Using a credit card in Germany

You can use credit cards almost anywhere in Germany – but carry some cash as well.

Updated

Despite having one of the strongest economies in Europe, Germany isn’t known for obsessive credit card use. You can pay with plastic in most places, but Germans prefer to use cash – especially for small purchases like a coffee, lunch or public transportation. While Germany is predominantly a cash-based society, most hotels, restaurants and merchants accept credit cards.

Compare credit cards for use in Germany

If you’re considering applying for a new credit card before you head to Germany, look for a credit card that charges no foreign transaction fees. Although the fees are relatively low – around 2.5% – they can add up quickly if you use your credit card often.
Name Product Purchase Interest Rate Cash Advance Rate Annual Fee Minimum Income Benefits with this card Description
HSBC World Elite® Mastercard®
19.9%
22.9%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($149 thereafter)
$80,000
Earn 3% in travel rewards on all eligible travel purchases (6 Points per $1 spent) and earn 1.5% in travel rewards on all other eligible purchases (3 Points per $1 spent).
Earn up to 60,000 Points ($300 travel value). Plus, get a full annual fee rebate for the Primary Cardholder for the first year ($149 value). Apply by August 17, 2020. This offer is only available to residents of Canada other than the province of Quebec. Conditions apply.
BMO U.S. Dollar Mastercard
19.99%
22.99%
$35 USD
$15,000
Receive an annual fee rebate with a minimum yearly spend of US$1,000. Plus, spend in US Dollars with no exchange rate surprises.
When your purchases total US$1,000 or more in a year, the next year's annual fee (US$35) is rebated to your card.
Scotiabank Gold American Express Card
19.99%
22.99%
$120
$12,000
Earn 5 Scotia Rewards points per $1 spent on eligible grocery, dining and entertainment purchases, 3 points per $1 spent on eligible gas, transportation and select streaming services, and 1 point per $1 spent on eligible purchases elsewhere.
Earn 20,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points when you spend at least $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 3 months. Apply by August 31, 2020.
Scotiabank Passport  Visa Infinite Card
19.99%
22.99%
$139
$60,000
Earn 2 Scotia Rewards points for every $1 spent on eligible grocery store, dining, entertainment and daily transit purchases, and earn 1 Scotia Rewards point for every $1 spent elsewhere.
Earn up to 40,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points (up to a $400 travel value) in your first year. Apply by August 31, 2020.
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Visa and Mastercard credit cards are widely accepted in most countries around the world. That said, check with your bank before travelling to Germany to confirm whether or not you’ll be able to use your credit card.

Name Product Purchase Interest Rate Cash Advance Rate Annual Fee Minimum Income Benefits with this card Description
HSBC +Rewards™ Mastercard®
11.9%
11.9%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($25 thereafter)
N/A
Earn 2 Points for every $1 spent on eligible dining or entertainment purchases.
Earn 10,000 Points ($50 travel value). Plus, get a full annual fee rebate for the Primary Cardholder for the first year ($25 value). Apply by August 17, 2020. This offer is only available to residents of Canada other than the province of Quebec. Conditions apply.
BMO World Elite Mastercard
19.99%
22.99%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($150 thereafter)
$80,000
Get 3 BMO Rewards points per $1 spent on eligible travel, dining and entertainment purchases (up to $50,000 spend annually), and get 2 BMO Rewards points per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases (and once you reach the $50,000 annual spend).
Earn a bonus of up to 35,000 BMO Rewards points with a minimum spend of $3,000 on eligible purchases in the first three months of card membership ($250 travel value to be used towards a flight booked through bmorewards.com). Plus, get the $150 annual fee waived in the first year.
HSBC World Elite® Mastercard®
19.9%
22.9%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($149 thereafter)
$80,000
Earn 3% in travel rewards on all eligible travel purchases (6 Points per $1 spent) and earn 1.5% in travel rewards on all other eligible purchases (3 Points per $1 spent).
Earn up to 60,000 Points ($300 travel value). Plus, get a full annual fee rebate for the Primary Cardholder for the first year ($149 value). Apply by August 17, 2020. This offer is only available to residents of Canada other than the province of Quebec. Conditions apply.
BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard
12.99%
12.99%
$20
$15,000
Take advantage of an introductory balance transfer offer, annual fee waiver in the first year, and low purchase and cash advance interest rates.
Get a rate of 3.99% on balance transfers for 9 months with a 1% transfer fee. Plus, get the $20 annual fee waived in the first year.
Shell AIR MILES Mastercard from BMO
19.99%
22.99%
$0
$15,000
Get 2 AIR MILES for every $20 spent at participating AIR MILES Partners, and get 1 AIR MILE for every $20 spent on eligible purchases elsewhere.
Get 800 AIR MILES Bonus Miles.
Shell AIR MILES World Mastercard from BMO
19.99%
22.99%
$99
$60,000
Earn 1.25 AIR MILES reward miles at Shell stations in Canada and 1 mile per $15 spent for all other purchases.
Earn 1.25x Miles on card purchases at participating Shell stations in Canada and 1 mile per $15 spent for all other purchases.
BMO CashBack World Elite Mastercard
19.99%
22.99%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($120 thereafter)
$80,000
Earn 1.5% cash back on all eligible purchases.
Get up to 10% cash back in your first 3 months and the $120 annual fee waived in the first year.
Shell CashBack Mastercard from BMO
19.99%
22.99%
$0
$15,000
Get 1.5% cash back at participating Shell locations in Canada (up to a maximum spend of $2,500 in any monthly billing period), and get 0.5% cash back everywhere else.
Get $50 in cash back bonuses once you charge your first eligible purchase to your card. Plus, earn 1% cash back for the first 6 months on all eligible purchases.
BMO Rewards Business Mastercard
14.99%
22.99%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($120 thereafter)
N/A
Earn 3 BMO Rewards points for every $1 you spend on gas, office supplies, cell phone bills and internet bills, and earn 1.5 BMO Rewards points for every $1 you spend elsewhere.
Get 35,000 BMO Rewards points when you spend $5,000 in the first three months. Plus, the primary cardholder will get the first year $120 annual fee waived.
BMO Rewards Mastercard
19.99%
22.99%
$0
$15,000
Get 1 BMO Reward point for every $1 spent on eligible purchases, and get 2 BMO Rewards points for every $1 spent at participating National Car Rental and Alamo Rent A Car locations.
Earn a bonus of up to 20,000 BMO Rewards points. Plus, get a rate of 1.99% on balance transfers for 9 months. A 1% fee applies to transferred balances.
BMO Air Miles Business Mastercard
19.99%
22.99%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($120 thereafter)
N/A
Earn 1 Air Mile on every $10 spent on eligible purchases, and 1.25x the Air Miles when you use your card at participating Shell locations.
Get up to 3,000 Air Miles Bonus Miles and pay no annual fee for the first year.
BMO IGA AIR MILES Mastercard
19.99%
22.99%
$0
$15,000
Get 2 AIR MILES for every $20 spent on eligible purchases at IGA stores and at participating AIR MILES partners, and get 1 AIR MILE for every $20 spent elsewhere.
Get 800 AIR MILES Bonus Miles.
BMO U.S. Dollar Mastercard
19.99%
22.99%
$35 USD
$15,000
Receive an annual fee rebate with a minimum yearly spend of US$1,000. Plus, spend in US Dollars with no exchange rate surprises.
When your purchases total US$1,000 or more in a year, the next year's annual fee (US$35) is rebated to your card.
BMO AIR MILES World Elite Mastercard
19.99%
22.99%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($120 thereafter)
$80,000
Get 1 AIR MILE for every $10 spent on eligible purchases.
Earn a bonus of up to 2,000 AIR MILES. Terms apply. Plus, get the annual fee of $120 waived in the first year.
BMO AIR MILES Mastercard
19.99%
22.99%
$0
$15,000
Get 2 AIR MILES for every $20 spent at eligible AIR MILES partners, and get 1 AIR MILE for every $20 spent elsewhere.
Earn 800 AIR MILES Bonus Miles. Plus, get a rate of 1.99% on balance transfers for 9 months. A 1% fee applies to transferred balances.
BMO Cashback Business Mastercard
19.99%
22.99%
$0
N/A
Earn 1.5% cash back on eligible gas purchases, office supplies and on cell phone and internet recurring payments, earn 1.75% cash back at participating Shell stations, and earn 0.75% on all other eligible card purchases.
Get 6% cash back on gas, office supplies, cell phone bills and internet bills for 4 months.
BMO CashBack Mastercard
19.99%
22.99%
$0
$15,000
Earn 3% cash back on groceries, 1% on recurring bill payments and 0.5% on all other eligible purchases.
Get up to 5% cash back on all eligible purchases in the first three months of card membership (up to a maximum spend of $2,000, and earn 3% cash back on groceries, 1% on recurring bill payments and 0.5% on all other eligible purchases thereafter). Plus, get a rate of 1.99% on balance transfers with a 1% balance transfer fee for nine months.
BMO AIR MILES Mastercard For Students
19.99%
22.99%
$0
$15,000
Earn 2 AIR MILES for every $20 spent at eligible AIR MILES partners, and earn 1 AIR MILE for every $20 spent elsewhere.
Earn 800 AIR MILES Bonus Miles. Plus, get a 1.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for 9 months. A 1% fee applies to balance amounts transferred.
BMO Air Miles No-Fee Business Mastercard
19.99%
22.99%
$0
N/A
Earn 1.25x the Air Miles for every $20 spent at participating Shell stations, and 1 Air Mile for every $20 spent elsewhere.
Get up to 1,000 Bonus Air Miles.
BMO CashBack Mastercard For Students
19.99%
22.99%
$0
$15,000
Earn 3% cash back on groceries, 1% on recurring bill payments and 0.5% on all other eligible purchases.
Get up to 5% cash back in the first three months (up to a maximum spend of $2,000, and earn 3% cash back on groceries, 1% on recurring bill payments and 0.5% on all other eligible purchases thereafter). Plus, get a rate of 1.99% on balance transfers for 9 months, with a 1% fee for every transferred balance.
Shell CashBack World Mastercard from BMO
19.99%
22.99%
$79
$60,000
Get 3% cash back per $1 spent at Shells stations, 1.25% cash back on all other spend.
Earn 3% cash back at Shell stations in Canada, plus 1.25% cash back on all other spend.
Refresh Secured Card
17.99%
N/A
$12.95
N/A
The Refresh Secured Card has no credit check, a low annual fee and guaranteed approval once you secure your card with anywhere from $200 - $10,000.
Take advantage of a low annual fee, with no credit check and guaranteed approval once you secure your card with some funds.
BMO Sobeys AIR MILES Mastercard
19.99%
22.99%
$0
$15,000
Get 2 AIR MILES for every $20 spent at Sobeys, Foodland and eligible AIR MILES partners, and get 1 AIR MILE for every $20 spent elsewhere.
Get 800 AIR MILES Bonus Miles.
No-Fee Scotiabank Value Visa Card
16.99%
16.99%
$0
$12,000
Save with a low interest rate, no annual fee and a balance transfer offer.
Get a 3.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers with a 0% balance transfer fee for the first 6 months. Apply by October 31, 2020.
Scotia Momentum No-Fee Visa Card
7.99% intro APR for the first 6 months, 19.99% thereafter
22.99%
$0
$12,000
Get 1% cash back on all eligible gas station, grocery store and drug store purchases and recurring bill payments, and get 0.5% cash back on all other eligible purchases.
Get a 7.99% introductory interest rate on all eligible purchases for the first 6 months. Apply by October 31, 2020.
Scotia Momentum Mastercard
7.99% intro APR for the first 6 months, 19.99% thereafter
22.99%
$0
$12,000
Get 1% cash back on all eligible gas station, grocery store and drug store purchases and recurring bill payments, and get 0.5% cash back on all other eligible purchases.
Get a 7.99% introductory interest rate on all eligible purchases for the first 6 months. Apply by October 31, 2020.
Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite Card
20.99%
22.99%
$120
$60,000
Earn 4% cash back for every $1 spent on eligible grocery purchases & recurring bill payments, 2% per $1 spent on eligible gas purchases & public transit, and 1% per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases.
Pay no annual fee in the first year, including on supplementary cards. Apply by November 01, 2020.
Scotiabank SCENE Visa Card
19.99%
22.99%
$0
$12,000
Earn 5 SCENE points per $1 spent at participating Cineplex theatres or cineplex.com, and earn 1 SCENE point per $1 spent on eligible purchases elsewhere.
Earn 2,500 bonus SCENE points when you spend a minimum of $500 on eligible purchases in the first three months as a new SCENE Visa cardholder. Apply by October 31, 2020.
Scotiabank Value Visa Card
12.99%
12.99%
$29
$12,000
Save on interest for 6 months by consolidating your higher-rate balances with the balance transfer offer, and get an on-going 12.99% interest rate on purchases, cash advances and balance transfers.
Get a 0.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers with a 0% transfer fee for the first 6 months. Apply by October 31, 2020.
Scotiabank GM Visa Card
19.99%
22.99%
$0
$12,000
Earn 5% in GM Earnings on all eligible purchases on the first $5,000 annual spend, and 2% in GM Earnings on all eligible purchases thereafter.
Earn 5% in GM Earnings on all eligible purchases on the first $5,000 annual spend, and 2% in GM Earnings on all eligible purchases thereafter. For every $1 in GM Earnings, you’ll get $1 off the purchase price or lease of a new GM, Chevrolet, Buick, GMC or Cadillac.
Scotiabank GM Visa Infinite Card
19.99%
22.99%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($79 thereafter)
$60,000
Earn 5% in GM Earnings on the first $10,000 annual spend, and earn 2% in GM Earnings thereafter.
Get the annual fee waived in the first year on the primary card as well as any supplementary cards. Apply by October 31, 2020.
Scotiabank Passport  Visa Infinite Card
19.99%
22.99%
$139
$60,000
Earn 2 Scotia Rewards points for every $1 spent on eligible grocery store, dining, entertainment and daily transit purchases, and earn 1 Scotia Rewards point for every $1 spent elsewhere.
Earn up to 40,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points (up to a $400 travel value) in your first year. Apply by August 31, 2020.
ScotiaGold Passport Visa Card
19.99%
22.99%
$110
$12,000
Earn 1 Scotia Reward point for every $1 spent on eligible purchases. Plus, book your travel through the Scotia Rewards Travel Service and earn 5% cash back on the cost of your trip.
Receive 5,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points when you make your first eligible purchase. Eligible purchase must be posted to your account within 2 months of account opening. Apply by October 31, 2020.
Scotia Momentum Visa Card
19.99%
22.99%
$39
$12,000
Earn 2% cash back on all eligible gas station, grocery store and drug store purchases and on recurring bill payments (up to a $25,000 annual spend), and earn 1% cash back on all other eligible purchases (and on all eligible purchases once the $25,000 annual spend is reached).
Get a 2.99% introductory rate on balance transfers and a 0% balance transfer fee for the first 6 months. Apply by October 31, 2020.
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card
19.95%
19.95%
$0
$12,000
Earn 2% cash back in two categories of your choice (or three categories if you open a Tangerine Savings Account and directly deposit your cash back into the account), and 0.5% cash back on everything else.
Get a 1.95% interest rate on balance transfers for the first six months (valid within the first 30 days of account opening).
Tangerine World Mastercard
19.95%
19.95%
$0
$60,000
Earn 2% cash back in two categories of your choice (or three categories if you open a Tangerine Savings Account and directly deposit your cash back into the account), and 0.5% cash back on everything else.
Get a 1.95% interest rate on balance transfers for the first six months (valid within the first 30 days of account opening).
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Which credit card issuers are accepted in Germany?

Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted in Germany. You can also use American Express cards, however they’re accepted in fewer locations. While Germany ranks highly in Europe for the acceptance of new technology like contactless and mobile payments, it’s still predominately a cash-based economy.

Merchant acceptance
ATM acceptance
Visa
check mark iconHigh
check mark iconHigh
Mastercard
check mark iconHigh
check mark iconHigh
American Express
exclamation point iconMedium
check mark iconHigh

Potential credit card fees in Germany

While it’s possible to face all of these fees, it’s easy to avoid each and every one of them by taking the right steps before and during your trip.

  • Foreign transaction fees. Most Canadian credit cards come with a foreign transaction fee of 2.5%. Every time you use your card in Germany, you will have to pay this fee. Fortunately, there are a few credit cards that offer no foreign transaction fees.
  • Currency conversion fees. If someone gives you the choice of paying in Canadian dollars or euros with your credit card, always choose the local currency of euros. Paying in Canadian dollars with your card will subject you to a dynamic currency conversion (DCC) that can lead to poor exchange rates and currency conversion fees.
  • Cash advance fees. If you use your credit card to withdraw money from an ATM, you’ll face a cash advance fee and the cash advance interest rate. Unlike the purchase APR, the cash advance rate is usually charged from the day you withdraw the funds – there is no grace period. To avoid these high fees, use your debit card to withdraw funds from an ATM.
  • ATM fees. Even if you use your debit card to withdraw funds from an ATM, you will likely have to pay an ATM fee of $2.50 to $5. To avoid this fee, you can use a debit card issued by a bank that is a member of an international ATM alliance, such as Scotiabank.

ATMs in Germany

ATMs are easy to find in Germany and are typically referred to as Bankomat or Geldautomat. Most ATMs accept international credit, debit and prepaid cards, although you might want to look for the Cirrus or PLUS logo.

Should I use my credit card to get cash?

As mentioned above, using your credit card to get cash from an ATM is not recommended. You’ll end up paying a cash advance fee as well as interest, which will start adding up from the day of the transaction. If you need to withdraw cash from an ATM, it’s best to use your debit card. While you might still have to pay an ATM fee, you’ll avoid the pricey cash advance rate.

Given that more than 80% of payments in Germany are made using cash, you should carry cash with you at all times. Smaller shops, such as bakeries, bars and family-owned restaurants may only accept cash or the German EC card.

Do taxis in Germany accept credit cards?

It depends on the city and district. In some cities, taxis will usually accept credit cards but add a surcharge. If you don’t have cash, order a taxi that accepts credit cards from your hotel or use the mytaxi app to pay with your card.

Is it safe to use my credit card in Germany?

It’s safe to use your credit card in Germany, but you should exercise the same level of caution as you would anywhere else.

  • Keep your PIN secure. When using a keypad to enter your PIN, use your other hand to shield the screen from onlookers and hidden cameras.
  • Choose ATMs carefully. Try and stick to ATMs in public places and banks and avoid ATMs in isolated areas. If you notice that a keypad is sticky or your card is difficult to insert into the slot, there could be skimmer installed on it. For safety, choose a different ATM.
  • Keep your card physically safe. The crime rate in Germany is quite low and using common sense can help ensure your card’s safety. Don’t leave your bag on the floor at a bar or a nightclub and keep your card in sight at all times.

How to prepare before travelling to Germany

  1. Carry at least two cards. Visa and Mastercard are the most widely accepted credit card brands, with American Express occasionally accepted in Germany. To be safe, travel with at least two credit cards. If one gets lost or stolen, you’ll have a second one as a backup.
  2. Avoid foreign transaction fees. If you don’t have a card with no foreign transaction fees, think about applying for one before you go overseas. Foreign transaction fees usually cost 2.5% – and they can add up quickly if you use your card often.
  3. Notify your bank. In an effort to minimize fraud, banks temporarily block cards if they detect suspicious activity. If you don’t let your bank know of your travels to Germany, you might end up with a blocked credit card.
  4. Keep emergency numbers handy. Should your card become lost or stolen, you’ll need to call your provider to get a replacement card. Keep important phone numbers accessible at all times.
  5. Know how you’ll get cash. Avoid using your credit card to withdraw cash from an ATM – instead use your debit card. Exchanging Canadian dollars for euro is also possible at banks and currency exchange kiosks.

Next steps

Before travelling to Germany, ask yourself these questions in order to avoid common credit card problems:

  • Which cards will I use? Visa and Mastercard are the most widely accepted brand of credit cards, but you may find some businesses that accept American Express. Take at least two credit cards with you on your travels incase one becomes lost or stolen.
  • Does my bank know? If your bank is not aware of your upcoming trip, you may have to deal with a temporarily suspended card. Always notify your bank or credit card provider of your travels before you embark on your trip.
  • What fees will I face? If you have a card that charges foreign transaction fees, consider applying for a card that waives this fee. Remember, you can easily avoid currency conversion fees (DCC) by paying in the local currency of euros.
  • How will I get cash? Your options include using your Canadian debit card at a local ATM, exchanging Canadian dollars for euro or carrying travellers’ cheques. Avoid using a credit card to withdraw money from an ATM unless its an emergency.

Using a credit card in …

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