While cash remains the most popular payment method in Greece, we all know why that is for most developing and underdeveloped nations around the globe. For Greece, the average age is 46 years, meaning more than 50 per cent of the population consists of people born in the 70s or earlier. An era when very basic banking was being practised, and most people were not open to putting their hard-earned cash in banks. That generation still likes to keep cash in their wallet rather than carrying cards only with them. While Gen X is 50 per cent of the population, the other half of Greece is people born in the 80s (people more accepting to change in banking and interaction channels). Greece currently has 2.5 million cards, while another country (UAE) with a slightly lesser population has double the number of credit cards. With inflation hitting Europe, people are more likely to move towards “buy now, pay later” payment methods. With more and more Greek residents turning towards credit cards, there is a chance that many of you may fall into the hidden charges trap of banks. We have researched the best free credit card in Greece for you to go for the best option(s) available in Greece.
Quick Comparison Of The Best Free Credit Cards In Greece
Here are some of the best options for signing up for a credit card in Greece that neither has upfront charges nor any annual subscription fees.
Eurobank Premium Club Platinum Mastercard – though it is a card for high-earning individuals, it has no annual subscription fee with an adjustable (to your needs) credit limit. No hidden Interest rates on the purchased items. Another option with Eurobank cards is a WWF visa card that contributes 0.07% of the transactions towards WWF Greece. One of the most significant advantages of this card is that many of the transactions are tax deductible. With their modern vertical design, these biodegradable cards are introduced in Greece. It gives freedom to spend over 4,000 euros a day for your ultimate shopping experience. At any ATM, it gives the facility to pay bills along with loan instalments.
The National bank of Greece offers different credit cards depending on your requirement. With a free first-year subscription, this bank also offers a specific number of welcome points added to customers’ cards without even spending a single euro. Travel insurance is covered with this card, which is an additional benefit if you are a frequent traveller. It saves time with contactless technology if you spend 50 euros with any merchant. The national bank offers up to 3 additional supplementary cards free of charge. Its purchase rate varies from 14.36% to 17.86%, and the withdrawal rate varies from 18.36% to 18.96%.
Alpha bank credit cards have an annual fee, and on purchases, they charge different interest rates depending upon the type of card. Some of the categories even do not include travel insurance.
HSBC credit cards have worldwide acceptance and have interest-free instalments for selected vendors only.
Piraeus Bank cards have a free first-year subscription fee. Along with its contactless technology, it provides two complimentary cards. It charges a 15.95% interest rate with a minimum monthly payment of 2% for most of its cards.
After going through this comprehensive analysis, you can well analyse which credit card suits your requirements or if you want to have two credit cards for your convenience if you live in Greece.
5 Reasons Why You Need A Credit Card In Greece
While Greece is still a cash-friendly country, and the default payment method at many shops stays cash. However, the customer mindset is changing over time. People think of carrying cash as a burden. Besides, the Greek government passed a law a few years ago requiring all Greek nationals below 65 to have a credit card. Wondering what kind of law that is 🙂 This was a creative solution to reducing tax evasion by compelling Greek residents and tourists to make most payments via cards.
Deposits And Large Payments
As I mentioned earlier, the Greek government is working towards achieving a documented economy by driving the residents (and tourists) to pay via cards. You will notice that most shops, restaurants, cafes, hotels, medical facilities, gyms and superstores accept credit cards. While cash always remains an option, there is a significant chance you will have to make large payments (or deposits) at places like hotels, hospitals or even superstores if you are setting up your new home or just in the mood to indulge in some serious retail therapy.
I was once on an official trip to Greece, and my colleague got a head injury as he hit his head on the door while getting off the tour bus. We had to rush him to the hospital, and our travel insurance turned out to be pretty lousy right when we needed it. His credit card was our only saviour in that critical situation.
With the advent of online shopping, many greek residents also shop on international shopping platforms like amazon, Ali express, etc., and all those online stores accept payments via credit cards.
Also, when you want to travel overseas, let’s say out of the European Union, you will either have to be bothered to buy a hefty sum of the local currency of your destination or carry a credit card enabled for international transactions. We suggest carrying more than one card with you if one gets held inside an ATM, leaving you with no means to survive.
Money Withdrawal Abroad
While travelling abroad, one should have cash or foreign currency with him, but of course, this is not safe to have a lot of currency in the form of cash. So, one of the safest options is to have a credit card that can be used for purchases and withdrawals.
A significant chunk of the population has shifted to online shopping worldwide. This has significantly increased after covid times. To protect sellers, they usually ask for prior payments made through credit cards. Credit cards provide solutions to online purchases for any online payment, whether inside Greece or worldwide.
Credit card payments are safer compared to many other payment methods. Most banks have fraud detection systems in place. In case of wrongly paying (or paying twice) to a merchant, the customer can complain to the bank, to which they investigate and reverse the transaction where applicable. This gives security to the cardholder.
While most banks offer similar terms & conditions on cards, there are still some minor differences if you look at each card’s terms in detail. I have covered some of those card types for you so you know which one to go for when visiting a bank.
What Are The Different Credit Card Types In Greece:
Four different types of cards are accepted throughout Greece that people prefer according to their needs.
Revolving Credit Card:
Although people in Greece prefer using cash over keeping credit cards, there is still an increasing trend in issuing credit cards. The revolving credit card offers its customers to pay on their behalf and deduct the amount afterwards. Revolving cards are especially famous for corporate loans that are for a short-term period.
No doubt that debit cards are not credit cards, but they are still one of the most commonly used cards in Greece, perhaps after prepaid cards. Statista estimates that 2.5 million credit cards were issued until 2020 compared to 14 million debit cards until 2020. Where credit cards make up roughly 15 per cent of payment cards, with a debit card, each purchase will automatically be deducted from your bank account. Depending on your bank, this happens instantly or within 24 hours. Therefore, you do not have a ‘true’ credit available.
Prepaid Credit Cards
As Greek people like to have cash instead of credit card, they prefer prepaid cards over other credit cards. Because of less risk of overspending on prepaid cards, this is good for controlling your spending. As they are pretty standard in Greece, most banks offer their customers prepaid cards. According to a survey, prepaid cards hold 56 per cent of the Greek market share. Again, in this case, too, you do not have proper credit available.
So for someone who is particular about utilising the credit facility offered by the banks and has a credit history that enables them to get one, a valid credit card option would be revolving credit cards in Greece that offer purchases on credit to its customers. If you are a greek or a foreigner who wants to apply for a credit card online, you should have chrome as a browser, as you may have to translate a greek website into English.
What Is The Best Credit Card to Use In Greece?
The most commonly used cards in Greece are prepaid visa cards offered by almost all the local banks. Prepaid cards give you all the features that one asks for in a credit card, like paying at shops, cafes, restaurants, hospitals, play areas and online payments in the current day and age. It allows international transactions via online shopping platforms or using the card while on your trips out of Greece. With prepaid cards, you can control where and how much you want to spend.
One of the reasons we rated this as the best card to use in Greece despite having to pay upfront cash before using it is that the country’s economic condition is volatile at the moment, and all financial institutions are cautious in assigning credit limits to consumers. Greece’s rising inflation and unemployment rates make it challenging to acquire a credit card. While getting a prepaid card requires no lengthy credit approval cycles, please keep your identity and proof of address documents handy before clicking the Get a New Card link though 🙂 You just hop on to the website of whichever bank you like, go to the prepaid cards link, select the Get a New Card option, fill in your details, select an account from which the commission for this card will be charged, accept the terms and voila, your card will be issued right away. That is why greek residents (who love paying by cash) think of prepaid cards as a decent alternative to cash. Why shift to prepaid cards if they prefer cash payments? The Younger Greek generations are getting used to the convenience and remember the government’s legal requirement we discussed in the beginning.
What Are The Best Free Credit Cards In Greece?
Before moving on to the best free credit card in Greece, we must follow these steps. The first one is verifying your ID through a video call or a local post office. Secondly, you have to sign a verification letter.
Eurobank Credit Card:
Eurobank is one of the most famous banks in Greece; they have been winning the “Best Bank in Greece” title for seven consecutive years. According to a survey conducted in 2020, Eurobank is the 4th largest bank in Greece in terms of total assets. This, of course, tells their credit policies for their customers. Eurobank credit cards are among the most liked credit cards among the Greek people. Eurobank Premium Club has been the most reliable credit card for years. This MasterCard is free of charge without any annual fee. This has high credit limits that can be adjusted to your requirements. Another prominent advantage is that you can withdraw cash with this MasterCard through ATMs.
Requirements for Eurobank Premium Club Platinum Mastercard
· Must be 18 years or older
· Be a natural person
· A valid passport
· should have an AFM number
· Proof of your salary
· Proof of valid address
Eurobank Premium Club Platinum Mastercard benefits:
· No yearly subscription charges
· Worldwide acceptance
· interest-free instalments
· Unlimited credit limit
· Availability of immediate cash advance if the card is lost
· Huge discounts for international travellers on different hotel chains
· Travel insurance
· €pistrofi Premium loyalty programme
· free debt balance insurance up to 5,000 euros
Eurobank Premium Club Platinum Mastercard drawbacks:
· More suitable for high-income people with high expectations
· 13 % interest rate
· Initial annual subscription of 150 euros
Repayment And Settlement Of Balances
If you choose this credit card, you must be aware that you must pay 13% interest on an unpaid balance.
WWF Visa Credit Card:
Despite providing good terms to its customers, the WWF visa credit card also supports WWF Greece. Whether you want a new WWF visa card or want to renew your card, 3 euros are contributed towards WWF Greece by the bank. With every transaction made through this card, 0.07% of it goes to WWF. So, in addition to credit cards, if you want to serve wildlife, this is the best option. There is no annual fee for the first six months; after that, it’s 30 euros. You can opt for Interest-free instalments for income tax, property tax or even for the car registration fee.
Requirements for WWF visa credit card:
· Must be 18 years or older
· Be a natural person
· A valid passport
· should have an AFM number
· current salary
· Proof of valid address
Eurobank WWF visa card benefits:
· Earn cash back rewards through loyalty programmes
· Worldwide acceptance of visa credit cards in Greece and abroad
· Many of the transactions are tax-deductible
· No annual fee for up to 6 months, and after that, its 30 euros annually
· Chip and pin technology for even more secure transactions
· Temporarily freeze or unfreeze if the card is misplaced
· Outstanding balance insurance of 5000 euros in case of loss of life due to accident or illness
· Contactless technology
The Greek financial industry is currently paused on certain credit conditions, and most banks offer similar annual subscription charges, percentage interest and monthly fee structures. However, we see the simple and small benefits that certain cards offer. Like NBG’s WWF Visa card, donate a certain percentage of your transactions to the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) and pass on the tax benefits to its consumers. i.e. Certain parts of your transaction amounts become tax deductible.
The second highlight of my article is that 56 per cent of Greeks who use any form of card for financial transactions use prepaid cards. That is shy of 1.5 million users; the high adoption of these cards speaks for itself. Prepaid cards are easy to sign up for, quickly issued, and equally accepted anywhere you go. It does not give a credit facility for those who love to avoid having to spend cash upfront.
I would reiterate that when travelling, carry two cards with you to avoid inconvenience in case one card gets stuck in an ATM, or you lose it for some reason.
Enjoy the best card that suits your needs 🙂