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Hard cash on the Camino

Frank Mestre

Let’s Camino
Camino(s) past & future
1st. Camino coming up 29th. April
Camino Frances here I come.
#1
Hi all its my first Camino. Im doing the whole Journey from St. Jean to Santiago. Any suggestions on how much hard cash is it necessary to carry? Obviously i'll have my cards but can I rely on card machines etc. Any advise please. Thanks
 

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Dorpie

Active Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago to Finisterre to Muxia 2013
Camino Frances May 2015
Camino Frances July 2017
#2
Having not realised how few ATMs there are and having had to borrow money on my first camino I now like to have at least €200 on me.
 

markmcilroy

Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances august sept 2016
Camino Frances Sept October 2017
Le Puy to SJPDP (May 2018)
#3
Of course it depends on how much you are going spend...ie albergue or 5 star hotel? Pilgrim meals or other meals....I carry about 10 days worth on me and an emergency 50 euros tucked away. I also carry multiple cards in different areas ie, pack, bum bag and shorts. It still amazes me that some travellers just bring 1 card and you will hear stories of cards not working for all sorts of reason.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2013, 2015, 2017, 2019
#4
me..... I start with a €1,000

BUT.... you have to guard it with your life.

Carry a €1,000 and you have to sleep with it, Shower with it.

The more you carry.... the easier it is, but....... the more €'s the more STRESSFUL it is.

First stop (bank machine) .... Pamplona, then Logroño
.
count the major stops..... figure it out.

NO.... €100's bills,
all €50's, with some €20's
collect change if you wan to catch a City Bus, or buy coffee.

The Camino (minimum) average is €38/night.
Really it is closer to €50/night solo, in Albergues.....
more in Double rooms.

Don't sweat it...... money is the easy part.
 
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Frank Mestre

Let’s Camino
Camino(s) past & future
1st. Camino coming up 29th. April
Camino Frances here I come.
#6
Wow there is very contradictory views here on how much you need cash and the availability of ATM machines. I intend to go for the cheapest accommodation which will be the Albergue. I mean to be frugal as per a Pilgrim would have been.
 

Frank Mestre

Let’s Camino
Camino(s) past & future
1st. Camino coming up 29th. April
Camino Frances here I come.
#8
I drew 200 euros at a time, there are plenty cash machines, it is a cash environment, but I stayed in albergues, ate from pilgrims menus, and never stinted on beer or wine.
Hi Houlet sounds like my aim. How long did your 200 euros last more or less please?
 

Anniesantiago

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Nearly every year since 2006, often walking more than one route. 2018 will be Camino #14.
#9
My 200 euros would last me 7-10 days, depending on if I spent money eating out or on picnic food.
I have a lot of great tips on my Facebook Group called Planning Your Camino Santiago
https://www.facebook.com/groups/170414516912037/?ref=bookmarks

You'll find posts regarding breakfast, lunch, dinner options as well as posts about cash, packing, day to day on the Camino, getting to the starting point, and more. I PM'd you a link also.
 

Juspassinthrough

Active Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, May-June (2017)
Ingles-Finisterre (2018)
#11
I usually carried 250-300 to cut down on ATM fees, most larger towns, by Camino standards, have at least one ATM. I learned not to request 200 or 300 because you would get 50€ notes. Also, 5€ notes are very useful if you can get them and, at bars and shops, they may not be able to change a 50. Good luck, Buen Camino!
 
Camino(s) past & future
'
#12
Like many other posters, I start with 250-300 € and top up when below 100 €. I try to avoid banknotes above 20 €, so no 50 € and certainly nothing higher. A tip for pilgrims from the Eurozone: start collecting 5 and 10 € notes well before you travel to Spain. I always bring a thick wad of these smaller denomination banknotes with me.
 

davebugg

DustOff: "When I have your wounded."
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances...
Sept. 2017: SJPdP to Burgos
Sept./Oct. 2018: SJPdP to Santiago de Compostela
#13
Wow there is very contradictory views here on how much you need cash and the availability of ATM machines. I intend to go for the cheapest accommodation which will be the Albergue. I mean to be frugal as per a Pilgrim would have been.
You really only need between 200 to 300 euro at a time. Bills in small denominations; 5's and 10's with a few 20's are best. I start planning to hit an atm machine with my debit card when I get down to about 100 euro.
 

NomadBoomer

Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (September 2017), Vdlp (April 2018)
#14
Supermarkets like dia are a good place to break any large notes. There are a lot on the route so get as much from the atms as you feel comfortable carrying. I normally had 100 - 400 euros in total, split between wallet on me and backpack. I had no problems. The Camino provides :)
 
#15
Frank, you do what you are comfortable with. When acquiring cash, I cannot agree with carrying €50 notes. If that is all you have left and you walk into a donativo or even a municipal albergue, there may be a wait to get the change needed to complete admission. Take every opportunity to use €20 notes as most purchases will require less than that. Yes, change cand add weight but not too much.

Some will use ATM's but for most, not all, there are fees that go with each withdrawl.

Use ATM's at OPEN Banks ONLY. If a card gets eaten, you need to do all possible to retrieve it immediately. Also, if €50 notes are received, they can be changed in the bank with little issue.

Now, for me, I am budgeting €40 per day for 40 days. If witdrawing €300 at a time, (ATM Max withdrawl allowed per day when exchange is involved), only repeating once my purse holds €100 or less, that means a withdrawl every 5 days or 8 withdrawls over the pilgrimage. Cost will be FEES X 8 = Cost of Withdrawls (Consult your bank for your fees). There will also be a percentage cost to exchange from native currency to Euros. The only way to get past this is to have an account containing Euros. Not all banks allow foreign currency accounts.

Now, I do try to provide some bonus information and I will try not to disappoint here.

The need for an emergency fund is rarely consideredor, from my experience, has been discussed here. It is wise to consider medical insurance as well. However, though available, med insurance is not usually so inexpensive for long duration vacations. We know it is not a vacation but that is the industry's terminlogy. And explaining it to a travel insurance agent, for me, has ended with no sale, ie, been refused coverage. Purchasing such coverage should follow the needs of your personal situation.

Hope this helps.
 

Anniesantiago

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Nearly every year since 2006, often walking more than one route. 2018 will be Camino #14.
#16
An account with Charles Schwab Online Bank will give you an ATM card that can be used at any bank or ATM. TheY will refund ALL fees at the end of each month, including withdrawal fees and exchange fees. I’ve used them for years. A good deal.
 

SeaHorse

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
(May-June 2015)
#17
Use ATM's at OPEN Banks ONLY. If a card gets eaten, you need to do all possible to retrieve it immediately.
In most cases the bank office does NOT service the ATMs that are placed in or around that office. Which means even if the people are there they can do nothing about your eaten card, they certainly can't go and open the machine. All you can do is call your card servicing company (you need that phone number saved in your phone and a backup) and tell them, they will disable eaten card and send you a new one to the address that they have registered as yours, i.e. your home, NOT to any place on the Camino. This is why you need more than one bank card with sufficient funds on.
Most banks do have access to ATM only. But have seen machine inside office and if office is closed then you don't get that money. Think about Sundays.
 

Houlet

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2014
Via de la Plata 2015
Camino Sanabres 2015
Camino Norde 2017
#18
Hi Houlet sounds like my aim. How long did your 200 euros last more or less please?
I would guess about a week, a rough guide Albergue 10, Dinner 10, lunch with beer 10, some days I would have another couple of beers. The dinner includes wine and I was with two Italians who were never shy about asking for more wine. :)
 

Monasp

I'm a manager of pilgrims office in SJPP
Camino(s) past & future
Camino in 2008.
#19
Hi all its my first Camino. Im doing the whole Journey from St. Jean to Santiago. Any suggestions on how much hard cash is it necessary to carry? Obviously i'll have my cards but can I rely on card machines etc. Any advise please. Thanks
Hi go To the pilgrims office 39 rue de la Citadelle à SJPP the volunteers Will give you a document with all ATM on Camino Frances
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francais 2017, Portugues 2018
#20
I wondered the same thing, but it turns out that cash is the easy part of the pilgrimage. There are lots of ATMs and you take what bills they give you, and it will all work out. There are only three things you would find hard to replace - your bank card, passport, and credential. Keep those close, but don't worry about your cash, worry is an unnecessary distraction from a spiritual experience.
 

Vanozza

Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
I have walked part of the Camino Frances and plan to start over in April 2018.
#21
Hi all its my first Camino. Im doing the whole Journey from St. Jean to Santiago. Any suggestions on how much hard cash is it necessary to carry? Obviously i'll have my cards but can I rely on card machines etc. Any advise please. Thanks
I start out with about 600 euros obtained from my local bank, plus 2 credit cards and an ATM card, all stashed in various places in my clothing and fanny pack etc as insurance against theft and to reduce the stress of cutting it to close. I like to have a BIG margin for error and would hate having to ask a fellow pilgrim to lend me money in a pinch.
 

ShaLaw

Active Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, fall of 2015
#22
Hi Frank, how exciting for you, to be starting your Camino soon!! The thing that you need to know, is that most albergues only take cash for payment and credit cards are rarely accepted. I did my Camino with my partner, and we would take 200 euros out about every four days. Having said that, we actually ran out of $$’s after wrongfully assuming there was an ATM in the town we were stopping at for the night. We had enough for our bed and dinner that night, but nothing for the morning and it would be a couple of hours before the next town. As it turned out, there was another albergue on the other side of twin that did take credit cards in their bar, so we were able to pay for breakfast and ponchos there. After that, we made sure to have 100 emergency euros tucked away. It’s amazing how big the world becomes when on foot, because had we been thinking, we could have taken a five minute cab ride to the nearest town with an ATM, but we didn’t even consider that.

Buen Camino, Frank!!
 

Prentiss Riddle

Aprendiz de todo, maestro de nada
Camino(s) past & future
Poco a poco: we're nibbling away at the Francés. (2015, 2016 & 2017)
#23
Seconding everything above about carrying multiple cards in multiple places.

ATMs are plentiful on the Camino... until they aren’t. I forgot that I had used my reserve of cash, dipped into it again and it was empty. I had to hitchhike to an ATM. This was in Agés, after a long ATM-less stretch of small towns.

Of course, if I’d been using my head this needn’t have been a crisis. In the age of Venmo, etc., I should have been able to find a pilgrim with €50 to spare and paid them back on the spot.
 

John Sikora

Active Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2015) Frances
(2018) Portuguese/Coastal Sept
(2019) Via de la Plata - Seville to Santiago May
#24
I think that the best summary would be:
1) There are quite a few ATMs on the Camino but really only in the larger cities and towns
2) Carry enough working cash for a few days, maybe a week, or until you hit the next big town
3) It's really not a major problem

Like all travel, have a contingency plan in place.
 

gloria lowe

Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
April 2017 or Sept 2017
#25
Wow there is very contradictory views here on how much you need cash and the availability of ATM machines. I intend to go for the cheapest accommodation which will be the Albergue. I mean to be frugal as per a Pilgrim would have been.
I’m sure not all Pilgrims were frugal. There was just not around back them. It says nothing about suffering.
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances: 2013, 2014
Madrid: 2016
Portuguese: 2015, 2017
Invierno: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2017
#26
I am with “€300 at a go group.” Only use ATMs attached to a proper bank.

I spend what I spend. But this amount typically suffices for most ALL needs for 4 - 6 days, depending on where I am. I prefer private accommodation to albergues, so my daily rate might be higher than yours.

Work on breaking €50 notes when you can. Out in the countryside, some folks frown at anything over a €20.

As others have said, cash is king on the Camino. I recommend ONLY using credit cards in situations where it NEVER leaves your hand and direct control. For example, if you are in a city and staying in a hotel, paying directly with a credit card is relatively safe. NEVER allow a desk clerk to hold your credit card for some lame reason, like the computer is ‘slow right now,” etc.

Similarly, use cash in restaurants. Allowing the server to take your credit card behind the bar or into another room for processing is just begging for problems. Don’t go there.

Hope this helps.
 
#27
In most cases the bank office does NOT service the ATMs that are placed in or around that office. Which means even if the people are there they can do nothing about your eaten card, they certainly can't go and open the machine. All you can do is call your card servicing company (you need that phone number saved in your phone and a backup) and tell them, they will disable eaten card and send you a new one to the address that they have registered as yours, i.e. your home, NOT to any place on the Camino. This is why you need more than one bank card with sufficient funds on.
Most banks do have access to ATM only. But have seen machine inside office and if office is closed then you don't get that money. Think about Sundays.
Some clarifications;
1) I have asked for a spare debit card from my bank. Spares are not issued. If you lose it, call them and a new one WILL be sent to the address of your chioce, in any country, at least with my bank.
2) I would still prefer to deal with an ATM attached to an open bank with people inside dedicated to help every Customer. It is not untoward to anticipate that if a bank does not minister to an ATM attached to their own building, they will know how to contact the ATM company and have likely dealt with emergencies like this before.
3) For most, and especially for singles like myself, maintaining a second bank account is possible, but not adviseable. My bank charges no fees. No other bank in my area does that. Simple matter of economics.
 

trecile

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Aug - Sept (2016) SJPDP - Finisterre
July - Aug (2017) SJPDP - Muxia - Finisterre
#28
In most cases the bank office does NOT service the ATMs that are placed in or around that office. Which means even if the people are there they can do nothing about your eaten card, they certainly can't go and open the machine. All you can do is call your card servicing company (you need that phone number saved in your phone and a backup) and tell them, they will disable eaten card and send you a new one to the address that they have registered as yours, i.e. your home, NOT to any place on the Camino. This is why you need more than one bank card with sufficient funds on.
Most banks do have access to ATM only. But have seen machine inside office and if office is closed then you don't get that money. Think about Sundays.
When I was pickpocketed in Madrid prior to my first Camino two years ago my banks sent me cards to a pension that I had a reservation at.
 

J Willhaus

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
24 May 2016- 14 July
Hospitalero, Zamora Dec 15-31, 2017
#29
Because there were two of us, it was easier to spread out money and cards and always someone to watch over valuables when the other was showering. There is generally a limit on on the amount that can be withdrawn in one day $300 or so. That would last the two of us 5-6 days most of the time. In Santiago on the weekend all ATMs were out of cash and we had to go outside the city center to withdraw cash. (Bus station) I agree it is good to have an emergency amount tucked away in case your plan does not pan out. We loaned cash to a fellow American who had not counted on needing cash the second night. He tracked us down and repaid us a day later. We did not really expect that, but it seems most things just worked out for the best in our case.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Ch. d'Arles: Oloron Ste Marie to Aragones; Frances (2016); V.d.l.P.; Sanabres (2017)
#30
In most cases the bank office does NOT service the ATMs that are placed in or around that office. Which means even if the people are there they can do nothing about your eaten card, they certainly can't go and open the machine. All you can do is call your card servicing company (you need that phone number saved in your phone and a backup) and tell them, they will disable eaten card and send you a new one to the address that they have registered as yours, i.e. your home, NOT to any place on the Camino. This is why you need more than one bank card with sufficient funds on.
Most banks do have access to ATM only. But have seen machine inside office and if office is closed then you don't get that money. Think about Sundays.
The first time that I tried to withdraw money from an ATM in Spain was in Pamplona, on my first camino. It was at a "caja rural", apparently something like a farm credit union. It did not work. The machine kept my card and gave me no money. Thanks to this forum, I had been forewarned and was trying to get money on a weekday morning. When the bank opened a few minutes later, the manager got my card from the cash machine and returned it to me. I then went to a regular bank nearby and made my withdrawal. Since, I have generally tried to make my withdrawals at a branch of the Santander Bank, which is the largest bank in Spain, with the most ATM's. However, I always get 50 euro bills and have to wait in line in the bank to get smaller bills. I budget some time for this and never have any problems. I always withdraw 300 euros, as I understand this is the usual maximum and may save me some transaction fees, as well as the time to change the bills. I carry two bank cards on two different accounts, to avoid problems if one will not work, which happened on my last camino. I separate the amount which I expect to spend each day and keep it in a change purse with an expired credit card, to hand over to a thief if demanded. I'm not telling anyone where I keep money, passport etc, but I suggest that if you bring a photocopy of your passport you should definitely keep it in a plastic bag, to keep it dry, and separate from the passport.
 

SeaHorse

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
(May-June 2015)
#31
they will know how to contact the ATM company
the manager got my card from the cash machine and returned it to me
You were both lucky girls. Sorry, I'm not trying to diminish your experience, just warning people of how things have happened before. I'm not inventing bank rules on the go. When they stand at a non serviced machine without any card and no money, they will find your experience helpful.
I can remember 4 cases recently when ATMs of different European banks, different countries, ate the card (either mine or other's) and all the bank office did was tell the person to call THEIR card company (as the one who issued the card, not the one who owns the machine). You have to have the number.
banks sent me cards to a pension that I had a reservation at.
Even if they do this, not all do, do you know when the card will arrive in Spain and where your address on the Camino will be. Could be a week from US. And how you access your money in between?
300 euros, as I understand this is the usual maximum and may save me some transaction fees
Depends on bank. My limit is 600 euros a week and can be raised for special occasions, I once took out 2400 in one go without extra fees.
photocopy of your passport you should definitely keep it in a plastic bag, to keep it dry, and separate from the passport
Yes, that or a scan or photo in Dropbox.
 

trecile

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Aug - Sept (2016) SJPDP - Finisterre
July - Aug (2017) SJPDP - Muxia - Finisterre
#32
bring a photocopy of your passport you should definitely keep it in a plastic bag, to keep it dry, and separate from the passport.
I photocopied my passport and had it laminated.
Even if they do this, not all do, do you know when the card will arrive in Spain and where your address on the Camino will be. Could be a week from US. And how you access your money in between?
My banks sent the cards express via DHL and UPS. They didn't all arrive by the time I was at the pensión, so I gave the pensión owners money to mail them to me general delivery (lista de correos) at the Burgos Correos office.
Until I received my cards my husband sent me cash via Western Union.
 

E V Waight

It's the journey, not the destination.
Camino(s) past & future
September (2017)
Possible September (2018)
Holy Year (2021) (all three Gladys, John and I)
#34
Hi all its my first Camino. Im doing the whole Journey from St. Jean to Santiago. Any suggestions on how much hard cash is it necessary to carry? Obviously i'll have my cards but can I rely on card machines etc. Any advise please. Thanks
I did my Camino in September 2017. From my experience you should be fine with $200 to $300. There are ATM's in all major towns and Cities. You may get by with $50's, but easier to carry $20's. Although change is not a factor in albergues, it can be a problem at restaurants and bars. I carried $1,000. but was constantly nervous, though in hindsight, never had to. Do also carry at least two cards; there are stories of cards not functioning at ATM's. I am using Dollar sign but really mean Euros; do not know how to type the symbol for Euros :)!
 

E V Waight

It's the journey, not the destination.
Camino(s) past & future
September (2017)
Possible September (2018)
Holy Year (2021) (all three Gladys, John and I)
#35
Bear in mind also that ATM's may for any number of reasons "eat" your card. So, do carry more than one card please. Most banks may have access to ATM, but several ATMs are in offices or at independent stores etc. that have no access to the machines to recover your card if eaten.
 

Aptrail

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances Aug/Sept, 2016
Hospilatero May, 2018
Planning:
San Salvador & Primativo May/June '18
#36
It seems like everything that could be said has been. But, I would add that in Europe it is quite common to use a debit card even for small purchases. I took out 200 euros at a time whenever I got low. I always tried to keep about 50 euros on my person and then replenished when needed. I also used my card for meals and lodging when I could . I was actually surprised how many restaurants, bars, and albergues accepted a credit or debit card. As has been said, carry at least two cards in different places (pack compartments, pocket, hip belt, etc.). Another thing that everyone keeps saying is true--it will work out. Whatever adjustments you need to make will be fine. Buen Camino.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Plans for April/May, 2018
#37
Wow there is very contradictory views here on how much you need cash and the availability of ATM machines. I intend to go for the cheapest accommodation which will be the Albergue. I mean to be frugal as per a Pilgrim would have been.
Just a note that historically, not all pilgrims were frugal. The wealthy travelled along with the regulars. I'm sure they didn't sleep on the ground :)
 
Camino(s) past & future
S.j.p.d to Santiago 2016
#40
Hi all its my first Camino. Im doing the whole Journey from St. Jean to Santiago. Any suggestions on how much hard cash is it necessary to carry? Obviously i'll have my cards but can I rely on card machines etc. Any advise please. Thanks
I did the camino 2016 and alway's had around €200 in my pocket there is plenty of cash machines on route, enjoybuen camino
 

LeonieGJ

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2020)
#41
Is it possible to obtain cash at larger stores, like supermarkets, as an alternative to using ATMs? 'Cash out', at point of payment is very common at home. Can I just add that this forum is a wealth of information, and is becoming an invaluable planning tool. My camino is some time away(April 2020!), but time flies!!
 
Camino(s) past & future
2016 Le Puy to SJPP to Santiago de Compostelle to Finisterre. Environ 1700 km.
#42
Hi there. Yes you can rely on the bank machines. I took 200 Euros in a belt around my stomach at any one time. Never had any problèmes. Bye for now and enjoy your walk. You will love it.
 

SeaHorse

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
(May-June 2015)
#43
Is it possible to obtain cash at larger stores, like supermarkets, as an alternative to using ATMs? 'Cash out', at point of payment is very common at home. Can I just add that this forum is a wealth of information, and is becoming an invaluable planning tool. My camino is some time away(April 2020!), but time flies!!
Only know this is a possibility in Germany ("REWE" chain), with conditions, it is not too noticeably advertised in the shop. So I never even imagined to try in Spain. But there are not that many supermarkets you pass close by, mostly small corner shops that resell the brand products of the same supermarkets. Which makes sense as the actual supermarket may be 20 km off the way, hardly a walking distance after the days walk... Only in the bigger cities but the way goes into the centre and supermarkets are normally in the industrial/shopping areas people reach by car.
 

kirkie

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2006) portugues(2013)San Salvador (2017)
#44
Seconding everything above about carrying multiple cards in multiple places.

ATMs are plentiful on the Camino... until they aren’t. I forgot that I had used my reserve of cash, dipped into it again and it was empty. I had to hitchhike to an ATM. This was in Agés, after a long ATM-less stretch of small towns.

Of course, if I’d been using my head this needn’t have been a crisis. In the age of Venmo, etc., I should have been able to find a pilgrim with €50 to spare and paid them back on the spot.
Today is my day for new learning. Venmo. I did hear of the idea some time ago, but did not remember the name. I must check out how it actually works.
 

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