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Madrid a Very Affordable City

Apr 3, 2008
Since Spain is a member of the European Union, the currency in Madrid is the Euro. For more on money matters in Madrid, check out this guide to currency and expenses.

Budgeting Your Visit: From Frugal to Fancy
A thrifty visitor to Madrid can budget as little as 40-50 Euro per day, if they are willing to eschew expensive restaurants, skip dance clubs altogether, use only public transportation and stay in basic hotels or holiday rentals that have self-service kitchens. On the other hand, for 120 Euro a day, travelers can have a true luxury experience: staying in one of the Spanish capital's finest hotels, frequenting museums and art galleries, dining at top restaurants and enjoying a round of drinks at one of the city's popular nightclubs.

Exchanging Money. Foreign currency cash or travelers check can be exchanged into Euro at banks and exchange offices. There is an exchange office at the Barajas airport, as well as several banks along central Madrid streets such as the Gran Via. You can also withdraw Euro from an ATM machine. Most travelers find that debit cards offer better exchange rates than credit cards.

Cash or Charge It?. Personal theft (ie. pick-pocketing) is extremely common in Spain. While credit cards are stolen as frequently as cash, they can be cancelled and replaced. Most Spanish tourism experts therefore recommend using credit or debit cards, which are widely accepted at hotels, restaurants and shops, particularly those in the mid-price range and higher. Credit cards can also be used pay for train tickets and to cover museum admission.

Accommodations. Madrid offers a wide range of accommodation options for visitors, from high-end luxury hotels (both international and boutique) to budget holiday rentals to cheap student hostels. The average price for a hotel room in Madrid is 120-200 per night. Budget accommodations such as hostels may be as little as 25-50 Euro/night while luxury hotels can run upwards of 250 Euro/night.

Value Added Tax. In Spain, you will pay a value added tax on all your purchases. For your hotel bill, restaurant tab and other 'essential' items, you will pay a non-refundable tax of 7%. On physical items including artwork, jewelry, clothing and souvenirs you will pay 16%. However, if you live outside the European Union, then you are entitled to a refund on any tax paid over the amount of 90.15 Euro You will need to present a proper invoice, called una factura, to the Customs Office at the airport.

Tipping Customs. In Spain, tipping is not obligatory. Service is included in your restaurant bill, however most customers still leave a cash tip in the amount of 5-10%. No more than 10% is also the going rate for tipping cab drivers, bar tenders and theatre ushers.
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