Search 62305 Camino Questions

Best U.S. $$$ Denominations

John Petersen

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Fall if 2023
I understand that U.S. $$$ can be used while on the way. What are the best denominations to carry?
$1. $5. $10. $20. $50. $100 bills
 
How to avoid failure "be prepared"
3rd Edition. More content, training & pack guides avoid common mistakes, bed bugs etc

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
Nope. Euros are the currency of Spain. Dollars are not accepted nor easily exchanged. Your best bet is to use a no fee debit card at ATMs. I use a Schwab account debit card which charges no fees and rebates all ATM charges worldwide.

You can find other threads with the tag "money/banking/budget" here.
 

TravellingMan2022

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Norte
I understand that U.S. $$$ can be used while on the way. What are the best denominations to carry?
$1. $5. $10. $20. $50. $100 bills
Hi John. Welcome. Please don’t take this wrong way but be careful where you source information from. Here is generally a good option. I note your other post was on a thread about some wildly inaccurate credit card info. Cheers!
 
2023 Camino Guides
The 2023 Camino guides will be coming out little by little. Here is a collection of the ones that are out so far.

truenorthpilgrim

Camino Mermaid 🧜🏻‍♀️
Time of past OR future Camino
CF 2016, 2019. LePuy 2019, CF February 2023
There are parts of the world that do take USD of course, but trust me the exchange rate and ‘rounding up’ won’t be to your benefit!! Not to be confused with countries where the USD is official currency, such as Ecuador.

Yes, I know when I landed in Vietnam a few years ago I had to present a crisp $50 USD to airport immigration along with my passport to finalize my visa, as well as exchange Vietnamese currency to USD at a jewelry store for something else.

My question was where did the OP hear that US currency was accepted on the camino?
 
Last edited:
How to Successfully Prepare for Your Camino
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
There are parts of the world that do take USD of course, but trust me the exchange rate and ‘rounding up’ won’t be to your benefit!! Not to be confused with countries where the USD is official currency, such as Ecuador.
Most resort areas in Mexico accept USD, but you'll pay more than if you use pesos.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
cycled from Pamplona Sep 2015;Frances, walked from St Jean May/June 2017. Plans to walk Porto 2020
Yes, I know when I landed in Vietnam a few years ago I had to present a crisp $50 USD to airport immigration along with my passport to finalize my visa, as well as exchange Vietnamese currency to USD at a jewelry store for something else.

My question was where did the OP hear that US currency was accepted on the camino?

East Africa and South and East Asia are a totally different world to Spain, France and Portugal. In my travels in these three countries since the introduction of the Euro I have only seen the E notes and coins accepted.
 
Camino Jewellery
A selection of Camino Jewellery

truenorthpilgrim

Camino Mermaid 🧜🏻‍♀️
Time of past OR future Camino
CF 2016, 2019. LePuy 2019, CF February 2023
East Africa and South and East Asia are a totally different world to Spain, France and Portugal. In my travels in these three countries since the introduction of the Euro I have only seen the E notes and coins accepted.

As I replied to another commenter above, I'm aware of what countries can accept USD and yes, that Spain is different than SE Asia (where I lived for 2 years).

I was asking the OP where they heard that US dollars were accepted on the camino.
 
Last edited:

jeanineonthecamino

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances 2021, Norte/Primitivo 2022, VF 2023
There are parts of the world that do this, however they tend to gauge you in price when they do. In Europe I have never found it helpful to carry USD. Go to your bank and order Euros if they don't have any in the bank... or go to an ATM when you arrive, or a combination of both. If along the Frances, you can stop at ATMs in all of the bigger cities, but don't count on ATMs in the smaller towns. I found if I took out 300 or more Euros at a time it held me until the next bigger city. Pamplona, Burgos, Leon, Ponferrada, Santiago were where I remember getting cash out. Maybe a couple other places... but don't recall. Oh.... and wherever I land (Paris/Madrid/etc)
 

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
Let's not judge a new member too harshly for asking the question. Not everyone who is planning their first Camino has traveled extensively and is savvy about foreign currency.

Better to ask now than to show up with thousands in USD, based on what "someone" told them and not be able to exchange it easily!
 

John Petersen

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Fall if 2023
Nope. Euros are the currency of Spain. Dollars are not accepted nor easily exchanged. Your best bet is to use a no fee debit card at ATMs. I use a Schwab account debit card which charges no fees and rebates all ATM charges worldwide.

You can find other threads with the tag "money/banking/budget" here.
Thank you!
 
John Brierley 2023 Camino Guide
Get your today and start planning.

TravellingMan2022

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Norte
Spanish ATMs often fed me 50€ notes. No one getting these complained but I could tell they weren't happy. They certainly wouldn't be happy getting $50 notes and likely aren't enchanted with George Washington portraits either.
This is common in many countries in western Europe that use the Euro. Some ATMs let you choose what size notes you get but many don’t! I hate it too. Used a €50 for a pint of beer in a pub in Berlin tonight and didn’t go down well! Tried to find a ‘free’ ATM to get €40 out but no luck!
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Latest: Rota Vicentina '19; Portuguese '19.
Spanish ATMs often fed me 50€ notes. No one getting these complained but I could tell they weren't happy. They certainly wouldn't be happy getting $50 notes and likely aren't enchanted with George Washington portraits either.
In Spain, I only use bank ATM's. If the machine gave me all 50's, I always walked inside the bank and had them convert them into smaller bills; just another good reason why I only use bank ATM's during the hours they are open to the public.
 

John Petersen

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Fall if 2023
There are parts of the world that do this, however they tend to gauge you in price when they do. In Europe I have never found it helpful to carry USD. Go to your bank and order Euros if they don't have any in the bank... or go to an ATM when you arrive, or a combination of both. If along the Frances, you can stop at ATMs in all of the bigger cities, but don't count on ATMs in the smaller towns. I found if I took out 300 or more Euros at a time it held me until the next bigger city. Pamplona, Burgos, Leon, Ponferrada, Santiago were where I remember getting cash out. Maybe a couple other places... but don't recall. Oh.... and wherever I land (Paris/Madrid/etc)
The only traveling I’ve done was back in 1960. This is all new for me, so thanks for your input.
Where did you hear this?
I “think” I might have read that somewhere at sometime, but that be erroneous. Maybe it’s a flashback to the 60’s?
 

TravellingMan2022

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Norte
The only traveling I’ve done was back in 1960. This is all new for me, so thanks for your input.

I “think” I might have read that somewhere at sometime, but that be erroneous. Maybe it’s a flashback to the 60’s?
Well it’s Euros all the way now! You may want to look at do’s and don’ts of acquiring Euros as the ‘cost’ can vary hugely. A few simple practices can save you as much as 10-15 % on fees! Lots of threads on here!
 

John Petersen

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Fall if 2023
Let's not judge a new member too harshly for asking the question. Not everyone who is planning their first Camino has traveled extensively and is savvy about foreign currency.

Better to ask now than to show up with thousands in USD, based on what "someone" told them and not be able to exchange it easily!
Thank you. As noted elsewhere, the only international traveling I’ve done was in the 60’s and also time spent in Bosnia during their war.
 
Camino Jewellery
A selection of Camino Jewellery

TravellingMan2022

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Norte
@John Petersen if you click on the "tag" attached to the top of this thread ("money/banking/budget") you will find lots more information. Many of us have posted about the best ways to save on fees and about changing and using money on the Camino.
Yes and try and pick up the info from the USA folks as though there is a lot of general great advice that is global ( don’t get money out at airport desks, on credits cards, and always never let the ATM dictate the rate) there are some areas where the nation of the card you hold is key!
 
Last edited:
Time of past OR future Camino
Latest: Rota Vicentina '19; Portuguese '19.
Thank you. As noted elsewhere, the only international traveling I’ve done was in the 60’s and also time spent in Bosnia during their war.
Welcome John! As you are already discovering on this thread, there is a lot of accumulated, collective knowledge on this forum, and the members are always eager to help and point you in the right direction; sometimes there are even "several" right directions!🙂
 

truenorthpilgrim

Camino Mermaid 🧜🏻‍♀️
Time of past OR future Camino
CF 2016, 2019. LePuy 2019, CF February 2023
I “think” I might have read that somewhere at sometime, but that be erroneous. Maybe it’s a flashback to the 60’s?
This reminds me of my mom...the last time she was in Europe was 1963. When I went on my last camino, she said "I'll give you some cash because when I was there we used $1s and $5's". And I had to remind her that was 55 years ago and most folks use debit cards or euros.
 
Camino Jewellery
A selection of Camino Jewellery

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese

John Petersen

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Fall if 2023
@John Petersen if you click on the "tag" attached to the top of this thread ("money/banking/budget") you will find lots more information. Many of us have posted about the best ways to save on fees and about changing and using money on the Camino.
Thank you
Welcome John! As you are already discovering on this thread, there is a lot of accumulated, collective knowledge on this forum, and the members are always eager to help and point you in the right direction; sometimes there are even "several" right directions!🙂
I’ll be welcoming all info. that is available
 

isawtman

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances, 2022
Ice Age Trail, 2014, 2019
Spanish ATMs often fed me 50€ notes. No one getting these complained but I could tell they weren't happy. They certainly wouldn't be happy getting $50 notes and likely aren't enchanted with George Washington portraits either.
yeah, I saved the 50 euro bills for the Albergues. Most of the time they would be charging me around 27 euros for the bed and the dinner combined, so a 50 euro note is not that out of line for them. Another tip is when you get to the airport, or maybe earlier than that, put all your euro coins into a vending machine. The vending machine will take all the coins except the 1 and 2 cent coins. So, you can get rid of your euro coins, and have something to eat or drink, too. My local bank that distributes Euros, (there's only one in Madison) will take back Euro bills, but will not take Euro coins.
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
Spanish ATMs often fed me 50€ notes. No one getting these complained but I could tell they weren't happy. They certainly wouldn't be happy getting $50 notes and likely aren't enchanted with George Washington portraits either.
I would always withdraw an amount like 180 Euros to ensure that if 20 Euro notes were available, they would be dispensed. The mathematicians will know that this will work for any number that isn't a multiple of 50 if there are 50 Euro and 20 Euro notes available. If there are only 20 Euro notes, there will be some amounts that cannot be dispensed.
 

Marbe2

Active member
Time of past OR future Camino
2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
Don’t carry a lot of cash, whether dollars or euros! While there are many camino angels on the camino there are occasionally also thieves too! Carry as little Bargeld as you need for a 3 or 4 days. If on the CF the vast majority of albergues and accommodations now take credit cards. Use a CC with a no conversion fee and always pay in the local currency.
 
Camino Jewellery
A selection of Camino Jewellery

Bob from L.A. !

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Francis 2012, 2014, 2016. Camino Norte 2018. Many more to come in my future God willing !
Nope. Euros are the currency of Spain. Dollars are not accepted nor easily exchanged. Your best bet is to use a no fee debit card at ATMs. I use a Schwab account debit card which charges no fees and rebates all ATM charges worldwide.

Great information. Thank you
 
Time of past OR future Camino
September 2022 CF
Spanish ATMs often fed me 50€ notes. No one getting these complained but I could tell they weren't happy.
I heard this a lot while preparing for our camino. However, 6 weeks of walking the CF and 8 weeks total in Europe (France & Portugal) nobody seemed the least bit
put off by my paying with a 50€ note.

I asked a couple of Café/Bar owners about this, and neither had a problem with
accepting 50´s.

I did note that when paying, say a 12€ tab, they would often ask if I had a 2€ coin.
They liked to make change in bills only, if possible.
 
How to Successfully Prepare for Your Camino
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.

MichelleElynHogan

Veteran Member
With the vast, accurate information already given, consider going, "native," as far as money is concerned. Yes, a credit card will get you part way but not all the way and, I have to say, a credit card may also find higher pricing. Credit cards do charge vendors a fee for every transaction. So, it is only common sense that they will have to charge a little extra to ameliorate their operating costs.

When I traveled through Ireland, England, France and Spain, I used Euros, and British pounds. Cash is never refused.

Go native. Do what the natives do. Anticipate your daily costs at 50-60 euro, or whatever amount makes sense for you. I have always purchased foreign currencies at home rather than in the country I am visiting. The only time I did not do that was over 20 years ago...a different world than today.

Carry a few US$ with you to get home from the airport.
 

TravellingMan2022

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Norte
With the vast, accurate information already given, consider going, "native," as far as money is concerned. Yes, a credit card will get you part way but not all the way and, I have to say, a credit card may also find higher pricing. Credit cards do charge vendors a fee for every transaction. So, it is only common sense that they will have to charge a little extra to ameliorate their operating costs.

When I traveled through Ireland, England, France and Spain, I used Euros, and British pounds. Cash is never refused.

Go native. Do what the natives do. Anticipate your daily costs at 50-60 euro, or whatever amount makes sense for you. I have always purchased foreign currencies at home rather than in the country I am visiting. The only time I did not do that was over 20 years ago...a different world than today.

Carry a few US$ with you to get home from the airport.
Can I ask why you ‘buy’ foreign currency rather than just use a debit card with no fees. Has it been cheaper? Spain is experiencing huge growth in card payment btw up 25% in Q2!
 

StDenis

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Fall 2022
I used my Fidelity debit card to get cash. Not sure what requirements are for opening a spend/save account if you don't already have an account at Fidelity.

I found that some of the BBVA ATMs had an option to get small bills. There is a limit but can't remember if it was 50 or 100 euros of small bills. The other strategy is to break the 50s at restaurants. Sometimes small places won't accept even a 20. Had that problem trying to pay for breakfast at a small bar on day 2 on the way Zibriri. Even though I could see a pile of 5 euro bills in the cash register they wanted coins. Luckily, someone behind me in line gave me change.
 

Molly Cassidy

Travelling light
Time of past OR future Camino
Starting May 2023 from St Jean Pied de Port
Can I ask why you ‘buy’ foreign currency rather than just use a debit card with no fees. Has it been cheaper? Spain is experiencing huge growth in card payment btw up 25% in Q2!
And yet right now there are cafes and restaurants around me which either have a minimum amount for card payments (€9-12) or don't take card at all.
 
How to Successfully Prepare for Your Camino
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
Time of past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
Even though I could see a pile of 5 euro bills in the cash register they wanted coins
€5 banknotes are a precious commodity ☺️.

A friend of mine started to collect €5 banknotes for weeks before her departure for her continuation of the Camino Frances, and I started to follow her example. I think that I had collected 15 of them or thereabouts when I left for Spain. Of course, you can do this only when you happen to live in the eurozone as we do.

Someone mentioned that some ATMs in Spain allow you to chose which bills you want. I don't know how common this is in Spain nowadays. Where I live I can do this now - it was not possible when the Euro was introduced but that's a long time ago. These days, I never get anything higher than €20 banknotes, and of course I pay as much as I can in cashless form, whether at home or on Camino.
 

TravellingMan2022

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Norte
€5 banknotes are a precious commodity ☺️.

A friend of mine started to collect €5 banknotes for weeks before her departure for her continuation of the Camino Frances, and I started to follow her example. I think that I had collected 15 of them or thereabouts when I left for Spain. Of course, you can do this only when you happen to live in the eurozone as we do.

Someone mentioned that some ATMs in Spain allow you to chose which bills you want. I don't know how common this is in Spain nowadays. Where I live I can do this now - it was not possible when the Euro was introduced but that's a long time ago. These days, I never get anything higher than €20 banknotes, and of course I pay as much as I can in cashless form, whether at home or on Camino.
That was me who said some ATMs give you an options. Choice of 2 options. Can’t qualify it or say which banks but I think Deutsche Bank may do as that are the bank I use in Spain.
 
Camino Way Markers
Original Camino Way markers made in bronze. Two models, one from Castilla & Leon and the other from Galicia.

Rex

One Step at a Time
Time of past OR future Camino
2023 VF 2nd Half
East Africa and South and East Asia are a totally different world to Spain, France and Portugal. In my travels in these three countries since the introduction of the Euro I have only seen the E notes and coins accepted.
I have used USD in a tight situation, but only one time. Innkeeper charged me approx 15% more than current spot USD/EUR exchange rate, but I was unfortunately stuck (due to a VISA snafu) and not enough Euros in my wallet. Never again - now carry both a no fee debit card and a no fee VISA card.
Japanese innkeepers do not like taking USD and will also make you pay if you insist!
YMMV
Bon Chemin
 

Rex

One Step at a Time
Time of past OR future Camino
2023 VF 2nd Half
And yet right now there are cafes and restaurants around me which either have a minimum amount for card payments (€9-12) or don't take card at all.
True... on the VF this past Summer in France, the smaller village cafes, when they were open, often had a minimum VISA charge for breakfast (croissant and cafe'), or a surcharge for amounts under 5 euros.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Latest: Rota Vicentina '19; Portuguese '19.
That was me who said some ATMs give you an options. Choice of 2 options. Can’t qualify it or say which banks but I think Deutsche Bank may do as that are the bank I use in Spain.
Things must be changing slowly as old ATM's are probably being updated and replaced with new, improved machines offering a variety of denominations.
 

jascreative

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Recent: Camino Portuguese (Porto to Santiago) 2022
In Spain, I only use bank ATM's. If the machine gave me all 50's, I always walked inside the bank and had them convert them into smaller bills; just another good reason why I only use bank ATM's during the hours they are open to the public.
To add to using bank ATMs only when the bank is open -- one time while I was (on the Camino) withdrawing money, my bank card got stuck, & I had to go inside to have someone retrieve it (yes, this can happen!) --

Also, here's an article about avoiding "skimming" when using ATMs while traveling (or otherwise) -- wasn't familiar with this so found the info helpful -- https://www.johnnyjet.com/bet-you-dont-know-what-an-atm-skimmer-looks-like/
 
Camino Way Markers
Original Camino Way markers made in bronze. Two models, one from Castilla & Leon and the other from Galicia.
Time of past OR future Camino
Latest: Rota Vicentina '19; Portuguese '19.
To add to using bank ATMs only when the bank is open -- one time while I was (on the Camino) withdrawing money, my bank card got stuck, & I had to go inside to have someone retrieve it (yes, this can happen!) --
Yes, thankfully it's only happened to me once as well in 2015, and fortunately not since. It is the reason I began using only bank ATM's, and during their working hours.
 

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
More and more banks are going "contactless" at their ATMs, meaning you won't have to insert your card and will be able to tap your card (or your phone) on the machine to withdraw cash, eliminating the worry of the machine "eating" your card. This should foil skimmers too.
 

pjacobi

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2015, St. Jean Pied de Port to Burgos
2016, Burgos to Ponferrada
2017, Ponferrada to Atlantic Ocean
In highly touristed areas, like a cruise ship port, it is often easier to use US dollars, for the few hours in port. At one port in Mexico, a cruise ship tourist trap, I noticed that even the ATMs dispensed US dollars.

Most of the Camino is away from touristed areas, so you will want to use the local currency, the Euro. This is a travel skill that you need to learn.

-Paul
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Latest: Rota Vicentina '19; Portuguese '19.
And to keep the conversation going,😅 I always bring back home approximately €20-40. That way I know I "must" return...it has nothing to do with being a "camino addict".😆 Actually it's because I prefer not bothering with ATM's at airports.
I also bring a similar amount in US bills, for any incidentals I may need upon arrival at the airport back in the states.
Yes, tap cards are efficient, but at times I have had to tap my card several times before it works; I am a slow learner, even of a simple tap.
 
Camino Cleanup Program & Retreat
Want to give back to the Camino? Help clean it up with us this May.
Time of past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
Most of the Camino is away from touristed areas, so you will want to use the local currency, the Euro
It probably has more to do with the fact that pilgrims with US dollars are a small minority on the Camino. The US dollar is just one of many other foreign currencies and has the same importance on the Camino as the British pound, the Australian or the Canadian dollar or the Danish Kronar. Not worth fussing around with all these foreign currencies.

On the other hand, in Morocco for example, you can pay in euros if you don't have the right amount of Dirham on you, and I remember that, in Jordan, I was once approached by a local, a small trader perhaps - I can't remember what she was - and asked whether I could change the euro coins that she had accepted into the same amount in euro banknotes as this was easier/better for her to change into their local currency. I was happy to do this small favour. So yes, sure, depending on where you are in the world you may be able to use your own currency for payment.
 

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
Yes, tap cards are efficient, but at times I have had to tap my card several times before it works; I am a slow learner, even of a simple tap.
I've never used my actual card at a contactless terminal. I always use my phone and Google Pay. When the payment goes through there's a satisfying vibration, and a blue checkmark appears on the screen.
 

Molly Cassidy

Travelling light
Time of past OR future Camino
Starting May 2023 from St Jean Pied de Port
It probably has more to do with the fact that pilgrims with US dollars are a small minority on the Camino. The US dollar is just one of many other foreign currencies and has the same importance on the Camino as the British pound, the Australian or the Canadian dollar or the Danish Kronar. Not worth fussing around with all these foreign currencies.

On the other hand, in Morocco for example, you can pay in euros if you don't have the right amount of Dirham on you, and I remember that, in Jordan, I was once approached by a local, a small trader perhaps - I can't remember what she was - and asked whether I could change the euro coins that she had accepted into the same amount in euro banknotes as this was easier/better for her to change into their local currency. I was happy to do this small favour. So yes, sure, depending on where you are in the world you may be able to use your own currency for payment.
It used to be the case that in some places (eg Eastern Europe) they actively wanted "hard" currency so would readily accept dollars etc. These days I think some countries that aren't in the Eurozone will accept euros, but probably not so much dollars.
 

Rex

One Step at a Time
Time of past OR future Camino
2023 VF 2nd Half
More and more banks are going "contactless" at their ATMs, meaning you won't have to insert your card and will be able to tap your card (or your phone) on the machine to withdraw cash, eliminating the worry of the machine "eating" your card. This should foil skimmers too.
I loaded my VISA card onto Apple Pay and was able to do about 50% of my paying by simply tapping my phone all the way across France and Switzerland. Carried the card just for emergencies and separate from my credit union debit card (no fees for any foreign transactions). Did leave my phone at a Carrefour store (DOH!!) after paying and packing the groceries into my backpack. Was only about 100 yards away from the store, but still a worrisome moment.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Latest: Rota Vicentina '19; Portuguese '19.
A few years ago, a friend went with a group on a mission's trip to Ghana. They were asked to bring only brand new, crisp $100 dollar bills...I never knew the reason.
This may be considered an bit an off-topic comment, but it is a curiosity to me and is about US denominations.
 
Camino Jewellery
A selection of Camino Jewellery
Time of past OR future Camino
Yearly and Various 2014-2019
Via Monastica 2022
A few years ago, a friend went with a group on a mission's trip to Ghana. They were asked to bring only brand new, crisp $100 dollar bills...I never knew the reason.
This may be considered an bit an off-topic comment, but it is a curiosity to me and is about US denominations.
Same in, say, Myanmar. It's a hassle but old hat to have to acquire new notes in whatever currency. The smallest flaw or inkmark and you can't exchange them for local notes. This obviously does not apply to the camino.
 

Viscount Gumpy of Ol'

Try to be as good as your dog thinks you are.
Time of past OR future Camino
Hoping, planning, dreaming of my first.
I have always purchased foreign currencies at home rather than in the country I am visiting.

In my travelling I have always found that that is the most expensive way to get foreign currency. I always buy currency “in country”. It may be different if your home currency is not a well known one (eg Hungarian Forint) but for USD and even AUD it is best to exchange in country. IME.
 

tominrm

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2022
That was me who said some ATMs give you an options. Choice of 2 options. Can’t qualify it or say which banks but I think Deutsche Bank may do as that are the bank I use in Spain.
Just curious. Does DB charge you a fee for using their ATM? Probably not if you have an account with the bank. I used Schwab debit card to get cash from their ATMs, and I don't think DB charges me any fees.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Latest: Rota Vicentina '19; Portuguese '19.
In my travelling I have always found that that is the most expensive way to get foreign currency. I always buy currency “in country”. It may be different if your home currency is not a well known one (eg Hungarian Forint) but for USD and even AUD it is best to exchange in country. IME.
I agree. I once checked with my local bank and was very surprised at what the charge was going to be, so I've never used their "service".

BTW, I love this!...
"Try to be as good as your dog thinks you are."
 

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
Just curious. Does DB charge you a fee for using their ATM? Probably not if you have an account with the bank. I used Schwab debit card to get cash from their ATMs, and I don't think DB charges me any fees.
Since I also use a Schwab debit card I don't worry about what fees the ATM's bank charges since Schwab refunds the fees.
I agree. I once checked with my local bank and was very surprised at what the charge was going to be, so I've never used their "service".
I think that my local bank says that it doesn't charge a fee to buy Euros, but the exchange rate is lousy.
 
Camino Jewellery
A selection of Camino Jewellery
Time of past OR future Camino
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
Just curious. Does DB charge you a fee for using their ATM? Probably not if you have an account with the bank. I used Schwab debit card to get cash from their ATMs, and I don't think DB charges me any fees.
On our 2015 camino Peg brought her Bank of America debit card because there was a no fee agreement with Deutsche Bank.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
CF Sep/Oct 2015
C Primitivo Sep / Oct 2016
Portugese Sep/Oct 2017
VdlP, Muxia 2018
I understand that U.S. $$$ can be used while on the way. What are the best denominations to carry?
$1. $5. $10. $20. $50. $100 bills
Spain is European Union and the currency is Euro only. I'm imagine the US Dollar can be exchanged in local banks for Euro.
 

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
I'm imagine the US Dollar can be exchanged in local banks for Euro.
I have read posts on the forum that it can be difficult to exchange USD for Euros at banks in Spain. I would imagine it would be especially hard in smaller towns.
If I wanted to get Euros from my local bank I have to place an order and wait a few days as the local branches don't keep an inventory of foreign currencies.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012
I’ll be welcoming all info. that is available
Welcome to the forum! We certainly have a LOT of information. I hope that you won't get overwhelmed with the minutiae, such as you have received on this thread and on others about bank and currency. Really it is quite simple and with a few key pieces of information, you should be able to use cash (only Euros, though, which was your original question!) as well as bank/credit cards, with no problem. Some of our debates get into a lot of detail in an effort to save a small amount of money on what might be a once-in-a-lifetime trip.

I see from your profile that you are thinking about walking the Camino in the fall of 2023. Are there other types of information - likely more fun than banking discussions - that we can help you with?
 

TravellingMan2022

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Norte
Just curious. Does DB charge you a fee for using their ATM? Probably not if you have an account with the bank. I used Schwab debit card to get cash from their ATMs, and I don't think DB charges me any fees.
No they don’t. Spain is one of the worst countries in Eurozone for changing fees, much worst than most other Eurozone countries. Feeless ATMs are definately in the minority there. I have no account with them or any relationship. I am UK cardholder btw. They are also very transparent re mark up fees when they present the local or home country currency option too!
 
John Brierley 2023 Camino Guide
Get your today and start planning.

konnie

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
CF; Le Puy; El Norte; Monastery Santo Toribio; Monasteries Yuso and Suso
I understand that U.S. $$$ can be used while on the way. What are the best denominations to carry?
$1. $5. $10. $20. $50. $100 bills
The banks in Spain only change USD for people who have an account with them. So I recommend not to have a lot of money on you that you can’t spend. And if a local brings you to their bank there’s a big commission fee. U
 

TravellingMan2022

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Norte
Wj
The banks in Spain only change USD for people who have an account with them. So I recommend not to have a lot of money on you that you can’t spend. And if a local brings you to their bank there’s a big commission fee. U
Wjat is your source for this info? Is it all banks? Does it include non Spanish banks based with outlets in Spain?
 

jeanineonthecamino

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances 2021, Norte/Primitivo 2022, VF 2023
yeah, I saved the 50 euro bills for the Albergues. Most of the time they would be charging me around 27 euros for the bed and the dinner combined, so a 50 euro note is not that out of line for them. Another tip is when you get to the airport, or maybe earlier than that, put all your euro coins into a vending machine. The vending machine will take all the coins except the 1 and 2 cent coins. So, you can get rid of your euro coins, and have something to eat or drink, too. My local bank that distributes Euros, (there's only one in Madison) will take back Euro bills, but will not take Euro coins.
I found using them at grocery stores or bigger stores was best. OK, maybe not the very tiny grocery store in the small villages - but medium to large villages and in cities was fine. Also at actual hotels. Albergues - well - it depended on how large the albergue was and the cost of the albergue. Yes - albergues that served dinner were OK places to use them, the 5-10 Euro albergues were NOT the best places to use them.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
.
In my travelling I have always found that that is the most expensive way to get foreign currency. I always buy currency “in country”. It may be different if your home currency is not a well known one (eg Hungarian Forint) but for USD and even AUD it is best to exchange in country. IME.
I disagree. In the UK I can get a better rate through a broker (travelfx.Co.Uk) than I can in the eurozone.
 
John Brierley 2023 Camino Guide
Get your today and start planning.
Time of past OR future Camino
Latest: Rota Vicentina '19; Portuguese '19.
The banks in Spain only change USD for people who have an account with them. So I recommend not to have a lot of money on you that you can’t spend. And if a local brings you to their bank there’s a big commission fee. U
I've been turned away before a couple of times trying to exchange some US bills I'd brought for local currency. Often if it is not "your" own bank they will no longer provide services.
In my own small town, where I am not a banking customer, I stopped in last year with a bag of coins I'd collected over time and the teller would not run it through their automated counting machine for bills as a small favor...she said "bank policy". I was shocked to be turned away; it didn't used to be that way.
 

Rex

One Step at a Time
Time of past OR future Camino
2023 VF 2nd Half
Alert, Alert, Alert
Where I am living in Portugal near Lisbon very few restaurants accept any kind of credit card. It is cash only!!!
Is there a local reason for that? I used my card almost everywhere I ate or bought food when walking the CP in 2018. Pre-Covid, so things may have changed.
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015, 2016, 2018
VdlP 2023
I understand that U.S. $$$ can be used while on the way. What are the best denominations to carry?
$1. $5. $10. $20. $50. $100 bills

Why would Spanish businesses accept US$ ? :rolleyes:

I suspect this 'advice' goes back many years, and may have related to 'third world' countries with shaky currencies.

As others have pointed out, there are probably corners of the world where USD might be accepted, but for a really bad exchange rate. ;)
 
Last edited:
Create your own ad
€2,-/day will present your project to thousands of visitors each day. All interested in the Camino de Santiago.
Time of past OR future Camino
Future Camino Frances (2022)
I understand that U.S. $$$ can be used while on the way. What are the best denominations to carry?
$1. $5. $10. $20. $50. $100 bills
John. As others have said Euros us what you need. I did the full Frances route from St Jean in May/June 2022.
€10 and €20 are the best mix. I also carried €50 and €100 notes, but found that many small places didn’t or wouldn’t have change for a €100 note. Some will also take credit cards.
Some Albergues list their accommodation on Booking.com where you can book a bed using a credit card and save your cash for meals and drinks.
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015, 2016, 2018
VdlP 2023
Is there a local reason for that? I used my card almost everywhere I ate or bought food when walking the CP in 2018. Pre-Covid, so things may have changed.

Not accepting card payments?
It happens in some places here in Australia. For 2 reasons mainly.

1. They don't want the equipment expense and bank commissions involved in providing card payment.
2. Tax avoidance ;)
 
Last edited:

pjacobi

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2015, St. Jean Pied de Port to Burgos
2016, Burgos to Ponferrada
2017, Ponferrada to Atlantic Ocean
As sure as death and taxes, you always lose when exchanging money! You will either pay a fee or get a bad exchange rate. The key is to lose as little as possible, but that will never be zero.

-Paul
 
Time of past OR future Camino
.
Do you mean a better rate than using a ATM in the euro zone?
Yes.

Spot rate within the last 2 minutes HSBC 1.103 Travelfx 1.14 € to £

The first is a debit card transaction on the spot; the second is advance purchased cash currency delivered to your door.

Meanwhile the ‘official’ money market exchange rate is quoted at 1.223; so nobody’s doing the customer a favour really.
 
Last edited:
Time of past OR future Camino
2002, Toulouse/Aragon 2005, Cami S Jaume/Aragon 2007/9, Mont Saint Michel/Norte/Vadiniense 2011, Norte/Primitivo 2013, Norte/Primitivo 2014. Norte 2015, Cami S Jaume/Castellano-Aragonese 2016
When preparing for my first Camino a mere 20 years ago, I had a Toronto lawyer lecture me on how I needed to take Swiss francs and Swiss francs only to Spain. He had it in his head that one got the best rate for pesetas with Swiss francs and that if I tried to use Canadian or US $ the authorities would conclude that I was a drug dealer. His wife mentioned to me that he had not travelled in Europe for some time.

It was just as well that I ignored his advice, as pesetas had not been used for some time (although I found out that they are still quoted in some real estate transactions, for reasons I never quite understood).

Through a complicated set of circumstances, I did get a bank in Ponferrada to change some Canadian $ for me into €. I got a "What will the pilgrims want next?" look from the bank clerk, but she gave me the € at a fair price. My own normal practice is to withdraw cash at bank which charges no or little fees (usually DB or Liberbank)-- I try to break the larger bills for accommodation or restaurant meals, as I think it can be hard to keep small bills and change in smaller centres. I bought a splendid cat wallet in Santiago, so iti accomodates € without trouble.
 
Camino Jewellery
A selection of Camino Jewellery

TravellingMan2022

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Norte
Yes.

Spot rate within the last 2 minutes HSBC 1.103 Travelfx 1.14 € to £

The first is a debit card transaction on the spot; the second is advance purchased cash currency delivered to your door.

Meanwhile the ‘official’ money market exchange rate is quoted at 1.223; so nobody’s doing the customer a favour really.
Thanks David for being so precise. It’s challenged some of my preconceptions. That said can I check numbers as I am missing something.

Bought a pizza (Italy) using UK Monzo debit card at approx 2200 CET last night and got an XE of GBP1 = €1.15701.

Previous few nights withdrawing money ATM in Germany - Monzo UK issued debit- a similar XE (not my card so can’t check exact rate) but above £1 to €1.15.

Right now, XE.COM (0645 CET) currently showing £1 = €1.15932. Spot rate on Bloomberg pretty much same. £ slightly down versus € overnight. I know I won’t get that btw.

What am I missing as our numbers vary hugely? Who is quoting 1.223? Are you saying £ has been trading versus € at that rate?
 
Last edited:
Time of past OR future Camino
.
Thanks David for being so precise. It’s challenged some of my preconceptions. That said can I check numbers as I am missing something.

Bought a pizza (Italy) using UK Monzo debit card at approx 2200 CET last night and got an XE of GBP1 = €1.15701.

Previous few nights withdrawing money ATM in Germany - Monzo UK issued debit- a similar XE (not my card so can’t check exact rate) but above £1 to €1.15.

Right now, XE.COM (0645 CET) currently showing £1 = €1.15932. Spot rate on Bloomberg pretty much same. £ slightly down versus € overnight. I know I won’t get that btw.

What am I missing as our numbers vary hugely? Who is quoting 1.223? Are you saying £ has been trading versus € at that rate?
Apologies. The HSBC and Travelfx rates were correct £/€ numbers at the time. My money market number was a total error as it was the £/$ rate. (It was late). The current correct market number is 1.16.

My point that I can get a better rate for physical currency than I can with my HSBC debit card remains; but with either option I’m not being ripped off to the extent I implied.
 

TravellingMan2022

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Norte
Not accepting card payments?
It happens in some places here in Australia. For 2 reasons mainly.

1. They don't want the equipment expense and bank commissions involved in providing card payment.
2. Tax avoidance ;)
Yes though I found Australia to be no 1 in terms of card / contactless during a recent trip. Admittedly only big cities and purchases for travel, food and drink. Well played Australia as it saved me a lot as no charge on card payments but 2.99% on ATM withdrawals!
 

TravellingMan2022

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Norte
Apologies. The HSBC and Travelfx rates were correct £/€ numbers at the time. My money market number was a total error as it was the £/$ rate. (It was late). The current correct market number is 1.16.

My point that I can get a better rate for physical currency than I can with my HSBC debit card remains; but with either option I’m not being ripped off to the extent I implied.
Thank you but I am still suprised at your numbers. HSBC only 1.10? Monzo is 1.15. Your Travelex rate is 1.14 and my ATM is 1.15? Small margins I know!!!
 
Time of past OR future Camino
.
There’s not much I can do about you being surprised …

I’ll take a look at Monzo as (assuming no transaction fees or standing charge for the card?) It seems like a good rate. Are they easy to deal with? I’ve got credit cards with Jaja and Creation who have no charges and ‘not bad’ rates; but their admin is abysmal and they’re a PITA to deal with.
 
How to Successfully Prepare for Your Camino
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.

TravellingMan2022

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Norte
I have used USD in a tight situation, but only one time. Innkeeper charged me approx 15% more than current spot USD/EUR exchange rate, but I was unfortunately stuck (due to a VISA snafu) and not enough Euros in my wallet. Never again - now carry both a no fee debit card and a no fee VISA card.
Japanese innkeepers do not like taking USD and will also make you pay if you insist!
YMMV
Bon Chemin
Yes think we all get caught out now and again where we are short and have no negotiating position and taken to cleaners!
 

TravellingMan2022

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Norte
A few years ago, a friend went with a group on a mission's trip to Ghana. They were asked to bring only brand new, crisp $100 dollar bills...I never knew the reason.
This may be considered an bit an off-topic comment, but it is a curiosity to me and is about US denominations.
Yes had same in Kenya when paying for trip! Crisp new notes above a certain serial number!
 

TravellingMan2022

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Norte
There’s not much I can do about you being surprised …

I’ll take a look at Monzo as (assuming no transaction fees or standing charge for the card?) It seems like a good rate. Are they easy to deal with? I’ve got credit cards with Jaja and Creation who have no charges and ‘not bad’ rates; but their admin is abysmal and they’re a PITA to deal with.
Sure I am just amazed at variance. For me Monzo is free payments globally. ATM free in eurozone and up to £200 globally on a rolling 30 day basis. This varies though depending on how busy a customer you are. I find them excellent on every dimension. No charges at anytime for account.

Virgin Money seem to have a new account that offers unlimited global ATM withdrawals.
 
Last edited:
John Brierley 2023 Camino Guide
Get your today and start planning.

Most read last week in this forum

I’ll be starting my first Camino in just over a month. Like many of you, I’ve read the guidebooks, travel literature, perused this site quite thoroughly, followed blogs, have watched vlogs and...
I emailed Albergue Rio Arga in Zubiri to book a bed, and they replied that they need a credit card number to secure the booking. They don't have a booking form on their website, and when asked...
What a surprise, and unexpected pleasure to see an interview with our own Rebekah Scott on the back page of the latest edition of the Church Times. It is an excellent (UK) publication offering...
Just hoping to get some feedback about weather and walking conditions from those fortunate pilgrims currently making their way across the Frances. We are planning a late February departure from...
There has been a lot of discussion about the best styles of tortilla in another thread recently. I ate a lot of it - good, bad and just ok - in the last month myself! I just saw this article on...
Hi I have just quoted my backpack transfer with corres from SJPP to Santiago. 667 euro total, which is almost aud$1000. Can anyone recommend a cheaper company who are reliable please? Mobility...

How to ask a question

How to post a new question on the Camino Forum.

Similar threads

Forum Rules

Forum Rules

Camino Updates on YouTube

Camino Conversations

Most downloaded Resources

This site is run by Ivar at

in Santiago de Compostela.
This site participates in the Amazon Affiliate program, designed to provide a means for Ivar to earn fees by linking to Amazon
Official Camino Passport (Credential) | 2023 Camino Guides
Top