't happen but overseas, yes. Why? Because they can. For a $9,000 trip, that's $270. Maybe not much to u, but it motivates me to hit the ATM & pay in Euros. NOTE: All us "biggie banks" charge a fee ($3-5) per withdrawal PLUS 3% of amount withdrawn, but you can find other local banks, or Credit Unions, that charge small fees & no percentage. It is all about being a savvy traveller. I also agree with the small "tavernas" are the most fun & authentic places to eat, and their prices are so modest, the % they have to pay the CC companies makes a big difference to them, so they require cash.

Posted by
6699 posts

I think a part of it is the merchants under-report their income and don't really like paying taxes..credit cards would make that harder to do

Posted by
101 posts

I can understand that many small businesses do not take credit cards. However, this post is about whether most restaurants in Greece take credit cards. I really can't tell from your answers. For example, in Athens would you say that at least 50% of the restaurants take credit cards? Is that the same for Santorini? Or would you say that 90% of the restaurants in both cities do not accept credit cards.

Posted by
1246 posts

In answer to that direct question I would say that in Athens, which I know best, 99% in Plaka (the most heavily touristed area) will take cards but that outside that area around 90% won't. I've only ever spent a week in Santorini but, given the high number of tourists, I would guess the situation is closer to that in Plaka and that the majority do. Alan