Greece's economic instability might seem done and dusted, but once you touch down you'll find that the money situation isn't quite as black and white as it is in a lot of Europe.
Don't worry, though. We've got you covered so that you won't have to miss out on any top experiences because of potential cash woes. You can still visit the Acropolis in Athens or catch a ferry between the iconic islands of Santorini and Mykonos with ease.
Make sure that you're not paying more than you should and better understand how and when you should use cash with the help of our travel card and money comparison.
Compare your travel money options for Greece
Consider a travel card, debit card or credit card as well as a decent supply of cash for small purchases and emergencies. Travellers cheques are definitely out.
Travellers frequently look for advice and estimates about the cost of a holiday in Greece, or want to know how much money they should take. The answer is relative. Greece can be a great budget travel destination if you know how to do it. It can also be very expensive if you come with a short time to enjoy and a mood for indulgence.
Greece on a budget
Greece in luxury
On the street, Gyros will keep your tummy full, your spirits high and set you back only about $2-$3.
Traditional greek food and wine at one of the many restaurants. Estimate around $20-$30 dollars for a meal for two, and two glasses of wine.
Overlooking the sea at an upmarket fine dining establishment. The cost will depend on what you order, of course, but count in hundreds.
Walk around the fascinating ruins, wander through seaside towns and lounge on the beach. It's free!
Get a ferry ticket for an island hopping adventure, tickets are around $15- $50 depending on the length of the journey.
The mediterranean in real-time and retrace the voyages that defined seafaring ancient civilisations. Luxury cruises from Athens to Istanbul for around $3,500.
In one on Greece's many hostels targeted to young travellers on a budget. Prices vary depending on the season, and of course the location, but expect around $15 dollars for a dorm bed per night.
Some of the warmest hospitality you will find in Greece exists in the homely, cosy and authentic tavernas, low cost hotels. Costs will depend on the season and location but the price for a room is generally around $30 to $80 per night.
A suite with a sea view and a private pool in one of the 5 star hotels in Mykonos will set you back a cool AU$2,500 a night.
While there is no limit to the amount of cash you can bring into Greece, you must declare anything over 10,000 euros. Traveller's cheques, bank bills, personal cheques and money orders are all considered 'cash'. There are restrictions on the amount of money you can take out, but the majority of people don't need to worry about this limit.
Exchanging cash at Greek banks
Banks tend to have the best exchange rates and are open from 9am to 2pm. Come prepared for a wait; long lines are a frequent occurrence in Greek banks. Automatic foreign exchange machines are also a common feature in tourist centres. They can be a convenient and wait-free way to change your cash but be advised: they charge a sizable commission.
Exchange rate history
Greece is currently experiencing a period of unstable deflation and inflation. This is a result of the current economic crisis. The price of goods and services relative to the value of the currency is likely to change marginally in the future as the economy corrects itself.
Average annual exchange Australian Dollar (AUD) to Euro (EUR)
*Exchange rates are accurate as of 3 September 2017
Travel card, debit card or credit card?
Greece is a European Union member, euros have been the official currency of Greece since 2001. All travel cards let you load and spend using euros. The advantage of a travel card is you avoid the fee for international transactions. Some debit cards and credit cards also give you this feature — Travel cards aren't your only travel money option for Greece. If you have booked a holiday on a particular island that is a little more off the map, do a quick search before you go to see if it has an ATM. It will be a tiring first day if you need to take a boat back to the mainland so you can pay for your hotel or apartment.
You can pay your way in Greece a few different ways, so start comparing some of the options available on the Australian market to find the right combination for you:
Using a prepaid travel card
Travel cards let you load Australian dollars, transfer them to euros to spend in Greece. You can avoid currency conversion fees for purchases and ATM withdrawals, just watch out for reload fees and ATM fees (some travel cards waive these fees). Travel money cards make sense in a place like Europe. With so many countries so close together all using the same currency, a travel card gives you the freedom to explore Greece and the rest of the European continent without needing to change finance products.
Using a debit card
When you choose a debit card, currency conversion fees and foreign ATM transaction fees should be among the features you compare. The Citibank Plus Transaction Account cuts out a lot of the international charges so common among different personal finance products. For example, Citibank won't charge you for currency conversion, they don't charge for international ATM withdrawals and you can avoid the local ATM operator fee by using a Citibank ATM in Greece — In and around Athens and Thessaloniki, you should be able to find a Citibank ATM easily enough.
Using a credit card
Look out for cards that don't charge a currency conversion fee. If you only use your credit card to pay for over the counter purchases, use another type of card (debit or travel) to withdraw money from the ATM — cash withdrawals on credit are quick way to end up in debt. If you pay your balance off each month to take advantage of interest free days, credit cards can be a great travel money option for Greece. Some credit cards give you complimentary travel and purchase protection insurance when you meet conditions too. A credit card is also a good idea to have as a backup for a large or emergency purchases. Compare travel insurance policies for Greece.
Don't worry about traveller's cheques, the days of carrying a physical cheque are pretty much done. Credit, debit and travel card providers all give you a money back guarantee if you've genuinely been the victim of card fraud, such as skimming, and there are fewer places than ever where you can actually cash your cheques. Check our guide here on how to get your money back if you've been the victim of card fraud.
Paying with cash in Greece
Greece is a nation of a thousand islands famous for history, hedonism, nature and nightlife. Given the current economic climate, take heed of the following:
ATMs running dry
Reports during the peak tourist season of ATMs running out of cash on the weekend, and not being restocked until mid-week are common.
Always have an emergency supply of cash with you in Greece, and a back-up card you can use over the counter in case of emergencies.
Don't be afraid to try the ATMs that don't have signs written in english. Often, especially during tourist season, ATMs with english signs will run out of money first, and, even if the machine is in Greek, when you insert a foreign card, the ATM display will usually pop up in English.
Tip: Whether genuine or not, vendors in small shops that cater to tourists seemingly never have any change. If you are out to purchases little souvenirs, presents or other bits and pieces, better take a collection of smaller denominations with you to avoid the 'no-change situation'. You can change larger notes at banks, although even banks will sometimes be less than gracious about changing 500 euro notes.
Australian credit cards, debit cards and travel cards will work in Greece. The government has assured travellers capital control measures do not apply to transactions made with a debit or credit product issued in Australia.
ATMs may be short of cash. It's advised to take cash from Australia (Australian dollars or euros) so you don't run out.
Take a combination of travel money options to Greece. A combination of cash, credit, debit or travel cards is the best approach. You can compare these options on this page.
Economic uncertainty is the word in Greece at the moment. Euros in your pocket when you land can give you peace of mind for the start of your trip. Your bank will be able to give you euros in cash, but have a look at Travelex and Australia Post. Both these providers don't charge a commission and offer competitive rates of exchange. These providers even have outlets at Australia's major airports where you can grab your cash right before you hop on the plane.
Why you need a combination of travel money options
A combination of travel money products is the best way to finance your Greek trip, especially since there may be times when you can't get cash from an ATM. If this is the case, you'll need to rely on making over the counter purchases — a no currency conversion card is best in this situation. If you want to avoid paying ridiculous charges, never use your credit card at an ATM to get cash. This is a cash advance and there are fees and immediate interest charges to think about.
Interview with Jessica about travel money and her trip to Greece
Where did you go? Jessica visited Athens, the Greek capital and a large Greek island, Ios.
Why did you take these cards? Jessica took these two cards with her because they were the credit card and debit card she used in Australia. She also exchanged Australian dollars to euros before she left the country so she had a little money to pay for immediate expenses when she landed.
What about ATM withdrawals? She used her debit card to withdraw money from ATMs in Greece. Her Visa card worked at every ATM she tried to use. She looked for the Visa (Cirrus) logo on the front of the machine. Jessica says she didn't encounter any instances where the ATM was out of cash, although she had heard to watch out for this by other travellers she met along the way. She was charged an international and local ATM fee of about $10 each time she made an ATM withdrawal in addition to a currency conversion fee of 3%.
Where could you use your credit cards? Excluding her airfares to and from Greece, Jessica says she only used her credit card a few times during her holiday: to book a ferry ticket to and from Ios, to pay for her accommodation (Farout Beach Club) and to pay for dinner at a restaurant. She didn't try to use her card to pay for drinks while she was out, she paid cash and left her credit card at home. She describes these island clubs and bars as party focused and didn't want to take her credit card on a night out.
What do you think is the best travel money for Greece? She explains that she didn't have time to apply for a travel friendly account before she left on her holiday — her trip was a bit last minute. If she had her time again, Jessica says that she would have applied for an account which waives the currency conversion fee, international ATM fee — preferably both. She calculates she spent approximately $60 - $70 on international transaction and ATM charges over the course of a three week holiday.
Do you have any Greek travel money tips? Jessica says she got a better price paying cash in some places, especially on the smaller islands. She also recommends keeping €10 and €20 notes handy for shopping, she had a little trouble getting change for €50 when she was buying souvenirs in Ios.
Get travel insurance quotes for your holiday in Greece
Greece is a magical destination with much to discover for any kind of traveller. If you are planning a trip to Greece, do some research, have a think about what kind of trip you would like and choose a travel money product that suits you.
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