Currency in Spain: Your Complete Guide - 2023
Over 15 million visitors from the UK head to Spain annually - to enjoy the beaches and cities, relax in the sun, and soak up the culture.
If you’re one of the many Brits planning a trip to Spain, you may be wondering about managing your money once you get there. Spain is part of the Eurozone, so you'll need to figure out the best ways to spend in EUR for your trip.
This guide covers all you need to know so you can make the most of your money while you’re enjoying your holiday.
Before you head to Spain, learn about:
What currency is it used in Spain?
The official currency in Spain is the euro. In fact Spain was one of the founding members of the Eurozone, and has now been using the euro for over 20 years.
The currency symbol for euros is EUR - look out for this on currency exchange stores and websites. You’ll also commonly see the symbol € used on restaurant menus and in shops.
Can you use GBP in Spain?
No. British pounds aren’t accepted in Spain, so you’ll need to find ways to spend in euros while you’re there.
If you do come across stores which will take your GBP from you, it should actually be a big red flag. Where this service is offered, the merchants usually do so to profit by offering poor exchange rates, and charging high fees, which means you spend more in the end.
It’s easy enough to exchange your pounds to euros before you leave or once you arrive in Spain. You’ve got a good range of options, which we’ll walk through in this guide - plus we’ll throw in some handy tips to make your money go further overseas.
Using a card in Spain
Using a travel money card is often one of the most convenient - and cheapest - ways to spend in Spain.
You’ll need to plan in advance for this, to order your travel card money card for Spain before you leave. Once you’re set up - which can usually be done with nothing more than your phone - you can add money in GBP and convert to euros before you travel. Or just leave your money in pounds and let the card switch to EUR when you pay for things overseas. Travel money cards are safer and more convenient than carrying lots of cash, and can often be cheaper than using a regular credit or debit card.
To give an idea of your options, here are a couple of popular travel debit cards you could take to Spain, with a quick overview of their features:
Wise travel debit card
Supports pounds, euros and around 40 other currencies for holding and exchange
Get instant mid-market currency exchange, with low fees from 0.43%
Some fee free ATM withdrawals every month, with low fees after that
No fee to open your account, no ongoing charges and no minimum balance
Revolut travel debit card
Choose the account and card plan that suits your needs and preferences
25+ currencies supported for holding and exchange
All account tiers have some fee free ATM withdrawals and currency conversion every month
Extra features and higher transaction limits for higher tier accounts which have monthly fees
## Is it cheaper to convert currency in the UK or Spain?
There’s not really a definitive answer to this question, as it all depends on the exchange rate and fees you can find close to you in the UK, or in your specific destination in Spain. There’s a very wide range of services, fees and rates out there, so shopping around is the only way to know if you’ll get more converting at home or waiting until you travel.
It’s good to know that you don’t need to convert to euros before you travel if you get a travel card from a service like Wise or Revolut. All you’ll need to do is add pounds, and then your card will automatically convert to euros when you want to withdraw or spend, with low or no fees and good rates. That can be more convenient than exchanging in advance and mean your trip costs less overall.
If you are changing cash from pounds to euros, remember that airports and hotels aren’t a great choice as you’ll run into pretty poor rates and high overall costs. Choosing a city centre exchange or bank on arrival will usually get you a better deal, as there’s more competition to keep prices fair.
To find the best place to buy euros, you can read our guide here.
Buying euros before your trip
Here are a few popular options if you’re planning on getting your EUR before you go on holiday.
Using a travel card
Travel money cards are flexible for spending in Spain and a variety of other countries, as well as often being cheap and convenient.
Look at services like Wise and Revolut which let you open an account online or through an app with mid-market rate currency conversion and low fees. These cards aren’t free to use, but they’re often cheaper than changing cash, and the costs you pay are normally laid out very transparently so there are no surprises.
Ordering your travel money online to click and collect is convenient and lets you lock in the live rate when you buy your funds. That means you know exactly how much you’ve got to spend once you travel. Usually you can buy euros online and pick them up at a store or bank near you (depending on the specific service you pick), just a few hours later.
Home or Office Delivery
If you’re buying holiday money for home delivery you can check out a service like Travelex, or see if your own bank can help. Here are some key points about the Travelex service as an example, to see if it might suit you:
Order for home or office delivery, or in store collection
Cash for collection can be ready in just a few hours
Home delivery can be next day if you order Monday - Thursday before 3pm
Delivery is free if you exchange more than 600 GBP; fees apply otherwise
You’ll need to be home to collect your cash, and may be asked for ID
Exchange rates are likely to include a markup - which is a fee
Depending on where in the UK you’re based you might be able to get to physical money exchange stores and buy euros in cash immediately. This can be fast and convenient but there’s usually a markup added to the exchange rate used to convert your pounds to euros, pushing up the costs overall.
Your local bank might not let you walk in to exchange pounds for euros instantly, but it’s still possible with some banks - like Barclays and Lloyds - to order euros online through their website, for branch collection or home delivery. Check the rates and fees which apply, as this may not be the very cheapest way to get your holiday cash.
It pays to avoid currency exchange desks at airports. While they’re convenient, they’re also usually expensive. Even if the service states there’s no commission to pay, that usually just means that the fees are all rolled up into the exchange rate used to convert your funds to EUR - which isn’t transparent and can mean you’re paying more than you think for the exchange service.
How to exchange currency in Spain
Once you arrive in Spain you can still exchange your pounds for euros at standalone currency exchange services and, sometimes, banks.
Not all banks offer instant currency exchange if you don’t have an account with them, so you may need to call ahead if this is your plan - plus it’s worth comparing the rates available before you commit. If you’re looking for a currency exchange service keep an eye out for a Casa de Cambio - although many have signs in English due to the high numbers of foreign tourists passing through.
More about the currency used in Spain
Let’s get more familiar with euros - the currency used in Spain.
Denominations of euros
Euro notes denominations are as follows:
In most cases you’re unlikely to come across the very high value notes, but notes up to €50 are commonly used and widely accepted.
Each euro is split into 100 cents. The euro coins in circulation in Spain are:
Euro coins have the same image on one side, but you might find variation in the images on the flipside, if the coin was minted in a different Eurozone country. All euro coins are accepted in all Eurozone countries, no matter where they were minted.
Travel money tips for Spain
Here are a few extra tips so your money goes further when you’re in Spain:
Take a travel money card - you’ll need to get organised before you leave, but travel cards from providers like Wise or Revolut are cheap, safe and convenient for spending abroad
Carry different payment options - carry a couple of cards on different networks and a small amount of cash, so you have a plan B if your preferred payment method isn’t accepted with a particular merchant
Avoid airport or hotel currency exchange - you’ll get a convenient service, but you’ll also probably be stuck with bad rates and high overall fees
Always pay in EUR - you may be asked if you’d rather pay in GBP. Say no. Paying in pounds when you’re abroad means the merchant sets the exchange rate, rather than your bank or card. That will lead to higher overall costs
Check your card fees - look out for international ATM fees, foreign transaction fees, and cash advance charges in particular
Don’t use a credit card at the ATM - cash advance fees, foreign transaction fees, and immediate interest make this a very expensive option
Don’t carry too much cash - tourists are frequently victims of opportunist theft
How much does a trip to Spain cost?
How much your holiday in Spain will cost can vary wildly depending on your plans. Draw up your own budget to make sure you know what to expect. Here are a few common costs to give an idea of how much a trip to Spain might cost.
Visa cost: No visa usually required for trips for up to 90 days (Schengen rules apply)
Transport in Spain: Local transport tickets are around 1.5 EUR each way
Taxi: Around 3.5 EUR to start, then about 1.8 EUR per mile
Car hire: Cheapest compact cars are likely to start from 10 EUR - 25 EUR per day
Room at a hotel: Very varied both by location and season - shopping around is essential
Dinner at a mid- range restaurant: 45 EUR for 2 people
Track GBP-EUR exchange rate
The Exiap rate tracker can be a great way to keep an eye on the live mid-market exchange rate for euros.
You can then compare the mid-market rate to the one you’re offered by different currency exchange services so you can check you’re getting good value when you need currency exchange.