Travel money guide for Germany | finder.com

Travel money guide: Germany

We value our editorial independence, basing our comparison results, content and reviews on objective analysis without bias. But we may receive compensation when you click links on our site. Learn more about how we make money from our partners.

Packing your bags for a vacation to Germany? Get your travel money in order before you leave.

From the coast of the Baltic Sea to the hills of Western German wine country, Germany is the largest country in central Europe with culture and old-world charm to match.

The euro has been the standard currency of Germany, and you’ll find you need both cash and credit cards for purchases. To get the most out of your German getaway, familiarize yourself with their currency customs and start comparing your travel money options.

Our pick for use in Germany

Hilton Honors American Express Card

  • Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points with the Hilton Honors American Express Card after you use your new card to make $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first 3 months of card membership.
  • Earn 7x Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged directly with a hotel or resort within the Hilton Honors portfolio of brands.
  • Earn 5x Hilton Honors Bonus Points for each dollar of eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations.
  • Earn 3x Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases on your card.
  • No foreign transaction fees. Enjoy international travel without additional fees on purchases made abroad.
  • Enjoy complimentary Hilton Honors Silver status with your card. Plus, spend $20,000 on eligible purchases on your card in a calendar year and you can earn an upgrade to Hilton Honors Gold status through the end of the next calendar year.
  • No annual fee.
  • Terms apply.
Read less
Read more
See Rates & Fees
Promoted

Compare travel cards for Germany

Updated June 20th, 2019
Name Product Foreign Transaction Fee Welcome Offer Rewards Filter values
None
75,000 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
Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors™ Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the card within your first 3 months of card membership. Rates & fees
None
N/A
1% cash back right away, 1.25% after six on-time payments and 1.5% after 12 on-time payments
Build your credit with no fees: Apply if you're new to credit or have a fair to good score.
None
3% cash back bonus on up to $10,000 in the first 12 months, then 1.5%
3% cash back on up to $10,000 in the first 12 months, then 1.5% on all purchases
Earn 3% cash back on up to $10,000 in the first 12 months, then 1.5% on all purchases. See Rates and Fees.
None
60,000 points after spending $5,000 in your first 3 months
5x points on directly-booked flights or on flights and hotels on Amex Travel. 1x points on all other purchases
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. Rates & fees
None
35,000 points after spending $2,000 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)
35,000 bonus Membership Rewards® Points when you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months. Rates & 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 for my trip to Germany?

    Germany is not considered a cheap travel destination — plan for at least $50 a day for budget travel, and between $120 to $300 for average to luxury travel. Compare some of the daily expenses you can expect below:

    Berlin Budget Mid-range Expensive
    sleep Sleep Hostel
    $10–$25 per night
    2-star hotel
    $25–$65 per night
    5-star hotel
    $140–$250 per night
    food Eat Currywurst $2.50
    (plus chips) $4
    Midrange restaurant
    $15–$30 per dish
    4-course meal at a 5-star restaurant
    $200 per person
    camera Do Walking tour of Berlin
    Free (Tip the guide)
    Live music at The B-flat Jazz Club on Rosenthaler Straße
    Free
    Private WWII and Cold War walking tour of Berlin
    $46 per person
    Private Berlin Wall tour
    $99 per person (up to 3 hours)
    1 hour private flight over Berlin
    $441 (up to 3 people)
    Tour of Jewish heritage in Berlin
    $275 (up to 3 people)

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

    Exchange rate history

    The global financial crisis and European debt crisis resulted in instability among global currencies. For the past couple of years, $1 gets you between 0.7 and 0.8 euros. Travel cards and traveler’s checks let you lock in a rate if you think it’s going to be more expensive to buy euros in the future.

    Compare money transfers to Germany

    Travel card, debit card or credit card?

    Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted in Germany. You can also use American Express and Diners Club credit cards; however, they’re accepted in fewer locations.

    Some businesses may not accept cards for purchases below a certain amount and some supermarkets won’t take credit cards at all. While it’s important to find a card that’ll let you make over the counter purchases without too many fees, a card which lets you use ATMs without the ridiculous charges is more relevant for a trip to Germany.

    A quick summary of your travel money options in Germany

    Travel Money Option Pros Cons
    Debit cards
    • No currency conversion or international ATM fees
    • Convenience
    • If your card is stolen, or you become a victim of fraud, the thief could gain access to your entire bank balance.
    Prepaid travel money cards
    • Comes with a back-up card
    • Load USD and spend in a variety of currencies
    • Easier to manage expenses
    • All travel cards support euro
    • Some cards take time to load money
    • Lots of fees
    Credit cards
    • Access to a line of credit
    • Accepted at most retailers
    • May come with benefits like travel insurance
    • Interest-free days when you pay your account in full
    • Emergency card replacement
    • Cash advances are expensive
    Traveler’s checks
    • Acceptance
    • Security
    • Fees for purchase and cashing
    • Not all merchants accept traveler’s checks
    Cash
    • Greater payment flexibility
    • Convenience
    • More difficult to manage expenses
    • Higher risk of theft

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

    How credit cards, debit cards and travel cards work in Germany

    Using a debit card

    A debit card is a good travel money choice to take to Germany. You’ll have access to cash each time you come across an ATM, without carrying lots of cash on you all at once. Because you’re spending your own money, you avoid interest charges. Find a bank that waives the fee for international ATM withdrawals and doesn’t charge a monthly account keeping fee.

    • Tip: Bank of America and Barclays cardholders can avoid the international ATM withdrawal fee as well as the local ATM fee by using Deutsche Bank ATMs in Germany.

    Using a prepaid travel card

    Travel cards can lock in conversion rates once you load USD. Use it for purchases without worrying about rates each time you spend — debit and credit cards often charge 3% for each transaction. All prepaid travel cards carry euros, and many let you carry more than one currency at once.

    Where you save in the conversion rates you may pay in fees. You’ll pay fees each time you load the card, ATM withdrawals and sometimes even an inactivity fee.

    • Tip: Most travel cards send you two cards so you have a backup if your card is stolen or lost.

    Using a credit card

    Credit cards are accepted in large German retailers and mid to upmarket restaurants, for example. While Germans are typically considered innovative, they’re hanging on to cash. In places that do take cards, you’ll find that the EuroCard is the preferred plastic.

    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.

    Visa and Mastercard is widely accepted across Croatia, as is Diners Club and American Express at fewer stores and hotels.

    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.

    • Tip: Avoid using your credit card to withdraw cash. Cash advance charges will eat up your available credit quickly.

    Using a credit card in Germany

    Using traveler’s checks

    Move over traveler’s checks, you’re slowly being replaced by ATMs, which make it cheap and easy to get currency. Security is the main advantage of using traveler’s checks. Each check has a unique serial number and can only be cashed with photo identification. Fees are the main disadvantage. Banks charge you to get check and to cash them. You’re better off using a debit or travel card which lets you make cheap or free ATM withdrawals to get Vietnam dong.

    • Tip: Traveler’s checks are good for locking in a good exchange rate. So if you watch the forex market, get them while the getting’s good.

    Paying with cash

    More than 80% of payments in Germany are made using cash, meaning you’ll often need cash to pay for your transactions on your trip. The best way to get euros is to make an ATM withdrawal when you arrive in Germany using a card that doesn’t charge an international ATM fee.

    Back to top

    Oktoberfest in Munich


    Caroline went to Germany on her trip to Europe. She visited Berlin and then traveled south to Munich for Oktoberfest. She visited a number of other countries including France, Belgium, Netherlands and the Czech Republic.

    What cards did you take?

    Why did you take these cards?

    Caroline applied for the Charles Schwab account because it was the best card she found of traveling abroad. With no foreign transaction fee and free ATM withdrawals — and reimbursements for ATMs that charged a fee — she saved hundreds of dollars.

    Caroline applied for the BankAmericard because it had a low APR, no annual fee or foreign exchange fee.

    Where could you use your cards?

    She used her credit card to book her train tickets, car rental and to pay for her hotel. Beer tents at Oktoberfest were cash only and there was no entry fee to get into any of the tents. Outside the festival, Caroline says that her card had limited acceptance in Germany. Most supermarkets didn’t take credit cards and many restaurants, cafes, markets, street vendors and taxis are cash only.

    What about ATM withdrawals?

    Caroline didn’t pay any ATM fees when she used her Charles Schwab to get euros.

    At the beer festival, there were a few ATMs in some tents but they charge a fee. She recommends making a withdrawal at a bank in Munich so you have enough cash to last you the whole day.

    What is your travel money recommendation for Germany?

    Caroline says German bank ATMs don’t charge fees and she didn’t pay international ATM or currency conversion fees. Making ATM withdrawals will give you peace of mind as it’s an easy was to get euros at no cost and for a great rate.

    What are your travel money tips?

    If you’re at a bar, in a taxi or at a restaurant, a tip between 5% and 10% is the norm — it isn’t expected but it is polite if the service was excellent. It’s also good practice to round up to the nearest euro if the bill is under 10 euros .

    She also says to remember not to leave the tip on the table. It’s considered rude in Germany and other parts of Europe. Give the tip to the person directly.

    Back to top

    A guide to euro banknotes

    euro-banknotes

    Buying currency in the US

    As euros are a major international currency, you won’t have any issues finding a place to get your money changed in the US. Your options include banks and foreign exchange providers such as Travelex. Banks tend to charge a small fee that you’ll find is often more competitive than the foreign exchange provider.

    Choosing one service over the other is going to save you a couple of dollars, but it may come down to convenience. Travelex lets you order cash online and pick it up at major airports. Here are a few other options.

    ATM withdrawals

    ATMs from German banks are free. If you put a US credit, debit or travel card into a German ATM, the screen will either automatically come up in English or prompt you to pick your language.

    Where to exchange cash

    Banks and exchange offices can change cash in Germany. Some exchange offices (Wechselstuben) offer good rates, but always compare the rate against the market rate before you agree to a deal. Sometimes it might be better to withdraw money from an ATM.

    Why you’ll need a combination of travel money options

    If you can find a card that has no foreign transaction, international ATM or annual fee, then you’ll save lots on your German vacation. Even if you can get by using just one card for all your transactions, never put all your eggs in one basket.

    A combination of debit, credit and travel prepaid cards will ensure that you can make transactions in euros all while giving you access to an emergency line of credit and travel perks. A little homework before you leave can mean the difference between smooth sailing and rough seas.

    Back to top

    Get travel insurance quotes for your vacation in Germany

    Name Product Trip Cancellation Emergency Medical Expenses Baggage Coverage Trip delay
    100%
    $15,000
    $500
    $500
    Essential travel coverage — with the option to customize — that can protect the cost of your trip.
    $10,000
    $1,000
    $100
    Protect the cost of your flight and choose the coverage amount that meets your needs — trip delay protection included.
    $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.
    $20,000
    $1,000
    $600
    Annual policy that offers affordable protection, but doesn't include trip cancellation or trip interruption.
    100%
    $15,000
    $750
    $500
    Basic policy with coverage that includes trip cancellation insurance, tourist health insurance and baggage insurance.

    Compare up to 4 providers

    Back to top
    Was this content helpful to you? No  Yes

    Ask an Expert

    You are about to post a question on finder.com:

    • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
    • finder.com is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
    • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
    • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

    Finder.com provides guides and information on a range of products and services. Because our content is not financial advice, we suggest talking with a professional before you make any decision.

    By submitting your comment or question, you agree to our Privacy and Cookies Policy and Terms of Use.

    Questions and responses on finder.com are not provided, paid for or otherwise endorsed by any bank or brand. These banks and brands are not responsible for ensuring that comments are answered or accurate.
    Go to site