There are ATMs practically everywhere in Europe and most students found this to be the easiest way to get cash.
However, before you leave, speak to your bank about
(1) the high fees they may charge for overseas use and
(2) not flagging your account as fraudulent due to the overseas use.
To counter the large fees some students took out large amounts of cash at one time. If you choose to do that be careful with your cash. (Watch out for pickpockets!)
Western & Northern Europe:
- Used in most places.
- Make sure to have a form of I.D. on you when using a credit card. Your passport will always suffice, but it may not be safe to carry it around all the time.
- Stores in Madrid may give you a hard time and not allow you to use copies of your passport
- Some stores accept state I.D.
Eastern & Southern Europe:
- Many places do not accept credit cards.
- Those that do more widely accepted MasterCard and Visa over AMEX.
- Do not rely on them as they are not always accepted. There are very few places to cash travelers checks in Madrid.
- If you lose them or if they get stolen you can put in a claim for your money.