• 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

Dollar to Euro Exchange, Credit Card, fees

CaminoJoy123

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017
So how is everyone handling the issues surrounding currency exchange?

I'm kind of a minimalist and only have one credit card with my bank. My bank has no ATMs in Europe.

When I withdraw Euros from an ATM in Europe, a typical American bank charges $5 flat fee for each international ATM use, plus 3% of the value of the withdrawal. I don't know whether they mean 3% figured on US dollars or Euros. I'm not sure the local tellers know either.

Some US cards have safety features that cap the maximum cash withdrawal at $300. So the first question, does this mean one cannot actually withdraw 300 Euros, but more like a couple hundred Euros, due to the exchange rate and the $300 cap?

Anyway, if I withdraw whatever Euros I can, and my bank caps their end at $300, then my fee to the bank is $5 plus 3% of 300, which is $9. So I owe my bank $14 fee total. And depending on the exchange rate, I'm getting maybe 250 Euros.

But let's say I really want 300 Euros, and that's what I type at the ATM. And it goes through. That's nearly 400 US dollars for the 300 Euros.

Now if my bank figures the 3% fee on the dollar value of $400, that's $12, plus the flat $5 fee brings me to $17 in fees on 300 Euros or $400. That goes to my bank every time I want my money in 300 Euros. The European ATM fees are extra!

So the main question, isn't there a better way to get cash?

Next, how much is the typical ATM charge in Europe?

Another question is, how do the ATMs in Europe calculate the exchange rate? Do they use the exchange rate offered by Deutsche Bank and HSBC, or do they use Bank of America or Wells Fargo numbers, or something else?

For example, today Bank of America and Wells Fargo want $495 for 400 Euros. I'm sure the Deutsche Bank and HSBC rate was better, something like $445 for 400 Euros, but can't find the link now.

I'm asking about using cash because I thought American credit cards like Visa are not very widely accepted in small towns along the Camino, and in albergues, etc. So the last question, how accepted is Visa and credit?
 

tjb1013

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2017)
Portugués (2019)
Two things to worry about:
  • The exchange rate
  • ATM fees
Your ATM card transactions will get the exchange rate used by the card network that manages your bank's ATM cards - Visa or someone like it. They'll get the interbank rate, which is the best you can get. Might be some differences among the major card networks depending on how they handle the transactions and when they post, but those differences should be small.

At least one US "bank", Charles Schwab, has a no-fee checking account that actually reimburses you for any ATM fees you are charged anywhere in the world. You can open an account with them online.

Check your credit card - many don't charge a fee for foreign transactions (and use the interbank rate for exchanges), but some charge fees.

I don't know the answers on the max transaction - good questions.
 

evanlow

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances06
Primitivo07
Plata08
Norte12
Levante(14-15)
Vasco16
Mozarabe(16-17)
Madrid17
Portuguese18
From Singapore, on average I lose about 7% on each exchange. I don't see any extra charges on my bank statement and the 7% is basically the exchange rate used so I don't know how both banks manage to profit from the exchange.

They are no stipulation from my bank here on the maximum but the limit is usually from the banks in Spain (around 300 Euros).
I normally exchange around 300-400 euros here before my Camino and hopefully just once at the ATM there.
 

CaminoJoy123

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017
Two things to worry about:
  • The exchange rate
  • ATM fees
Your ATM card transactions will get the exchange rate used by the card network that manages your bank's ATM cards - Visa or someone like it. They'll get the interbank rate, which is the best you can get. Might be some differences among the major card networks depending on how they handle the transactions and when they post, but those differences should be small.

At least one US "bank", Charles Schwab, has a no-fee checking account that actually reimburses you for any ATM fees you are charged anywhere in the world. You can open an account with them online.

Check your credit card - many don't charge a fee for foreign transactions (and use the interbank rate for exchanges), but some charge fees.

I don't know the answers on the max transaction - good questions.

Great to know the interbank rate on ATM withdrawals is the best.

The ATM fees themselves are high. If I'm paying $14-$17 to my bank per ATM withdrawal, and if the European fees are half that or equal to that, I'm looking at $20-$34 in total fees per $300 cash withdrawal?

Thanks for the Schwab info, didn't know that. It's a bit late to get that started.

Obviously my credit card charges a fee to use it overseas! But I was under the impression many small towns in Spain didn't accept Visa?
 

tjb1013

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2017)
Portugués (2019)
I think I opened and funded the Schwab account in about a week. Opens immediately, accepts funds within a few days, takes another couple for your mobile check deposit to be recognized.

Same fast turnaround probably goes for applying for credit cards. I have one that has no-fee foreign transactions and pays cash back for every transaction. I pay it off every month.
 

CaminoJoy123

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017
From Singapore, on average I lose about 7% on each exchange. I don't see any extra charges on my bank statement and the 7% is basically the exchange rate used so I don't know how both banks manage to profit from the exchange.

They are no stipulation from my bank here on the maximum but the limit is usually from the banks in Spain (around 300 Euros).
I normally exchange around 300-400 euros here before my Camino and hopefully just once at the ATM there.

Well, the banks aren't supposed to profit on the exchange, I'm retrieving my own money! They charge interest for loans and profit from that.

So your budget for Camino is about 800 Euros, and you stayed under? That's amazing and great to hear!
 

tjb1013

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2017)
Portugués (2019)
Well, the banks aren't supposed to profit on the exchange, I'm retrieving my own money! They charge interest for loans and profit from that.

It's possible that smaller institutions have a less attractive exchange rate because they move less money per day, and therefore have higher costs in managing it than the big credit card companies do, and that all of these financial institutions have only your best interests at heart.

How's that for a Camino attitude?
 
Camino(s) past & future
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
Well, the banks aren't supposed to profit on the exchange, I'm retrieving my own money! They charge interest for loans and profit from that.

So your budget for Camino is about 800 Euros, and you stayed under? That's amazing and great to hear!

You will find that most banks believe that they are supposed to profit on the exchange (and will offer you the most extraordinary rationale for this, with great tales of how hard it is to obtain Mongolian tögrög). They also believe that they are supposed to profit for administrative acts, even those which provide you with your own money. They also profit (quite a bit) from loan interest. However, most of these charges are negotiable-- either work with financial institutions which do not charge fees (such as Charles Schwab), or use special programmes offered by the institution (might provides free chequing and withdrawals for senior citizens, or negotiate the charges directly with them (although you'll find them more unwilling to do this unless you are a major or otherwise valued customer). One of my wealthier friends persuaded his bank to waive all fees-- he informs me it is easier to do if you are a major client, and held out little hope for me.
 

CaminoJoy123

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017


Those threads are mostly explaining that one must use local currency, which is the Euro. I wasn't thinking of trying to pay in US currency!

I don't know whether my bank applies their fee schedule to the dollar or the Euro, and even the tellers don't know. But I'm withdrawing Euros, of course.

I learned : "Santander & Bankia banks do not charge an ATM fee as of last May. "
 

CaminoJoy123

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017
It's possible that smaller institutions have a less attractive exchange rate because they move less money per day, and therefore have higher costs in managing it than the big credit card companies do, and that all of these financial institutions have only your best interests at heart.

How's that for a Camino attitude?

"all of these financial institutions have only your best interests at heart"

I think you drank too much wine!

By the way, from your earlier post, 7% in fees is steep! Sorry to hear that.
 

tjb1013

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2017)
Portugués (2019)
Those threads are mostly explaining that one must use local currency, which is the Euro. I wasn't thinking of trying to pay in US currency!

I don't know whether my bank applies their fee schedule to the dollar or the Euro, and even the tellers don't know. But I'm withdrawing Euros, of course.

I learned : "Santander & Bankia banks do not charge an ATM fee as of last May. "

They wander all over the lot to cover some of these issues.

It is good to know in advance where the fees are (ATM and credit card transaction fees and the "hidden fees" of terrible exchange rates) and govern ourselves accordingly.

As the Spaniards point out, Spain is a first-world country and you will find ATMs, shampoo, underwear and all manner of first-world stuff throughout the Camino.

EDIT add: Also, if you use a credit card to withdraw cash from an ATM, interest immediately begins to accrue.
 
Last edited:
D

Deleted member 67185

Guest
So how is everyone handling the issues surrounding currency exchange?

I'm kind of a minimalist and only have one credit card with my bank. My bank has no ATMs in Europe.

When I withdraw Euros from an ATM in Europe, a typical American bank charges $5 flat fee for each international ATM use, plus 3% of the value of the withdrawal. I don't know whether they mean 3% figured on US dollars or Euros. I'm not sure the local tellers know either.

Some US cards have safety features that cap the maximum cash withdrawal at $300. So the first question, does this mean one cannot actually withdraw 300 Euros, but more like a couple hundred Euros, due to the exchange rate and the $300 cap?

Anyway, if I withdraw whatever Euros I can, and my bank caps their end at $300, then my fee to the bank is $5 plus 3% of 300, which is $9. So I owe my bank $14 fee total. And depending on the exchange rate, I'm getting maybe 250 Euros.

But let's say I really want 300 Euros, and that's what I type at the ATM. And it goes through. That's nearly 400 US dollars for the 300 Euros.

Now if my bank figures the 3% fee on the dollar value of $400, that's $12, plus the flat $5 fee brings me to $17 in fees on 300 Euros or $400. That goes to my bank every time I want my money in 300 Euros. The European ATM fees are extra!

So the main question, isn't there a better way to get cash?

Next, how much is the typical ATM charge in Europe?

Another question is, how do the ATMs in Europe calculate the exchange rate? Do they use the exchange rate offered by Deutsche Bank and HSBC, or do they use Bank of America or Wells Fargo numbers, or something else?

For example, today Bank of America and Wells Fargo want $495 for 400 Euros. I'm sure the Deutsche Bank and HSBC rate was better, something like $445 for 400 Euros, but can't find the link now.

I'm asking about using cash because I thought American credit cards like Visa are not very widely accepted in small towns along the Camino, and in albergues, etc. So the last question, how accepted is Visa and credit?

I'm using a Bank of America debit card. I opened the account specifically for the Camino travel. Since BOA is affiliated with Deutsche Bank, there are no transaction fees when using a Deutshe Bank ATM, which are along the Camino, just a conversion fee. Additionally, if I need assistance, or wish to withdraw cash from a bank, I can do that at any Deutshe Bank, just like I could walking into a BOA Bank.

The cheapest method for exchange is an ATM transaction in Euros, not a transaction in dollars that is then converted to Euros. Of course, using a credit card instead of a debit card imposes the credit card cash advance fee, which doesn't exist with a debit card.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

CaminoJoy123

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017
I think I opened and funded the Schwab account in about a week. Opens immediately, accepts funds within a few days, takes another couple for your mobile check deposit to be recognized.

Same fast turnaround probably goes for applying for credit cards. I have one that has no-fee foreign transactions and pays cash back for every transaction. I pay it off every month.

That's nice info, but this Schwab stuff and researching unnamed new cards is a bit tangential to some of my questions right now, like are credit cards widely accepted, and how is the math calculated for the withdrawal fee, and what is the typical European ATM fee.

Besides, I'm kind of a minimalist and do not want multiple financial institutions and credit lines. So I wouldn't just open an account or apply for a credit card on a whim because it only takes a week. Rather, I would move my accounts if, after thorough research, there was a good opportunity and reason.

But hey, right now I'm very unhappy with my bank.
 

tjb1013

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2017)
Portugués (2019)
That's nice info, but this Schwab stuff and researching unnamed new cards is a bit tangential to some of my questions right now, like are credit cards widely accepted, and how is the math calculated for the withdrawal fee, and what is the typical European ATM fee.

Besides, I'm kind of a minimalist and do not want multiple financial institutions and credit lines. So I wouldn't just open an account or apply for a credit card on a whim because it only takes a week. Rather, I would move my accounts if, after thorough research, there was a good opportunity and reason.

But hey, right now I'm very unhappy with my bank.

I apologize for veering into mansplaining there. I'm not a fan of bank fees and I was triggered. o_O

Good luck getting your answers, I'm sure others can help.
 

CaminoJoy123

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017
I'm using a Bank of America debit card. I opened the account specifically for the Camino travel. Since BOA is affiliated with Deutsche Bank, there are no transaction fees, just a conversion fee. The cheapest method for exchange is an ATM transaction in Euros, not a transaction in dollars that is then converted to Euros. Of course, using a credit card instead of a debit card imposes a the credit card cash advance fee, which doesn't exist with a debit card.

Wow, that's a great update about BofA. I checked and also heard they had high ATM transaction fees internationally. So you're correcting that.

Also, interesting to hear people open an account for travel only. Never crossed my mind. I'm sort of a minimalist.

I'll look into this for next Camino. No time left before this one.
 
D

Deleted member 67185

Guest
Wow, that's a great update about BofA. I checked and also heard they had high ATM transaction fees internationally. So you're correcting that.

Also, interesting to hear people open an account for travel only. Never crossed my mind. I'm sort of a minimalist.

I'll look into this for next Camino. No time left before this one.

High fees if you use a non-BOA affiliated ATM :)
 

CaminoJoy123

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017
I apologize for veering into mansplaining there. I'm not a fan of bank fees and I was triggered. o_O

Good luck getting your answers, I'm sure others can help.

Oh man, I don't mean to sound all pissy. It's fine about Schwab and other companies, but too late for me on this Camino.

I actually did ask if there was a better way, because how is everyone getting their money without these outrageous charges. And one answer is, they use better financial companies, that's what they're doing!
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
That's nice info, but this Schwab stuff and researching unnamed new cards is a bit tangential to some of my questions right now, like are credit cards widely accepted, and how is the math calculated for the withdrawal fee, and what is the typical European ATM fee.
.

Hi, CaminoJoy,
I know that many people will tell you that the Camino is a "cash camino", but I have always used my credit card a lot. Maybe that's because I have stayed in and shopped in places that are not as local as others. My advice is to use the CC whenever you can, it is much simpler and it means that your transactions are "on the books." I know there is a lot of disagreement about this, but I have problems with establishments that offer you a discount for cash. In many instances that just means they are not going to pay taxes on their income. In fairness, it may also mean that they are going to avoid the CC fee.

As far as ATM fee, this is a function of both your bank at home and the bank you use in Spain, so it's hard to give you good advice. My bank in the US waives (absorbs) the foreign ATM fees, so I don't pay attention to their charges.

Bottom line -- I think that if you do the math, you will find that over the cost of an average camino, you are talking about no more than $50, so it may not be worth worrying about.
 

CaminoJoy123

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017
Hi, CaminoJoy,
I know that many people will tell you that the Camino is a "cash camino", but I have always used my credit card a lot. Maybe that's because I have stayed in and shopped in places that are not as local as others. My advice is to use the CC whenever you can, it is much simpler and it means that your transactions are "on the books." I know there is a lot of disagreement about this, but I have problems with establishments that offer you a discount for cash. In many instances that just means they are not going to pay taxes on their income. In fairness, it may also mean that they are going to avoid the CC fee.

As far as ATM fee, this is a function of both your bank at home and the bank you use in Spain, so it's hard to give you good advice. My bank in the US waives (absorbs) the foreign ATM fees, so I don't pay attention to their charges.

Bottom line -- I think that if you do the math, you will find that over the cost of an average camio, you are talking about no more than $50, so it may not be worth worrying about.

Thank you for the fabulous info about credit cards being accepted in many of the larger areas. Yes, I'd prefer to use credit card instead of fumbling with cash.

As far as ATM fees, my bank is charging at least $12 in fees for each 300 Euro withdrawal, but it could be attached to withdrawals that are less than 300 Euros if the fraud caps are in place. And the Spanish ATM fees are added to that. Santander and maybe one or two other ATMs charge no additional fees.

I suppose if I made three 300-euro withdrawals, and each total fee is around $15, you're right, about $50 in fees.

Are people spending under $1,000 euros on food and lodging on their camino though?
 
D

Deleted member 67185

Guest
Thank you for the fabulous info about credit cards being accepted in many of the larger areas. Yes, I'd prefer to use credit card instead of fumbling with cash.

As far as ATM fees, my bank is charging at least $12 in fees for each 300 Euro withdrawal, but it could be attached to withdrawals that are less than 300 Euros if the fraud caps are in place. And the Spanish ATM fees are added to that. Santander and maybe one or two other ATMs charge no additional fees.

I suppose if I made three 300-euro withdrawals, and each total fee is around $15, you're right, about $50 in fees.

Are people spending under $1,000 euros on food and lodging on their camino though?

Drawing cash from an atm with a credit card usually has cash advance fees in addition to any atm use fees and conversion fees. Does yours?
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
If the bank machine has a limit of Euros 300, you will get all 300 in cash, and your home account will be charged accordingly.

If I take money out of a bank machine with the correct symbols - e.g. Interac, Plus, Maestro - I am not charged a fee at that end, but my bank in Canada charges me $5 per transaction. Going with this is my minimalist approach :). However I do carry a card from a second bank as backup.
 

CaminoMatt73

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances & Portuguese 2016. Via de la Plata & to Porto Mar-June 2017, Norte Way in Sept.
So how is everyone handling the issues surrounding currency exchange?

I'm kind of a minimalist and only have one credit card with my bank. My bank has no ATMs in Europe.

When I withdraw Euros from an ATM in Europe, a typical American bank charges $5 flat fee for each international ATM use, plus 3% of the value of the withdrawal. I don't know whether they mean 3% figured on US dollars or Euros. I'm not sure the local tellers know either.

Some US cards have safety features that cap the maximum cash withdrawal at $300. So the first question, does this mean one cannot actually withdraw 300 Euros, but more like a couple hundred Euros, due to the exchange rate and the $300 cap?

Anyway, if I withdraw whatever Euros I can, and my bank caps their end at $300, then my fee to the bank is $5 plus 3% of 300, which is $9. So I owe my bank $14 fee total. And depending on the exchange rate, I'm getting maybe 250 Euros.

But let's say I really want 300 Euros, and that's what I type at the ATM. And it goes through. That's nearly 400 US dollars for the 300 Euros.

Now if my bank figures the 3% fee on the dollar value of $400, that's $12, plus the flat $5 fee brings me to $17 in fees on 300 Euros or $400. That goes to my bank every time I want my money in 300 Euros. The European ATM fees are extra!

So the main question, isn't there a better way to get cash?

Next, how much is the typical ATM charge in Europe?

Another question is, how do the ATMs in Europe calculate the exchange rate? Do they use the exchange rate offered by Deutsche Bank and HSBC, or do they use Bank of America or Wells Fargo numbers, or something else?

For example, today Bank of America and Wells Fargo want $495 for 400 Euros. I'm sure the Deutsche Bank and HSBC rate was better, something like $445 for 400 Euros, but can't find the link now.

I'm asking about using cash because I thought American credit cards like Visa are not very widely accepted in small towns along the Camino, and in albergues, etc. So the last question, how accepted is Visa and credit?


In two months, it may cost me $20-30 beyond exchange rates for convenience and safety of my money. Credit cards are ridiculously over charging but I'll still use it when needed. I'm a cash guy and will take 800 Euro to begin. I'll only withdraw two or three more times and therefore will not pay a load of bank fees. Good luck
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
You will find very few albergues and bars (restaurants) in small towns that accept credit cards. And sometimes you won't even encounter an ATM for several days, so you need to always make sure that you have enough cash.
You may also find that places that do accept credit cards are more expensive than cash only places, so avoiding ATM fees by using CC can be a false savings
 

CaminoJoy123

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017
Drawing cash from an atm with a credit card usually has cash advance fees in addition to any atm use fees and conversion fees. Does yours?

Sorry, I was simplifying. It's a debit/credit card. No, there is no interest accrued on any cash withdrawn from an ATM.
 

CaminoJoy123

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017
In two months, it may cost me $20-30 beyond exchange rates for convenience and safety of my money. Credit cards are ridiculously over charging but I'll still use it when needed. I'm a cash guy and will take 800 Euro to begin. I'll only withdraw two or three more times and therefore will not pay a load of bank fees. Good luck

Great idea, show up with Euros already. Do you use a money belt? That's a lot of cash to carry!
 

CaminoJoy123

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017
You will find very few albergues and bars (restaurants) in small towns that accept credit cards. And sometimes you won't even encounter an ATM for several days, so you need to always make sure that you have enough cash.
You may also find that places that do accept credit cards are more expensive than cash only places, so avoiding ATM fees by using CC can be a false savings

That's great info. What stretch of Camino Frances has no ATM's for a few days?
 

Purple Backpack

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2012
England C2C 2015
Via Francigena 2016
Le Puy ... someday.
You may want to go into your bank and talk to a banker. My local bank charges $2 on their side for an ATM withdrawal overseas, if the machine is not part of their system. The bank on the European side also charges a fee, which is usually $3-5 or so. So every time I use an ATM, it costs me less than $10 and I try to take out the maximum amount allowed (I've taken out more than 300 euros, I believe) to limit the fees. Its annoying but just part of the cost of the trip. I try not to let the euros drop too low, in case the next ATM is a couple of days away, is broken or eats my card.

I am also a fan of ordering some euros ahead of time to keep things simple. It costs me about $15 at our bank but I know the fees vary a lot. I split it with my travel partner, using money belts, some in the pack and about 20 euros in a pocket for the day. Sometimes I'll have enough euros leftover from a previous trip to get me through the first travel day until I can find an ATM. So unless you're sure you'll never return, don't cash out your euros at a bad exchange rate before coming home. Just tuck them away for the next trip.

Think I'll open a Schwab account next time, just for travel!

Best of luck to you and happy planning!
 

WGroleau

Wandering Weirdo
Camino(s) past & future
2015 & 2016 (partial)
I'm kind of a minimalist and only have one credit card with my bank.
My advice is two have at least two cards, from two different banks, and don't keep them in the same pocket. Murphy's law, right? I was still in Spain when one card was blocked because someone in USA had attempted to use the number twice.
So the main question, isn't there a better way to get cash?
The best way is to use a card from a bank that reimburses all ATM fees. I have Schwab, but I know there are others. And if you purchase with that card, make sure they don't set the currency to yours without asking you. That allows their bank to do the conversion and take a hefty fee. If set to Euro, your bank will do the conversion and probably at the market rate.
Next, how much is the typical ATM charge in Europe?
iberCaja in Spain, and most ATMs in the U.K. do not charge a fee for non-customers. Others in Spain range from €2 to €5.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Sorry, I was simplifying. It's a debit/credit card. No, there is no interest accrued on any cash withdrawn from an ATM.
What exactly us a debit/credit card? Do you mean a debit card with a Visa or Mastercard brand that you can use to make purchases and cash withdrawals? If the money for the purchase/withdrawal is immediately taken from your account it is a debit card, not a credit card.
That's great info. What stretch of Camino Frances has no ATM's for a few days?
One that I recall was Astorga to Ponferrada. The information that you will get at the Pilgrims Office in St Jean will have information about which towns have banks. It's best to always make sure you always have about 100€ with you all the time.
 

CaminoJoy123

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017
My advice is two have at least two cards, from two different banks, and don't keep them in the same pocket. Murphy's law, right? I was still in Spain when one card was blocked because someone in USA had attempted to use the number twice.
The best way is to use a card from a bank that reimburses all ATM fees. I have Schwab, but I know there are others. And if you purchase with that card, make sure they don't set the currency to yours without asking you. That allows their bank to do the conversion and take a hefty fee. If set to Euro, your bank will do the conversion and probably at the market rate.
iberCaja in Spain, and most ATMs in the U.K. do not charge a fee for non-customers. Others in Spain range from €2 to €5.

Thank you for explaining the likely European ATM fees for international, non-customers!

So it's €2-€5.

Yes, I finally found how to make the Euro symbol on my laptop!
 

CaminoJoy123

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017
What exactly us a debit/credit card? Do you mean a debit card with a Visa or Mastercard brand that you can use to make purchases and cash withdrawals? If the money for the purchase/withdrawal is immediately taken from your account it is a debit card, not a credit card.

Many financial institutions offer a card that has combined features of a debit and credit card. When the customer uses the card as a credit card, the cashier or the customer chooses the payment method as credit, and the rest of the transaction proceeds like a credit transaction. That is, you do not enter your ATM PIN number like you would at a bank. So it's quite safe.

Almost everyone I know has had their card hacked to skimmers, so you do not want to give out your PIN except in the most secure locations, such as an actual bank.

For people who have never had credit card debt, but pay every month, this type of card is fine. There are no domestic fees, or interest rates, or anything like that. There are no membership points or rewards. It's very simple.

The international fees were just explained to me this week.
 

CaminoJoy123

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017
One that I recall was Astorga to Ponferrada. The information that you will get at the Pilgrims Office in St Jean will have information about which towns have banks. It's best to always make sure you always have about 100€ with you all the time.

Get € in Astorga. Got it.

No € until Ponferrada. Got it.

Great to know the Pilgrims office has info about banking along the Camino towns.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Many financial institutions offer a card that has combined features of a debit and credit card. When the customer uses the card as a credit card, the cashier or the customer chooses the payment method as credit, and the rest of the transaction proceeds like a credit transaction. That is, you do not enter your ATM PIN number like you would at a bank. So it's quite safe.
I understand that merchants can run a debit card through their system as if it's a credit card, with a signature rather than a PIN, but your bank still treats the transaction as a debit, not as a credit card charge that you can pay later.
 

notion900

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
>
I did some research recently and learned that the answer to the ATM question 'Do you wish to be charged in your home currency' is 'No'.
 

CaminoJoy123

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017
I did some research recently and learned that the answer to the ATM question 'Do you wish to be charged in your home currency' is 'No'.

the correct answer to the ATM question on home currency charges is NO

right, got it. great reminder!

however, i was actually wondering whether my bank is charging their 3% on the Euro or the Dollar. By now, I don't really care anymore!
 

CaminoJoy123

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017
Also, a smartphone/tablet app that downloads OpenStreetMap data for off-line use will let you search for where to find an ATM.

ok, so, whoa, Google Maps won't work? Or it eats too much data?

People have been downloading maps for use without internet and GPS?
 

WGroleau

Wandering Weirdo
Camino(s) past & future
2015 & 2016 (partial)
ok, so, whoa, Google Maps won't work? Or it eats too much data?

People have been downloading maps for use without internet and GPS?
If you don't have cell phone data (and you won't in many places), then no, Google won't work, nor Apple maps, nor Bing, nor Mapquest. But GPS will work, if you have already downloaded the maps. A GPS device will already have the maps installed, but smartphone/tablet apps usually require you to download them in advance.
 

dfox

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF (4/2017)
CP (5/2019)
CF (5/2021)
So how is everyone handling the issues surrounding currency exchange?

I'm kind of a minimalist and only have one credit card with my bank. My bank has no ATMs in Europe.

When I withdraw Euros from an ATM in Europe, a typical American bank charges $5 flat fee for each international ATM use, plus 3% of the value of the withdrawal. I don't know whether they mean 3% figured on US dollars or Euros. I'm not sure the local tellers know either.

Some US cards have safety features that cap the maximum cash withdrawal at $300. So the first question, does this mean one cannot actually withdraw 300 Euros, but more like a couple hundred Euros, due to the exchange rate and the $300 cap?

Anyway, if I withdraw whatever Euros I can, and my bank caps their end at $300, then my fee to the bank is $5 plus 3% of 300, which is $9. So I owe my bank $14 fee total. And depending on the exchange rate, I'm getting maybe 250 Euros.

But let's say I really want 300 Euros, and that's what I type at the ATM. And it goes through. That's nearly 400 US dollars for the 300 Euros.

Now if my bank figures the 3% fee on the dollar value of $400, that's $12, plus the flat $5 fee brings me to $17 in fees on 300 Euros or $400. That goes to my bank every time I want my money in 300 Euros. The European ATM fees are extra!

So the main question, isn't there a better way to get cash?

Next, how much is the typical ATM charge in Europe?

Another question is, how do the ATMs in Europe calculate the exchange rate? Do they use the exchange rate offered by Deutsche Bank and HSBC, or do they use Bank of America or Wells Fargo numbers, or something else?

For example, today Bank of America and Wells Fargo want $495 for 400 Euros. I'm sure the Deutsche Bank and HSBC rate was better, something like $445 for 400 Euros, but can't find the link now.

I'm asking about using cash because I thought American credit cards like Visa are not very widely accepted in small towns along the Camino, and in albergues, etc. So the last question, how accepted is Visa and credit?
 

dfox

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF (4/2017)
CP (5/2019)
CF (5/2021)
I used a debit card to withdraw fund from my bank account.

I think using a credit card to withdraw fund from the card would consider cash advance which bears heavy interest rate.
 

dfox

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF (4/2017)
CP (5/2019)
CF (5/2021)
So how is everyone handling the issues surrounding currency exchange?

I'm kind of a minimalist and only have one credit card with my bank. My bank has no ATMs in Europe.

When I withdraw Euros from an ATM in Europe, a typical American bank charges $5 flat fee for each international ATM use, plus 3% of the value of the withdrawal. I don't know whether they mean 3% figured on US dollars or Euros. I'm not sure the local tellers know either.

Some US cards have safety features that cap the maximum cash withdrawal at $300. So the first question, does this mean one cannot actually withdraw 300 Euros, but more like a couple hundred Euros, due to the exchange rate and the $300 cap?

Anyway, if I withdraw whatever Euros I can, and my bank caps their end at $300, then my fee to the bank is $5 plus 3% of 300, which is $9. So I owe my bank $14 fee total. And depending on the exchange rate, I'm getting maybe 250 Euros.

But let's say I really want 300 Euros, and that's what I type at the ATM. And it goes through. That's nearly 400 US dollars for the 300 Euros.

Now if my bank figures the 3% fee on the dollar value of $400, that's $12, plus the flat $5 fee brings me to $17 in fees on 300 Euros or $400. That goes to my bank every time I want my money in 300 Euros. The European ATM fees are extra!

So the main question, isn't there a better way to get cash?

Next, how much is the typical ATM charge in Europe?

Another question is, how do the ATMs in Europe calculate the exchange rate? Do they use the exchange rate offered by Deutsche Bank and HSBC, or do they use Bank of America or Wells Fargo numbers, or something else?

For example, today Bank of America and Wells Fargo want $495 for 400 Euros. I'm sure the Deutsche Bank and HSBC rate was better, something like $445 for 400 Euros, but can't find the link now.

I'm asking about using cash because I thought American credit cards like Visa are not very widely accepted in small towns along the Camino, and in albergues, etc. So the last question, how accepted is Visa and credit?
 

dfox

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF (4/2017)
CP (5/2019)
CF (5/2021)
One more thought/addvice:

My bank account is a non US one. When I selected to "convert" when withdrawing the fund, the ATM first converted the Euro into US, and then from US into Canadian, for example. After the incident, all my withdrawal was "not to convert", but saved some money.
 

Sailor

Donante Vitalicio
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Infinito
As of this writing the official exchange rate from the ECB is EUR 1 = USD 1.171. Based on my previous experience, I expect Bank of America or Wells Fargo to do the exchange at about .05 above the official rate [now you can figure out how much you will pay Wells Fargo for buying 400 Euros]. You could save a few dollars [or maybe not] by waiting until you reach España to make the exchange in a local kiosko or banco if you can find a good deal. I like to have enough Euros in my wallet [actually, in the multiple pockets of my travel vest] when I reach Europe even if I have to pay a few extra centavos to my local bank. Wishing you good luck y que la luz de Dios alumbre su camino.
 

jburr3708

James on The Way
Camino(s) past & future
2014 Frances SJPDP
2016 Portugues (with wife)
2017 VDLP
2018 Portugues (with daughter)
Great to know the interbank rate on ATM withdrawals is the best.

The ATM fees themselves are high. If I'm paying $14-$17 to my bank per ATM withdrawal, and if the European fees are half that or equal to that, I'm looking at $20-$34 in total fees per $300 cash withdrawal?

Thanks for the Schwab info, didn't know that. It's a bit late to get that started.

Obviously my credit card charges a fee to use it overseas! But I was under the impression many small towns in Spain didn't accept Visa?
the correct answer to the ATM question on home currency charges is NO

right, got it. great reminder!

however, i was actually wondering whether my bank is charging their 3% on the Euro or the Dollar. By now, I don't really care anymore!
 

jburr3708

James on The Way
Camino(s) past & future
2014 Frances SJPDP
2016 Portugues (with wife)
2017 VDLP
2018 Portugues (with daughter)
Make sure you have a DEBIT card with a VISA, MasterCard ,or similar mark on it. Credit cards are not widely accepted on the Camino so you will need Euros (Cash). Credit cards come with much higher fees and worse exchange rates. Also, interest on them starts the minute you use the for cash withdrawal. Exchanging foreign currency is also not widely available.
 

Trude

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francais 2013 Finnestere, Muxia 2013, 2017
Norte 2014, Francais, 2015, 2016, VDLP 2017
So how is everyone handling the issues surrounding currency exchange?

I'm kind of a minimalist and only have one credit card with my bank. My bank has no ATMs in Europe.

When I withdraw Euros from an ATM in Europe, a typical American bank charges $5 flat fee for each international ATM use, plus 3% of the value of the withdrawal. I don't know whether they mean 3% figured on US dollars or Euros. I'm not sure the local tellers know either.

Some US cards have safety features that cap the maximum cash withdrawal at $300. So the first question, does this mean one cannot actually withdraw 300 Euros, but more like a couple hundred Euros, due to the exchange rate and the $300 cap?

Anyway, if I withdraw whatever Euros I can, and my bank caps their end at $300, then my fee to the bank is $5 plus 3% of 300, which is $9. So I owe my bank $14 fee total. And depending on the exchange rate, I'm getting maybe 250 Euros.

But let's say I really want 300 Euros, and that's what I type at the ATM. And it goes through. That's nearly 400 US dollars for the 300 Euros.

Now if my bank figures the 3% fee on the dollar value of $400, that's $12, plus the flat $5 fee brings me to $17 in fees on 300 Euros or $400. That goes to my bank every time I want my money in 300 Euros. The European ATM fees are extra!

So the main question, isn't there a better way to get cash?

Next, how much is the typical ATM charge in Europe?

Another question is, how do the ATMs in Europe calculate the exchange rate? Do they use the exchange rate offered by Deutsche Bank and HSBC, or do they use Bank of America or Wells Fargo numbers, or something else?

For example, today Bank of America and Wells Fargo want $495 for 400 Euros. I'm sure the Deutsche Bank and HSBC rate was better, something like $445 for 400 Euros, but can't find the link now.

I'm asking about using cash because I thought American credit cards like Visa are not very widely accepted in small towns along the Camino, and in albergues, etc. So the last question, how accepted is Visa and credit?
In Australia 28 Degrees Citi Bank credit card is the best. No international transaction fees, no annual fee and they give a great exchange rate. On saying that I go to China Town in Sydney get a great exchange rate and travel with cash. I only use the card at the end of my trip if I need to.
 

CaminoMatt73

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances & Portuguese 2016. Via de la Plata & to Porto Mar-June 2017, Norte Way in Sept.
Great idea, show up with Euros already. Do you use a money belt? That's a lot of cash to carry!

I take one hundreds and no, no money belt. I'd buy you supper but wouldn't tell you where I stash my cash until I get to know you better Haha

Everyone has their ways. I just make sure the cash is separated....not all in one place
 

ritescot

Veteran member since 2011
Camino(s) past & future
2021, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2013, 2010
So how is everyone handling the issues surrounding currency exchange?

I'm kind of a minimalist and only have one credit card with my bank. My bank has no ATMs in Europe.

When I withdraw Euros from an ATM in Europe, a typical American bank charges $5 flat fee for each international ATM use, plus 3% of the value of the withdrawal. I don't know whether they mean 3% figured on US dollars or Euros. I'm not sure the local tellers know either.

Some US cards have safety features that cap the maximum cash withdrawal at $300. So the first question, does this mean one cannot actually withdraw 300 Euros, but more like a couple hundred Euros, due to the exchange rate and the $300 cap?

Anyway, if I withdraw whatever Euros I can, and my bank caps their end at $300, then my fee to the bank is $5 plus 3% of 300, which is $9. So I owe my bank $14 fee total. And depending on the exchange rate, I'm getting maybe 250 Euros.

But let's say I really want 300 Euros, and that's what I type at the ATM. And it goes through. That's nearly 400 US dollars for the 300 Euros.

Now if my bank figures the 3% fee on the dollar value of $400, that's $12, plus the flat $5 fee brings me to $17 in fees on 300 Euros or $400. That goes to my bank every time I want my money in 300 Euros. The European ATM fees are extra!

So the main question, isn't there a better way to get cash?

Next, how much is the typical ATM charge in Europe?

Another question is, how do the ATMs in Europe calculate the exchange rate? Do they use the exchange rate offered by Deutsche Bank and HSBC, or do they use Bank of America or Wells Fargo numbers, or something else?

For example, today Bank of America and Wells Fargo want $495 for 400 Euros. I'm sure the Deutsche Bank and HSBC rate was better, something like $445 for 400 Euros, but can't find the link now.

I'm asking about using cash because I thought American credit cards like Visa are not very widely accepted in small towns along the Camino, and in albergues, etc. So the last question, how accepted is Visa and credit?

Your bank probably has a debit card, which you should have for the Camino. Even though your bank does not have branch banks in Spain, it probably lists network ATMS on it. They are cheaper than other ATMs. My bank debit card is part of Pulse, Cirrus, and several others. Even small towns in Spain have ATMs.

You may not be able to find your betwork ATM in small towns. I usually get $400 or $500 in euros to hold me for a few days.

You need to work with cash. You can stay in cheaper places. The small interesting places and Albergue usually don't take credit cards. For the times you want to use a credit card, use one that has no transaction fees. Both my airline credit cards, American Citibank Mastercard and United Chase Visa charge no international fees at least for credit purchases. Perhaps the same cards can be used as debit cards with no international fee, but I don't know.
 

WGroleau

Wandering Weirdo
Camino(s) past & future
2015 & 2016 (partial)
.... Even small towns in Spain have ATMs...
Villamayor de Monjardín in Navarra has no ATM nor pharmacy nor centro de salud. Those are ten kilometers away in Estella or twelve in Los Arcos. And it's not the only such place.
 

tpmchugh

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013)
Camino Frances (2015)
Camino Frances (2016)
Camino Frances (2018}
So how is everyone handling the issues surrounding currency exchange?

I'm kind of a minimalist and only have one credit card with my bank. My bank has no ATMs in Europe.

When I withdraw Euros from an ATM in Europe, a typical American bank charges $5 flat fee for each international ATM use, plus 3% of the value of the withdrawal. I don't know whether they mean 3% figured on US dollars or Euros. I'm not sure the local tellers know either.

Some US cards have safety features that cap the maximum cash withdrawal at $300. So the first question, does this mean one cannot actually withdraw 300 Euros, but more like a couple hundred Euros, due to the exchange rate and the $300 cap?

Anyway, if I withdraw whatever Euros I can, and my bank caps their end at $300, then my fee to the bank is $5 plus 3% of 300, which is $9. So I owe my bank $14 fee total. And depending on the exchange rate, I'm getting maybe 250 Euros.

But let's say I really want 300 Euros, and that's what I type at the ATM. And it goes through. That's nearly 400 US dollars for the 300 Euros.

Now if my bank figures the 3% fee on the dollar value of $400, that's $12, plus the flat $5 fee brings me to $17 in fees on 300 Euros or $400. That goes to my bank every time I want my money in 300 Euros. The European ATM fees are extra!

So the main question, isn't there a better way to get cash?

Next, how much is the typical ATM charge in Europe?

Another question is, how do the ATMs in Europe calculate the exchange rate? Do they use the exchange rate offered by Deutsche Bank and HSBC, or do they use Bank of America or Wells Fargo numbers, or something else?

For example, today Bank of America and Wells Fargo want $495 for 400 Euros. I'm sure the Deutsche Bank and HSBC rate was better, something like $445 for 400 Euros, but can't find the link now.

I'm asking about using cash because I thought American credit cards like Visa are not very widely accepted in small towns along the Camino, and in albergues, etc. So the last question, how accepted is Visa and credit?
Not sure what you mean by ATM charges. Any ATMs I used along the way had no charge for their use. I know that in England, I had difficulty finding an ATM that was free to use but not in Spain
 

jsalt

Jill
Camino(s) past & future
Portugués, Francés, LePuy, Rota Vicentina, Norte, Madrid, C2C, Salvador, Primitivo, Aragonés, Inglés
Not sure what you mean by ATM charges.

Sometimes I have been to an ATM in Spain, and during the process of making a cash withdrawal, it tells me that there will be a x euro charge, and do I want to continue. I usually press the No button, and go find a Santander ATM.
Jill
 

WGroleau

Wandering Weirdo
Camino(s) past & future
2015 & 2016 (partial)
Not sure what you mean by ATM charges. Any ATMs I used along the way had no charge for their use. I know that in England, I had difficulty finding an ATM that was free to use but not in Spain
Are you sure? When I was in England, every ATM I used except one had no fees. While in Spain, my bank, LaCaixa, charges €5, others less, but the only one I've found with no fee is iberCaja.
 

tpmchugh

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013)
Camino Frances (2015)
Camino Frances (2016)
Camino Frances (2018}
Are you sure? When I was in England, every ATM I used except one had no fees. While in Spain, my bank, LaCaixa, charges €5, others less, but the only one I've found with no fee is iberCaja.
Maybe some misunderstanding of charges. I dont mean anything your bank charges, I mean the charge levied by the ATM on all users. I travelled from Scotland to the Channel Tunnel port and only in the service station before the port did I get an ATM that did not charge me. On a week in Liverpool, Almost every ATM I went to levied a charge for using it. Along the Camino however, not a single ATM I came to charged me. Found them to be free to use in Norway too BTW
 

tpmchugh

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013)
Camino Frances (2015)
Camino Frances (2016)
Camino Frances (2018}
Sometimes I have been to an ATM in Spain, and during the process of making a cash withdrawal, it tells me that there will be a x euro charge, and do I want to continue. I usually press the No button, and go find a Santander ATM.
Jill
That as not my experience along the camino. I used ATMs in Burgos, León Arzua and Santiago with no problem
 

WGroleau

Wandering Weirdo
Camino(s) past & future
2015 & 2016 (partial)
Maybe some misunderstanding of charges. I dont mean anything your bank charges, I mean the charge levied by the ATM on all users.
Which is what I meant as well. (Except they don't charge a fee to people who have accounts in their bank.) I found one ATM out of dozens in U.K. and Ireland that charged a fee. But in Spain, iberCaja is the only bank I've found (so far) that doesn't charge a fee. In Peru, I found none that were free.
 

WGroleau

Wandering Weirdo
Camino(s) past & future
2015 & 2016 (partial)
Sometimes I have been to an ATM in Spain, and during the process of making a cash withdrawal, it tells me that there will be a x euro charge, and do I want to continue. I usually press the No button, and go find a Santander ATM.
More puzzles. Santander always tells me there's a fee. Do you have an account with them? iberCaja charges me no fee, and LaCaixa doesn't charge me to use their ID, but if I use any of my other cards at LaCaixa, the fee is €5. One sneaky bastard in Los Arcos quoted a fee, and I said OK because my bank refunds those fees. But then the record printed that showed the withdrawal, the announced fee AND an unannounced and rather large "commission."
 

jsalt

Jill
Camino(s) past & future
Portugués, Francés, LePuy, Rota Vicentina, Norte, Madrid, C2C, Salvador, Primitivo, Aragonés, Inglés
Do you have an account with them?

Hi, no, I don’t have an account with them (Santander is not in South Africa).
But for some reason Santander does not charge me a fee to withdraw cash from their ATMs, but other banks do.
FACT.
Jill
 

tpmchugh

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013)
Camino Frances (2015)
Camino Frances (2016)
Camino Frances (2018}
Which is what I meant as well. (Except they don't charge a fee to people who have accounts in their bank.) I found one ATM out of dozens in U.K. and Ireland that charged a fee. But in Spain, iberCaja is the only bank I've found (so far) that doesn't charge a fee. In Peru, I found none that were free.
Ok we are on the same page then as to what we mean by charges. You found none in England, I found a heck of a lot. In Spain, I found none and you found a heck of a lot. Thats just the way it is I suppose. Agree about Ireland, we dont tend to do that. Any ATMs that charged an Irish man to lift his own money would not last very long. We would simply boycott it. I suggest if you must lift money use ATMs in Burgos Ponferrada and Arzua. These are three of the places I used and there were no charges. Santiago also, I found no charges
 

RRat

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning 2017
Hi, CaminoJoy,
I know that many people will tell you that the Camino is a "cash camino", but I have always used my credit card a lot. Maybe that's because I have stayed in and shopped in places that are not as local as others. My advice is to use the CC whenever you can, it is much simpler and it means that your transactions are "on the books." I know there is a lot of disagreement about this, but I have problems with establishments that offer you a discount for cash. In many instances that just means they are not going to pay taxes on their income. In fairness, it may also mean that they are going to avoid the CC fee.

As far as ATM fee, this is a function of both your bank at home and the bank you use in Spain, so it's hard to give you good advice. My bank in the US waives (absorbs) the foreign ATM fees, so I don't pay attention to their charges.

Bottom line -- I think that if you do the math, you will find that over the cost of an average camino, you are talking about no more than $50, so it may not be worth worrying about.
The $50 estimate is about right. Whole lot better than the olden days. Anyone remember Travelers Checks, the fees and the hassle?
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
The $50 estimate is about right. Whole lot better than the olden days. Anyone remember Travelers Checks, the fees and the hassle?
I certainly do. When I was eighteen or so I deferred my entry into university for a year and spent 6 months working 60 hours a week and the next six months spending my earnings and travelling. I took all my money for that six months with me in the form of travellers cheques. I started signing them with a legible signature, but by the time I had finished signing them all my signature was a quick illegible scrawl which it remains to this day.
 

Mycroft

Active Member
Well, the banks aren't supposed to profit on the exchange, I'm retrieving my own money! They charge interest for loans and profit from that.

So your budget for Camino is about 800 Euros, and you stayed under? That's amazing and great to hear!
What? The only reason banks are there is to make money using my money, not to help me! Other than Amadeo Giannini who started the Bank of Italy over a hundred years ago in San Francisco to help immigrants have a decent life, I have never heard of a bank doing anything that didn't get them a profit.

Having said that, Caminojoy, are you able to open an account with a bank that does not charge for foreign exchange rates? You sound like you are in the US since you mention the amounts American banks charge for ATM use. I suppose it depends on how often you travel and all that. But, as others have said, there are debit and credit cards one may get that do not charge such overwhelming fees, may reimburse you a certain amount per month for ATM fees, etc. Worth checking around.
One anecdote to keep in mind: Years ago I was in Scotland and needed to get a chunk of money out of the ATM. The screen repeatedly said I was refused the money. No reason given. Having had trouble previously with my bank's high level of fraud alert (I had once purchased rail tickets for UK from my home in the US, and the bank's computer decided it was fraud--the bank didn't bother to alert me it froze all my accounts before I took off for Spain), I was in a bit of a panic. All kinds of horror stories filled my head about what might have happened to my account. When I finally reached my bank in the US, it turned out the amount in British pounds I requested from the ATM was about 20 US cents over what my bank's maximum was for a withdrawal. The air was blue with my expressions.
The moral of the story is before you go, triple check with your bank at home that it knows you will be gone, and also that they have no alerts on any of your accounts. Then before you withdraw from an overseas ATM, make sure you calculate that moment's exchange rate to see how much you can take out and still be under your bank's maximum withdrawal!

BTW, oftentimes banks will allow you to increase your max withdrawal (permanently or temporarily) so you can see about that, if you think it helps you. (I didn't know Spain had a 300 euro max withdrawal).

And I too take cash with me from home in the currency of the countries in which I will be traveling.
 

RRat

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning 2017
Well, the banks aren't supposed to profit on the exchange, I'm retrieving my own money! They charge interest for loans and profit from that.

So your budget for Camino is about 800 Euros, and you stayed under? That's amazing and great to hear!
Banks are a business and they can attempt to profit where they feel fit. It is up to the consumer to do business with them. I had no problem with my USA ATM card. Only withdrew money from ATMs in front of its bank during business hours but never had a problem.
 

Marbe2

Active member
Camino(s) past & future
2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
I bring two credit cards which do not charge the 3 percent fee overseas. Always purchase in Euros with them, if in the EU. Like @peregrina2000, I have found many places take visa/mastercards. Some places (less) take Amex. Many private albergues I have used have taken the credit card. If they have a restaurant which I am willing to use, especially in inclement weather, they usually will allow us to run a tab so that we pay for the lodgings, pilgrim group meal, or menu del dia and breakfast in one transaction. If we know we are leaving early in the morning, then I settle up with the host, before we go to bed. We also go to the supermarkets. I use the credit card there as well, as often as possible. Again, always alert the cashier before they finish the transaction that you want to pay in Euros, otherwise it will cost you more! I would estimate that we pay 75 percent of our trip via CCs. The smaller transactions, and the few places that will not accept CCs have been maybe 3 or 4 places I have stayed on the entire CF. However, we only stay in a dorm when there is no alternative- such as Orisson- but we actually did one transaction there for all we purchased via CC as well.
In addition, I believe, I read on this forum, that the Spanish government was encouraging the use of credit cards with tap and go, contactless technology in albergues because there would be the less likelihood of spreading Covid?! If this is true, then I would expect the number of albergues accepting credit cards to further increase? If this is incorrect, please correct me.
 
Last edited:

Marbe2

Active member
Camino(s) past & future
2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
Regarding cash, I am allowed 6 free transactions without charge by my local bank per month. So since I do not make more than 3-4 transactions the entire camino, using the credit cards, helps me avoid the home bank fee.

In the end, you need to do what is right for your circumstances. We often travel off season and there are not so many pilgrims around. Having less cash protects me from greater financial loss due to theft or valuables being left behind somewhere.

And when we walk we try and split up locations of Cash and CCs so we are less likelty to lose everything if we are robbed.
 
Last edited:

Advertisement

Booking.com

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 0.8%
  • March

    Votes: 57 4.3%
  • April

    Votes: 202 15.2%
  • May

    Votes: 330 24.8%
  • June

    Votes: 96 7.2%
  • July

    Votes: 25 1.9%
  • August

    Votes: 27 2.0%
  • September

    Votes: 386 29.0%
  • October

    Votes: 160 12.0%
  • November

    Votes: 17 1.3%
  • December

    Votes: 7 0.5%

Camino Forum Store

Camino Forum Store
Top