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Euro Notes

Costs, Money and Banks

Spain has for a long time been one of Europe's more affordable countries, however, with the introduction of the Euro, the cost of most things has become noticeably more expensive, and rapidly catching up with some of the other European countries. As this includes food and lodgings, this makes everything more expensive for budget travelers. However, in general, Spain is still slightly cheaper, on average, than continental Europe, taking into account the lower costs in some of the new member countries.

The days when you could have a holiday in Spain for the £25 you where allowed to take out of the UK, are well and truly gone. Expect to budget a minimum of about 50 euros a day for the most basic accommodation, meals and public transport. For the best, the sky's the limit and can go into 1000's of euros a day for pure luxury. Expect these figures to vary considerably depending where you want to stay - costas, cities or countryside.

 

Transportation in Spain is affordable compared to the rest of Europe, but expensive compared to neighbouring Morocco. However, the standard of transport is considerably better, so this will be a redeeming feature for many. The rail operator offer pensioners unbelievably low prices.

Credit and debit cards are widely accepted at hotels and restaurants, especially from the mid-range up. These days you can find ATMs (cajeros automaticos) everywhere, even in small towns. Be careful when carrying money, whether it's cash or plastic, as tourists are a major target of theft - vast numbers of credit cards go missing in Spain every year. Travelers cheques can be cashed at banks and exchange offices, and usually attract a slightly higher exchange rate than cash. Most seaside resorts have a selection of money exchange offices, but check the rates they are offering and make sure there are no extra charges, such as a 'hidden' handling fee.

 

Santander is a name to be seen almost worldwide, as not only a place in Spain, but the name of the biggest bank in Spain. There are, however, a huge number of different banks to be found, many only in specific Provinces of Spain. They operate as banks do worldwide and the visitor to Spain will find little difference, except of that of course, in most the staff will only speak Spanish. The closer you are to tourist destinations, such as along the coasts, you will find staff will attempt some English, but don't expect it. Most tourists will only need to change money and as such, should have no problems, but if you live in Spain and need to open a bank account, it is advisable to take an interpreter with you. You will be expected to fill in, or sign, what seems like an extraordinary amount of forms, and you should be aware of what of you are signing. Most Spanish banks come within two categories - those which provide loans and the others that deal with savings. Some banks also act as retailers, offering such things as sets of saucepans, electrical goods and mountain bikes, amongst many other things.

One other shock to most new residents to Spain, is that some public organisations such as local and regional authorities, have a right to help themselves to money in your back account, if for instance you have not paid a fine or owe taxes. Most Spanish people only use banks for receiving pensions and paying bills, and keep their savings in a safe place at home - like under the proverbial mattress.


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