Let's talk about exchanging currency, basic bank services, and credit card use in Athens.
Greece has been part of the European Union since 1981 and part of the Eurozone since
2001 which means that its official currency is the euro.
Euros come in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500.
When you arrive in Athens, first thing you'll need to do is to exchange your money into
euros; there are several options for you to choose-- just make sure you bring your passport
because you need it anytime you exchange currency.
Traveler's checks and credit cards issued by major companies are also widely accepted
At the airport you will find banks, ATMs, and currency exchange booths at Arrivals.
Usually this is the most convenient way to get your euros, especially if you fly in after
banking hours or on a weekend or holiday.
There are various major international banking institutions, credit card companies and ATMs
in and around Athens that are easy to access.
You may also find that your hotel will exchange currency for you, but check ahead as this
is not standard at all locations.
When exchanging currency, ask whether you will pay a straight commission, percentage
commission, and what exchange rate will be used.
Most banks will charge a flat fee and use the exchange rate issued that day by the central
Bank of Greece.
Money exchange bureaus and hotels may use a combination of charges, exchange rates,
Most banks will charge a flat fee for using their ATM if you're not their customer, the
amount will be deducted from your account.
Check with your bank before your trip concerning fees and exchange rates for cash withdrawals
from ATMs abroad.
If you want to open a bank account at a Greek bank it is quite simple.
The minimum amount to open an account is usually 150 Euros and you need to provide your passport
Credit cards are now widely available in Greece and they are accepted in supermarkets, stores,
gas stations and tavernas in most major towns and cities, but not many of the smaller shops
and village tavernas.
ALWAYS ASK BEFORE you begin the transaction if they accept credit cards and which ones
Most special deals for payment plans or discounts using credit cards only apply to cards issued
by Greek banks.
To obtain a credit card from a Greek bank you'll need a copy of your passport, a copy
of your last tax return, and foreign residents may also be asked to produce a residence permit
and proof of income.
Credit limits usually start off low, around 300 Euros.
Not all banks in Greece offer free debit and cash cards, so it’s worth shopping around
for the best deal.
Piraeus Bank and Alpha Bank both have English-language Internet banking which can be important for
expats who have yet to master Greek.
Banks are open to the public Monday through Thursday 08:00 to 14:30 and Friday 08:00 to
14:00, except for public holidays.
There are a select few banks that close at a later hour and are also open on Saturdays.
Cheques in Greece are not widely used and unless you run a business you will not need
Cheques are not generally accepted in shops and supermarkets.
Banks are used by both public and private companies as bill payment centers, so be prepared
to potentially spend some time if you are going into a local branch, especially during
the beginning of the month, which for many signifies both payday and payments due at
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