Getting a Credit Card in Greece

Athens News

Consumer credit (pistotiki karta) in Greece has been completely transformed in the last decade as credit cards have come into wide-spread use. A further relaxation in consumer credit laws in the summer of 2003 has resulted in an even broader variety of credit products, although the credit card remains the basic tool for ordinary purchases.

Most banks issue credit cards for their customers. When you open an account, you will be asked whether you wish to apply for a credit card. A bank-issued credit card also offers the option of linking balance payments to your account.

You do not need to bank with a specific financial institution to obtain a credit card from it. To apply for a credit card, most banks will ask for a copy of your identity card (taftotita) and a copy of your last tax return with the application. Foreign residents will be required to provide some official photo ID such as a passport or residence permit as well as proof of income.

Credit limits are set according to income. Applicants with no credit history or low income are usually eligible for the minimum credit level, often around 300 euros. Credit cards are different from charge cards, which require that you pay the balance in full, or debit cards, which automatically deduct payment from your account.

But banks are no longer the only financial institutions offering credit cards. Credit institions have become quite aggressive in seeking customers through telemarketing and other marketing methods that use "preapproval" and other schemes to make it easier for someone to obtain a credit card. Often store credit or deferred payment schemes are linked to a specific credit card. Other credit cards use cash rebates on purchases at participating stores to attract consumers.

Before applying for a credit card, shop around for the lowest interest rates and read the contract's fine print very carefully including how minimum monthly repayment amounts are calculated.

Information about laws on fair credit card practices can be obtained from the Association of Greek Banks (

Credit card payments are included in your credit history, which is monitored by the interbank Teiresias system (

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