In light of emergency bank restrictions being imposed in Greece, travellers may be wondering how this will affect them. Here’s what you need to know.
All banks are shut until Thursday 9 July at least
This includes branches of foreign banks. This was dubbed a “bank holiday period” by Greece’s now ex-finance minister.
€60 cap on ATM withdrawals for nationals
These capital controls restrict the amount Greeks can withdraw. As a foreign traveller, your bank card shouldn’t be subject to a limit.
However, there are two things to bear in mind here. One is that ATMs may run out of banknotes. And that’s not to mention having to join the queue.
The other is that withdrawal limits may be set on foreign bank cards yet.
Travel insurance policies have a cap on the amount of cash covered
If you’ve not yet left, and are thinking of exchanging a big wad of currency before you go, note that your travel insurance may only cover some of it.
Check the limit on your policy, and also remember that there will be an excess to pay on your claim.
Some insurers have raised the amount of cash a traveller can claim for if stolen. This includes Aviva, Allclear and Insureandgo. Be sure to check your policy so you know exactly how much you're covered for.
Policies tend to state that you need to take ‘reasonable care’ of your possessions. Which means that if cash is left unattended, then your insurer is unlikely to pay out.
However, if you don’t have a safe or deposit box, having to keep a large amount of cash on your person may well make you nervous.
Cards still work as normal
An alternative to exchanging a large amount of currency is to pay your way by card. Credit and debit cards should work in many shops and restaurants as per usual.
However, smaller vendors may not accept cards. Be sure to ask first.
Be aware that not all cards are created equal when it comes to payments abroad. Although some cards don’t have foreign exchange fees, others do, and the amount you’re charged can vary.
Another alternative is getting a prepaid card. You can load up a card before you go, and use it anywhere where credit or debit cards are accepted.
There are other advantages too. As a prepaid card doesn’t give credit, you can get one without being subject to a credit check.
Plus others can pay onto the card for you if you run out of spending money while abroad.
Keep your options open
It’s best not to rely wholly on one method of payment. Although using a card may seem like a good bet, it’s always an idea to have some cash on you in case of emergency.
Although there is a chance that Greece may have to leave the euro, these things take time. Even if they have to establish a new drachma, it's likely that euros will still be accepted in shops and restaurants. Again, be sure to check first.
Before you set out, it's worth checking the foreign travel advice section of GOV.UK in case the situation changes.
Originally published 29 June 2015