LivingTravelBest Practices for Using ATMs in Greece

Best Practices for Using ATMs in Greece

Truly, with fraud on the rise, the days of traveler’s checks are long gone. The use of ATMs for money transactions abroad is now the most popular option for travelers heading to developed countries. And in Greece, ATMs are frequent and convenient. They can be found on the street, as well as in banks, hotel lobbies, restaurants, and taverns. In most cases, using an ATM costs a little more than usual bank fees, although this varies depending on your bank’s policy. And generally, you also get the best available exchange rate straight from an ATM.

Finding an ATM in Greece

If you are traveling through the Greek countryside or to small towns, locating an ATM can be difficult. However, major credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard, and American Express have ATM locators on their websites. You can use this service to plan your route if you need money while traveling. Or better yet, withdraw your money at an ATM in a larger city before heading to rural areas or reaching your final destination.

In large cities and towns, many Greek banks house their ATMs in glass-enclosed rooms on the outskirts of the bank itself. The door will be closed, but an ATM card (from your home country) will open the lock. Just swipe it through the card reader and log in.

Using an ATM in Greece

Most ATMs in Greece will accept debit cards issued by a common credit card company like MasterCard or Visa, but they will almost always require a four-digit PIN number for verification. If your PIN number is longer than four digits (or contains letters), be sure to change it to a four-digit number before continuing. This is also a good time to alert your bank that you will be traveling abroad so that your withdrawals do not look suspicious, resulting in a blocked card. Be sure to tell your bank where you will be traveling and how long you will be away.

If you are using an ATM that charges a transaction fee, you may be tempted to withdraw a large amount of money in one go. There are a few things to consider before doing so. First, contact your bank in advance to familiarize yourself with their policy on withdrawal limits and the potential to increase yours while traveling. Next, make sure you have a safe place to store the money you withdraw, such as a hotel safe. If one is not available to you or if you will be constantly on the go, paying the low fees charged for each ATM transaction to keep your money safe is well worth it.


Problems with the use of ATMs in Greece

In busy tourist places, it is very common for ATMs to run out of money on weekends. If this happens, they generally remain empty until the middle of the week. Greek ATMs with signs in English or other languages generally run out of money first, while machines, even 10 feet away from empty ones, without translated signs can still hold euros. Usually once you put your card into one of these machines, the display will most likely, but not always, appear in English.

Also, in times of financial uncertainty (which can happen due to Greece’s historically depressed economy), ATMs cannot be recharged on time. Coincidental bank mergers may also reduce the number of ATMs available in some places in Greece, as previous competitors merge. Always have enough emergency cash for a few days. And avoid running low on money so this is not a problem.

To avoid potential theft, plan ahead not to use ATMs in the middle of the night. While incidents are rare, this is a good policy to follow in any country.

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