You will soon become an expert at international banking transactions…
Contact Your Bank
Before you leave the US contact your bank and/or credit card company to let them know that you will be studying abroad – where and for how long.
- If your bank is not aware that you will be using your card(s) overseas, they may cancel your card(s) due to suspicious activity outside your normal spending patterns.
- Also confirm with your bank that you will be able to use your card(s) overseas and what their fees are.
- Ask your bank for a list of overseas outlets where your card is accepted.
- It's a good idea to arrive with at least the equivalent of $200 in your wallet exchanged into euro (€) – you can do this at your local bank if you give them notice or at the airport for a hefty charge.
- Your American ATM card should work at most banks overseas including your arrival airport. Local banks can also exchange currency but note their operating hours and rates.
Cash Machines (ATMs)
ATM's are accessible throughout Greece, and ATM cards offer an easy way for you to access your US bank accounts. However, you should be mindful of transaction fees when using your ATM card. You should check with their financial institution for more information.
You can use most credit cards in Europe but they must be in your name, as it appears on your passport.
- In Greece, most small shops and restaurants do not accept credit cards.
- Visa and MasterCard are more widely accepted than American Express.
- 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.
- AmEx Offices can assist you with cashing US checks. Credit card cash advances are considered loans, so interest is charged from the day the advance is made. Before you depart, check with your card company for more information on what services you’ll have where, what fees are involved and what to do if you lose your card.
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.
In an Emergency
When the program is in session, our Athens office can make emergency loans to students. You must sign a promissory note and repay the loan as soon as you receive money from home. If you find yourself in dire financial straits while traveling, the State Department can help your family transfer money to you (provided you are a U.S. citizen).