Should you change your pounds for euros before you leave home or when you get to the resort in Lanzarote? Are cards accepted everywhere? Can I pay with Google or Apple Pay? Is it expensive to withdraw from an ATM?
Read on to find out…
Nowadays, most people simply withdraw the euros that they need from an ATM when they arrive on the island. Indeed, it is now the case, especially since the pandemic, that you can pay for nearly everything with your credit/debit card – or even your phone. However, many people still like to set aside a certain amount of cash for their holiday and budget accordingly.
Will I get a better exchange rate in Lanzarote or at home?
The short answer is no, probably not. As long as you shop around, you should be able to exchange your pounds for euros in the UK at a better rate than you’ll find on the island.
Can I pay for everything with my credit/debit card?
Nearly all businesses on the island accept card or mobile payments, and minimum spend requirements have disappeared in recent times. You can even pay for your taxi with a card. That said, there are a couple of important exceptions where you will still need to pay in cash:
- Public Buses While there is now a contactless card for Lanzarote’s public buses, this is largely useless for visitors as it can only be purchased at Arrecife Bus Station, and only offers a 10% discount over cash. In effect, this means you will need to pay for the bus using cash (notes larger than €10 are not accepted).
- Markets Some market sellers are not equipped to accept card payments.
- Tipping While you can leave a tip in most bars or restaurants using your card, can you be sure that your server will ever see any of that money?
- Some Small Businesses Although now rare, you may find the occasional small bar, restaurant or shop that does not accept card payments – usually there will be a sign clearly indicating this.
Foreign Exchange Fees on Debit/Credit Card Purchases
Exchange rates and transaction fees vary according to card provider and some are much more expensive than others (Lloyds are particularly expensive). Check how much your card provider charges before using your card abroad, and if the rates aren’t good, get a card from a company such as Starling or Revolut that can be pre-loaded with a set amount of euros to avoid expensive commissions. If you are using your regular UK bank card, you will be offered the choice of paying in GBP or EUR: usually it will be cheaper to choose EUR, but this might not be the case if your bank has very expensive fees.
Which ATMs charge the lowest fees?
Firstly, there are two ATMs at Lanzarote Airport: one in departures and one in arrivals. Both of these are run by Euronet (well known for their high ATM charges).
Away from the airport, Banca March do not charge an ATM fee, and UK customers of Santander can avail of fee-free withdrawals from Santander ATMs in Spain. Other banks (such as BBVA) charge up to €6 per withdrawal, and non-Santander customers can also look forward to very high charges at their cash machines.
As with making a card payment, when withdrawing money from a UK bank account in Lanzarote, you will be presented with the option to be charged in GBP or EUR. Again, if your bank/card provider offers a good rate, you should choose EUR and let your bank do the currency exchange. If your bank has very expensive foreign transaction fees, it may be cheaper to choose GBP.
For the absolute best rates, many visitors choose to get a card from Revolut or Starling, pre-load it with Euros (exchanged at a competitive rate), and then withdraw from a Banca March machine to avoid the ATM charges.