Thousands of British travellers are jetting off to Greece this summer - but with the country’s economy hanging in the balance and access to cash from local ATMs restricted or non-existent, holidaymakers are understandably concerned.
The government of Greece announced on the 15th July that the banks will remain closed until at least midnight on the 16th July, and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advise that you take “sufficient euros in cash to cover the duration of your stay, unforeseen circumstances and any unexpected delays.”
On average, holidaymakers take £400 worth of cash with them - but now, many are reporting they will take up to £2,000 worth of euros for a family of four.
With the financial situation changing daily, Greek nationals are restricted to how much cash they can withdraw from ATMs. These restrictions don’t apply to holidaymakers over and above normal limits (which are normally €600 per day), but the cash machines that are open are running out of money as locals look to withdraw funds.
And although credit, debit and pre-paid cards are still accepted, many shops, restaurants and other traders prefer cash.
Is your cash covered?
Most travel insurance policies cover around £300 for cash by default, but in light of the situation in Greece, some insurance firms have increased the amount of cash they will cover per person.
However, travellers must contact their insurer to find out if they have changed their cash insurance limit. There may also be a deadline that only covers those travelling to Greece in July – again, check this with your travel insurer.
Customers looking to purchase travel insurance are urged to check the policy wording to ensure they are fully covered for the full amount of cash they wish to carry, as well as any excesses and any precautions required for a valid claim.
For those travelling with pre-existing medical conditions
Travellers are typically expected to pay upfront for any minor ailments and outpatient treatments up to around £500, which will later be reimbursed by the insurer. It is therefore recommended that travellers with pre-existing medical conditions especially carry at least this much cash to cover such an eventuality. More expensive incidents, hospital admissions or emergency treatments will be taken over as usual by the insurer.
Travellers are also urged to make sure they have enough of any medication they might need as Greek pharmacies are reportedly beginning to run out of stocks, caused by a reluctance of foreign suppliers to supply the economically precarious country.
If you’re travelling to Greece in the coming weeks, here are our top tips:
- Check with your insurer that you have enough cover to extend to all of your cash.
- Check your policy documents as to whether any precautions need to be followed, such as keeping your cash in a locked deposit box.
- Carry enough cash to cover out-of-pocket expenses in case of an emergency (usually up to £500 worth of euros).
- Take smaller denominations (€10 or €20 notes rather than €100 euro notes) as some retailers may not be able to change large notes.
- Never keep all your cash in one place
- Don’t put cash in your luggage that goes in the hold; always keep it with your personal possessions..
- If the room doesn’t have a safety deposit box, check with the hotel reception and use their safe.
- When you go out take only the cash you will need, leaving the rest in the hotel or room safe.
- Don’t keep cash in your back pocket as it provides a temptation for pickpockets - instead, use a money belt under your clothes.
- Try to book excursions or events in advance and pay using your credit or debit card so you don’t have to take large amounts of cash with you.
- Always keep the receipt of any cash withdrawals as insurers will need this to process a claim if the worst happens.
- Make sure you are discrete with the cash in your wallet or purse, as flashing it could make you a target.
- Don’t hide money in clothes when you go swimming in the sea or at the pool.