Money in Spain: How to pay and to access your funds

Let’s see how to get money in Spain. What is the easiest and safest way to get cash in Spain?

In this complete tutorial you’ll find everything you need to know on ATMs, changing cash, and using debit and credit cards.

The Wise debit card is best travel money card you can use abroad. Contrary to your traditional bank debit card, it has no transaction fees and applies the lowest currency exchange rate on the market.

Get yours now and start saving money during your trip to Spain!

 

The takeaway on getting money in Spain

 

Do…

  • Pay everything with your travel debit card and forget about hidden fees.
  • Use your debit card to get most of your money after you arrive in Spain. You can get your first wad of cash from an ATM at your arrival airport.
  • Bring a couple hundred euros in cash (don’t get notes higher than 50€!) for situations where you can’t use an ATM.

 

Don’t…

  • Don’t choose to be charged in your home currency when withdrawing from ATMs. You’ll pay hidden fees and poor exchange rates handed.
  • Don’t pay anything in your home currency when asked. For the same reason as above.
  • Avoid paying anything with your credit card (unless it’s an emergency and you don’t have enough travel funds).
  • Don’t exchange your local currency into euros after arriving in Spain. Local banks, exchange offices and hotels tend to apply incredibly high commission rates.
  • Don’t bother getting travelers checks. Nobody accepts them.

 

The currency in Spain

Since 2002, the Spanish currency is the euro, also known as EUR or €. Spain shares it with 18 other European countries.

These countries, known as belonging to the Eurozone are Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia and Slovenia.

So if you plan to travel around the Eurozone you won’t have to change your notes and coins.

The euro is divided into 100 cents.

We have 2€, 1€, 50c, 20c, 10c, 5c, 2c, and 1c coins. All the coins have a common side showing the value and a map in the background showing the eurozone countries. The other side is called the national side and each country can choose the design. Don’t worry, all coins can be used in any eurozone country no matter their origin or design.

The euro banknotes go from 500€ (purple), 200€ (yellow), 100€ (green), 50€ (brown), 20€ (dark blue), 10€ (red), to 5€ (light blue). All notes are the same on both sides though each one has a different color.

This converter helps you convert the Spanish currency into your own country’s and vice versa.


Currency Converter by OANDA

 

How to access your money in Spain

Having access to your travel funds in Spain is extremely easy.

You have 3 options:

  • Pay directly with your debit card.
  • Use an ATM anywhere in the city.
  • Go to a place where you can exchange your local currency into euros. Alas, you’ll be charged with high fees and poor exchange currency rates.

 

1. Pay directly with your debit card

Be smart.

Get the best travel money card and forget about transaction fees!

Oh, and you can use it directly on your phone.

 

2. Getting money in Spain at ATMs

Boasting a developed banking sector with recognizable brands, Spain hosts a network of 50,000+ ATMs. You can use online ATM locators for Maestro, Mastercard, Visa, American Express, and Discover to find machines that accept your debit cards and credit cards.

You will generally find ATMs operated by one of three service providers:

  • International banks.
  • Regional banks.
  • Non-bank ATM operators.

So ATMs should be your primary source of cash while you are in Spain. You can get cash from ATMs in Spain with a normal bank card, provided you have sufficient funds in the account that the card accesses. Cards on international networks like Visa and MasterCard can be used in Spain.

Be sure you know the PIN number of your card.

In general ATMs dispense both 20€ and 50€ notes. People usually carry notes up to 50€ so it’s not very common to see 100€ notes or higher. And I’m not even talking about 500€ ones… I never had one myself!

Choose to be charged in the local currency.

When using a credit or a debit (an ATM/bank card) card, you might be asked by an ATM whether you would like to be charged in your home currency for the withdrawal. This is called Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC).

Always select to be charged in local currency to avoid being ripped off by a foreign bank’s poor exchange rate.

As long as you avoid the DCC scam, withdrawing from an ATM is a convenient way to get reasonable rates for your euro exchange. Because you can take out what you need, it also means that you don’t need to carry large amounts of cash at any one time, which is much safer.

3 important notes about using ATMs:

1. Some banks put daily withdrawal limits on their cards or prevent overseas use of cards without prior notification. So, before leaving home, ask at your bank about the daily withdrawal limit and overseas usage of your card.

2. You can withdraw funds using a debit card, which withdraws money from a live account, or using a credit card, with which you charge cash. Both cards work in most Spanish ATMs.

3. You’ll find ATMs in every bank in Spain.

 

3. Getting money in Spain exchanging your local currency into euros

I recommend you to avoid changing currency at exchange desks at airports and hotels. They often markup the exchange rates they use, and may charge hidden fees.

Instead, get a no-fees travel money card and to spend in Spain without rip-off fees.

But if you decide to do so whatsoever, you should exchange little money in Spain. Do it at your bank, before leaving home.

Why? Because, in general, local banks and other exchange offices and hotels tend to apply incredibly high commission rates.

However, if you still need to exchange money while you’re in Spain you can do it at

  • Any bank’s branch. They are usually open Monday to Friday from 8:00 to 14:15. Some banks open on Thursday afternoon from 16:15 to 20:00 (only in fall and winter).
  • El Corte Inglés department store. It opens Monday to Saturday (or even Sunday, depending on the region) from 10:00 to 22:00.
  • Most hotels.

 

How to make transactions in Spain

 

With cash

Make sure you have enough change for small transactions.

  • Taxis, for instance, are obliged only to change you up to a 20€ note so they may refuse payment with a higher one.
  • Bus drivers are obliged only to change you up to a 5€ note. They won’t let you inside if you try to pay with a higher note.
  • And many shops and restaurants don’t accept 100€ notes or higher.

 

With a debit or credit card

On the other hand, if you want to pay with a debit or a credit card, you won’t have a problem. Electronic payment is commonly used in Spain.

For convenience and security, spending on cards when traveling is often a good choice: use a debit card for all your expenses and a credit card for emergencies.

I strongly recommend you to use a Wise card during your trip to Spain instead of your traditional bank debit card.

However, if you still choose to use your expensive your traditional bank debit card abroad…

1. Check the fees charged by your bank for spending abroad.

Many banks add a premium to cover the costs of your spending abroad – generally it’s around 1-3% of the transaction.

2. Decline offers to be charged in your home currency.

When paying for things during your trip on a credit or debit card, you might be asked by the waiter or shop assistant if you want to be charged in your home currency. This is called Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC) as I explained before.

Always opt to pay in the local currency (euros) instead.