Currency in Gran Canaria (Euros)

Is it better to exchange cash at home or in Gran Canaria?

The days when a better exchange rate could be found at the destination resort in Gran Canaria are over, and you will likely get a better rate at home by shopping around or by ordering online with a service such as that offered by the Post Office. Also, if you are staying in a town where there are only a minority of tourists from the UK, you might find it difficult to exchange pounds for euros.

Are Credit/Debit cards and Google/Apple Pay accepted everywhere?

Since the pandemic, cards and other electronic payments are accepted nearly everywhere – in fact, during the pandemic restrictions, it was frowned upon to pay using cash. Because nearly all terminals are now contactless, you can pay using Google/Apple Pay nearly everywhere as well. That said, there are still some exceptions where you will likely need to pay with cash:

  • Some Buses While residents will likely use a contactless card, these are difficult for visitors to acquire, so you may need to pay with cash on some buses. However, the main island-wide bus routes operated by Global SU (e.g. bus routes between the airport and the southern resorts) now accept contactless smartphone and credit/debit card payments.
  • Markets Some traders don’t have the facilities to accept card payments.
  • Tipping While you can add a tip when paying your restaurant bill with a card, tips are always appreciated in cash, and can you be sure that your waiter/waitress will receive that tip that was paid by card?
  • Some small bars/restaurants Though increasingly rare, you might still find the odd business that does not accept cards – usually they will make this very clear with signs etc.

Exchange rates and bank fees when paying with Credit/Debit cards

The exchange rate that you will receive along with any additional fees that you will be charged when paying with your UK Credit or Debit Card in the Canary Islands depends on your bank and can vary considerably. You should check these rates with your bank (usually published online) before using your card abroad.

At the moment of paying with a card, you will be presented with the option of paying in either pounds (GBP) or Euros (EUR). If you select pounds, then you are choosing to allow your bank to perform the currency exchange and to charge any associated fees. If you choose euros, then can see exactly how much you will be charged in pounds including all associated fees as if you were purchasing something at home. Generally, if your bank has competitive rates, you should choose pounds (GBP) rather than EUR, as this will be cheaper. However, if your bank has very high fees, it may be better to choose EUR – especially if the payment is for a very small amount and your bank charges a fixed commission fee (e.g. £0.50 per transaction).

Commissions, Exchange rates and fees at ATMs

As with making payments using your UK debit or credit card, some UK banks are more expensive than others. As an example, Lloyds charges 2.99% commission for its ‘foreign currency transaction fee’ plus £1.50 (Foreign currency cash fee) as well as using an uncompetitive exchange rate. On the other hand, Santander do not charge their UK customers any foreign transaction fees when withdrawing from Santander ATMs in Spain.

The ATM that you choose to withdraw from may also charge its own fees which can also be very expensive: BBVA charge a €6 per transaction fee at their ATMs and the Euronet machines are also best avoided due to their high fees. On the other hand, some Banks, such as Banca March, do not charge any ATM fee.

As with card payments, visitors will be presented with the option of settling the transaction in Euros (EUR) or Pounds (GBP). Again, which option is better for you will depend on your bank, though it is usually better to choose EUR, and let your bank perform the currency transaction.

As you can see, withdrawing from an ATM can be very expensive, with a UK Lloyds customer potentially paying around €11 to withdraw €100 from a BBVA Cash Machine. If your UK bank charges very high fees for withdrawing cash in Europe, you should consider getting a card from Revolut or Wise that allows you to perform currency transactions at very competitive exchange rates and avoid the high commissions charged by high-street banks.

  1. John

    This advice is so different to Lanzarote where loads of liquor stores compete with their rates, I was there for three weeks in March 24. Personally I want to change USD for Euro and in UK that can only be done by changing into GBP first, so paying twice. Booked 7 days Taurito coming soon.

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