Should you exchange your pounds for euros before you leave home? Do you need to bring cash at all? Which ATMs are the cheapest? Can I pay for everything with my debit card?

Currencies - pounds, euros and dollars

Is the exchange rate better in Fuerteventura than in the UK?

The short answer is no, probably not. At home you can shop around for the lowest exchange rate commission, whereas your options will be limited on the island. In the south of Fuerteventura, where the vast majority of tourists come from Eurozone countries, there will be even fewer currency exchange options.

Can I pay for everything using a Debit or Credit Card or with Apple/Google pay?

While the pandemic has hastened Spain’s transition towards a cashless society (paying with cash was either not allowed or discouraged during the strictest moments of the pandemic), there are still a few cases where a visitor will need a small amount of cash:

  • On the buses – while you can buy a contactless travel card for Fuerteventura’s buses, you will most likely have to pay cash for this, and the 10% discount means that it’s probably not worth your while unless you plan to make a lot of journeys by bus.
  • Tipping – let’s face it, restaurant and bar staff don’t want to declare their tips, and can you be sure that the waiter or waitress will ever see that tip that you paid by card?
  • Markets – many market sellers will only accept cash
  • While increasingly rare, you may still find a small bar or cafe that only accepts cash (there will usually be a large sign warning customers of this fact).

Is cash still king?

While Spain was once notorious for its huge black economy (at one point a quarter of all 500 euro notes were said to be in circulation in Spain), this has been largely eliminated and it is now illegal to pay any bill over €1000 in cash. In fact, there are more and more situations where you cannot pay with cash at all: most airlines will only accept card payments on-board, and many government-run offices are not permitted to accept cash payments.

Also, in recent years, the minimum spend requirement for card payments has disappeared and it is pretty common to pay even the tiniest amounts using a contactless card or smartphone. The requirement to show a passport or ID when paying by card has also disappeared. You can even pay most Taxi drivers with a card – just be sure to ask the driver first – or order a taxi that allows you to pay by card (tarjeta).

ATM fees, Exchange rates and commissions

Nowadays, most people simply withdraw money from an ATM at their destination in order to perform their currency exchange. However the ATM fee and exchange rate that you will be charged varies considerably depending on the ATM provider and your own bank. At present, Banca March are one of the few Spanish Banks that do not charge an ATM fee (others charge up to €6 per transaction), and UK customers of Santander can also avail of free withdrawals from Santander ATMs in Spain.

The exchange rate that you will receive varies according to your own bank’s rates, with some banks charging very expensive exchange rate commissions (Lloyds are particularly bad). Many people use cards such as Revolut pre-loaded with euros to make sure that they receive a good rate while on holiday. ATMs typically offer a choice between being charged in euros (EUR) or pounds (GBP) using what is known as ‘dynamic currency conversion’. It is usually cheaper to choose EUR and leave the currency exchange to your own bank, though as we mentioned already, some UK banks can have very expensive rates.

Fuerteventura Airport ATMs

There are two ATMs at Fuerteventura Airport (one in arrivals and the other in departures), both operated by Euronet. Some websites advise against using these at all (since they are expensive), however many travellers will not have any choice but to use them. In this case, we advise that you choose to be charged in EUR and not in your own currency to keep the cost down.

Exchange rates when paying with Credit and Debit Cards

While you can pay for nearly everything with your card, the exchange rate that you will be charged depends on your bank, and you should check their rates before going on holiday. Some UK card providers offer very competitive rates, while others will leave you feeling ripped-off. As with ATMs, when you pay with a card, you will be presented with an option to be charged in GBP (or your own currency) or EUR. It is generally recommended to choose EUR and let your own bank do the conversion, as this is usually the cheapest (but not always).


Nowadays, you can pay for nearly everything in Fuerteventura with your credit or debit card – and increasingly with Google or Apple Pay. However, we do still recommend that you take a small amount of cash with you just in case. To make sure that you get the best possible rates, consider a card such as Revolut, that allows you to convert your currency to Euros at a competitive rate (and back again).

2 Responses

  1. robert seward

    are there bureau de change places where I can exchange pound stirling and dollars in cash to euros?

    • administrator

      Hi, It depends which resort you are staying in: Caleta de Fuste and Corralejo still have a few places, though elsewhere you would need to visit a bank branch.

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