Our pick for travel credit card
American Express® Gold Card
Finder rating: 4.6/5
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 travel credit card
American Express® Gold Card
Our pick for multi-currency debit card
Our pick for 0% transaction fee debit 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The euro comes in the denominations of €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200 and €500.
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.
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.
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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.
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:
$10–$25 per night
$25–$65 per night
$140–$250 per night
(plus chips) $4
$15–$30 per dish
|4-course meal at a 5-star restaurant|
$200 per person
|Activities||Walking tour of Berlin|
Free (Tip the guide)
Live music at The B-flat Jazz Club on Rosenthaler Straße
|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.
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 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.