• PLEASE NOTE: Please think twice before you travel to Spain now. More here.

Search over 55.000 Camino Questions

A donation to the forum removes ads for you, and supports Ivar in his work running it


Advertisement
Camino Maps
A collection of Camino Maps from the Camino Forum Store
Camino Way Markers
Original Camino Way markers made in bronze. Two models, one from Castilla & Leon and the other from Galicia.

Currency ($ to E)

Cecilia

New Member
Hi,
I searched but couldn't find much on this subject. Any advice for currency exchange in the US (dollars to euros) before arriving to Spain?

I bring my bank/credit card with me, but one must have currency upon arrival to Spain. My bank always tells me that exchange is free, but they always have hidden charges. Thanks in advance.

Buen Camino,

Cecilia
 
Donation to the Forum
A donation to this forum helps it continue to exists and also removes all ads for you.
Holy Year Credential
Get the HOLY YEAR Camino Credential (Passport) here.

jeff001

Active Member
There is no need to exchange currency prior to leaving the US. There are plenty of ATMs and they will give you the best exchange rates.
 

Deirdre

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Francés (2007), Camino Francés (2008), Camino Portugués (2010), Camino Aragonés - from Lourdes (2012)
Hi Cecilia,
Jeff is absolutely correct. There is no need to bring € with you to Spain. There are times in cities when you can actually see 5 or 6 ATM machines at once! However, I would definitely recommend letting your bank know that you will be traveling in Spain, any other countries where you might use your card and for how long. They are extremely quick to block a card if they see strange or unusual activity. It can be extremely annoying and challenging to call a bank in the US to get them to release the card for use abroad. The entire matter can be resolved by making one phone call prior to departure. It is worth it!
Buen Camino,
 

MermaidLilli

Active Member
Well..... that went through, so I will try again.

I called this past Friday, the Wells Fargo bank (800-626-9430), and they can exchange dollars for euros for you. They charge $6.50 for shipping through FedEx. Their exchange rate was 4 cents above the official exchange rate. That is better than what I ended up paying per euro when I used my atm card. And better than a credit card will charge. Wells had a better rate than my own bank. They will exchange up to 3K euros.
You could call your bank and see if they have that service.
Better exchange rate vs carrying more cash than you might want to be carrying.
Hard choice.
Lillian
 
Camino Cups
Browse our selection of Camino Cups on the forum store
Camino Maps
A collection of Camino Maps from the Camino Forum Store

Cecilia

New Member
Thanks to everyone! I rather arrive with euros on hand. Had bad experience at the airport in Rome. And we had euros, but no small bills or coins to use the phone. Everyone was so rude to us, and it delayed us unecessarily. I know it won't be the same in Barajas, but rather be prepared whenever I can.

Abrazos a todos. Buen Camino,

Cecilia
 

lorax

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
I tried in 09, it went horribly. Gonna try again. Aug/Sept this year
I talked to the Travel Exchange at the Portland Oregon airport... if you exchange even a dollar over a thousand dollars.... it is free. And if you exchange that much and don't need it... they will buy them back at the rate you bought them at.... pretty good deal I think. A friend who is living right now to Madrid was charged $16 dollars at Wells Fargo to exchange 200 dollars. I understand you can get them from ATM's but how much more are you charged??? I found when I was just in Canada, that if I used my plastic at all... I was charged in Canada and then again charged from my bank. I thought that sucked. I don't want to carry that much with me though... just a thought.
 

jeff001

Active Member
lorax:

You need to differentiate between any "transaction fee" you may be charged and the exchange rate you are given. For example, in my newspaper this morning the official dollar/euro exchange rate is shown as 1.34. The website of a well-known worldwide exchange bureau is quoting 1.45. If I use my Wells Fargo ATM card in Europe I will get the official rate and be charged a $5 ATM fee. Therefore E300 will cost $402+5=407. At the exchange bureau it will cost $435 plus any extra fee they may charge for transactions less than $1000.
 

Cecilia

New Member
Hi Jeff,
Excellent! :idea: Thanks, now I have more clarity and will stop cussing my WF bank. I'll bring some cash and use more of my WF card at the ATMs.
Buen Camino,

Cecilia
 
Holy Year Credential
Get the HOLY YEAR Camino Credential (Passport) here.
Camino Maps
A collection of Camino Maps from the Camino Forum Store
Hi Cecilia,
My experience has been bring some Euro. A couple of hundred will take you quite far if you are just using for daily expenses. Don't use the currency exchange at the airport, any airport, that is your worst rate. ATM's are your best rate so when you have exhausted your cash get some more at the ATM. Also look at the credit/debit card you are using and what they are charging for foreign currency purchases. Some charge service charges per purchase.

Nicole
 

Lillian Rodriguez

Active Member
Various terms are used: cajero automatico, telebanco, servired, ATM

At the T4 terminal, right past Customs, there are various options to exchange currency:
1. American Express: located inside the glass enclosed area. I exchanged dollars (not cash withdrawal, but found the exchange rate to be lower than Spanish banks).
2. BBVA and Caja Madrid: located at the left past the glass doors

This excerpt of the Madrid Airport map will help you locate it. The link is:
http://www.aena.es/cartografia/recinto. ... =&p=&id=24

Good luck to you and buen camino!
 

Attachments

  • ATM.jpg
    ATM.jpg
    151.3 KB · Views: 2,331
Camino Magnets
A collection of Camino Fridge Magnets
Peaceable Projects Inc.
Peaceable Projects Inc. is a U.S.-based non-profit group that brings the vast resources of the wide world together with the ongoing needs of the people who live, work, and travel on the Camino de Santiago pilgrim trail network in Spain.
D

Deleted member 3000

Guest
I had $12.18 and $12.25 international ATM fees charged, probably flat rate, at BBVA and Santander, plus the usual bid/ask differential on the exchange rate, on 300 Euro withdrawals from my checking account. I think the fee goes to the Spanish bank, and the vigorish goes to my bank. I was happy to do my part in keeping the international banking system solvent! Now if they would stop "investing" in derivatives...
 

pat.holland

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
C F 2007-10, Le Puy St. Jean 2011-13, C P 2015 Via F 2016-7
Just a reminder not to use your card in a machine on a weekend unless you have no other choice to, A friend of ours did so last year and when, for some unknown reason, it swallowed his card, he had the choice of leaving it or waiting until the bank opened up on Monday. You could get a taxi back but it would be a nuisance.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
September - November 2013, Pamplona to Muxia (& beyond!)
Just checking in about these questions again - rules might have changed in three years...
Is it still best to use ATMs in Spain to withdraw euros? If so, are there also ATMs along the path (Camino Frances)?
Otherwise, if I want to change USD (and/or CDN) dollars, would I get a better exchange rate in Spain or North America?
Finally... does anyone recommend pre-paid money cards? If so, where do I obtain them?
Muchas gracias!!
 

Tia Valeria

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Pt Norte/Pmtvo 2010
C. Inglés 2011
C. Primitivo '12
Norte-C. de la Reina '13
C. do Mar-C. Inglés '15
We pre-loaded a Mastercard money card and used that in ATMs this year, although not along the Francés. Flat rate 2€ charge perwithdrawal. Maximum withdrawal in 24 hours 250€. It worked for us.
We got ours from a travel agency in the UK. They have a 4-digit PIN. If bringing any card from outside of the EU,as far as I know, you do need to ensure that it has a 4-digit and not a 6-digit PIN.
The 'cut-out' from our usual bank card gave us peace of mind that our bank account could not be hacked if we did have a misfortune with the card. Ours came with an emergency phone number and the promise to forward money via Western Union if the card was lost or stolen.

We also carried a credit card for use in some places, but never in ATMs.
 

NicoZ

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2013
Otherwise, if I want to change USD (and/or CDN) dollars, would I get a better exchange rate in Spain or North America?
Finally... does anyone recommend pre-paid money cards? If so, where do I obtain them?
Muchas gracias!!

Your best exchange rate will normally be the ATM with your bank card. Not credit card.

I assume you're in Canada since you ask about C$. The problem is you need a prepaid card in €. Odds are it'll have the fee to load the card. This bit will be obvious. But it'll likely have a less then great exchange rate. If it's in C$ not much point other then not risking your normal bank card. OTOH you can just limit how much cash you have in the account.

Check how much your bank charges per withdrawal. Unless things have changed the major Canadian banks are around $5 per.
 
Camino Magnets
A collection of Camino Fridge Magnets
Create your own ad
Have a camino related project that you are interested in promoting on the forum? Create your own ad right now.

Tia Valeria

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Pt Norte/Pmtvo 2010
C. Inglés 2011
C. Primitivo '12
Norte-C. de la Reina '13
C. do Mar-C. Inglés '15
We found this different, but we are in the UK. There was no charge for loading the prepay card with euros, but would have been for £GB. The exchange rate from the travel agency was good and compared well with the rate later given for our credit cards with fees also added.
The withdrawal charge as I said before was 2€ per withdrawal at an ATM, regardless of how little, we minimised this by withdrawing the maximum each time (250€ allowed in any 24 hour period). There was no fee if used as a debit card.

The cards offered by banks are not always the best way but the travel agency one works well if you can research them. Some are available, or have info online. Most can also be reloaded online if you want to add that into your registration details. We prefer not to so that the card is isolated from our accounts for security reasons.
 

NicoZ

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2013
Things like € cards are more common in the EU then outside. My Canadian bank offers Euro accounts but not bank cards. Unfortunately if the OP is in North America the choices will be limited.
 

piogaw

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino frances (05/06 2012) sjpdp-sdc; vdlp/camino sanabrea (02/03 2013) sevilla-sdc; hospitalero sdc june 2013, august-september 2013; caminho portugues (03 2014) lisboa-sdc
Just checking in about these questions again - rules might have changed in three years...
Is it still best to use ATMs in Spain to withdraw euros? If so, are there also ATMs along the path (Camino Frances)?
Otherwise, if I want to change USD (and/or CDN) dollars, would I get a better exchange rate in Spain or North America?
Finally... does anyone recommend pre-paid money cards? If so, where do I obtain them?
Muchas gracias!!

Hello healing pilgrim,

You will be getting a better exchange rate to withdraw euros from atm machines in spain than buying dollars from your us banks. But make sure or be aware whether your banks will charge you a percentage or an exchange rate fee and also a processing fee. Do not use a credit card to take out money from the atms as it is considered to be a loan. Do not use the atms in madrid barajas airport as i think they give you a lower exchange rate. However there are many, many atm machines in the small pubeblos and the cities along the camino frances. Always try to use the atms during banking hours just in case the machine swallows your card. The instructions to withdraw money from the atms have the option of using english or other languages. Make sure you notified your banks so that they won't block your cards.

As far as i know there are 2 us banks that do not charge you fee for withdrawing money from a foreign atm. I believe they are charles schwab and chase manhattan. One or the other will refund whatever fees you paid.

I have no experience of using pre-paid money cards, so am unable to help you.

Que tengas un buen camino y que dios los bendiga.
 
Last edited:

jmcorrigan

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Plan to walk As Soon As Possible!
If you have an address in the US you can open an account with Charles Schwab online. The ATM that comes with the account can be used anywhere worldwide to withdraw money in the local currency. You get the interbank exchange rate (or close to it) rather than the retail exchange rates you might be charged elsewhere, Schwab does not pass on the 1 or 2% Visa and MasterCard network fee to you (they eat it), and if you are charged an ATM fee by the machine's owner they will refund it to you at the end of the billing month. It's the best (and cheapest) way to access your cash abroad, in my opinion. There are similar deals available from other providers, but my experience is with Schwab.
 

Tia Valeria

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Pt Norte/Pmtvo 2010
C. Inglés 2011
C. Primitivo '12
Norte-C. de la Reina '13
C. do Mar-C. Inglés '15
Things like € cards are more common in the EU then outside. My Canadian bank offers Euro accounts but not bank cards. Unfortunately if the OP is in North America the choices will be limited.
We cannot get euro cards from our bank in UK, that is why I suggested the travel agent. I think TravelX type cards etc can be bought - but it does need checking on-line. We pay cash when loading ours, no charge added for the exchange as on a bank/credit card transaction.
 
Holy Year Credential
Get the HOLY YEAR Camino Credential (Passport) here.
Create your own ad
Have a camino related project that you are interested in promoting on the forum? Create your own ad right now.

indyinmaine

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances - SJPdP to Santiago - Sept/Oct 2013
Hi,
I searched but couldn't find much on this subject. Any advice for currency exchange in the US (dollars to euros) before arriving to Spain?

I bring my bank/credit card with me, but one must have currency upon arrival to Spain. My bank always tells me that exchange is free, but they always have hidden charges. Thanks in advance.

Buen Camino,

Cecilia
Cecilia,

1) ONLY use ATMs that are for a particular bank, not a financial association. That's hard to find in an airport but once you're outside they are usually there.
2) Check with your bank(s) before you go and ask them whether they charge a fee/withdrawal. Then ask them what exchange rate they would use if you had used it today. That answer might be a little harder to obtain but somebody always knows.
3. Then check a website like www.oanda.com and see what the exchange rate is. Then you'll know if they buried any fees.
4. Most important!!! If your PIN has letters in it, transpose them to numbers. European ATMs numbers and letters don't correspond to ours!
 

Tia Valeria

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Pt Norte/Pmtvo 2010
C. Inglés 2011
C. Primitivo '12
Norte-C. de la Reina '13
C. do Mar-C. Inglés '15
4. Most important!!! If your PIN has letters in it, transpose them to numbers. European ATMs numbers and letters don't correspond to ours!
Also as I said above make sure you only have a 4- not a 6- digit PIN
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
I'm from Europe so I kind of don't have such problems, but for others I found @jmcorrigan 's advice most valuable.

Also there's one more option. Maybe it's more suitable for a bit longer stay in EU but can also be useful for walking the Camino. It's called "non-residential bank account". That means that you can open your bank account as a foreigner at any bank you wish and you wouldn't be under tax authorities surveillance. OK, yes you will be, but not in the terms of weekly/monthly wages etc., and to have pay taxes for that. Then you just transfer or make a deposit of your money to this new bank account, wait for a few days for your bank card and that's it. And as I know, and experienced so far, the fees are really low or none for withdrawals at the counter. Maybe a bit higher or again none (depends on your new Bank's cooperative Banks so to say) for ATM service.

Hope that helps a bit.
 

mBoston

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2013
I agree with Corrigan. Last May my daughter & I walked from SJPDP to Logrono...despite the rain & mud a fantastic experience. We used a Schwab debit card. I opened the bank acct. in April for sole purpose of using their ATM on the Camino. Worked out fantastic. I travel alot & in my expereince the Schwab card offers the best FX rates anywhere plus no ATM fees anywhere. I used a Santander ATM in Pamplona & Bilboa and there were NO ATM charges.

Right now my daughter is studying in Australia for a semester & we sent her with a schwab bank visa debit card. So far same experience. Great exchange rate & no ATM fees. The acct. has no minimum balance. We plan to go back next year and re-start in Logrono & walk to Astorga. Wouldn't bring anything else.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
September - November 2013, Pamplona to Muxia (& beyond!)
Gracias, everyone, for your insightful and creative suggestions :). I don't have time to get a card from Schwab, or open an EU bank account, so I'll likely check with my bank this week re fees and default to using my ATM card.
 
Camino Masks
12 different designs, shipped world wide from Santiago.
Peaceable Projects Inc.
Peaceable Projects Inc. is a U.S.-based non-profit group that brings the vast resources of the wide world together with the ongoing needs of the people who live, work, and travel on the Camino de Santiago pilgrim trail network in Spain.

Similar threads

Camino Conversations

Camino Conversations

Forum Rules

Forum Rules

Forum Donation

Forum Donation
For those with no forum account, it is possible to donate here as well. Thank you for your support! Ivar

Follow Casa Ivar on Instagram

Most downloaded Resources

When is the best time to walk?

  • January

    Votes: 16 1.2%
  • February

    Votes: 10 0.7%
  • March

    Votes: 60 4.3%
  • April

    Votes: 207 15.0%
  • May

    Votes: 336 24.3%
  • June

    Votes: 100 7.2%
  • July

    Votes: 27 2.0%
  • August

    Votes: 29 2.1%
  • September

    Votes: 398 28.8%
  • October

    Votes: 171 12.4%
  • November

    Votes: 19 1.4%
  • December

    Votes: 10 0.7%

Camino Forum Store

Camino Forum Store
Top