Sending money to Greece
July 6, 2015 10:25 AM   Subscribe

Help me help my Greek relatives.

So my dad (Greek immigrant to the U.S.) told me that my 85-year-old uncle waited for three hours to withdraw 120 euros for himself and my aunt in Athens last week in 90+ F weather, and expects he will be doing this on a regular basis in the near future. Given that Western Union and other money transfer services have suspended their cash transfer services in Greece, I'm interested in any advice people may have about how best to get euros from the U.S. to my Greek relatives in Athens without traveling there. I'm willing to accept some risk (e.g., sending physical euros by FedEx) in order to get them some cash they can use in the next ten days, but if there's a more secure way of doing it that would be preferable. Every time I see a photo of Greek pensioners lined up in front of a Greek bank, I keep picturing my sweet uncle and aunt in the crowd and I'm tearing up. Please help me to help them.
posted by longdaysjourney to Work & Money (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It might be a roundabout solution, but my understanding is that people in Greece are still free to travel throughout Europe.

You could send your Uncle a ticket out of Greece on a bus, train, or boat, and then send him the money in Italy.
posted by bswinburn at 10:33 AM on July 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

Can you call their local store and set up a line of credit for them, using one of your credit cards as collateral?
posted by myselfasme at 1:12 PM on July 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

This article (from July 1 - could be outdated) says that Greek account holders can't withdraw more than 60 euro a day regardless of whether the money is from their own bank account or a foreign transfer. It also says that non-Greek debit card withdrawals are not restricted, but I'd be pretty wary of sending a foreign debit card - there's no guarantee that the bank will be willing to give out more cash even if they are supposed to, and I believe there's concern that the banks will run out of euro notes.

If you search, there are several recent articles that basically say that there's no good way to securely send cash to Greece at the moment. I'd probably go with the charge account myselfasme suggested, and if that doesn't work out, I might risk sending physical cash (perhaps including some US dollars in addition to the euros).
posted by insectosaurus at 2:24 PM on July 6, 2015

Thanks everyone - I appreciate your advice. I think we're going to try to give my uncle access to my parent's U.S. bank account (will take about 15 days) and in the meantime we'll be buying what groceries we can for them via the site.
posted by longdaysjourney at 5:29 PM on July 6, 2015

Hey, Western Union has just restarted service to Greece, according to Reuters:

July 7 (Reuters) - Western Union Co said it restarted money transfer service in Greece, allowing customers in the country to receive funds from overseas.

The company said although the entire amount transferred would be credited to account holders, customers would be able to withdraw only 60 euros ($65.58) daily as per the Greek government's recent capital-control measures.

The world's largest money transfer company shut its services in Greece on June 29 for a week, after the country closed its banks to limit strains on its crippled financial system.

"Western Union is seeking to expand its in-bound payout locations while also seeking to restore full service on its domestic and outbound business as soon as practicable," the company said in a statement. (Full Story)
Customers in 31 countries across North America, Europe, CIS and Asia Pacific will able to transfer money to Greece, Western Union said.
posted by chavenet at 6:55 AM on July 7, 2015

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