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.
If you're planning to visit Greece on vacation, you may find this short guide on money in Greece useful.
We'll start with some basic information and FAQ about Greek currency before moving on to the practical matters such as getting hold of money and then spending it!
What Is The Currency in Greece?
Greece's currency is the Euro. This is the single currency used by the European countries in what is known as the Eurozone. The Euro was adopted as physical legal tender in Greece on 1st January, 2002. It is available in both coin and note denominations.
What is the Eurozone?
The Euro is the single currency for 19 of the 27 member states of the European Union. These 19 countries are often referred to as the Eurozone, and Greece is a member. 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 as well.
What was the old currency in Greece?
Before being replaced by the Euro, the Greek Drachma was the old currency of Greece. It is no longer legal tender, so if you have any old drachmas (the Greece currency before Euro), they won't be of much use to you!
What are the Euro coins denominations in Greece?
Greece is one of many European countries which uses the Euro as its form of currency. The coin denominations are: 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 cent, €1 and €2.
What are the Euro note denominations in Greece?
There are seven denominations of euro banknotes that are legal tender: €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200 and €500. You are unlikely to see €100, €200 and €500 notes in regular circulation as stores are reluctant to accept them.
Can you use dollars in Greece?
No you can't spend dollars in Greece. You will need to either use your cards or get hold of some physical Euros when on vacation in Greece.
Greece Money Travel Tips
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. If you still have questions about anything regarding money for your Greek vacation, leave a comment at the end of the blog post!
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 US 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 from the UK or non-Eurozone country looking for a travel cash card for your vacation.
If you are from the United States, you might find Transferwise a better option for travel money.
Using Debit and Credit Cards in Greece
Credit and debit card usage in Greece is becoming more widespread like other parts of Europe. 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!!
More facts about Greece currency
Does Greece use the Euro?
Yes, the currency in Greece is the Euro! This new currency 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.