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

Advertisement

Luggage Transfer Correos

Where and how can I break big notes to smaller ones?

Santiago Photo Book

IcEaNa

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Plan to go in Sept/Oct '16
Hi,

I have just changed some money for my Camino which is happening in less than 2 weeks. Unfortunately, the money changer in my country only have big notes (Euros 200, Euros 500).

And I just found out that the Euros 500 note is not widely accepted. Even Euros 200 notes can be challenging to break...Does anyone know how or where I can go to get smaller change? Will the banks in Spain or supermarkets accept either notes?
 

André Walker

Never loosing my way: always standing on it
Camino(s) past & future
Holland-St.Jean, Frances, Del Norte, VdlP.
Hi,

I have just changed some money for my Camino which is happening in less than 2 weeks. Unfortunately, the money changer in my country only have big notes (Euros 200, Euros 500).

And I just found out that the Euros 500 note is not widely accepted. Even Euros 200 notes can be challenging to break...Does anyone know how or where I can go to get smaller change? Will the banks in Spain or supermarkets accept either notes?
There might be exceptions, but generally speaking: shops (and supermarkets) don't accept big notes, sometimes even € 100,- is too big. But I think the banks might change the big notes for smaller ones.
Mind you: in the small towns and small shops they won't be happy if you have to pay let's say 3-4 euros and want to do so using a € 50,- note. They'll run out of change too quickly. So it's always handy to have 5,- / 10,- and 20,- notes.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2 Camino Frances, next: April 2020 Primitivo
I think it would be very wise to try to change them in your own country before you start your camino. In Spain and specially in villages and albergues they may not accept bigger than 20 euros. Bigger than 50 are impossibile. It's better to take 20 euro notes from ATMs on camino. You'll be in trouble with those big notes.😕
 

ivar

Administrator
Staff member
Anything over €50,- can be complicated.. if you have a €200 or €500 bill I would try a supermarket, the bigger the better... and ask before you start shopping if they accept the bill you have.

The good thing about larger supermarkets is that they have the physical change + most likely a machine where they check that your note is a valid note or not.
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
First of all it wasn't neccessary at all to change money in your country because 20€ note would be quite enough until the first ATM. But now it is what it is.

Also it's not really smart to travel with a lot of cash. You never know when you can lose it or someone steal it...

I think your best bet would be banks but as I remember from last summer even changing five 100€ notes was a bit of a problem. So it would be best to change notes one by one in larger cities or doing a tour of the banks in one day ;)
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2017, 2018, 2019, Ingles 2018, Madrid (2019) Portuges (2020)
Hi,

I have just changed some money for my Camino which is happening in less than 2 weeks. Unfortunately, the money changer in my country only have big notes (Euros 200, Euros 500).

And I just found out that the Euros 500 note is not widely accepted. Even Euros 200 notes can be challenging to break...Does anyone know how or where I can go to get smaller change? Will the banks in Spain or supermarkets accept either notes?
Don’t even think about 500s. If you have the time you could exchange them at a bank - but if you’re not a client there’s a fair chance that they will not.

Very few - if any - supermarkets will take them.

200s are only marginally easier.

100s are OK at most supermarkets.

I’ve a pile of 100s. I’m currently on a family holiday in France and I pay at every opportunity with a 100 and keep the change - supermarkets, fuel, restaurants.

If you’ve not got the euros yet, a better option is probably to use a debit card in an ATM.
 

BROWNCOUNTYBOB

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2015 & 2017) and plans for 2019 (Sept, Oct)
My wife and I walked Camino Frances in 2015 and 2017 (will walk a third time in two weeks). For our first camino, we bought euros in advance and received several 200 euro notes, which caused us concern. We used these in the larger cities we walked through (Pamplona, Burgos, Leon), used these at larger commercial stores (El Corte Ingles) and when paying in cash for more expensive lodging, such as the paradors. For our upcoming trip, I requested euros in 50 E notes, which will be convenient to use in the smaller towns. Bob
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking.
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
I always stop in at a bank to convert euros from the ATM machines into smaller denominations. Since I only use ATM's connected to a bank, easy peasy and they always are happy to assist me.
 
Last edited:

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
While the 500 euro note remains legal currency it is no longer being produced or issued by European banks. A number of countries outside the Euro zone have banned or severely restricted trading of them - as long ago as 2010 in the case of the UK. It had become very clear that they were being used almost exclusively for criminal transactions, tax evasion and money laundering. Even those with bank accounts within EU countries can find themselves with some difficulty in changing the notes through their banks. To me it seems at the very least irresponsible behaviour on the part of a money changer to issue such notes to a client without at least warning them of their very limited acceptability.
 

IcEaNa

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Plan to go in Sept/Oct '16
I should have done more research about currency limitation before changing... Where I live, changing some currency before heading overseas is just what most people do. And it also didn't occur that those notes would pose a problem :(

Initially I was hoping I'd have a chance to break those notes somewhere in Barcelona before travelling down to Pamplona and then to SJPDP. Or somewhere along the way... But I wasn't too sure how possible that might be, so throwing this question out there was all I could think of!

Knowing a little more about this from you all helps. So thank you for sharing your thoughts, suggestions and experience :)
 

MikeJS

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francis (2011), Norte (2012), VdlP (Apr 2016). Sureste/Invierno (Apr/May 2017).
If it were me, I'd walk into a bank in Spain and ask.

Note to others: There's really no need to buy large amounts of Euros before you travel. You can pick them up at any ATM at the airport or in the cities/villages.
I get a better rate of exchange is I do it beforehand.
 

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Contemplating yet another "final" Camino
but 2019?
Go straight to a Spanish bank. Tell them you're not a drug dealer. Ask for smaller bills. Tuck the smaller bills away so you're less likely to get mugged.

Why on earth would you want to carry such a large amount of cash (in whatever size notes) on you anyway?
 
Camino(s) past & future
Nearly every year since 2006, often walking more than one route.
I get a better rate of exchange is I do it beforehand.
I wonder how?
I bank with Charles Schwab and I get an excellent exchange rate, including all my fees returned at the end of the month. The Charles Schwab High Yield Investor Checking Account has the best debit card for use outside the US. When you withdraw cash from an ATM, or use it for transactions, you do NOT get charged ATM fees or foreign transaction fees. And you get a rebate for any fees charged by overseas ATMs.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2017, 2018, 2019, Ingles 2018, Madrid (2019) Portuges (2020)
I wonder how?
I bank with Charles Schwab and I get an excellent exchange rate, including all my fees returned at the end of the month. The Charles Schwab High Yield Investor Checking Account has the best debit card for use outside the US. When you withdraw cash from an ATM, or use it for transactions, you do NOT get charged ATM fees or foreign transaction fees. And you get a rebate for any fees charged by overseas ATMs.
Whether Mr Schwab offers the best rates after conversion, commission, fees etc. I don’t know - it’s the old ‘we’re not all Americans’ problem again - maybe that’s the difference?

Mike appears to be a Brit - as am I

If I change sterling to euros with a high street bank in the UK I will get a worse deal than by going to a specialist forex broker.

If I want to use a debit card via an ATM I will get a slightly worse deal still.

I will get a slightly better deal using a no fee credit card with dynamic currency conversion - but only for purchases. If I draw cash they would want my first-born.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Nearly every year since 2006, often walking more than one route.
Whether Mr Schwab offers the best rates after conversion, commission, fees etc. I don’t know - it’s the old ‘we’re not all Americans’ problem again - maybe that’s the difference?
Maybe. I asked and was told this: 12:53:15 PM : Altaira W.: International residents can open a brokerage account with Schwab, and that account will offer its own checking as a support to the brokerage. So it might be worth checking into.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2017, 2018, 2019, Ingles 2018, Madrid (2019) Portuges (2020)
Maybe. I asked and was told this: 12:53:15 PM : Altaira W.: International residents can open a brokerage account with Schwab, and that account will offer its own checking as a support to the brokerage. So it might be worth checking into.
That’s very helpful. Thank you.
 

Marla in CA

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances September 15, 2019
First of all it wasn't neccessary at all to change money in your country because 20€ note would be quite enough until the first ATM. But now it is what it is.

Also it's not really smart to travel with a lot of cash. You never know when you can lose it or someone steal it...

I think your best bet would be banks but as I remember from last summer even changing five 100€ notes was a bit of a problem. So it would be best to change notes one by one in larger cities or doing a tour of the banks in one day ;)
On that note (no pun intended), I am leaving for the Camino in about 9 days. Can I wait until I get to Madrid airport to find an ATM to get Euros? I wasn't going to get any euros before flying to Spain. I will need money for a taxi from airport, unless I can pay with credit card. Please provide me with any tips. Will there be an ATM at Madrid airport?
Thank you in advance to anyone who replies!

Marla
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
Camino Ingles (2019)
On that note (no pun intended), I am leaving for the Camino in about 9 days. Can I wait until I get to Madrid airport to find an ATM to get Euros? I wasn't going to get any euros before flying to Spain. I will need money for a taxi from airport, unless I can pay with credit card. Please provide me with any tips. Will there be an ATM at Madrid airport?
Thank you in advance to anyone who replies!

Marla
Yes, you can get enough Euros at an airport ATM to cover the taxi. Then I would get a regular stash of 250 to 300 Euros in Madrid at one of the larger bank's ATMs as the rates will likely be more favorable.
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
Camino Ingles (2019)
This has been discussed before, but I'll say it again...I have a Charles Schwab debit card and they reimburse all ATM fees incurred both at home and overseas. I love it.
YES. . . It is fun to look at their monthly statement and see one line showing $65.00 in various fees, and then a line after that showing a deposit of $65.00 as reimbursement for various fees. :)

Plus, the account is free, there are no minimum balances to maintain, and it pays a better interest rate than my primary checking account. :)
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking.
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
YES. . . It is fun to look at their monthly statement and see one line showing $65.00 in various fees, and then a line after that showing a deposit of $65.00 as reimbursement for various fees. :)

Plus, the account is free, there are no minimum balances to maintain, and it pays a better interest rate than my primary checking account. :)
I knooow...it's a no brainer! Thanks for sharing more details, Dave!
 

Marla in CA

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances September 15, 2019
YES. . . It is fun to look at their monthly statement and see one line showing $65.00 in various fees, and then a line after that showing a deposit of $65.00 as reimbursement for various fees. :)

Plus, the account is free, there are no minimum balances to maintain, and it pays a better interest rate than my primary checking account. :)
I know, I heard! I am so happy I asked my friend. She lives in Cali, but is European and goes back all the time, I think it is such a valuable tip.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2017, 2018, 2019, Ingles 2018, Madrid (2019) Portuges (2020)
YES. . . It is fun to look at their monthly statement and see one line showing $65.00 in various fees, and then a line after that showing a deposit of $65.00 as reimbursement for various fees. :)

Plus, the account is free, there are no minimum balances to maintain, and it pays a better interest rate than my primary checking account. :)
For those of you resident in the US it does indeed look like a great option (Clearly this is not advice - do your own research)

Outside the US it looks rather more complicated, including the potential need to complete US tax returns. The IRS, after Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and the [deleted] Church are on my short list of people to avoid if at all possible.

Anyway - it pays to shop around!
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
Maybe. I asked and was told this: 12:53:15 PM : Altaira W.: International residents can open a brokerage account with Schwab, and that account will offer its own checking as a support to the brokerage. So it might be worth checking into.
So if I understand that correctly not ONLY US residents can open CS account? Thanks!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2017, 2018, 2019, Ingles 2018, Madrid (2019) Portuges (2020)
So if I understand that correctly not ONLY US residents can open CS account? Thanks!
That would appear to be correct. Whether it’s worth it to enjoy the stated benefits is clearly a personal decision. There are consequences for non US citizens if using US based financial products. As always, do your own research.

If you’re a UK citizen the Post Office and Creation credit cards offer no-fee transactions and live exchange rates - there are reliable comparison sites to check this stuff out.

Financial product advice - like medical advice - is best taken from someone other than ‘a random person on the internet ‘ - which is what we all are, after all.
 

GettingThere

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Roncesvalles-SdC Apr-Jun 2015
Roncesvalles-Sarria Sep-Oct 2017
C. Frances sections Apr-Jun 2019
I should have done more research about currency limitation before changing... Where I live, changing some currency before heading overseas is just what most people do. And it also didn't occur that those notes would pose a problem :(

Initially I was hoping I'd have a chance to break those notes somewhere in Barcelona before travelling down to Pamplona and then to SJPDP. Or somewhere along the way... But I wasn't too sure how possible that might be, so throwing this question out there was all I could think of!

Knowing a little more about this from you all helps. So thank you for sharing your thoughts, suggestions and experience :)
@IcEaNa if you have not yet left your home country, my advice would be to try to change back the Euro notes you have been given into your own currency, wherever you were issued those notes, and put that back into your bank, before you leave home. Then draw out money from an ATM once you arrive in Spain (assuming you have a bank card that can be used in Spain - check this with your home bank). You may lose a bit of money on the exchange rates by doing this, but overall it could be much less hassle than trying to change those huge notes once in Spain.

As others have said, sometimes even in a bank you may have difficulty. I have tried to change larger notes I received at an ATM in Spain by going in to the (small) bank where the ATM was located, only to be told that the cashier was only on duty during the morning and no one else could help me (it was the afternoon by then) And that was just trying to change 50-Euro notes! I have found that even 50 Euros can be a problem to use except in large supermarkets or hotels. The most useful denominations along the Camino I have found to be 20 Euro or smaller. And as ATMs can be found in all towns, sometimes even in villages, there is no need to carry large amounts of cash with you on the Camino.

Good luck and Buen Camino!
 

IcEaNa

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Plan to go in Sept/Oct '16
Does the ATM/any specific ATMs allow to select the denominations that you want when withdrawing?
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
Camino Ingles (2019)
Does the ATM/any specific ATMs allow to select the denominations that you want when withdrawing?
Some do. . . but the best strategy is to select an amount to withdraw which will minimize the issuance of large denominations. For example, since I am able to do multiple withdrawals each day, I will do three separate transactions of 80 or 90 Euros (depending on the ATM). Since I only keep around 300 Euros on me at one time, that is not a problem. When I get to my last 30 or 50 Euros, it is time to do another round of withdrawals.
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking.
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
Does the ATM/any specific ATMs allow to select the denominations that you want when withdrawing?
I personally have never seen one, at home or abroad...but it's definately a great idea!
 

IcEaNa

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Plan to go in Sept/Oct '16
Some do. . . but the best strategy is to select an amount to withdraw which will minimize the issuance of large denominations. For example, since I am able to do multiple withdrawals each day, I will do three separate transactions of 80 or 90 Euros (depending on the ATM). Since I only keep around 300 Euros on me at one time, that is not a problem. When I get to my last 30 or 50 Euros, it is time to do another round of withdrawals.
That unfortunately is a something I can't afford... the best banking options that is available to me still charges a ATM withdrawal fee each time (either on my country bank or the foreign bank itself)
 

hummingbirdmom

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances September 28 (SJPDP - Pamplona)
On that note (no pun intended), I am leaving for the Camino in about 9 days. Can I wait until I get to Madrid airport to find an ATM to get Euros? I wasn't going to get any euros before flying to Spain. I will need money for a taxi from airport, unless I can pay with credit card. Please provide me with any tips. Will there be an ATM at Madrid airport?
Thank you in advance to anyone who replies!

Marla
It *should* be ok, but one time I arrived in Edinburgh and my ATM card was being refused. I was in a bit of a fix. I had to call my bank and get it all straightened out. They often have ATM's at the airport in the U.S. that give out foreign currency. You are in California? (not Canada?) I'm in Los Angeles and leave in 3 weeks. Buen Camino!
 

Marla in CA

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances September 15, 2019
It *should* be ok, but one time I arrived in Edinburgh and my ATM card was being refused. I was in a bit of a fix. I had to call my bank and get it all straightened out. They often have ATM's at the airport in the U.S. that give out foreign currency. You are in California? (not Canada?) I'm in Los Angeles and leave in 3 weeks. Buen Camino!
Good to know. I am in Orange County. Flying out of LAX on September 15th. Buen Camino!
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
That unfortunately is a something I can't afford... the best banking options that is available to me still charges a ATM withdrawal fee each time (either on my country bank or the foreign bank itself)
My bank too charge me with the ATM withdrawal fee. It's 0,48€ which is nothing in comparison with losing 1500€ carrying on me for example... And being in constant fear. Is that the Camino you are longing for?
Re-think that again :)

Anyway where are you coming from if it is not too intrusive to ask :)
 

IcEaNa

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Plan to go in Sept/Oct '16
My bank too charge me with the ATM withdrawal fee. It's 0,48€ which is nothing in comparison with losing 1500€ carrying on me for example... And being in constant fear. Is that the Camino you are longing for?
Re-think that again :)
Mine works out to be abt 3-4 Euros for each ATM withdrawal! If only, it didn't cost that much on my side... Otherwise, I agree that it would be the best option!
 
Last edited:

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
Just be careful with those large sum banknotes. Either you go to the bank with a fellow pilgrim (for your security) word can easily get spread or some local will notice it. One bank note at a time! And if the bank is full of people maybe exchange just 200€ note and if it is almost empty then go with 500€.

If you have intermediate airplane stops on your way to Europe maybe try to break some of the banknotes there but I'm afraid the exchange rates won't be really good...

Wish you all the best :)
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Ch. d'Arles: Oloron Ste Marie to Aragones; Frances (2016); V.d.l.P.; Sanabres (2017)
I got used to making withdrawals at branches of Bank Santander in Spain, because there are so many of them and I never had any problems with the withdrawal. But on my last camino their ATMs gave me largely 50€ notes, which are not convenient for my albergue lifestyle. I could go into the bank to change the notes, but there was always a significant wait. I may try to find a bank with lower charges than Bank Santander this next camino. And I made a withdrawal in euros at a local bank today, rather than arriving in Spain next week sleep deprived and with barely enough cash to get through the busy first day. If I have to take a taxi, I want to have enough euros to pay for it. Convenience can be important when traveling, even on a limited budget.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2006) Portugues(2013)
San Salvador (2017) Ingles (2019)
Hi,

I have just changed some money for my Camino which is happening in less than 2 weeks. Unfortunately, the money changer in my country only have big notes (Euros 200, Euros 500).

And I just found out that the Euros 500 note is not widely accepted. Even Euros 200 notes can be challenging to break...Does anyone know how or where I can go to get smaller change? Will the banks in Spain or supermarkets accept either notes?
I am sorry for the trouble you find yourself in. Maybe I am missing something obvious, but have you tried to return the euro notes and get your money back? I know someone else suggested that. You will lose something in the transaction, but you will gain peace of mind.
You can find an atm in whichever airport you land in, if you are going to be arriving by plane. Hope you find a solution. Buen Camino...
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2017, 2018, 2019, Ingles 2018, Madrid (2019) Portuges (2020)
I’m on vacation in France at the moment and have found the holy grail of splitting large notes.

At a local branch of the supermarket ‘Super U’ one pays through an automated teller machine. Feed the note in - no matter how large (except 500s) and out comes the change.

For the price of a 25 cent pack of gum I’ve been able to split several otherwise difficult 100 notes

Has anyone come across anything similar on the Camino - probably in a large town?
 

ELHS220

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés - 2015
Francés - 2017
Norte (Oviedo Costa) - 2018
Finisterre/Muxía - 2018
Norte - (2019)
For no-fee ATMs, try LIBERBANK. I discovered it on the Norte this year. It is evidently a merger of a few other banks. I had never heard of it before. From the following website, you can see they are rather widespread across Spain. Some banks are now charging as much as €6 per ATM transaction. My local bank refunds ATM fees, but I still sought out LIBERBANK whenever possible so as not to have to contribute to other greedy institutions.

 

Chris Gi

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Did April through June 2018 from Pamplona to Santiago. 2020 May or end of September.
Hi,

I have just changed some money for my Camino which is happening in less than 2 weeks. Unfortunately, the money changer in my country only have big notes (Euros 200, Euros 500).

And I just found out that the Euros 500 note is not widely accepted. Even Euros 200 notes can be challenging to break...Does anyone know how or where I can go to get smaller change? Will the banks in Spain or supermarkets accept either notes?
You can change them at the airport.
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
Another thing to consider us joining N26. It is an internet bank, with its’ global HQ in Germany. They are licensed in all the EU. Last month they started their US operations.

You join online, using your smartphone. The account is not free, but is very inexpensive: they provide you a MasterCard debit card. Mine is on the way to me now.

Once you open the account, you can move / deposit money in your home currency, in my case, the US. To my main bank, it looks like another US bank. So, transfers and direct deposits are simple. In Europe, it looks and functions like a EU-native bank.

The beauty of N26 is that I can withdraw the money I deposited in USD in Euros with no added fees. They charge a small premium on the exchange rate. But there are nil ATM fees.

Yes, I can do this using my main US bank debit card as well. But THAT alternative has a myriad of service charges and adverse conversion fees and rates. Everyone in the chain has their hand in my pocket...

For me, this appears to be a good solution for managing funds between the US and EU. We will see. If anyone has experience with N26, please share it here.

You can find N26 at www.n26.com

Hope this helps.
 

c0484

Member
Camino(s) past & future
2013
Hi,

I have just changed some money for my Camino which is happening in less than 2 weeks. Unfortunately, the money changer in my country only have big notes (Euros 200, Euros 500).

And I just found out that the Euros 500 note is not widely accepted. Even Euros 200 notes can be challenging to break...Does anyone know how or where I can go to get smaller change? Will the banks in Spain or supermarkets accept either notes?
You need to go to a bank. It is hard to use anything over 50 euros.
 

Felice

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP to Santiago Sept 2014
Not read all the replies, so unsure as to whether anyone has mentioned this already....

but my limited experience is that banks do not hold cash apart from in the ATM machine. Going inside was a waste of time.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
SJPDP-Finisterre X 2 - 2016 & 2017, El Norte - Irun to Vilalba 2018
The beauty of N26 is that I can withdraw the money I deposited in USD in Euros with no added fees. They charge a small premium on the exchange rate. But there are nil ATM fees.
I can withdraw the currency if whichever country I am in with my Schwab account debit card. ALL ATM fees are refunded to me.
 

annakappa

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Part frances jun 07/rest frances may- jun 2008/Frances sept-oct 2009/ Sanabres Oct 2010/Frances sept-oct 2011/Aragones Sept-Oct 2012. Hospitalero Sept 2010, Amiga in Pilgrim's Office Oct 2013. Part Primitivo Oct 2013. Portugues from Porto June 2015.
Hi,

I have just changed some money for my Camino which is happening in less than 2 weeks. Unfortunately, the money changer in my country only have big notes (Euros 200, Euros 500).

And I just found out that the Euros 500 note is not widely accepted. Even Euros 200 notes can be challenging to break...Does anyone know how or where I can go to get smaller change? Will the banks in Spain or supermarkets accept either notes?
very seriously, I would go back to your money changer and change back your money. You have been given a lot of advice and opinion and I think you will most definitely hit problems with these notes, plus I guess, you will have in your possession a large amount of Euros, which is just not necessary.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Ch. d'Arles: Oloron Ste Marie to Aragones; Frances (2016); V.d.l.P.; Sanabres (2017)
Not read all the replies, so unsure as to whether anyone has mentioned this already....

but my limited experience is that banks do not hold cash apart from in the ATM machine. Going inside was a waste of time.
I am not sure in what context you experienced this. As I stated above, I have frequently gone into banks in Spain to change large bills for smaller ones.
 

Felice

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP to Santiago Sept 2014
I am not sure in what context you experienced this. As I stated above, I have frequently gone into banks in Spain to change large bills for smaller ones.
I'm glad you managed to change your big notes. I can't recall which branch of Santander I went into - it was soon after Pamplona, and they told me to use the ATM as they did not hold cash. Same again this May in France. Twice.
 

J Willhaus

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
24 May- 14 July (2016)CF
Hospitalera, Zamora Dec 15-31, (2017), Hospitalera Grañón Dec 15-31 (2018)
Not read all the replies, so unsure as to whether anyone has mentioned this already....

but my limited experience is that banks do not hold cash apart from in the ATM machine. Going inside was a waste of time.
We also take our cash inside to break into smaller notes and have not run into this problem.
 

danielle aird

La vie est belle
Camino(s) past & future
May 2018; September 2018; May 2019; Sept (2019)
There might be exceptions, but generally speaking: shops (and supermarkets) don't accept big notes, sometimes even € 100,- is too big. But I think the banks might change the big notes for smaller ones.
Mind you: in the small towns and small shops they won't be happy if you have to pay let's say 3-4 euros and want to do so using a € 50,- note. They'll run out of change too quickly. So it's always handy to have 5,- / 10,- and 20,- notes.
I learnt the hard way about 500 Euro notes. My exchange bureau only had 200's and 500's . When I got to Spain, I found that no one NO ONE will take a 500 Euro note. NOT EVEN A BANK UNLESS YOU HAVE AN ACCOUNT THERE. I tried several banks and ended up having to make large withdrawals with my bank card. Fortunately, I have friends in Spain whom I was visiting at the end of the trip so they were able to put my 500's in their account and give me smaller bills which I used on my next trip. Get rid of the 500's before you get there... Now, my exchange bureau doesn't carry the 500's anymore. As for the 50's, you can easily use them at the albergues and from them, you will get change to use in small shops.
Buen Camino!
 

danielle aird

La vie est belle
Camino(s) past & future
May 2018; September 2018; May 2019; Sept (2019)
I can withdraw the currency if whichever country I am in with my Schwab account debit card. ALL ATM fees are refunded to me.
I was with a friend who had a Schwab card and she had a hard time finding machines that displayed its logo.
 

Old Kiwi

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
St Francis "2016"
St Francis "2019"
I live in New Zealand where I have what is called a "Cash Card'. You can get them from banks or online. You can either load them up with however much money you want in whatever currency you want, either through the bank or directly on line. These cards are like a Debit Card or an EFTPOS Card. They operate through the Mastercard system. You can go to any ATM that displays the Mastercard logo and withdraw cash. Some ATMs will charge you fees for the withdrawal. I found that in Spain if you go to the ATMs that have the sign above them that is red and has the number 6 on them that you will most likely not get charged fees. I only withdraw 200 euros at a time which means that the largest note you will get will be 50 euros. Sometimes you might get two 50 euro notes. These notes are not too big for most foodstores and bars. I usually pay for Albergues with smaller notes. I have never had a problem doing it like this and the most cash I ever have on me is 200 euros which is no great amount.
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
My Australian ING banking account also refunds all ATM fees (national and international) and has no mark-up or commission on the exchange rate, which is set by Visa. I used to have a travel money card but find this is much easier.

But more importantly, for anyone who has read all the way down this thread, please, please do not take too much cash! We have had some horrible stories of money being lost or stolen. Use ATM machines along the way.
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
... Use ATM machines along the way.
And use them wisely meaning:
- don't withdraw a lot of cash
- find the ATM attached to the bank office
- withdraw during bank office opening hours (avoid weekends)
- don't flash your money for everybody to see.

I also use "fake" wallet with just a little albergue and beer money in it. Some expired bank/library/bus cards in it too to make it look the real one ;)

I'm sure I forgot something :D
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2017, 2018, 2019, Ingles 2018, Madrid (2019) Portuges (2020)
And use them wisely meaning:
- don't withdraw a lot of cash
- find the ATM attached to the bank office
- withdraw during bank office opening hours (avoid weekends)
- don't flash your money for everybody to see.

I also use "fake" wallet with just a little albergue and beer money in it. Some expired bank/library/bus cards in it too to make it look the real one ;)

I'm sure I forgot something :D
I carry an expired UK drivers licence. I’ve often been asked for a passport or ID card - in Europe and elsewhere - as a deposit against an audio guide, when entering a military-run establishment (some museums) and elsewhere. My useless ‘don’t care if I lose it’ID has worked every time.

I have the photo page of my passport photocopied and laminated. Anyone needing my passport details gets offered that first. In Spain - to be fair - the reception staff tend to take details or photocopy and return it straight away. In France the default option is often ‘you get it back when you check out’. In that case I pay up front.

I also use a ‘sacrificial’ day wallet. If I lose it, it’s not a disaster.

Finally - I wear a secreted wallet and my regular small bum-bag (fanny pack y’all) for a couple of weeks before departing so that it’s first nature to feel that they're there.

I should say that I regard the danger of petty theft or pickpocketing as more real in larger towns in the UK than elsewhere in Europe - with the exceptions of Barcelona, Rome, Venice and Paris.
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
Camino Ingles (2019)
I was with a friend who had a Schwab card and she had a hard time finding machines that displayed its logo.
I believe your friend may have misunderstood how the Schwab card actually works, then. You can use ANY atm. . . no restrictions. . . ALL fees for any out-of-network atm are reimbursed.
 

Book your lodging here

Get e-mail updates from Casa Ivar (Forum + Forum Store content)




Advertisement

Booking.com

Latest posts

Most downloaded Resources

Forum Rules

Forum Rules

Camino Forum Store

Camino Forum Store

Casa Ivar Newsletter

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

When is the best time to walk?

  • January

    Votes: 15 1.4%
  • February

    Votes: 6 0.5%
  • March

    Votes: 44 4.0%
  • April

    Votes: 165 15.1%
  • May

    Votes: 268 24.5%
  • June

    Votes: 83 7.6%
  • July

    Votes: 22 2.0%
  • August

    Votes: 23 2.1%
  • September

    Votes: 313 28.7%
  • October

    Votes: 134 12.3%
  • November

    Votes: 13 1.2%
  • December

    Votes: 6 0.5%
Top