Here's everything you need to know about money in Greece. Currency, ATMs, banks, credit cards and more, this guide will show you how to get hold of and spend your Greek money.
The Currency in Greece
Whilst some measures of capital controls in Greece are still in place, none of these affect tourists. You can freely withdraw money from ATM machines, and use your cards as you please.
The Euro is the single currency for 19 of the 27 member stated of the European Union. These 19 countries are often referred to as the Eurozone. So, if you are continuing your vacation to another European country after Greece such as Italy, you will also be able to use Euros there.
There are a few things it's handy to know about getting hold of and spending Euros in Greece, which is why I created this short guide. I'm nice like that!
Money in Greece
The Euro comes in coins and notes. The largest Euro note is a 500 Euro, and until a few days ago, I had never actually seen one!
The reason for this, is that they are almost impossible to use, as no one but banks wants to accept them. And even banks don't really want the hassle of checking these large notes!In the highly unlikely event that a currency exchanger offers you a 500 Euro note or you receive one from a bank, politely decline, and say that you want smaller denominations instead.
The largest note you want in your wallet is a 50 Euro note. Before you ask, no, you can't spend Dollars or Pounds in shops in Greece!
Greece Currency Exchange Rates
The dollar to USD rate is always changing. You will also find that currency exchanges in for example the Athens airport give much poorer rates than if you were to withdraw money from an ATM machine.
Even little commission rates can add up during your vacation in Greece. Keep your eye on the exchange rates by using Google. I've included some below for historical information – you might be interested to see how these dollar euro exchange rates change over time!
In May 2020, the exchange rates were:
Greece currency to USD: 1 Euro buys 1.09 USD.
Dollars to Greek currency: 1 USD buys 0.92 Euros.
Greece currency to Indian Rupee: 1 Euro buys 82.77 Indian Rupees.
100 Indian Rupee buys 1.21 Euros
It will be fun to see how this changes over the years!
Should I take cash to Greece?
Sure, you can either exchange your local currency to Euros before you leave, or bring along some of your local cash to exchange at a currency exchanger.
Just remember that shops and restaurants do not accept foreign currency!
Getting hold of your money in Greece
You've got plenty of options to get hold of your money in Greece. These include changing money at your domestic airport (terrible choice), money on arrival at the Greek airport (bad choice), using a money changer (bad choice) or using ATMs in Greece (probably the best option).
I'd suggest whatever option you choose as your primary means of getting hold of money in Greece, you bring a few Euros over with you anyway.
There's nothing worse than arriving at an airport in a foreign country to find out you can get hold of the local currency because ATM machines are closed, and all the exchange kiosks are shut for the night!
Using ATMs to withdrawn money in Greece
This is probably the best method of getting hold of cash in Greece. You can find ATMs in every major town and city, and practically every inhabited Greek island has at least one machine.
You will find ATMs in supermarkets, airports, ferry ports, metro stations and other public places.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind when using ATM machines to access your money in Greece.
The first is that there may be a daily withdrawal limit from the machine as well as your card itself. You may even need to tell you bank that you are travelling to another country so that they will authorise its use overseas.
Another thing to keep in mind, is that some machines will offer two exchange rates. One is normally a lot more than the other! You should do your due diligence and work out what your own bank will charge you for withdrawing cash abroad.
Finally, if travelling to a smaller island, you may find that machines run out of cash from time to time. Don't leave it until the last minute to withdraw!
Check out my Revolut Card Review if you're looking for a travel cash card for your vacation.
Using Credit Cards in Greece
Credit card usage in Greece is not as widespread as in other parts of Europe, but in recent years there has been a massive effort to catch up. In fact, the government is actively encouraging and enforcing card use for some businesses, particularly in the hotel industry.
So, you will be able to use your debit and credit cards in shops and hotels, fuel stations and shops up and down the country. This includes the Greek islands.
When it comes to bars and tavernas though, you may need to check their machine is working. You would be surprised at how many card machines are faulty in these places when they work perfectly everywhere else. Very strange!!
FAQ about Greece currency
Does Greece use the Euro?
Yes, the currency in Greece is the Euro! It was introduced on 1st January 2002 when Greece adopted the currency along with other European Union member states.
What was the drachma to Euro exchange rate?
At the time that Greece adopted the Euro as its monetary unit, the exchange rate was set at 340.75 drachmae to the euro)
What currency is used in Athens Greece?
The currency used in Athens, Greece is the Euro.
Did Greece almost leave the Euro?
In 2015, the repercussions of the global bank crisis somehow left Greece holding the bill. Among the drama, the specter was raised of a ‘Grexit‘, where Greece might either have to leave the EU and abandon the euro.
Whether they would have gone back to the former drachma Greek currency or created a new one was never fully discussed in public. As events came to pass, Greece remains in both the European Union and Greece's currency is still the euro.
What was the money in Ancient Greece?
The Drachma was the form of Greek cash used in ancient times. The were used by several Greek city states, and were originally minted from silver.
Looking for more information on planning a trip to Greece? These articles are a good starting point.