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ATM's on Camino

Discussion in 'Camino Frances' started by Pasha, Oct 12, 2017.

  1. Pasha

    Pasha Member

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    Sorry if this has been asked already... I'm just curious about access to ATMs along the camino? I'm not going till may but have been thinking carrying cash might not be the best option and do accommodations accept card payment?
    Thanks
     
  2. mspath

    mspath Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Generally the camino is a cash economy. Private tourist accommodations usually accept cards but at most albergues you pay in cash. ATMs are found in most of the major villages and towns. Never carry a lot of cash but always have some tucked away for emergencies.

    Whatever your budget and whichever card(s) you carry always have a stash of emergency cash. It need not be much say 4 × 20 and 2 × 10 euro notes. This stash might be very useful when an intense storm knocks all power out and no ATM works or during a long holiday weekend when the machines are 'milked dry'. As always it helps to be prepared!

    See this earlier form thread for more info re ATMs along the CF way.
    https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/atms-on-camino-frances.46635/
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2017
  3. trecile

    trecile Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Most albergues and small pensiones and hostales don't take cards.
    You don't need to carry a lot of cash. Most days you should be able to access an ATM, though there are some areas that are "ATM deserts". If you are starting in St. Jean, the Pilgrims office will give you a sheet of paper with a list of all towns, and what services and albergues they have. You can consult that to determine where to get cash.
     
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  4. Telelama

    Telelama Active Member

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    mspath covered the best parts, my only add would be to manage your money well so that you don't run out. It wasn't our experience that ATMs were available most days, rather more like a few days each week. We ran out in Atapuerco (should have got some in Belorado). We only had money to eat or to sleep, but not both. The only hotel that took a cc was full. Our only option was to taxi to Burgos for money, but to come back to Atapuerco same day might have risked no beds. We stayed the night in Burgos and taxied back to Atapuerco early the next morning to walk in Burgos.
     
  5. TMcA

    TMcA Active Member Donating Member

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    I hate to disagree with mspath, but I would carry 150-200 euros with me. I have found the maximum withdrawal in Spain for me is 300 euros. With that amount of cash, another town with an ATM is always within reach.

    I walk with my wife, so there is always someone to watch our stash of cash, credit cards, and passports when one of us showers. So I am not so worried about theft.

    Another tip mentioned earlier on this forum is to make withdrawals at a bank that is open...just in case the ATM machine eats your card. (This happened to me once, but the bank was open and the manager retrieved it.)

    Buen Camino. And welcome to the throwback cash economy.

    Tom
     
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  6. Telelama

    Telelama Active Member

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    Agree 100%, we always took out the max of 300 Euros. Never can tell when another ATM will show up... or not.
     
  7. november_moon

    november_moon Veteran Member

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    I also took out about 300 euro at a time and replenished before I got down to 100 euro. 100 euro will carry you for 2-5 days, depending on how cheaply you live - and you'll find an ATM by then. I also had a spare 50 euro note as a backup to give myself a couple more days if needed.

    There are definitely some ATM deserts, and then there are ATMs that don't work for some reason or another. It's always best not to run too low on cash.
     
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  8. trecile

    trecile Veteran Member Donating Member

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    I don't see a disagreement between you and mspath at all. She said not to carry a lot of cash, which could mean €500 to €1000.
     
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  9. davebugg

    davebugg Active Member Donating Member

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    Another thing to look at is whether or not your ATM card's bank is affiliated with one of the European banks with branches in Spain. If an affiliation exists, and if you use that affiliation's bank to do your withdrawls, it can save a bit of money on transaction and conversion fees. As an example, I opened a Bank of America account solely for the Camino because it is affiliated with Deutsche Bank. Branches all along the Camino, and if I had a problem, they can access my account in the bank itself just as if I were using a Bank of America at home.
     
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  10. trecile

    trecile Veteran Member Donating Member

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    And I use a Charles Schwab account for traveling because they refund all ATM fees.
     
  11. Kanga

    Kanga Moderator Staff Member Donating Member

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    Not many places are happy to take credit cards. It is definitely a cash economy. Using my debit card, some ATM's charge a withdrawal fee, some to do not. I tried not to let my cash fall under 100 euros, so that I had enough to skirt around until I could find a fee free ATM.
     
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  12. Rick of Rick and Peg

    Rick of Rick and Peg Veteran Member Donating Member

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    As a couple we always took 300 euros. I always wanted the same amount to make tracing withdrawals easier. Next time though it will be 280 for two reasons; that way I will get some 20s instead of all 50s and, not being the maximum withdrawal, I could see an illicit withdrawal more quickly.

    You are not going to find as many ATMs as you are used to seeing. Use one you find sometime before you think you need to.
     
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  13. Patch

    Patch Active Member

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    Some of the Albergues only charge 5 Euros.....nobody is surely going to pay for that with a card are they? I travel bymyself mainly and typically carry 100 to 200 Euros....to be honest thats no more then I would carry here in the UK. Cash machines are everywhere and provided they have a host of logos on them they all pay out cash. Big purchases (over 20 Euros) are as easy to pay by card as they are anywhere else in the world. I have UK cards but have never had very few problems withdrawing cash or paying by card anywhere - third world countries included. BTW Spain is first world country.
     
  14. james walter purdum iv

    james walter purdum iv Active Member

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    I withdrew 300 and it was manageable till I needed to re-up. Found no problems of theft but did leave my “small satchel with credit cards and pasportbon a pub bar and thankfully the owner came down the street to give it back to me. Just pay attention was my lesson
     
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  15. Tia Valeria

    Tia Valeria Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Mastercard have an ATM finder on their website, which also can be filtered to give 'free' ATM's. Visa probably have a similar facility but not the 'free' part as many of their ATMs do charge. Most cards are Mastercard or Visa affiliated.
     
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  16. sulu

    sulu Veteran Member

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    The other thing to consider is changing the wretched €50 notes. Think ahead about the notes you are carrying, small bars don't want a big note for a cup of coffee and if an albergue is 'donativo' it is sensible to have smaller denomination notes, particularly if it is a 'put in a box' donation. Some banks are nice and will change notes for you but try not to be left with just 50s at a weekend.
     
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  17. mspath

    mspath Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Sulu is so right! Always keep some euro bills in small denominations; breaking a 50 euro bill in a remote village can be impossible! However, gas stations will often make change even if you don't buy gas!
     
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  18. Stephen

    Stephen Active Member

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    And now the Portuguese from Lisbon.
    In a town with no ATM a local shop might offer 'cashback'
    Some on the Via de la Plata, where I am now, do.
     
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  19. JulieandPeter

    JulieandPeter Active Member

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    One of the ATM deserts is between Astorga and Ponferrada (for us slow pokes that is three days of walking and nights where we needed cash, so we ran out of money). Molinasesa, about 5 miles before Ponferrada, is a beautiful, fairly large town and a great place to stay the night, however, with zero Euros to spare, we learned it does not have an ATM.

    We ended up walking to Ponferrada (no money for bus or cab although I am sure someone would have happily given us a ride if we had asked) to get cash and then taxied back to Molinaseca (yet another disadvantage of booking ahead). It worked out fine because while searching for a bank we were able to explore Ponferrada which we would have just walked right through the next day, as well as enjoy a warm evening next to the river in Molinaseca later that night.

    We probably could have paid for everything we needed in Molinaseca with a credit card, but we were not comfortable having no money at all. Our general rule of thumb is when you see an ATM, get some cash. :) Buen Camino!
     
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  20. mspath

    mspath Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Ĺast time I walked in Molinaseca there was an ATM but it was well hidden.

    Walking into there early on a frosty Sunday morning November 2014 I met another woman pilgrim who was worried since she had run out of funds. Upon arrival in town all appeared closed as we searched high and low for either an ATM or for someone to ask; nada.

    Luckily one pharmacy was open 7/7 and the multi lingual pharmacist directed us to the village ATM hidden on the elementary school facade! Her gentle kindness will be long remembered.
     
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  21. JulieandPeter

    JulieandPeter Active Member

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    A kind and knowledgeable multilingual pharmacist! We expected to find an ATM in Molinaseca because our guidebook advised us there would be one. We asked several locals and they all told us the closest one was in Ponferrada, however, it is very, very likely that we asked if there was a "banco" in town because of our limited Spanish and not an atm (which according to Google is cajero automático) which would explain why we were not directed to the elementary school.

    Learn how to say ATM in Spanish is yet another good lesson to be gleaned from our day in Molinaseca along with don't prebook, never get down to zero euros, and if you do, don't worry, it will be okay. :)

    EDIT: Following up on our conversation, I checked with the tourist office in Molinaseca and asked about the information in my guidebook as well as the school ATM, their response, "There was an atm some years ago, but nowadays there isn't. So, I think the information you have is outdated. You can find it in Ponferrada, it's the next town. Have a nice day."
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2017
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  22. oursonpolaire

    oursonpolaire Veteran Member

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    I, too, had been told by the good people of Molinaseca that there were no ATMs, but my pension most wonderfully said that they would trust me for it, and to deposit the sum in their account when I hit Ponferrada. Thanks to mspath for the information and, as always, to the pharmacist who, in Spain, is always an extraordinary resource.
     
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  23. peregrina2000

    peregrina2000 Moderator Staff Member Donating Member Donating Member

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    Is it possible that the multi-lingual pharmacist you remember in Molinaseca is married to an American man whom I met in Molinaseca in either 2000 or 2004 and who was married to a Spanish pharmacist?!!!!
     
  24. Kanga

    Kanga Moderator Staff Member Donating Member

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    Some people have amazing memories.... Sorry to be off topic but I am so impressed.
     
  25. Pasha

    Pasha Member

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    Thanks for reply mspath once I know I'll be fine
     
  26. Pasha

    Pasha Member

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    Thanks Tom
     

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