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Travel money guide: Belgium

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

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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.

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.

BrusselsBudgetMid-rangeA royal experience
EatSausage and onion baguette (street food)
$5–$7
Cream filled chocolate kisses (street food)
$1 each
$15–$50
per dish
Gourmet restaurant
$350 per person
SleepHostel
$20–$30 per night
2-star hotel
$100 per night
5-star hotel
$210–$500 per night
DoSee 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 optionProsCons
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

Using a credit card in Belgium is easy to do. 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.

Compare travel credit cards

Name Product Welcome offer Rewards Annual fee Filter values
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
80,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months, a value of up to $1,000 through Chase Ultimate Rewards
5x points on Lyft, 2x points on travel and dining and 1x points on all other purchases
$95
Earn a huge signup bonus worth $$1,000 with this popular travel card. Combine with other Chase Ultimate Rewards cards for even greater value.
American Express® Gold Card
35,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
3x points on directly-booked flights; 4x at restaurants; 4x at US supermarkets on up to $25,000 annually (then 1x points)
$250
Earn up to 4x points on select purchases, a bevy of travel perks, and a welcome offer worth up to $350 with this upper-mid tier travel card. Rates & fees
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
10x points on Lyft rides, 3x points on dining and travel after earning your $300 travel credit and 1x points on all other purchases
$550
Get a generous $300 in annual travel credits, 3x points on travel and dining, and a 50% bonus on point redemptions with Chase's premier card.
Hilton Honors American Express Card
80,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
7x points on Hilton Honors purchases, 5x at US restaurants, US supermarkets and US gas stations, 3x on all other purchases
$0
With a massive welcome offer for a no-annual-fee card and up to 7x points at Hilton, this is a solid pick for Hilton fans and occasional travelers. Rates & fees
Luxury Card Mastercard® Titanium Card™
N/A
1x points on all purchases with 2% point value when you redeem for airfare and 1% for cash back
$195
Enjoy unique excursions, privileged access to exclusive events and insider opportunities.
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Case study: Lincoln's experience

Lincoln profile photo
Lincoln

From Brussels to Bruges: Lincoln’s trip to Belgium

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).
Our pick for a prepaid travel card
Travelex Money Card

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.

Cash pickup services in Belgium

Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
$1 Within an hour USD 3.99 0.855 EUR 852 Use promo code 3FREE to send your first 3 transfers with no fee. Send to 110+ countries for bank-to-bank deposit, cash pickup or mobile top-up. Go to site Show details
$0 1 - 2 days USD 1.99 0.843 EUR 841 Special offers like free transfers and better exchange rates available for new customers.
Quick, affordable transfers around the world with both express and economy options.
Go to site Show details
$1 Same day USD 8.00 0.84 EUR 834 Easily transfer cash to more than 350,000 locations around the world. Show details
$1 3 - 5 days USD 20.00 0.838 EUR 821 The biggest name in money transfers can get your funds to friends, family, or businesses in almost every corner of the globe. Show details

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Disclaimer: Exchange rates change often. Confirm the total cost with the provider before transferring money.
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Get travel insurance quotes for your vacation in Belgium

Name Product Trip Cancellation Emergency Medical Expenses Baggage Coverage Trip delay
Allianz Travel OneTrip Emergency Medical Plan
$50,000
$2,000
$1,000
Budget-friendly policy designed for international and domestic travelers who want medical protection. Trip cancellation and trip interruption not included.
Allianz Travel AllTrips Basic Plan
$20,000
$1,000
$600
Annual policy that offers affordable protection, but doesn't include trip cancellation or trip interruption.
Travelex Travel Basic
100%
$15,000
$500
$500
Essential travel coverage — with the option to customize — that can protect the cost of your trip.
Travelex Flight Insure
$10,000
$1,000
$100
Protect the cost of your flight and choose the coverage amount that meets your needs — trip delay protection included.
RoamRight Essential Travel Insurance Plan
100%
$15,000
$750
$500
Basic policy with coverage that includes trip cancellation insurance, tourist health insurance and baggage insurance.
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