Money matters

There’s a phrase that is repeated a lot in Camino forums and groups:

Cash is king.

And it’s true. Albergues, cafeterías, bares and most of the small shops where you will stop only take efectivo (cash).

That means you always need to carry some dinero (money); euros, to be precise. And céntimos (cent). Billetes bigger than €50 will be difficult to change, so I would avoid them. Smaller billetes (€5, €10, €20) and a few monedas (coins) are your best choice for your daily expenses.

But it’s OK; you don’t need to carry large amounts of dinero (money) on you. You can withdraw from cajeros automáticos or simply cajeros (ATM) along the Camino, maybe once a week. On average, people budget around 30-40 euros per day to pay for accommodation, food and snacks. This will give you an idea of how much to withdraw.

Most of us have at least one tarjeta (card), either de débito or de crédito. Or both. You will be able to use them to withdraw dinero from cajeros and to pay for hotels, restaurants and purchases in bigger shops in bigger towns.

Different countries and banks have different types of cards with different conditions, so it’s hard to give very specific advice, but if you are planning to use your tarjetas during your Camino, there are some things you should take into consideration.

TIPS

  • Before you travel, check your card’s conditions (fees and exchange rates) to avoid unpleasant surprises. For instance, tarjetas de crédito generally attract more fees than tarjetas de débito when withdrawing dinero from cajeros. 

If your card’s charges are too high, you might want to consider a prepaid card. Correos, the Spanish post office, has one. All info here: https://correosprepago.es

  • Let your bank know you are travelling. Otherwise, they might think the activity on your tarjeta looks suspicious and block it.

 

  • Visa and Mastercard are the most widely accepted cards. It might be hard to find places that accept others such as American Express.

 

  • If you are asked whether you want to be charged in euros or your own currency, always choose euros. The exchange rate will be better.

 

  • As much as possible, try to use cajeros when the banks are open. If there’s any issue, such as your card being swallowed, you can go in and try to resolve it at once (opening hours are usually 8:30-14:30).

So, do you think you could ask these in Spanish? You can leave your answers in the comments below.

Can I pay with a card?

or

Where is there an ATM? 

Efectivo 

Dinero 

Euro 

Céntimo 

Cajero 

Tarjeta 

De crédito 

De débito 

Moneda 

Billete 

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¡Buen Camino!

 


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