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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.

Compare travel cards for Belgium

Rates last updated June 18th, 2018
Name Product Foreign Currency Conversion Fee Overseas ATM Withdrawal Fee Overseas Cash Advance Fee Annual fee Product Description
Luxury Card Mastercard® Titanium Card™
0% of transaction value
$195
Enjoy unique excursions, privileged access to exclusive events and insider opportunities.
Luxury Card Mastercard® Black Card™
0% of transaction value
$495
Mastercard Black Card members receive an annual $100 air travel credit toward flight-related purchases including airline tickets, baggage fees, upgrades and more.
Luxury Card Mastercard® Gold Card™
0% of transaction value
$995
Earn points every time you spend. Luxury Card enhances your purchasing power by providing you with one (1) point for every one dollar ($1) you spend. Every purchase gets you closer to the rewards you want.
Bank of America® Travel Rewards Credit Card
0% of transaction value
$0
20,000 online bonus points offer. Ditch the restrictions of typical airline rewards cards. Any airline, any hotel, anytime. No blackout dates.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® credit card
0% of transaction value
$0 annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Earn 50000 points when you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of your account opening, and an additional 30,000 points when you spend a total of $30,000 on purchases within the first year of your account opening.
Venture® from Capital One®
0% of transaction value
$$0 intro for the first year, $95 after
Earn 50000 bonus miles once after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.
HSBC Cash Rewards Mastercard® credit card
$0 per transaction
$0
Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on purchases.
Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Credit Card
$0 per transaction
$95
Earn unlimited 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases and 1.5 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
Uber Visa Card
0% of transaction value
$0
Get 4% points back on dining, 3% on travel, 2% on Uber rides and online shopping and 1% on other purchases, and redeem points for Uber credits, gift cards or cash back.
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
0% of transaction value
$450
Earn 50000 BONUS POINTS after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening* — that's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
The Platinum Card® from American Express
0% of transaction value
$550
Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and 5X points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com.
United℠ Explorer Card
0% of transaction value
$$0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95
40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.* Plus a $100 statement credit after your first purchase.

Compare up to 4 providers

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  • 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.

    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.

    USD to EUR for the last ten days
    Jun 08 Jun 09 Jun 10 Jun 11 Jun 12 Jun 13 Jun 14 Jun 15 Jun 16 Jun 17
    1 USD = 0.8489 Inverse: 1.1781 0.8492 Inverse: 1.1775 0.8486 Inverse: 1.1784 0.8494 Inverse: 1.1773 0.8512 Inverse: 1.1748 0.8472 Inverse: 1.1804 0.8648 Inverse: 1.1564 0.8606 Inverse: 1.1620 0.8606 Inverse: 1.1620 0.8626 Inverse: 1.1594
    USD to EUR for the last ten months
    Aug 2017 Sep 2017 Oct 2017 Nov 2017 Dec 2017 Jan 2018 Feb 2018 Mar 2018 Apr 2018 May 2018
    1 USD = 0.8503 Inverse: 1.1760 0.8377 Inverse: 1.1938 0.8496 Inverse: 1.1770 0.8490 Inverse: 1.1778 0.8506 Inverse: 1.1756 0.8152 Inverse: 1.2267 0.8020 Inverse: 1.2468 0.8133 Inverse: 1.2296 0.8109 Inverse: 1.2332 0.8460 Inverse: 1.1820

    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

    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
    Seven Corners Trip Protection Insurance
    Seven Corners Trip Protection Insurance
    Travel with a smile - protect your trip cost, your medical expenses, & your belongings.
    • Emergency Accident & Sickness Medical Expenses up to $250,000
    • Trip Cancellation – 100% of Trip Cost
    • Trip Interruption – up to 150% of Trip Cost
    • Political Evacuation - $20,000
    • Lost, Stolen or Damaged Baggage – up to $2,500
    • Emergency Medical Evacuation – up to $1 million
    Go to site More info
    Travelex Travel Max
    Travelex Travel Max
    TravelEx's most comprehensive protection plan for the comprehensive traveler. Offers optional Cancel For Any Reason upgrade.
    • Trip Cancellation - 100% of Insured Trip Cost
    • Trip Interruption - 150% of Insured Trip Cost
    • Trip Delay - $1000
    • Medical Expense Benefits - $100,000
    Go to site More info
    RoamRight Travel Insurance Essential
    RoamRight Travel Insurance Essential
    RoamRight’s Essential travel insurance package can be broken down into three critical parts: Trip Cancellation insurance, tourist health insurance, and baggage insurance.
    • Cancellation Cover - 100% Cost of Trip
    • Emergency Medical Expenses - $15,000
    • Emergency Evacuation and Repatriation - $150,000
    • Baggage and Personal Effects Cover - $750
    Go to site More info
    STA Travel Standard International
    STA Travel Standard International
    Get affordable cover for the essentials of options with STA's mid-level cover policy. This option will still provide up to $1500 in luggage cover and up to $100,000 in medical cover.
    • Trip Cancellation Cover - 100% of trip cost insured up to $10,000
    • Emergency Medical Expenses Cover - Up to $100,000
    • Baggage and Personal Effects - Up to $1,500
    • Trip Delay - Up to $500
    Go to site More info
    RoamRight Travel Insurance Preferred
    RoamRight Travel Insurance Preferred
    As the name implies, the Preferred package provides coverage for most trips and vacations.
    • Cancellation Cover - 100% Cost of Trip
    • Emergency Accident & Medical Expenses - $50,000
    • Emergency Evacuation and Repatriation - $500,000
    • Accidental Death and Dismemberment - $10,000
    Go to site More info
    Travelex Cancel for Any Reason
    Travelex Cancel for Any Reason
    Cancel For Any reason upgrade available with the Travel Max plan. Cancel for any reason - no questions asked.
    • Reimburses up to 75% of the insured trip cost
    • 100% cover if delayed to departure and loose at least 30%
    Go to site More info
    Atlas Travel
    Atlas Travel
    Provides customizable coverage for specific losses. Cover can be tailored to provide a balance between the basic essentials and premium cover.
    • Illness and Injury Cover - Up to $1 million
    • Emergency Medical Evacuation - Up to $1 million
    • Lost Checked Luggage - Up to $500
    • Travel Delay - $100/day up to 2 days
    Go to site More info
    Atlas Premium
    Atlas Premium
    Provides quality cover for a range of benefits with higher cover limits. Premium plan is perfect for travellers with health concerns looking for total protective cover.
    • Illness and Injury Cover - Up to $2 million
    • Emergency Medical Evacuation - Up to $1 million
    • Lost Checked Luggage - Up to $1,000
    • Travel Delay - $200/day up to 2 days
    Go to site More info
    Travelex Flight Insure Plus
    Travelex Flight Insure Plus
    Provides option to choose between different levels of flight insurance protection.
    • Flight Accident AD&D - Up to $1 Million
    • Baggage - $2,000
    • Medical Expense Benefits - $2,500
    • Medical Evacuation / Repatriation - $25,000
    Go to site More info
    STA Travel Explorer Plus
    STA Travel Explorer Plus
    Get premiere cover for a whole range of options with STA's premium policy. This option will still provide up to $100,000 in medical expense cover and up to $3,000 in cancellation cover.
    • Trip Cancellation Cover - $3,000
    • Emergency Medical Expenses Cover - Up to $100,000
    • Baggage and Personal Effects - Up to $2,500
    • Trip Delay - Up to $1,000
    Go to site More info
    Allianz Domestic Travel Insurance
    Allianz Domestic Travel Insurance
    Allianz Domestic Travel Insurance makes sure you are covered incase your planned trip unexpectedly goes awry.
    • Trip coverage - Depends on plan
    • Baggage coverage - Up to $1,000
    • 24-hour hotline assistance
    • Existing medical coverage - Up to $500,000
    Go to site More info
    Allianz International Travel Insurance
    Allianz International Travel Insurance
    If you frequently travel abroad and want extra coverage in case you get sick, injured, or need to cancel your trip, Allianz International Travel Insurance is the perfect solution.
    • Trip coverage - Depends on plan
    • Baggage coverage - Up to $1,000
    • 24-hour hotline assistance
    • Existing medical coverage - Up to $1,000,000
    Go to site More info
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