Between the mountains and the scenic Black Sea, there’s plenty to see in Georgia. It’s no wonder tourists are starting to flock to the eastern European nation. However, if you’re going to spend time in Georgia, you’re going to need some cash for buying food and paying for taxis. Getting cash is pretty simple in bigger cities, but if you’re venturing into the countryside, you may need to plan ahead. Here’s what you need to know.
In major cities, like Tbilisi, ATMs are everywhere. All you need to do is walk out to the street and look around, and you’re likely to find one. That’s good news for travelers, since Georgian local bank websites tend to be written in Georgian, so their ATM locator tools aren’t much help unless you speak the local language. However, if you’re going outside of the major cities, stock up on cash beforehand, as ATMs are a lot less common in small towns.
If you need to find a local ATM, look for one of these banks:
You can also search for a major ATM network with these tools:
- Maestro ATM locator
- Mastercard and Cirrus ATM locator
- Visa, Plus, and Plus Alliance ATM locator
- Discover ATM locator
- American Express ATM locator
Most major backed US, UK and Australian cards should work without any problems in Georgia, but Visa and Mastercard are going to be most widely accepted. Before you use an ATM, check the logos on it to make sure they match your card.
You don’t need a chip and PIN card to use an ATM in Georgia, even though they’re the most common type of card issued in Europe. Americans and other tourists who only have magnetic swipe cards will still be able to use them.
These will vary by how much your bank allows you to withdraw. If your bank imposes a maximum daily withdrawal limit that’s too low for your trip to Georgia, you can call ahead of time and ask that your limit be temporarily raised to make sure you have access to enough cash for your trip.
Before you travel anywhere internationally, you should always call your bank to let them know where you’re going, when and for how long. That way, international activity on your card won’t look like fraudulent charges, and the bank won’t shut down your card while you’re in a foreign country without any other way to get money.
Travelling is already a huge expense, so why add to it with a lot of ATM fees? While sometimes fees can’t be avoided, there are definitely some tricks you can use to reduce them.
Withdrawing cash from an ATM usually gives you the best possible exchange rate, allowing you to take out local currency at the mid-market rate, or the same rate you would see if you Googled it. However, foreign ATMs will sometimes “helpfully” offer to display the transaction in your home currency instead of the local currency. This service, called dynamic currency conversion or DCC, actually allows the ATM to set its own exchange rate, often poorer than the mid-market rate, and charge you for the markup, giving it a nice profit on your withdrawal. When you’re using a foreign ATM, you should always choose to view the transaction in the local currency, even though it seems convenient to use a currency you’re familiar with.
ATMs may charge you fees for using them. Your home bank may also charge you withdrawal fees or foreign transaction fees. Make sure to check with your bank ahead of time to find out about fees, and pay careful attention while using ATMs so you aren’t caught by surprise by the fees.
To save on ATM fees anywhere you go, you should always avoid ATMs that cater to tourists, like the ones in airports and hotels. Bank ATMs will often have better fees if they have any at all. You can also look for a card that doesn’t charge withdrawal fees or foreign exchange fees or one that reimburses your ATM fees as a perk. Make fewer, larger withdrawals to avoid being hit with multiple flat fees, and always remember to be charged in the local currency.
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With this information in hand, you should have no problem getting the cash you need in Georgia. Safe travels!
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With mountains to the north, the Black Sea to the west, and deserts to the south, Georgia is finally starting to experience a reputation as a desired travel...