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Use of credit card on the Camino Francés?

JocelynAPV

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
SJPP-SdC: July-August 2014
Hi!
I am from Venezuela, and we have some really tied change control. So, I would like to know how much I can really use my credit card for pay during the camino, or if is cash only. I´m not talking about ATMs, but pay directly with the card. The restaurants, shops or even some albergues would accept the credit card?
I know that I would need to use some cash, but I would like to pay the most that I can with the credit card.
Thanks,
Jocelyn
 
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wayfarer

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2012
Hi Jocelyn, welcome to the forum. Most if not all of the albergues I stayed in took cash only. In the bigger towns the restaurants may take the card but you will pass through a lot of small towns and villages and these would be cash only. Best if you can get a debit card that works with ATMs' and get cash out as you need it. You should have two to three hundred Euros on you as there can be a distance between ATMs as well.
Buen Camino.
 
P

PANO

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Hi Jocelyn
your predicament is a pain, my sympathy; however, except at the ATM's, at some of the larger supermercados and at the better Hotels (***-up), CC's will not get you much on the Camino.
Governments attempts to control private money flows usually evoke a massive collective search for clever loop-holes, so you're likely to find the best workarounds in your own country. (Bankers and priests often have the best information :D)
Seriously, keep your ears and eyes open, I'm pretty sure there is way; aside of the ticket-cost, the spending budget for walking the Camino is not that big. I'd wish I could give you better advise.

Ultreya and buen camino
 

JocelynAPV

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
SJPP-SdC: July-August 2014
Thank you all. I figured it would be like that, but i was hoping other wise...
I already got the ticket for July :D (Been a Caribbean girl, I can´t handle the cold, hahaha), I want start from SJPP, fingers cross!
Thanks! Buen Camino!
 
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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
I have noticed how, in recent years, so many more restaurants along the Camino came to take credit cards. They are not so easily used in bars/cafes, but otherwise, you will have little trouble. As far as I know, albergues do not take them, and the one-star and two-star pensions and fondas will usually not, but many casas rurales, hostales, and hotels will. ATMs are available in most places, but (IIRC) there are none between Astorga and Ponferrada. I'm not sure how it works, but I understand that you can pay for a lot of things with your telephone. Perhaps someone better-informed than I can help out here.
 

annelise

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Past
I am kind of conservative (you are free to call it old-fashioned). So I only used my credit card in ATMs outside a bank which was still open. If the card was then 'swallowed' I could then go into the bank and retrieve it. - I also kept another card - deeply hidden - if the worst came to the worst - never happened (big smiley here).

Mind you, this is not related to the camino, but also in daily life.

annelise
 
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Camino de Santiago, 2013
We did not have any problems using our credit card except at one of the hotels where it was "declined" twice. We ended up paying cash then found that there was absolutely nothing wrong with the card itself when we used it the next day. I suspect the hotel manager just didn't like the look of us all hot and bothered o_O.
 

fraluchi

RIP 2019
Year of past OR future Camino
One every year since 2007
I am from Venezuela, and we have some really tied change control.
Before leaving you should contact your bank, with which you have your card (C/C), and obtain a release to use your C/C abroad. They usually ask during which period and where you will be using the card.
When you leave, take at least 500 Euros in cash with you. This amount should get you from larger town to larger town (like Pamplona, Logroño, etc.) where you can collect cash at any bank. Most supermarkets, restaurants and larger hotels accept payment by C/C. Look out for the VISA/MASTERCARD, etc. signs on their doors and/or windows. In villages between larger towns you may find it difficult to pay with a C/C.
 

kmrice

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Santiago - Fisterra 2008
St. Jean Pied de Port - Santiago 2013
We did not have any problems using our credit card except at one of the hotels where it was "declined" twice. We ended up paying cash then found that there was absolutely nothing wrong with the card itself when we used it the next day. I suspect the hotel manager just didn't like the look of us all hot and bothered o_O.
When our card was "declined" twice at a hotel on the Camino, it was accepted the third time, but it got billed to our card twice. Our bank undid the charge, and I don't think I'll hear about it again. I don't think the hotel intended to cheat us, but declined transactions now make me a little nervous.

Karl
 
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Hi!
I am from Venezuela, and we have some really tied change control. So, I would like to know how much I can really use my credit card for pay during the camino, or if is cash only. I´m not talking about ATMs, but pay directly with the card. The restaurants, shops or even some albergues would accept the credit card?
I know that I would need to use some cash, but I would like to pay the most that I can with the credit card.
Thanks,
Jocelyn

Hey Jocelyn,
You might look into Charles Schwab bank.
They are an online bank that is international.
They only work via mail for deposits so that would work for you.
You could send checks to deposit funds in your Charles Schwab account.
They will send you an ATM card that works great all along the Camino.
Also, they reimburse you ALL ATM fees and other fees at the end of each month.
So if a bank charges an exchange rate fee or a fee for using the ATM, they will give it back at the end of the month.

Anyway, it is the card I use every year on the Camino and I love the bank.
It is also an investment facility and has been around a long, long time, so they are trustworthy.

You can call their number any time and get a real human being to talk to, also.
Buen Camino,
Annie
 

Rosemaryk1

Active Member
My Charles Scwab account will take an online transfer from my bank account directly into my CS account. I have being doing for a year to "save" for my Camino. (Each paycheck I get I donate a percentage to my Chuck account by online transfer!)
Also, my husband can affectly "load it up" while I am on The Way if I should run low. It takes a day for the funds to be recognized but definitely a great option if your bank account is linked to your "Chuck" account.
 

november_moon

Veteran Member
When our card was "declined" twice at a hotel on the Camino, it was accepted the third time, but it got billed to our card twice. Our bank undid the charge, and I don't think I'll hear about it again. I don't think the hotel intended to cheat us, but declined transactions now make me a little nervous.

I've had this happen a couple times as well - not on the Camino since I haven't walked yet, but just in general. The bank has always taken care of it. I just chalk it up to an electronic hiccup. Just another reason to check credit card charges carefully though.
 

ManyMiles2Go

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2013)
When our card was "declined" twice at a hotel on the Camino, it was accepted the third time, but it got billed to our card twice. Our bank undid the charge, and I don't think I'll hear about it again. I don't think the hotel intended to cheat us, but declined transactions now make me a little nervous.

Karl

We never had a problem with our credit card during the Camino, but afterward, we went to Lourdes. When we tried to get train tickets to Paris to fly home, our card was "declined". I called the credit card company and they said there was nothing wrong with the card, and that there was not even an attempt to place a charge on our card from the train station. I asked the lady to try it again and watched her swipe the card. She had it backwards (magnetic stripe out instead of in). I told her she was doing it wrong and she said that is the way they do it. I said, could you please just turn it around and try it the other way. She refused :( Had to go get cash out of the ATM machine outside to buy our tickets. I was just SLIGHTLY annoyed with her :mad: Oh well, we made it home!!
 

Brendaparrish

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances july(2014)
Thank you all. I figured it would be like that, but i was hoping other wise...
I already got the ticket for July :D (Been a Caribbean girl, I can´t handle the cold, hahaha), I want start from SJPP, fingers cross!
Thanks! Buen Camino!


I chose summer also for the same reason....live in south Texas so comfortable in heat..will be In sjpp on July 9th and have reservations for Pamplona 13 th and 14th...gave myself extra time for the first few days....just booked flights... Into Biarritz and out of Madrid... Very excited...may see you along the way
 
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JocelynAPV

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
SJPP-SdC: July-August 2014
I chose summer also for the same reason....live in south Texas so comfortable in heat..will be In sjpp on July 9th and have reservations for Pamplona 13 th and 14th...gave myself extra time for the first few days....just booked flights... Into Biarritz and out of Madrid... Very excited...may see you along the way

Hi Brendaparrish! I have resevations for SJPP for July 4th, so I´ll start the 5th! We tried stay in Pamplona for a couple of days, but it was so expensive for the San Fermin, so it will have to be in another chance. So cool, we may see along the way. Buen Camino!
 

Olivares

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
May 1997 (Leon to Santiago); Sections Camino Frances: May 2011, May 2012, May 2013, October 2013, June-July 2014 (Sahagun to Santiago).
The
Cash only everywhere except hotels in the major cities.
Not the case..by far. While I agree that Public Albergues are mostly on a cash basis, I stayed in many private albergues that took credit cards, i.e. Belorado (Albergue A Santiago) , Ages, Najera, etc... Also stayed in many small inns/hostels/Momma & Poppa's that took credit cards with no problems whatsoever. I found that if the private albergue had a side enterprise such as a market, souvenirs, etc...it was very likely to accept credit cards. I do recommend you ask your credit card company that send you a credit card with the EMV smart chip technology so that it gets accepted in Europe; USA-issued cards who do not have the EMV smart chip are often rejected.

Paying with credit card should not be about not having an alternative; it is the smart thing to do when allowed. Credit cards companies get a much better rate of exchange than you and I do so you could potentially save by paying with a CC. It is a fact that CC companies charge a transaction fee if paying a foreign currency but it nowhere near as high as the average commission you would pay if having to pay in cash. Just a thought.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
The
Paying with credit card should not be about not having an alternative; it is the smart thing to do when allowed. Credit cards companies get a much better rate of exchange than you and I do so you could potentially save by paying with a CC. It is a fact that CC companies charge a transaction fee if paying a foreign currency but it nowhere near as high as the average commission you would pay if having to pay in cash. Just a thought.

I'm not sure I agree with you here.
I've done both and unless I'm using my Charles Schwab card (which charges no fees), other CC's charge a service fee which make the charge higher (up to 1.43%) than if I pay cash.
 

shefollowsshells

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Several alone and with children
FIRST HAND ADVICE!
I quicky scanned the thread and think this was mentioned BUT want to say it happened to me and to take this advice..
I used my debit card at the few hotels, groceries and other things fine.
BUT when I went into Ponferrada and was going to withdraw cash the machine did take my card...not in the assumed way of sucking it up thinking it was not legit or something it took the card and I heard the card DROP to the floor.
This was during banking hours...they were open.
This was devastating as my card was not in a tray ...and I kept telling them I heard it drop.
a Camino angel appeared, a Spanish speaking American who stood by me till I got that card back...it took over an hour and the machine was taken apart and they wanted to give up many a times looking for it.

SO! I would suggest only use the machines during banking hours IF it is a debit card and if you need that money from it!
 
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Olivares

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
May 1997 (Leon to Santiago); Sections Camino Frances: May 2011, May 2012, May 2013, October 2013, June-July 2014 (Sahagun to Santiago).
I'm not sure I agree with you here.
I've done both and unless I'm using my Charles Schwab card (which charges no fees), other CC's charge a service fee which make the charge higher (up to 1.43%) than if I pay cash.
Not my experience whatsover in my last 25 years traveling twice/yr to Europe. IF the CC company charges for foreign transaction, the fees are typically much lower than the fees you would pay to convert your currency to local currency cash...and much like you pointed out, if you do a bit of research you can find CCs that do not charge fees. I have been using a Capital One CC for the last 15 years and I do not get foreign transactions fees. Given: the advantage of using a credit card is less noticeable for smaller amounts, but you should still rely on them to get the cash from the ATM rather than an exchange if need be. BTW, I carry a debit card, BUT would not use, only if an emergency. Too risky. I would not leave home without, at a minimum, two (2) CCs; both stored separately, one main and the other the emergency one. make a copy of the back of the CC and have it with you at all times; it has the phone numbers to call (incl intl) if a replacement is immediately needed.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
Not my experience whatsover in my last 25 years traveling twice/yr to Europe. IF the CC company charges for foreign transaction, the fees are typically much lower than the fees you would pay to convert your currency to local currency cash...and much like you pointed out, if you do a bit of research you can find CCs that do not charge fees. I have been using a Capital One CC for the last 15 years and I do not get foreign transactions fees. Given: the advantage of using a credit card is less noticeable for smaller amounts, but you should still rely on them to get the cash from the ATM rather than an exchange if need be. BTW, I carry a debit card, BUT would not use, only if an emergency. Too risky. I would not leave home without, at a minimum, two (2) CCs; both stored separately, one main and the other the emergency one. make a copy of the back of the CC and have it with you at all times; it has the phone numbers to call (incl intl) if a replacement is immediately needed.

Am I misunderstanding you?

In Oregon, the banks charge almost 1.43 to 1.48 to exchange dollars/euros if they are used to get cash advances. The spot exchange is 1.38 right now, so the bank (credit card company) is charging .05-.10 more per dollar/euro. In addition, they do charge a transaction fee at the local machine if you use those to get cash. Most do not reimburse you for those charges.

If you can pay the vendor with a CC, then yes, it's a good deal. And while many PRIVATE places will take a CC, I have not found one municipal or parochial who do - they have all asked for cash so far.

My Schwab card is a debit card. I can use it in any bank in Spain and there are no fees. If the local bank charges a fee, I am reimbursed at the end of the month.

I have not found another CC that will reimburse you the fees used when taking cash withdrawals from the bank machine.

I agree about having a backup card.
 

ManyMiles2Go

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2013)
We used the Charles Schwab card also. Actually got one just for the Camino because of the no foreign transaction fees. Loved the card, and had no problems with it (except for the machine that ate mine :( ). Used my wife's card the rest of the trip. Best thing was we only put enough money in the account for the trip so it was not tied into any of our other accounts. Love that card, and still use it now :)
 

Odem

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
I
Hi!
I am from Venezuela, and we have some really tied change control. So, I would like to know how much I can really use my credit card for pay during the camino, or if is cash only. I´m not talking about ATMs, but pay directly with the card. The restaurants, shops or even some albergues would accept the credit card?
I know that I would need to use some cash, but I would like to pay the most that I can with the credit card.
Thanks,
Jocelyn

Hi Jocelyn, did you get to do the Camino? I am also from Venezuela and want to start My Camino by the end of April.
 

PACIFICSWIM

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Walked the Camino on 30th September, arrived at Santiago on 1st November. Changed my life forever
Hi Jocelyn, welcome to the forum. Most if not all of the albergues I stayed in took cash only. In the bigger towns the restaurants may take the card but you will pass through a lot of small towns and villages and these would be cash only. Best if you can get a debit card that works with ATMs' and get cash out as you need it. You should have two to three hundred Euros on you as there can be a distance between ATMs as well.
Buen Camino.
This is something I was not aware of, Credit cards are taken the world over, so cash is King on the Camino
 
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