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Traveling Greece: Know Before You Go: Currency

In January 2001, Greece retired their local currency, the drachma (GRD), and adopted the euro (EUR), thus joining the Eurozone, a group of 19 European countries with the euro (€) as their official currency. These countries share the euro as their common currency, facilitating trade and financial transactions within the Eurozone. The Eurozone member countries are: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Spain.

Image credit: CNBC

How to convert euros to USD

To convert euros to USD, you will need the current exchange rate. Exchange rates fluctuate constantly due to various factors such as economic conditions, geopolitical events, and market demand, but in the case of dollars compared to euros, it tends to stay within a higher and lower bound. Therefore, it's important to check the most recent exchange rate when performing the conversion. You can use online currency converters or financial websites to get the current exchange rate.

Once you have the exchange rate, you can use the following formula:

Amount in Dollars = Amount in Euros x Exchange Rate

Let's look at a practical example. Let's say you are browsing an art gallery in Greece and find a piece you love that's listed on sale for €60,00.

(Side note - in the US, the period symbol "." is used to differentiate decimal places, while in Greece the comma symbol "," is used in the same way thus explaining why you would see a price of sixty euros listed as €60,00 or 60,00€ instead of €60.00 / 60.00€).

You find yourself wanting to buy the painting, but curious to see how much it would cost in your home currency. First, you'd need a baseline figure for an exchange rate. As of the writing of this post, the exchange rate between euros and USD is 1 euro = 1.09 USD. You'd take the price in euros, 60, and multiply it by the exchange rate of 1.09. 60 x 1.09 = 65.4

This means that the artwork would cost approximately $65.40 USD. Once you understand the cost of the item in the currency you're familiar with, you can make an educated choice as to whether or not you're comfortable purchasing it. Having a good understanding of the costs of different items can help you ensure you're not overspending abroad due to a lack of familiarity with the foreign currency.

Image credit: Adobe stock

Euros are printed in the following denominations:

  1. €5 (Five Euros)

  2. €10 (Ten Euros)

  3. €20 (Twenty Euros)

  4. €50 (Fifty Euros)

  5. €100 (One Hundred Euros)

  6. €200 (Two Hundred Euros)

  7. €500 (Five Hundred Euros)

It's interesting to think about this, as in the US carrying around "change" or "coins" often means someone isn't carrying around a lot of money whereas the only way to have one euro is to have the one euro coin which means carrying around coins can actually be advantageous in Greece.

Spending Money in Greece

Cash is king in Greece, as the VAT (value-added tax) rate is quite high at roughly 24%. In Greek, it is called the FPA and you may see it printed as ΦΠΑ on a receipt, usually with a percentage nearby. Many businesses often will offer better prices if you offer to pay in cash.

If you don't plan on paying with cash, there are a variety of other ways to pay although it's worth mentioning that not all businesses accept credit cards.

  1. You can use a Wise (formerly known as TransferWise) card to spend in Greece without fees. Wise is a good way to be able to spend in the local currency without having to worry about paying the fees that foreign cards often charge. The Wise card is designed to provide convenient and cost-effective solutions for individuals who frequently travel internationally or make transactions in different currencies. Another helpful feature of the card is that once you create a balance in the mobile application in a particular currency, you can take that card to an ATM and withdraw local currency to be spent. Overall, the Wise card is beneficial for international travel due to its ability to save on currency conversion fees, offer competitive exchange rates, and provide convenient and secure access to funds in multiple currencies. If you're interested in signing up for Wise, please email me ( for my referral link (this is not sponsored, I just use the card often and am happy to refer my blog audience).

  2. Using your credit/debit cards from home. You should ensure that you have checked with your bank/credit/debit card institutions to ensure you use a card with no foreign usage fees. In my experience, although Discover and American Express are commonly accepted in the US, these cards are not accepted everywhere in Greece. I also recommend ensuring that your bank is aware that you'll be traveling abroad so that they don't see usage on your account and block the account, mistakenly thinking it's not you spending the money.

Getting Euros Before Your Trip To Greece

Need help ordering euros? Call your local bank! Depending on the bank, whether or not you are an account holder and the delivery method, you will pay different fees. Some banks provide free Euro-purchasing services if you pick the money up but charge if you have it shipped to your home or office. Keep in mind that carrying large amounts of cash presents a travel risk, so always travel smart and be mindful of your surroundings. As mentioned earlier, you can also withdraw euros from an ATM upon arrival into Greece, but bear in mind that there are often withdrawal limits in Greece.

Was this guide helpful for you? Are there any questions that haven't been answered? Let us know in the comments below!


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