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Cash or cards?

TessaG

New Member
Past OR future Camino
June 2017 first
Hi all
I walked the camino Frances in 2017 and 2018 and am hoping and praying I can go again in 2022. On the previous pilgrimages cash was definitely “king” especially in bars, cafes and Albergues. I am interested to hear from pilgrims who have walked this year in 2021 whether this is still the case. Your feedback will help in the planning. Thanks
 
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henrythedog

Loved and fed by David
Past OR future Camino
Frances 2017, 2018, 2019, Ingles 2018, (Madrid 2019 partial - retired hurt!) (more planned)
There was a discussion on here about two months ago with several ‘in country’ participating which concluded that, as one might expect, more places accept cards than was the case previously; but cash is almost universally accepted.

I can’t see where you’re from; but if it’s the US do bear in mind that the European standard is ‘chip and pin’. A number of card issuers in Europe are discontinuing magnetic stripes completely now.
 

Lance Chambers

Lance Chambers
Past OR future Camino
Sarria (2015), SJPdP (2016), Burgos (2017), SJPdP (2018), Burgos (2019), SJPdP (2020?).
Hi all
I walked the camino Frances in 2017 and 2018 and am hoping and praying I can go again in 2022. On the previous pilgrimages cash was definitely “king” especially in bars, cafes and Albergues. I am interested to hear from pilgrims who have walked this year in 2021 whether this is still the case. Your feedback will help in the planning. Thanks

I agree cash is the best and easiest way to pay I believe.
 
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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
A lone voice in the wilderness for cards. I always have a stash of euros with me, but you would be surprised at the number of places that take cards. I am sure that number is increasing with covid. For me that has two benefits - for me personally, the rate is always better on a CC than with an ATM withdrawl; and second, that way I know that the transaction will be on the books. I’m obviously not talking about a few euros here or there for coffee or snacks, but my good friend the local government law professor in Spain has drilled into my head that cash leaves the transaction off the books for those who want to be unscrupulous. He always goes so far as to demand a receipt when the owner insists on cash, because those receipt books are part of the official documentation come tax time.

I don’t want to start a debate about whether it’s good to encourage tax fraud, but that is one of the potential consequences of paying cash in small businesses on the camino.
 
Past OR future Camino
2021
I just finished the Frances last week. Cards are accepted in the majority of places, but not all. You will definitely need to have cash on hand for the places that don't. I saw plenty of locals paying small amounts, like a coffee and a tortilla, with cards. A european cashless society is coming, but not here yet.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
I can’t see where you’re from; but if it’s the US do bear in mind that the European standard is ‘chip and pin’. A number of card issuers in Europe are discontinuing magnetic stripes completely now.
Since most places that accept credit cards have the "tap and pay" type terminals I find it easiest to pay with my phone, since it's usually handier to get out than my CC. And payments with a phone app like Apple or Google Pay are more secure than those with the actual credit card because each transaction generates a one time use code, which cannot be used again in another transaction.

 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
A lone voice in the wilderness for cards. I always have a stash of euros with me, but you would be surprised at the number of places that take cards. I am sure that number is increasing with covid. For me that has two benefits - for me personally, the rate is always better on a CC than with an ATM withdrawl; and second, that way I know that the transaction will be on the books. I’m obviously not talking about a few euros here or there for coffee or snacks, but my good friend the local government law professor in Spain has drilled into my head that cash leaves the transaction off the books for those who want to be unscrupulous. He always goes so far as to demand a receipt when the owner insists on cash, because those receipt books are part of the official documentation come tax time.

I don’t want to start a debate about whether it’s good to encourage tax fraud, but that is one of the potential consequences of paying cash in small businesses on the camino.
Of course there is real value in your friend's explanation.
I try to pay cash for 3 reasons.
I have always kept better track of my spending when I have cash and as a budget pilgrim I would definitely spend more money if I used credit cards more. I also have to pay a 3% transaction fee when i am overseas. I have not been able to get them to wave it. I know i could find a better card to use but there is a boring story as to why I use the card I have.
Finally especially in these times of Covid many non corporate owners of hotels and any other establishment you may use your card has to pay a transaction fee to the credit card companies. It is the same reason I do not use booking sites such as booking.com (except for example, my first 3 nights when I arrive in Seville in October). For example Booking takes 15% of the cost of the room for their commission.
Just my take Laurie. Have a good weekend and who knows we may be speaking very soon ;) ;) ;) 👍
 
Past OR future Camino
Via de la Plata (september - october 2016)
Of course there is real value in your friend's explanation.
I try to pay cash for 3 reasons.
I have always kept better track of my spending when I have cash and as a budget pilgrim I would definitely spend more money if I used credit cards more. I also have to pay a 3% transaction fee when i am overseas. I have not been able to get them to wave it. I know i could find a better card to use but there is a boring story as to why I use the card I have.
Finally especially in these times of Covid many non corporate owners of hotels and any other establishment you may use your card has to pay a transaction fee to the credit card companies. It is the same reason I do not use booking sites such as booking.com (except for example, my first 3 nights when I arrive in Seville in October). For example Booking takes 15% of the cost of the room for their commission.
Just my take Laurie. Have a good weekend and who knows we may be speaking very soon ;) ;) ;) 👍
in 2016 on the VdlP I learned the hard way that 1) not all hostals accept cards, 2) not all card-taking operations are willing to give you a ”cash advance” when you pay for a small ticket article, and 3) that few of the small towns have ATMs. When I did the second leg, I carried 100€ stashed away at the bottom of my pack, and never used it.
I’m often amazed at where locals pay with cards (a loaf of bread at the supermarket, a couple of glasses of wine at a bar, amounts I wouldn’t think of charging to my CC in Belgium) but there still are areas in Spain where cash 💶 is king🤴!

Buen camino!
Miguel
 
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crhutch

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
(2010) March/April SJPP to Santiago and hence to Finisterre
(2016) Hospitalero Grañón 15-31 March
(2016) April Logroño to Santiago
(2017) Hospitalero Zamora 15-31 March
(2017) Hospilatero Emaus, Burgos 1-14 April
Cash... Don't leave home without it. Some places take them, many don't, ATMs are scarce. Cuidado, y buen camino
I beg to differ. I have walked the Camino 3 times and I never had a problem finding an ATM.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Finally especially in these times of Covid many non corporate owners of hotels and any other establishment you may use your card has to pay a transaction fee to the credit card companies. It is the same reason I do not use booking sites such as booking.com
I totally agree with that rationale, so if you want to thread that needle, you could just ask for a receipt when you pay cash. But I am not suggesting it is a pilgrim duty to monitor the honesty of pilgrim businesses along the Camino.
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
I totally agree with that rationale, so if you want to thread that needle, you could just ask for a receipt when you pay cash. But I am not suggesting it is a pilgrim duty to monitor the honesty of pilgrim businesses along the Camino.
You got that right. The only monitoring i want to do is to monitor my brain as it floats away while I am walking. Just in case I need it for something.
 

TessaG

New Member
Past OR future Camino
June 2017 first
There was a discussion on here about two months ago with several ‘in country’ participating which concluded that, as one might expect, more places accept cards than was the case previously; but cash is almost universally accepted.

I can’t see where you’re from; but if it’s the US do bear in mind that the European standard is ‘chip and pin’. A number of card issuers in Europe are discontinuing magnetic stripes completely now.
Thanks for your feedback
I’m from Australia where I rarely use cash post covid but always used it on the previous camino pilgrimages.
 
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TessaG

New Member
Past OR future Camino
June 2017 first
I just finished the Frances last week. Cards are accepted in the majority of places, but not all. You will definitely need to have cash on hand for the places that don't. I saw plenty of locals paying small amounts, like a coffee and a tortilla, with cards. A european cashless society is coming, but not here yet.
Thanks for the feedback. That will help with the planning
 

The Ghost

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
Hi all
I walked the camino Frances in 2017 and 2018 and am hoping and praying I can go again in 2022. On the previous pilgrimages cash was definitely “king” especially in bars, cafes and Albergues. I am interested to hear from pilgrims who have walked this year in 2021 whether this is still the case. Your feedback will help in the planning. Thanks
I used a combination of cash and card (1% exchange fee). It was easier to use a card when booking ahead. Sometimes I would use the card just to help extend the cash I had on hand.

I was really surprised that we were not able to find a place to exchange USD for euro. When I was working and traveling in Europe during the last 30 years, I was always able to exchange at a bank or the hotels but not this time in Spain, no where would do it.
Only when I was waiting for my plane back home did I find a cash exchange place in Porto.
 
Past OR future Camino
Frances (July 2020)
I just spent 10 days on the frances and found cards accepted everywhere i wanted to pay with a card- in other words, I didn’t try to pay for breakfast with a card, but bigger meals and overnight stays all accepted my chipped card
 

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