Getting money in Spain

Let’s see how to get money in Spain. What is the easiest and safest way to get cash in Spain? Here is everything you need to know on ATMs, changing cash, and using debit and credit cards in Madrid.


The takeaway on getting money in Spain


  • Use your ATM card to get most of your money after you arrive in Spain (make sure the account it draws from is cashed up). You can get your first wad of cash from an ATM at your arrival airport.
  • Bring a few hundred euros in cash for situations where you can’t use an ATM.
  • Bring a VISA credit card so you can do a cash advance if the ATM/cash options fail.


  • Don’t bother getting travelers checks.
  • Don’t get euros after arriving in Spain. Local banks, exchange offices and hotels tend to apply incredibly high commission rates.


The currency in Spain

Since 2002, the Spanish currency is the Euro, also known as EUR or €. Spain shares it with 18 other European countries.

These countries, known as belonging to the eurozone are Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia and Slovenia.

So if you plan to travel around the eurozone you won’t have to change your notes and coins.

The euro is divided into 100 cents.

We have 2€, 1€, 50c, 20c, 10c, 5c, 2c, and 1c coins. All the coins have a common side showing the value and a map in the background showing the eurozone countries. The other side is called the national side and each country can choose the design. Don’t worry, all coins can be used in any eurozone country no matter their origin or design.

The euro banknotes go from 500€ (purple), 200€ (yellow), 100€ (green), 50€ (brown), 20€ (dark blue), 10€ (red), to 5€ (light blue). All notes are the same on both sides though each one has a different color. You’ll see that the design is pretty simple and each represents a different period of the European architecture.

This converter helps you convert the Spanish currency into your own country’s and vice versa.

Currency Converter by OANDA


How to access your travel funds

Having access to our currency in Spain is easy. The ATM network is one of the biggest in Europe, you will probably find a bank branch in each block of every city and every gas station has an ATM.

In general ATMs dispense both 20€ and 50€ notes. People usually carry notes up to 50€ so it is not very common to see 100€ notes or higher. And I’m not even talking about €500 ones… I never had one myself!


Getting money at ATMs in Madrid

ATMs should be your primary source of cash while you are in Spain. You can get yen cash from ATMs in Spain with a normal bank card, provided you have sufficient funds in the account that the card accesses. Cards on international networks like Visa and MasterCard can be used in Spain.

Be sure you know the PIN number of your card.

Choose to be charged in the local currency.

When using a credit or a debit (an ATM/bank card) card, you might be asked by an ATM whether you would like to be charged in your home currency for the withdrawal. This is called Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC).

Always select to be charged in local currency to avoid being ripped off by a foreign bank’s poor exchange rate.

As long as you avoid the DCC scam, withdrawing from an ATM is a convenient way to get reasonable rates for your euro exchange. Because you can take out what you need, it also means that you don’t need to carry large amounts of cash at any one time, which is much safer.

3 important notes about using ATMs in Madrid:

1. Some banks put daily withdrawal limits on their cards or prevent overseas use of cards without prior notification. So, before leaving home, ask at your bank about the daily withdrawal limit and overseas usage of your card.

2. You can withdraw funds using a debit card, which withdraws money from a live account, or using a credit card, with which you charge cash. Both cards work in most Spanish ATMs.

3. You will find ATMs in every bank in Spain.


Getting money exchanging your local currency into euros

You should exchange little money in Spain in order to have some cash available. Do it at your bank, before leaving home. Why? Because, in general, local banks and other exchange offices and hotels tend to apply incredibly high commission rates.

However, if you still need to exchange money you can do it at

  • Banks are usually open Monday to Friday from 8:00 to 14:15. Some banks open on Thursday afternoon from 16:15 to 20:00 (only in fall and winter).
  • El Corte Inglés department store. It opens Monday to Saturday from 10:00 to 22:00.
  • Most hotels.


How to make transactions in Spain

With cash

Make sure you have enough change for small transactions. Taxis, for instance, are obliged only to change you up to a 20€ note so they may refuse payment with a higher one. And some shops and restaurants do not accept 100€ notes or higher.


With a debit or credit card

On the other hand, if you want to pay with a debit or a credit card, you will not have a problem. Electronic payment is commonly used in Spain. Use your credit or debit card for big expenses.

Check the fees charged by your bank for spending abroad.

Many banks add a premium to cover the costs of your spending abroad – generally it’s around 1 to 3% of the transaction. Despite this, for convenience and security, spending on cards when traveling is often a good choice.

Decline offers to be charged in your home currency.

If you choose to pay for things during your trip on a credit or debit card, you might be asked by the waiter or shop assistant if you want to be charged in your home currency. This is called Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC) as I explained in the previous section.

Always opt to pay in the local currency (euros) instead.