Search 62305 Camino Questions

credit cards en route


Not to inundate this forum with newbie questions, but I'm still curious about the use of credit cards along the way. I've never traveled overseas before, so I'm not sure if I could use my current debit/credit card (VISA) there or how to exchange dollars for euros with the card. Or is there some other account I should sign up for and transfer my money into beforehand and use that card?

I gather there's some sort of ATM where everyone is withdrawing money along the way, perhaps in bars or albergues? How much should one carry around in cash? I've read anywhere from 35 euros to 200, since it costs each time one withdraws money.

Thanks for the help.

Very light, comfortable and compressible poncho. Specially designed for protection against water for any activity.

Our Atmospheric H30 poncho offers lightness and waterproofness. Easily compressible and made with our Waterproof fabric, its heat-sealed interior seams guarantee its waterproofness. Includes carrying bag.
Neil - no doubt fellow dollar spenders will give their own experience also. Spain is a fully developed and sophisticated country. Cash dispensing machines are available throughout Spain and the locations on whatever route you are planning are usually listed in a good guide. Just like everywhere else good restaurants and shops are happy to take credit cards although shops may ask for a note of your passport number. Chip/Pin technology is spreading in Spain but even in major cities it hasn't really penetrated - yet. At all airports and larger towns there are Cambios where you can change currency. You can work out whether their charge is greater or less than the charge on the ATM. As for a cash reserve - I take enough, well secured, so that if I lost everything I would have enough cash to get me out of diffiuclty.
There are a lot of ATMs in Spain. Every small tow should at least have one.

The ATM here will ask you for a 4 digit pin. I know some US banks operate with 6 digit pins, so make sure you ask them what do do when you are asked for the 4 digit pin.

How much to carry? It is up to you, but since it will cost you for each time you use the card (check how much, normally cheaper with debit cards I think) I would take out about 200-300 euros each time.

The larger restaurants and larger chain supermarkets take VISA/Mastercard, but the smaller ones do not. So walking through smaller villages, probably cash is the best option.

Buen camino,
You should be able to use your current debit/VISA check card, but check with your bank for additional charges. Wells Fargo can charge up to $15 as a fee, in addition to conversion charges and a percentage of the charge you're making. Do you have a credit card?

Citibank, and large credit card companies in general, tend to have better exchange rates at ATM machines than most exchange kiosks. If you have a credit card, I suggest using it for large purchases ($50+). But the rest of the world is still very much a cash based place, I suggest withdrawing most of your spending cash through ATMs as needed.

Yes, they may charge per transaction (depends on the company), so when you do withdraw, make it worthwhile! ($200-$500) This will depend on your personal spending habits and daily withdrawl limits.

Good luck!
Debit/Credit Cards

I had no trouble using my Bank of America Debit card at even the smallest village's atm machine. A traveling companion did have problems with his Credit Union Card (IBM Credit Union), however, and often could not get atms to accept the card.
I did notify my card's security section of the dates when and where I would be traveling. Check with your card company, they will know.
Bune Camino,
Ideal sleeping bag liner whether we want to add a thermal plus to our bag, or if we want to use it alone to sleep in shelters or hostels. Thanks to its mummy shape, it adapts perfectly to our body.
Visa is accepted all over Europe, including small villages in Northern Spain. They sometimes hesitate to accept for small amounts as they have to pay fees to use the Visa services.

Debit card related to Visa is accepted World wide if it has the "PLUS" symbol on it,wether it has 4,5 or 6 PIN security code.

I know because I used it in 2005 and 2006 in Spain, in China, in India, in France, in Belgium, in Japan and at home...
Thanks everyone for the tips. I just got off the phone with my bank and they said basically the same thing, adding as Jerry pointed out that I should notify the security number shortly before I leave. I was also told that the charge would probably be between $2-3 plus a $1 charge from the bank itself, and that automatic conversion would be done. I guess that's the plus side to globalization.

You will have no problems to use your VISA card in greater places, most hotels and restaurants, but when your pocket money is less than 50 euros I would get more in any ATM.

Buen Camino,

Javier Martin
Madrid, Spain
In 2005, there were no ATMs between Astorga and Ponferrada, and unless things have changed since then, you might wish to make sure that you have enough cash at hand for this stretch.
Yes, it's true. No ATMs between Astorga and Ponferrada, because all towns are very smalls. You have to teke cash in Astorga, Ponferrada, Cacabelos, Villafranca, ¿Cebreiro, may be?, Triacastela, Sarria, Portomarin, Palas, Mellide, Arzúa. These are the towns enough big to give you the option to obtain cash, every one / two days.

But, between Astorga and Ponferrada, you can use your credit card in Rabanal in at least two restaurants, and in Molinaseca in a lot of them, for example.

Buen Camino,

Javier Martin
Madrid, Spain.
€2,-/day will present your project to thousands of visitors each day. All interested in the Camino de Santiago.
I am from Singapore and my ATM card works everywhere overseas for cash withdrawal. Just make sure you have a 'Plus' and/or 'Cirrus' behind the card. Taking out 300 euros at a time, you will only need to recharge that every 10-15 days depending of your spending.

It sure beats carrying all that money at one go.
Visa or American Express?

How excepted is AMEX on the Camino? Is it just as accepted as Visa? I only want to carry one.
Ideal sleeping bag liner whether we want to add a thermal plus to our bag, or if we want to use it alone to sleep in shelters or hostels. Thanks to its mummy shape, it adapts perfectly to our body.
Thanks for the insights. I will plan accordingly.
And if any one of you british pilgrims are looking for a good deal on a credit/debit card to take on the camino go to:
Basically the best ones of them are:
for a debit one: Nationwide (no charges at all anywhere in the world)
for a credit card: Abbey's new ZeroCard (only cash w/d interest to pay).
They both are Visas & Mastercards so there should be no problem using them instore/at ATM.
Don't forget to insure your cards as well.

Stay safe! Buen Camino.
Readers need to be aware that most American cards put a 4-8% surcharge on all foreign purchases and withdrawals. This can really ADD UP. I advise looking for a card that doesn't charge, before you go. p
On my camino, we did run into a problem getting money from our ATM card in many cities. Our card is supposed to work with Plus and/or Interlink. What I found in Spain was that it would not work in 70% of the ATMs. My daughter noticed that it would not work in the Telebanco ATMs but usually would work in the ServiRed ones. Since most cities had several options, we usually found one that worked, but in Fisterra, there are only three and all were Telebanco. I had a teller check to see if I was doing something wrong and she said it was my bank that was blocking it.

When I had my wife call the bank, they told her that it should work and we had to only use Plus/Interlink ATMs. But all the Telbanco units were Plus!

Just an FYI. In Astorga we tried 7 ATMs before we got our money.

Like Rambler, I sometimes had to try 2-3 ATMs in a city before I found one that would let me withdraw money.
Both of my USA based credit cards charge 3%. I"m not sure but I believe that Capitol One cards do not charge a foreign transaction fee. You'll need to check it out to be sure. I rarely used the credit card--usually just cash from the ATM.
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
I had some of the same experiences as others, and have confirmed that you will get a better rate on Capital One Visas than other Visa cards. As viajero said, they don't add the 3% transaction fee, and I checked it out this past March by splitting a purchase into three separate purchases and then comparing the bills when they came back in the US. I also find that it's generally better to use the Capital One card for purchases as often as possible rather than pay in cash, because the rate is better than the ATM exchange rate. In the end, the differences probably don't add up to a whole lot, though it is frustrating to feel like you're getting taken by the credit card companies.
Not trying to be negative but the chip is not secure at the moment.
I just watched a video on the subject and am concerned. The subject is becoming
more wide spread as are the cards issued by your cc company. They provide wifi
capability so that your card can be waved in front of a receiver rather than
slid through a tape reader. The concept is good but risky.
Your data can be captured quite easily by one person in a crowd or just passing
by you on a walk.
Watch the news video on the subject and decide for yourself. Here is the link:

It only takes one person to capture any wifi document. Not just your credit
card. Your passport also has the chip.
Gary Hiker
The video you refer to deals with a different technology, based on wireless RFID. The chips in European credit cards are not based on wireless technology (yet).

Many vendors of travel supplies sell inexpensive "security sleeves" to block signals from the wireless chips. As with so many things these days, be cautious, but don't let anything stand in the way of your Camino.
Travelling in Ireland in 2010 I was having a difficult time finding an ATM that would accept my M/C cash request for $500 Euro. Every machine declined my request even though I wasn't even close to my credit limit. Turns out that my daily cash withdrawl maximum is $500 CAN not 500 EURO. DAH! Requested 300 and out came the money. Live and learn.
For the last few years customers in Ireland can withdraw up to €700 daily but sometimes when we travel abroad we're limited by regulations in the country we visit.
Technical backpack for day trips with backpack cover and internal compartment for the hydration bladder. Ideal daypack for excursions where we need a medium capacity backpack. The back with Air Flow System creates large air channels that will keep our back as cool as possible.

Most read last week in this forum

Looking for some advice! My daughter and I are travelling from Canada Sept 2024, landing in Madrid where we hope to chill for a few days b4 needing to meet up with a group in SdC. I’m hoping to...
Under 3 hours from Madrid to Oviedo. New high speed train starts this service tomorrow. Good option for those wanting to walk the Camino Primitivo. More here...
Hi there's, Looking for some advice. I am thinking of walking just, O Pedrouzo to Santiago de Compostela. The reason being, is that my father would like to do it. Whilst fit, he could not do a...
I am trying to find out if there is a bus between Ponferrada to Foncebadón. I am travelling from Santiago in April 2024 to start at Foncebadan but looking at Rome2Rio all public transport seems to...
Greetings and Buen Camino, I am planning to walk the Camino do Mar, Ingles and then onto Finesterre / Muxia in the fall of 2024. I am looking on line on the best way to to get to Ribadeo. I see...
Google couldn't translate this to English. Does the train stop in Segovia?

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) | 2024 Camino Guides