Banking in Greece
You will soon become experts at international banking transactions. You will want quick access to your funds, and you will also want to protect your money against loss. This part covers your banking options.
The Greek unit of currency is the euro. You can check today's rate by visiting this exchange rate currency calculator.
The currency is made up of eight euro coins and seven euro notes. The coins are issued in 2 in 1 euros, as well as in 50, 20, 10, 5, 2, and 1 cents. Each coin displays a common face on one side and a participating nation's motif on the opposite side. Regardless of the national motif imprinted, you can use euro coins anywhere within EuropeanUnion member nations.
In addition to the coins, seven euro notes are circulated in denominations of 500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10, and 5 euros. Unlike the coins, the notes have a common design on the front and back. Like the coins, they will be considered as legal tender in all member nations. Additionally, the euro's official abbreviation will appear as EUR. For more information about the euro, check out the following websites:
Bring a major credit card and an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) card. ATM's are accessible throughout Greece, and ATM cards offer an easy way for students to access their US bank accounts. However, you should be mindful of transaction fees when using an ATM card and should check with their financial institution to learn more.
You can change US$ at airports en route to Greece, but it is better not to travel with a large amount of dollars. Use your ATM card once you arrive in Athens to draw Euro from your US account. Major credit cards such as Visa and MasterCard are accepted by most vendors throughout Greece and can be useful in the event of an emergency.
Travelers Checks can be exchanged in only one location in Athens and you will be charged a significant fee. Rely on your ATM card instead of travelers checks.
You can use credit cards in Europe for everything from drawing cash to buying dinner. In Greece, however, most small shops and restaurants do not accept credit cards. But while VISA and MasterCard are more widely accepted than American Express for purchases, American Express offers its card holders some very useful financial services. Check with each company before you depart.
With an AmEx card and your passport, you can go into any American Express office and write a personal check (in US funds) using your checkbook from your checking account back home. (This service is not available to Optima card holders.) You will receive a portion of your funds in local currency and can purchase travelers checks with the rest. This is the simplest way for your parents to transfer money to you while in Greece, since there is an American Express Office just off Syntagma Square.
Remember to leave deposit slips with your parents so they can deposit additional funds in your account, if necessary. Don't forget to pack your checkbook. Your parents can also cable money to you through American Express.
VISA and MasterCard
Both cards are accepted at shops across Europe. You may also draw cash at participating banks. Check with your issuing bank for further information.
In an emergency, our Athens office makes emergency loans to students. Students must sign a promissory note and repay the loan as soon as they receive money from home.
If you find yourself in dire financial straits while traveling outside Greece, the State Department can help your family transfer money to you (provided you are a US citizen). To do this, your family must wire money through Western Union or their bank, or send a cashier's check or money order to the State Department in Washington, DC. A trust account is established and a telegram is sent to the appropriate US embassy or consulate overseas authorizing next workday disbursement to you. The State Department fees for this service range from $15 to $40.
For further information about this service, visit the State Department's website.