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Travel money guide: Belgium

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How to pick a winning combination of travel money products to take to Belgium

Belgium is considered the heart of the European union. The country is a world leader in financial services and has the highest rate of card payments in the world. For your trip to Belgium, you’ll need a product that lets you spend euros minus the extra international transaction fees — there are a few on the market and it will pay to look beyond prepaid travel cards.

Read our Belgium travel money guide for a comparison of travel friendly credit cards, debit cards and travel cards as well as tips for using and spending money in Belgium.

Our pick for travel

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

  • Earn 50K bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named "Best Premium Travel Credit Card" for 2018 by MONEY® Magazine
  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • 3x points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit
  • 3x points on dining at restaurants and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • $0 foreign transaction fees
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select Up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
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Compare travel cards for Belgium

When considering which card to bring with you on your trip to Belgium, be sure to look out for foreign transaction fees. These small charges can add up over the course of a vacation, but thankfully most strong travel cards will waive them.

Name Product Currency Conversion Fee Annual Fee APR (Annual Percentage Rate) for Purchases
None
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
17.99% to 24.99% variable
Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
None
$450
17.99% to 24.99% variable
Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
None
$0 annual fee for the first year ($89 thereafter)
17.99%, 21.99% or 24.99% variable
Enjoy 70,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 90 days.
None
$0
14.99%, 18.99% or 24.99% variable
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on purchases. See Rates and Fees.
None
$0
12.99%, 16.99% or 20.99% variable
An 18 months 0%% Intro APR period on both purchases and balance transfers, plus zero foreign transaction fees, makes this is a strong well-rounded card. See Rates and Fees

Compare up to 4 providers

Promoted
Travelex Money Card

Why we like: Travelex Money Card

Load GBP, EUR, CAD, AUD, JPY or MXN onto this prepaid travel money card and use it at millions of locations worldwide.

  • Not linked to your bank account for safety.
  • Convert currency with a 5.50% Foreign Exchange Fee
  • Contactless payments
  • Reload, withdraw, or replace your card for free.

    How much should I budget to travel in Belgium?

    Belgium prices are indicative of the cost of travel throughout Western Europe. Like all places, you’ll find a range of prices to cater to the budget of all travelers.

    Brussels Budget Mid-range A royal experience
    Eat Sausage and onion baguette (street food)
    $5–$7
    Cream filled chocolate kisses (street food)
    $1 each
    $15–$50
    per dish
    Gourmet restaurant
    $350 per person
    Sleep Hostel
    $20–$30 per night
    2-star hotel
    $100 per night
    5-star hotel
    $210–$500 per night
    Do See a movie at Cinematek
    $4.50
    Beer tasting tour
    $80 per person
    Chocolate tour and workshop
    $90 per person

    *Prices are approximate and based on summer seasonality and are subject to change.

    Exchange rate history

    Following the European debt crisis and global financial crisis, $1 will buy you about 0.80 to 0.90 euros. It’s difficult to predict which way the currency pair will move; however, you can lock in an exchange rate using a prepaid travel card if you have reason to believe euros will become more expensive to purchase during the course of your trip.

    How to send money to Belgium

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    Should you take a travel card, a debit card or a credit card?

    If you had to pick one country where you could get around just using your card, it would be Belgium. More than 90% of all transactions in Belgium are handled with plastic. In the past, the Belgians have placed an emphasis on automating payment systems. Today, Visa and Mastercard can be used to pay for almost everything; while American Express and Diners Club are accepted in fewer places.

    A quick summary of travel money options for Belgium

    Travel money option Pros Cons
    Debit cards for travel
    • Save on currency conversion fees
    • Waived overseas ATM withdrawal fees
    • International transaction fees still apply
    Prepaid travel money cards
    • Hold different currencies
    • Save on currency conversion fees
    • ATM fees
    • Initial load fees
    • Reload fees
    • Inactivity fees
    Credit cards for travel
    • Waived currency conversion fees
    • Waived international ATM fees
    • Contactless payments
    • Interest-free period on purchases
    • Complimentary travel insurance
    • Cash advance fees
    Traveler’s checks
    • Acceptance
    • Security
    • Can be costly with initial purchase charges
    • Not all merchants accept traveler’s checks
    Cash
    • Payment flexibility
    • Convenience
    • More difficult to manage expenses
    • Higher risk of theft

    This table is a general summary of the travel money products on the market. Features and benefits can vary between cards.

    How do travel cards, credit cards, debit cards and more work in Belgium?

    Using a debit card

    A travel debit card provides the following features: no charge for currency conversion when you transact in euros and no international ATM withdrawal fee.

    • Tip: Make sure you tell your bank about your travel plans. As a security measure, your cards may be blocked after the first overseas transaction if you don’t.

    Using a travel money card

    Travel cards let you load American dollars, exchange American dollars to euros and lock in a rate so you can spend without paying an additional cost for currency conversion (3% on most credit cards and debit cards). Although you miss out on the currency conversion fee, you’ll pay when you first load the card with money, for each subsequent load thereafter or when you make a withdrawal from an ATM. Just so you know, some of these cards even charge you for ‘inactivity’. There are a number of countries in Europe which have not yet adopted the euro, for example Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland. Compare other travel money products if you’re traveling to these countries as well as Belgium. The fee for currency conversion can be almost double what’s charged on a credit card when you spend using a currency not loaded on a prepaid travel card.

    Using credit cards

    Travel credit cards give you a line of credit you can use overseas. Find yourself a credit card that waives foreign transaction fees. Carrying a credit card gives you the added benefit of travel insurance and discounts, depending on your provider. For added savings, take advantage of the interest-free period by paying your balance in full each month.

    Cards that offer travel perks and waive fees often charge an annual fee, so make sure the fee is worth it before you bring it along on your travels. If you’re ever in a jam, credit cards also offer cash advances, though we don’t recommend it. You’ll pay high fees and interest rates apply the moment you get your money.

    Using traveler’s checks

    Traveler’s checks used to be a popular way to take money overseas; however, ATMs have largely replaced them. It’s possible to get local currency at a good rate 24/7 by using one of the many ATM machines located throughout Belgium — it’s typically cheaper too! If you want to take traveler’s checks to Europe, you can purchase checks at banks — American Express and Thomas Cook are popular providers. Checks can be cashed at Belgian banks, you’ll pay 1% to 4% commission when you do.

    Paying with cash in Belgium

    While it’s true that the majority of payments in Belgium are made with cards, it’s always a good idea to have some euro cash. You will find some smaller vendors that only accept cash.

    You can always send your money to Belgium ahead of time with a money transfer service and have it waiting to be picked up when you arrive.

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    From Brussels to Bruges: Lincoln’s trip to Belgium

    man_bridge_Belgium_Shutterstock

    Belgium was on Lincoln’s must-visit list for a while. On his trip to Europe, he made sure a stop in Bruges and Ghent were on the itinerary. He visited the battlefields of Flanders in the city of Ypres first. And it wasn’t hard, Belgium is sandwiched between France and the Netherlands and only a couple of hours on a train from either Paris or Amsterdam.

    What cards did you take with you?

    • Charles Schwab debit card
    • Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard

    Why did you take these cards?

    He took his Charles Schwab because it not only doesn’t charge any international transaction fees, but it doesn’t charge for ATM withdrawals. The Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard is accepted worldwide and helped Lincoln earn some big rewards for his travel spending without paying fees for foreign transactions or conversions.

    Where can you use your cards?

    Lincoln did some day to day shopping at Carrefour hypermarkets (big supermarkets) and Carrefour Express (smaller stores). Carrefour had contactless terminals at the checkout so Lincoln says he had no issues using his card to pay for food, toiletries, alcohol and more. He says there was no minimum transaction limit either. The only time he was required to pay cash was when he picked up a snack from a man selling hot dogs on the street.

    Did you make ATM withdrawals?

    While Lincoln says was able to use his debit card freely to make purchases at shops, he still wanted to have cash in his pocket at all times. He says every ATM he saw supported Mastercard and Visa. Lincoln didn’t pay anything to make ATM withdrawals in Belgium — ATMs in Belgium don’t charge a local ATM operator fee.

    Do you have recommendations for the best travel money for Belgium?

    He says it’s that easy to pay with card in Belgium, along with most of Western Europe. His main concern was avoiding the currency conversion fee when he used his card to pay over the counter. He knew from a previous trip that there was no charge to use ATMs, so find a debit or travel card that waives foreign ATM withdrawal fees.

    What are your travel tips?

    • Get the metro pass. He says you can save quite a bit of money if you buy the metro pass(MOBIB Basic Card) rather than individual tickets. Ten trips on the MOBIB cards costs about €10 whereas buying 10 individual tickets can be double.
    • Tipping isn’t expected. Lincoln says tips are included in the bill when you pay and to only leave a tip if you believe the service went above and beyond.
    • Don’t drink too much beer. Belgium has more breweries per capita than anywhere else on Earth, so you can see how it would be easy to drink the days away. Lincoln says that too much beer will blow your budget quicker than you can say, ‘Une autre pinte, s’il vous plaît’ (another pint, please).
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    Exchanging cash

    You’ll be able to cash foreign currency in banks, hotels, at airports and train stations and in a number of exchange bureaus located in Belgian cities. Rates and commission charges are reasonably priced in Belgium compared with other destinations. For the best rates, stick to banks and exchange offices in the center of town. Exchange offices at the airport will have poorer rates than those located in the city center. Banks are open from about 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday to Friday.

    What exchange rate will you get?

    Credit card and debit card transactions often use the lender (Visa, Mastercard etc.) exchange rate. This rate is usually better than what you’ll get using a travel card and is pretty close to the market rate.

    • Tip: You may be charged an additional surcharge if you use your credit card to pay at restaurants and like businesses in Belgium.

    Why you’ll need a combination of travel money options

    A combination of travel money products is going to give you peace of mind, preparing you for any financial surprises. Credit card will give you money in an emergency or if you blow your budget. But beware — it’s easy to rack up a big balance while traveling in Europe, so use it sparingly.

    A travel debit card or prepaid travel money card helps you manage your money while traveling in Belgium. Save some money in fees by finding a card that waives foreign transaction fees. It’s up to you which mix of products you take — the important thing is you have more than one way to access your travel funds.

    Belgium offers travelers a chance to experience the charm of old-world continental Europe in a highly modern setting. It’s important that you have more than one way to access your money anytime you travel.

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    Get travel insurance quotes for your vacation in Belgium

    Details Features
    Atlas Premium
    Atlas Premium
    Comprehensive coverage with higher limits and a range of additional benefits.
    • Trip cancellation: Not available
    • Emergency medical expenses: Up to $2,000,000
    • Baggage coverage: $1,000
    • Trip delay: $200/day up to $400
    Go to site More info
    Travelex Travel Max
    Travelex Travel Max
    The most comprehensive protection plan offered by Travelex. Offers optional Cancel For Any Reason upgrade.
    • Trip cancellation: 100% cost of trip
    • Emergency medical expenses: $100,000
    • Baggage coverage: $2,500
    • Trip delay: $1,000
    Go to site More info
    RoamRight Travel Insurance Essential
    RoamRight Travel Insurance Essential
    Coverage includes trip cancellation insurance, tourist health insurance and baggage insurance.
    • Trip cancellation: 100% cost of trip
    • Emergency medical expenses: $15,000
    • Baggage coverage: $750
    • Trip delay: $100/day up to $500
    Go to site More info
    STA Travel Standard International
    STA Travel Standard International
    Affordable coverage for the essentials needed when traveling outside of your home country.
    • Trip cancellation: Not available
    • Emergency medical expenses: $25,000
    • Medical evacuation & repatriation: $250,000
    • Trip delay: $100/day up to $250
    Go to site More info
    RoamRight Travel Insurance Preferred
    RoamRight Travel Insurance Preferred
    Increased limits of coverage, plus trip interruption insurance worth 150% of the trip cost.
    • Trip cancellation: 100% cost of trip
    • Emergency medical expenses: $50,000
    • Baggage coverage: $1,000
    • Trip delay: $200/day up to $1,000
    Go to site More info
    Travelex Cancel for Any Reason
    Travelex Cancel for Any Reason
    Not 100% sure you're going to make your trip? Cancel For Any Reason upgrade is available with the Travel Select plan.
    • Reimburses up to 75% of the insured trip cost
    • Must cancel within 48 hours before scheduled departure
    • Offered on trips with a maximum value of $10,000
    Go to site More info
    Atlas Travel
    Atlas Travel
    Customizable policy that balances between the basic essentials and premium coverage.
    • Trip cancellation: Not available
    • Emergency medical expenses: Up to $2,000,000
    • Baggage coverage: Up to $500
    • Trip delay: $100/day up to 2 days
    Go to site More info
    Seven Corners Trip Protection Insurance
    Seven Corners Trip Protection Insurance
    Comprehensive coverage for the cost of your trip, your medical expenses and your belongings.
    • Trip cancellation: 100% cost of trip
    • Emergency medical expenses: Up to $250,000
    • Baggage coverage: Up to $2,500
    • Trip delay: Up to $1,500
    Go to site More info
    Travelex Flight Insure Plus
    Travelex Flight Insure Plus
    Choose the coverage amount that meets your needs. Baggage and trip delay protection included.
    • Flight accident AD&D: Up to $1,000,000
    • Emergency medical expenses: $10,000
    • Baggage coverage: $1,000
    • Medical evacuation & repatriation: $100,000
    Go to site More info
    STA Travel Explorer Plus
    STA Travel Explorer Plus
    Premiere coverage for a range of travel mishaps with additional riders for sports and other leisure activities.
    • Trip cancellation: $3,000
    • Emergency medical expenses: Up to $100,000
    • Baggage coverage: $500/item up to $2,500
    • Trip delay: $200/day up to $1,000
    Go to site More info
    Allianz Domestic Travel Insurance
    Allianz Domestic Travel Insurance
    Make sure you're covered in case your planned trip unexpectedly goes awry.
    • Trip cancellation: $1,000
    • Emergency medical expenses: Up to $25,000
    • Baggage coverage: Up to $1,000
    • Trip interruption: Up to $1,500
    Go to site More info
    Allianz International Travel Insurance
    Allianz International Travel Insurance
    Customizable coverage that can give you peace of mind when traveling to popular or remote destinations.
    • Trip cancellation: $1,000
    • Emergency medical expenses: Up to $50,000
    • Baggage coverage: Up to $2,000
    • Trip interruption: Up to $1,500
    Go to site More info
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