Cash in Spain

Old Mar 12th, 2015, 07:35 AM
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Cash in Spain

We're going to Madrid, Barcelona, and Andalusia. And trying to decide how much to put in our travel account. How prevalent is the use of credit cards in Spain? Will they be accepted by smaller restaurants? Restaurants in smaller towns? I assume all the hotels will take them.

BTW we have a newly acquired chip-and-signature card. How well will that be accepted?
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Old Mar 12th, 2015, 07:48 AM
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Use of credit cards is widespread in Spain. I think you'll be able to use them everywhere, especially with the chip and pin card. The last time I went to Spain, I didn't have a chip and pin card, and there were a few places (very few) where I had to use cash.
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Old Mar 12th, 2015, 07:51 AM
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Plastic is accepted most everywhere, but if you're having smaller meals, cash always works.

You'll find ATMs in front of all banks. Just take out what you'll need for walking around money every few days.

Visa is the most widely accepted credit card, followed by MasterCard. Amex can be used at most hotels and more upscale restaurants and shops.

Your new chip and signature card will work just like your old credit card. You'll be asked to sign the receipt. Just make sure the transaction is done in Euros, not your home currency, escpeiclly if your new chip and signature card is one that does not charge foreign transaction fees.
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Old Mar 12th, 2015, 08:10 AM
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Do not rely on paying with any card as being 100% certain in Spain.
Even supermarkets often say there is a minimum amount you can purchase with any payment card.
American Express is not widely accepted in Spain, unless you are paying at somewhere like El Corte de Ingles, Pardores or RENFE etc.
You could well be asked to produce some ID when paying by card.
Make sure you read up on dynamic currency conversion issues
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Old Mar 12th, 2015, 08:31 AM
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While credit cards are very widely accepted I try not to use them for purchases under €10 and often use cash for higher amounts too. How much to have in the travel account mostly depends on your travel style -- I like having €100+ on hand but that is just me.

Peg: >>especially with the chip and pin card.Signature (as are most US-issued chipped cards) -- not Chip&PIN
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Old Mar 12th, 2015, 09:34 AM
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Credit cards are not accepted in bars and nobody leaves their credit card to a barman, drinks are paid in cash.
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Old Mar 12th, 2015, 09:46 AM
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It is good business to check how much your credit card company charges for foreign transactions. Those fees can really add up, whether flat fee or percentage of purchase. It's faster and cheaper, for me, to withdraw a substantial amount of money on a debit card and pay cash for all but the largest purchases.
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Old Mar 13th, 2015, 02:49 AM
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mikelg's point is important, such a quintessential Spanish thing as going for a tapas round is never properly done with a credit card.
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Old Mar 13th, 2015, 05:48 AM
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Thanks to all. Especially to janisj, who made me realize I was missing replies to my posted question. I will look into the insurance question.

My impression -- that cash is used more often in Spain -- is confirmed. Happily my credit union ATM/debit cards do not charge a transaction fee for withdrawals, and charge a conversion fee of only 1% over the interbank rate. So I don't need to make big withdrawals and carry a lot of cash.
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