Greece has the euro (EUR, €) as its sole currency along with 23 other countries that use this common European money. The euro replaced the drachma in January 2002.
Currency exchanges are common particularly in larger cities and in any touristed area. In addition to hard currency, they also accept traveler's checks. There are also automated currency exchange machines in some areas of the country, particularly at Athens airport. Most banks will also exchange euros for some currencies -such as the US Dollar and British Pound- often times at better rates than currency exchanges. Banks' commission fees for these exchanges are usually structured so that it's more economical to change larger sums than smaller. Usually, only the larger, international-standard hotels will exchange money for their guests.
As of this writing, branches of the Greek bank Alphabank will exchange US$ American Express Travelers Checks into Euros at their usual bank rates without fee or commission, which can result in a significant savings. They also cash Euro American Express Travelers Checks without charge.
When changing money in large amounts at a bank or currency exchange, it's a good idea to ask for mostly smaller notes, and nothing larger than a € 50. Many businesses are reluctant to accept notes of larger than € 50, partly because of a scarcity of change, partly because larger notes have a history of being counterfeited.
You may get better exchange rates by using credit and ATM cards. Mastercard, Visa, and Eurocard are widely accepted across the country in retail stores, hotels, and travel/transportation agencies (including ferry, airline, and car rental agencies), but are not accepted at some restaurants. Local souvenir shops usually require a minimum purchase before allowing you to use your card and may not accept it for special sales or deeply discounted items. ATM machines are present almost everywhere, with Mastercard/Cirrus and Visa/Plus being the most widely accepted cards. Many ATM machines may not accept 5-digit pin numbers; ATM card-users with 5-digit pins are advised to change their pin to 4 digits before leaving home.
Value Added Tax (VAT) is charged on most items, usually included in the item's price tag but some shops offer "Tax Free" shopping to non-EU residents. This means that non-EU residents can ask for a VAT refund at their port of exit in the EU. Be sure to ask for your voucher before leaving the store and show that along with your items to the customs officer upon departure from the EU.
But for minor exceptions (like the Athens Monastiraki district), bargaining is considered impolite and it is quite ineffective.
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