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lisaflora

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
From the US, I was getting hammered with ATM fees in Spain to get euros cash. Plus crappy exchange rates, blablabla. I finally got clued into Revolut....downloaded the app and in 5 minutes had euro exchanged and in my preloaded virtual card. Any place that accepts credit card omt on Norte, and that is like 95% of places even in tiny villages, can accept this touchless tap method (via Google or apple pay). Skip the middleman and fees, download euro direct at pretty good rates😍
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
2012
Caveat emptor - from Revolut's own website:

"Free withdrawals up to 5 ATM withdrawals or £200 per rolling month (whichever comes first), then a fee applies. That fee is 2% of the withdrawal, subject to a minimum fee of £1 per withdrawal."

Anyone who can walk the Camino on sub-€200 a month or thereabouts has my attention...
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
Caveat emptor - from Revolut's own website:

"Free withdrawals up to 5 ATM withdrawals or £200 per rolling month (whichever comes first), then a fee applies. That fee is 2% of the withdrawal, subject to a minimum fee of £1 per withdrawal."

Anyone who can walk the Camino on sub-€200 a month or thereabouts has my attention...
Well, if you time it right and they're talking calendar months ... your trip could straddle two months - so you get two lots of 200? Better check that before trying it.

Revolut also offers plans in which you can pay a monthly fee in exchange for a higher cap on fee-free withdrawals and transactions. I think you can subscribe to the premium plans for one month at a time, and then go back on the free plan when you don't need it. The following comes from their UK site, but I believe similar plans exist for account holders in other countries.


For a monthly fee of £6.99, you get to:
  • Exchange and transfer unlimited amounts of money with the interbank exchange rate.
  • Withdraw up to £400 each month for free from international ATMs
If you're using cash only where necessary, you may find that £400 suffices. If that's not enough, I think the next tier gives you more - or you could open a bank account with, say, N26 and use Revolut to transfer unlimited amounts of money to it.

But that's silly, because if you had unlimited amounts of money, why would you worry about transaction fees?
 
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David with new Kit!

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
I use Monzo, which is very similar to Revolut. But, I don’t preload it with euros as there is no point.

just load it with your own currency as the card is automatically charged in the currency on the pay machine, so be careful and always select euros and not your home currency. Otherwise, you end up swallowing the vendors exchange rate.

using a Revolut or Monzo card only incurs the Mastercard international exchange rate. No bank fees, no middle men, no need to preload euros either.
Note the caveats above about using cards to draw cash from atms though
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
1989
Well, if you time it right and they're talking calendar months ... your trip could straddle two months - so you get two lots of 200? Better check that before trying it.
I believe Tincatinker's post, in the part that you quote, specifies rolling months rather than calendar months, so checking before relying on calendar months is really essential.
 

peregrino_tom

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
.
OK, because I'm a debit card -> ATM -> cash dinosaur, I'm going to summarise what I think I have learnt from lisaflora, Tinkatinker and David with etc:
Instead of leaving home with 350 Euros changed at my local post office, and then topping up a couple of times at ATMs along the way, I could..
Leave home with a 'float' of 100euros cash, and add an App such as Revolut or Monzo to my phone. I could top it up with euros before I go, or like David, just preload with my own currency and then (presumably at the point of each contactless transaction or as a default setting?) select euros as the currency transaction. But I'd also have to already have something on my phone that let me pay by thrusting my phone towards a terminal... si?
If I ran out of my pre-load or found that actually there were more people asking for cash than I had expected, I could get a further 200EUR from a cash machine without bank charges somehow using the App (not sure how that works - presumably you do more than point it at an ATM hopefully?). And hypothetically I could add to my preload while on the trail if I access my internet banking?
Hmmm. TBH I'd probably stick to the old cash routine, unless it becomes clear that Spain is like the UK and that in the last 18 months cash transactions have now often become harder to make than card ones. Anyone able to report on that? And do please correct me if I've failed to grasp what's actually going on here! cheers, tom
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
OK, because I'm a debit card -> ATM -> cash dinosaur
For UK resident ATM dinosaurs, a simple and comfortingly old-fashioned solution that I found is to open an account with Metro Bank. Metro gives you fee-free ATM withdrawals at a good rate in Europe. The card works in most (but frustratingly not all) ATMs in Spain.

This means that you can put an amount of money in your Metro account before going to Spain and draw down from it as often as you like, without incurring fees. If you prefer you can use a banking app to transfer money from your main bank to Metro when the balance gets low. That is what I did on my last walks in Europe.
 

lisaflora

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
OK, because I'm a debit card -> ATM -> cash dinosaur, I'm going to summarise what I think I have learnt from lisaflora, Tinkatinker and David with etc:
Instead of leaving home with 350 Euros changed at my local post office, and then topping up a couple of times at ATMs along the way, I could..
Leave home with a 'float' of 100euros cash, and add an App such as Revolut or Monzo to my phone. I could top it up with euros before I go, or like David, just preload with my own currency and then (presumably at the point of each contactless transaction or as a default setting?) select euros as the currency transaction. But I'd also have to already have something on my phone that let me pay by thrusting my phone towards a terminal... si?
If I ran out of my pre-load or found that actually there were more people asking for cash than I had expected, I could get a further 200EUR from a cash machine without bank charges somehow using the App (not sure how that works - presumably you do more than point it at an ATM hopefully?). And hypothetically I could add to my preload while on the trail if I access my internet banking?
Hmmm. TBH I'd probably stick to the old cash routine, unless it becomes clear that Spain is like the UK and that in the last 18 months cash transactions have now often become harder to make than card ones. Anyone able to report on that? And do please correct me if I've failed to grasp what's actually going on here! cheers, tom
You can order a free plastic Revolut as well. I am truly amazed how many shops take contactless payment for ANY amount. Cash no longer king but you still need a bit for laundry, tips, entry fee for touristy stuff, etc
 
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lt56ny

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019) VDLP?
Thanks for telling us about this option.
I have a Charles Schwab account that I use for travel becayse they refund all ATM fees worldwide.
Charles Schwab is my go to card also. Even though I have an account with Santander (Mexico), my friend who knows all this stuff told me I would get a slightly better exchange rate with my Schwab card.
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019) VDLP?
You can order a free plastic Revolut as well. I am truly amazed how many shops take contactless payment for ANY amount. Cash no longer king but you still need a bit for laundry, tips, entry fee for touristy stuff, etc
I was just wondering about if you knew the extent of things like Apple Pay or the tapping of your credit card to pay for purchases in Spain. I was just in New York visiting my daughters for an extended period. They forced me into the 21st century because virtually everywhere, including buses and subways you can just tap your card or scan your apple pay and go. I personally do not like it that much being a dinosaur and i can keep much better track of my spending paying cash. I usually sleep in muni's and donativos so i know cash still rules but what about larger stores and markets. I will still use cash in October and still use my Schwab card. I was just wondering what the state of things were especially in the larger cities.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
I was just wondering about if you knew the extent of things like Apple Pay or the tapping of your credit card to pay for purchases in Spain. I was just in New York visiting my daughters for an extended period. They forced me into the 21st century because virtually everywhere, including buses and subways you can just tap your card or scan your apple pay and go. I personally do not like it that much being a dinosaur and i can keep much better track of my spending paying cash. I usually sleep in muni's and donativos so i know cash still rules but what about larger stores and markets. I will still use cash in October and still use my Schwab card. I was just wondering what the state of things were especially in the larger cities.
Back in 2018 many US banks weren't yet issuing the contactless tap and pay credit and debit cards, so the only credit cards that I had were the type that required a signature which by then was very uncommon in Europe. So I found it much easier to pay with my phone using Google Pay. It's also more secure, since the app generates a one time use number which cannot be used again by an unscrupulous shopkeeper. I also find it easier to pull out my phone than to get my credit card out of my wallet.
 

Elle Bieling

Elle Bieling, PilgrimageTraveler
Year of past OR future Camino
2014
So I found it much easier to pay with my phone using Google Pay. It's also more secure, since the app generates a one time use number which cannot be used again by an unscrupulous shopkeeper. I also find it easier to pull out my phone than to get my credit card out of my wallet.
I definitely need to look into this. Thanks for the tip. I also have an account with USAA (US military only) which refunds all ATM transactions. But if Google Pay is accepted all over Spain, it would be SO much easier than toting cash!
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
I definitely need to look into this. Thanks for the tip. I also have an account with USAA (US military only) which refunds all ATM transactions. But if Google Pay is accepted all over Spain, it would be SO much easier than toting cash!
I didn't use it in many places, mostly just a couple of hotels on the Norte, and restaurants and hotels during my "tourist time" before and after the Camino, so I don't know if it's accepted in little mom and pop places in villages.
 
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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
And do please correct me if I've failed to grasp what's actually going on here! cheers, tom
Following up on that request, could someone explain how much money we are actually talking about? Before I am going to totally revamp my ”camino money habits”, I’d like to know how much this alternative is likely to save.

I know that using a CC is the way to get the best exchange rate, so I use it as much as possible, and always request that the charge be done in euros when that option is given. I may be missing something but if you have a card that can only be used in places that takes credit cards, what is the advantage to switching to a pre-paid debit card?
 

O Peracha

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Le Puy to Santiago (2014)
Annapurna Base, Nepal (2014)
GR 5 - Holland to Pompey, France (2015)
Lisbon to Finesterre (2016)
It is! Almost everyone has a portable card reader, Google pay works perfectly.

This is good to know. Do you recall if merchants who accepted Google Pay were also able to handle Apple Pay? I have Apple Pay and am trying to decide if I need to to add Google Pay.

Thanks.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
It is! Almost everyone has a portable card reader, Google pay works perfectly.
So if that is the case, does that mean that credit card usage is increasingly available? If so, that reduces the need for withdrawing lots of cash. I think that on a typical month-long camino, I have never gotten more than 600 € in cash and used the card for everything else. A 3% ATM charge comes out to less than $20. With CC more widely available, this amount is likely to decrease rather than increase.

I have not researched this issue for several years, but the last time I really delved into it, it was clear to me that using a credit card without transaction fees would give you a better deal than any debit card, pre-loaded or not. Of course things may have changed.
 
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trecile

Camino Addict
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
This is good to know. Do you recall if merchants who accepted Google Pay were also able to handle Apple Pay? I have Apple Pay and am trying to decide if I need to to add Google Pay.

Thanks.
I have found that all the terminals/devices that accept "tap to pay" cards also accept Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, etc.
 

O Peracha

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Le Puy to Santiago (2014)
Annapurna Base, Nepal (2014)
GR 5 - Holland to Pompey, France (2015)
Lisbon to Finesterre (2016)
I have found that all the terminals/devices that accept "tap to pay" cards also accept Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, etc.

Outstanding. Thanks.
 

Dennis Pack

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino de Santiago Norte 2018
Well, if you time it right and they're talking calendar months ... your trip could straddle two months - so you get two lots of 200? Better check that before trying it.

Revolut also offers plans in which you can pay a monthly fee in exchange for a higher cap on fee-free withdrawals and transactions. I think you can subscribe to the premium plans for one month at a time, and then go back on the free plan when you don't need it. The following comes from their UK site, but I believe similar plans exist for account holders in other countries.


For a monthly fee of £6.99, you get to:
  • Exchange and transfer unlimited amounts of money with the interbank exchange rate.
  • Withdraw up to £400 each month for free from international ATMs
If you're using cash only where necessary, you may find that £400 suffices. If that's not enough, I think the next tier gives you more - or you could open a bank account with, say, N26 and use Revolut to transfer unlimited amounts of money to it.

But that's silly, because if you had unlimited amounts of money, why would you worry about transaction fees?
Charles Schwab ... no fees, reimbursement of any ATM fees ... never had an issue 👍🏾
 

Marcus-UK

Old Git
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Ingles 2016 Camino Portuguese 2017 Considering Invierno late (2020) In lieu of VdlP (2020)
From the US, I was getting hammered with ATM fees in Spain to get euros cash. Plus crappy exchange rates, blablabla. I finally got clued into Revolut....downloaded the app and in 5 minutes had euro exchanged and in my preloaded virtual card. Any place that accepts credit card omt on Norte, and that is like 95% of places even in tiny villages, can accept this touchless tap method (via Google or apple pay). Skip the middleman and fees, download euro direct at pretty good rates😍
I have been using Revolut since its early days. However there are different levels of subscription. The base level allow transaction free ATM cash access only up to to approximately 100 Euros per month; then there is a charge. The charge is not excessive and the exchange rate is the bank to bank exchange rate which is usually the best. Another thing to watch out for is that exchange rates are frozen over the weekend (i.e. non working week) and some people have been caught out over the weekend changes.

Revolut is an excellent card for controlling expenditure in your non-native currency. I actually use mine for my default card for Ebay, Paypal, Amazon, Booking.Com since the Applicationi allows me to see transactions real time and aslo allows me to freeze the card when not in active use.
 
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