Update: 21 July 2015: The political situation has moved on since this news story was published, and banks in Greece reopened on 20 July. However, the precautions below remain.
Greece has closed its banks, walked away from negotiations for continued support from the European Central Bank and is talking about leaving the euro.
As it sits on the brink of default on massive debts and continues its refusal to accept austerity measures, it has become a picture of financial uncertainty. If you've booked a holiday to the country, you may be wondering how you'll be affected.
We've provided some answers to common questions being asked by those about to travel to Greece. You should also keep an eye on Gov.uk for updates and advice on the situation in Greece.
Q. Will I be able to access my money there?
A. Greece has limited the amount its citizens can withdraw from ATMs to €60/day, and banks are closed as the country implements capital controls.
However, the Greek government says this will not affect tourists. The Embassy of Greece in London has issued a statement saying that withdrawals made via a Greek ATM using foreign debit or credit cards will not be limited.
That doesn't mean ATMs won't run out of cash, though. The UK Foreign Office warns that banking services – including credit card processing and the use of ATMs – could "potentially become limited at short notice".
So make sure you have enough euros for everyday spending, and a second lot of cash to cover emergencies, unforeseen circumstances and any unexpected delays. You should hopefully come home with all of this second lot of money, but it's best to make this split to ensure you're safe whatever happens in a changing environment.
Q. What if I end up with leftover euros after my holiday?
A. If you're planning trips to anywhere that accepts them, hang onto them. If you need the cash immediately, you can swap them back to pounds once back in the UK. See TravelMoneyMax to get the best rates.
Q. I'm going to Greece soon. Can I use specialist overseas cards?
A. We always suggest taking a specialist overseas card with you on holiday to ensure you get perfect rates every time you spend overseas. See our Cheap Travel Money guide for the best buys. Of course if you do this, remember to pay them off in full at the end of the month.
But shops and restaurants in Greece may refuse card payments and only accept cash. So while you should still take overseas cards, it's best to also take two lots of euros as well – one lot for everyday spending, and a second lot as a safety amount to cover both expected and unexpected spending. See our TravelMoneyMax tool to find out where to get the most for your money.
It may also be worth taking some extra sterling with you, too, as you can change it for euros once in Greece. Regardless of currency, remember to take precautions to keep your cash safe.
Q. How are tourists in Greece currently finding the situation?
MoneySavingExpert.com founder, Martin Lewis, tweeted the following question on Tuesday 30 June 2015: "Are you a tourist in Greece right now? Or know someone? Are firms taking credit/debit cards – how is it there?" Here are some of the responses he got:
- @EleniKoi: "I am and everything works fine with the credit cards. There may be exceptions but I have not yet encountered one."
- @1978Walla: "Just had a text off my Pops. Said so far so good for him but preference is cash!"
- @crowmogh: "Yes, paid with my debit card at hotel and at Lidl. No problem."
- @ktid1967: "On Kefalonia. Withdrew euros at cashpoint using Supercard. Lots of debate amongst locals in queue that I didn't understand."
- @kirstielr: "Friends just back from Greece – a lot of places wanted cash – not accepting credit cards."
Q. I'm going soon but still need to book hotels, car hire, etc. How should I do it?
A. Book directly with the airline, hotel, etc, and use a credit card. Credit card bookings of over £100 are covered under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, so if something goes wrong, your card provider is jointly liable and will have to refund you. You're unlikely to have that coverage, however, if you go through another party, such as a travel agency. See package vs DIY holidays.
For transactions of under £100 on credit card, or for debit card transactions, you may be covered by the card companies' lesser 'chargeback' scheme.
Q. What if Greece leaves the euro?
A. It's still unclear what will happen to Greece, but even if it leaves the euro, it won't be able to change its currency overnight.
It could easily take a year or more for the drachma to be reintroduced or for the country to roll out a new currency, so plan to use euros.
Q. Do I need travel insurance if I'm going to Greece?
A. Yes. If you're planning a trip to Greece, or any other country, it's important to buy travel insurance as soon as you book your trip.
Leaving it until the last minute means if you get an illness that lasts until you go away or a family death means you need to cancel, you won't be covered if insurance isn't in place. Our Cheap Travel Insurance guide has more information and full details on how to find your cheapest policy.
Q. Am I covered by travel insurance if my cash is stolen or lost?
A. If you're taking more cash on holiday than you usually would, check the maximum limit you're covered for by your travel insurance policy, and the excess. Also ensure you keep some kind of proof of what you've taken, for example a receipt from the travel bureau you exchanged the cash at.
Most travel insurance policies will pay out around £250 if someone steals your cash while you're away, but limits vary and this doesn't factor in an excess, so always check your policy.
Some insurers, such as HolidaySafe and Virgin Money, have temporarily increased the amount of cash they'll cover for those holidaying in Greece between now and 31 July 2015. HolidaySafe and Virgin Money both say they will review this temporary policy on 31 July.
While it's impossible to avoid bringing cash, especially as you may not be able to get extra from a cash point, keeping your extra money in a hotel safe and using a money belt to keep it out of sight are two ways to minimise the risk of it being stolen.
Q. Will my insurance pay out if I decide to cancel my trip?
A. No, not if you simply decide to cancel. Travel insurance is there to cover the cost of the unforeseen, such as illness and injury, or theft of your personal possessions while you are on holiday.
It will, however, cover you if you have to cancel your trip in the event of illness or a death in the family, or if you need to return early due to an emergency.
Keep monitoring the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office website to see if it begins advising against travel to Greece.
If this happens you should be able to get a refund of the trip, either from the travel agent, tour operator or travel insurance company. However, if this happens and you go on holiday anyway, you will not be covered by your travel insurance.
See MoneySavingExpert.com founder and editor Martin Lewis's video below for more help. This was filmed on Tuesday 23 June 2015, although the general information for holidaymakers still stands.