How the Greek financial crisis could affect your holiday plans
How much cash should I take with me?
Withdraw a large amount of euros in cash before heading to Greece (and avoid it all being in high denomination notes). The official advice from the is: “Make sure you have enough euros in cash to cover emergencies, unforeseen circumstances and any unexpected delays.”
It adds that you should have more than one means of payment with you, so take your debit card and credit card as well.
However, the government adds that card processing services “could potentially become limited at short notice”. In other words your card may be rejected, forcing you to deal in cash only. If you haven’t pre-paid for your hotel or car, and will be buying petrol or other pricey items, you’ll want to have rather a lot of euros in your pocket.
Bob Atkinson of recommends as much: “I would make sure I had enough to cover my entire trip – whether it was seven, 10 or 14 days,” he says. He advises small notes – €5s, €10s and €20s – as traders may not have much cash for change.
A spokesman for the UK Cards Association added that Greek establishments may prefer that you pay in cash. “You may find that smaller retailers, such as restaurants, may prefer cash payments to improve their current cash flow,” he said.
Will I be able to withdraw cash from ATMs?
Yes and no. The €60 (£42) daily cap on cash machine withdrawals in Greece only applies to domestic account holders, not foreigners. But the trouble is that many of the cash machines in are out of money. The ones that are stocked with money may have long queues – not something you’ll want to spend much of your holiday time doing.
Will my debit card work in a petrol station? Will my credit card work at the car hire desk?
All cards, Greek and foreign, should work as normal everywhere. The only restrictions are on cash withdrawals by Greeks, and foreign transfers from Greek bank accounts.
Is this going to ruin my holiday?
It shouldn’t really make much difference at all. The Embassy of Greece in London this morning issued a statement to reassure holidaymakers heading to the beaches and resorts.
“The Greek government informs those visiting or about to visit Greece, that the announced measures restricting the movement of capital do not affect in any way those who wish to make transactions or ATM withdrawals using debit or credit cards issued abroad.
“It should be also noted that there is ample availability of both fuel and all products and services that ensure a smooth and fun stay for the visitors in every city, region and the islands.
“Greece continues to guarantee a high level of quality of services offered to visitors who have made our country a top tourist destination worldwide.
“The minister of tourism, Elena Kountoura, reiterates that Greek tourism remains high in the preferences of our visitors. The tourists who are already here, and those who are planning to come, will not be affected in any way by the events and will continue to enjoy their holiday in Greece with absolutely no problem.”
Is there any chance I could get caught up in riots or social unrest?
It’s highly unlikely, unless your idea of a Greek summer holiday is hanging out in Syntagma Square in Athens, where many of the protests take place.
Are there any upsides to all this?
For British holidaymakers there is one benefit, which is that the pound is surging against the euro, making things cheaper to buy. This morning, sterling jumped to €1.4160 against the euro, compared to the €1.25 it was trading at a year ago, making holidays in the Mediterranean around 12% cheaper than they were last summer.
Where should I get my euros before heading to Greece?
The aiport travel exchange desks are the worst value place to change money. If you are an M&S cardholder, the exchange bureaux in their stores are relatively good value, this morning offering €697.55 for £500. In Debenhams you’ll get €695.30. Both are much better than the €672 you’d get by changing your money at NatWest.
Will my travel insurance cover me for stolen cash?
Yes, but not for much. Most standard travel insurance policies pay out a maximum of £200-£300, with only 11% of policies covering £500 or more, according to . The excess is generally £50-£100 as well, so you won’t get much back. To be safe, split the money up between travellers and keep it in the hotel room safe where possible.
Can I cancel my holiday to Greece because of this?
You can, but your travel insurance won’t pay out. “If you do cancel your trip it will be subject to the terms of the deal, and you stand to lose money,” Atkinson says.
If you have organised the trip yourself, make sure your policy includes cover if any hotel or car hire company you have booked with goes bust, and whatever the deal make sure it has cover for flight disruption in case problems hit the airlines.
Atkinson says that if you fancy a Greek getaway but have yet to book, “to be on the safe side I wouldn’t go DIY at the moment – book an -backed package, and if things do change and people need to be brought back you will be completely looked after.”
The tour operators’ trade body said its members had not reported holidaymakers cancelling trips to Greece. “It is a rapidly moving situation, and an unusual situation, so we need to be monitoring it,” a spokesman said, “but we are not seeing any large-scale cancellations.”
This article contains affiliate links, which means we may earn a small commission if a reader clicks through and makes a purchase. All our journalism is independent and is in no way influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative. By clicking on an affiliate link, you accept that third-party cookies will be set. .