Germany: Your Travel money options

Packing your bags for a holiday to Germany? Here’s all you need to know to get your travel money in order before you leave.

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From the poster child of über-cool; Berlin, to quaint and traditional rural towns, Germany is as surprising as it is delightful. In order to get the most out of your German getaway, familiarise yourself with their currency customs and start comparing you travel money options today.

Unlike the UK, cash is king in Germany — research has found that even today, cash accounts for 80% of all transactions, necessary in many smaller shops and restaurants. However, you’ll still need access to cards to withdraw cash and pay for larger purchases. Use the guide below to learn the ins and outs of German finances and to hand pick the cards that’ll work best for your holiday.

Which option is right for your next trip?

TorFX International Money Transfers

TorFX International Money Transfers

    Compare travel money services for Germany

    Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
    GBP 5 GBP 0.00 1.121 EUR
    560
    Prepaid card – Get £10 travel money free! Join WeSwap today and get £10 free on your WeSwap card (T&Cs apply). Go to site Show details
    GBP 200 GBP 0.00 1.113 EUR
    556
    Prepaid card – Chip and Pin protected, and accepted everywhere you see the Mastercard® Acceptance Mark worldwide. Go to site Show details
    GBP 100 GBP 0.00 1.104 EUR
    552
    Prepaid card – Travelex Group is a foreign exchange company based in London. It's the biggest foreign exchange bureau in the world. Go to site Show details

    Compare up to 4 providers

    Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
    GBP 5 GBP 0.00 1.121 EUR
    560
    Get the best travel cash rates delivered within 24 hours to your place. All deliveries are free for orders above £750. Go to site Show details
    GBP 300 GBP 6.50 1.116 EUR
    551
    Cash via post – Griffin Financial is a specialist dealer in foreign currency and can offer some of the most competitive rates around. Go to site Show details
    GBP 300 GBP 5.00 1.12 EUR
    554
    Cash via post – Travel FX Ltd is a specialist dealer in currency providing an alternative to banks and bureaux de change. Go to site Show details
    GBP 5 GBP 0.00 1.109 EUR
    555
    Cash via post – eurochange deliver convenience and value, both online and in over 145 branches. They provide travel money in over 70 currencies, and next day home delivery is free on orders over £400. Go to site Show details
    GBP 300 GBP 2.99 1.109 EUR
    551
    Cash via post – Travelex Group is a foreign exchange company based in London. It's the biggest foreign exchange bureau in the world. Go to site Show details
    GBP 400 GBP 4.95 1.109 EUR
    549
    Cash via post – Free delivery on all orders of £800 and over. All orders are dispatched fully insured through Royal Mail Special Delivery Go to site Show details

    Compare up to 4 providers

    Min. Transfer Amount Transfer Speed Online Transfer Fee Rate Amount Received Description CTA Details
    GBP 250 GBP 0.00 1.119 EUR
    560
    Go to site Show details
    GBP 5 GBP 0.00 1.121 EUR
    560
    Get the best travel cash rates delivered within 24 hours to your place. All deliveries are free for orders above £750. Go to site Show details
    GBP 1 GBP 0.00 1.105 EUR
    552
    With over 240 stores, Debenhams offers travel money, money transfer and money exchange services. OFFER: Get £5 off £20 spend voucher; load your leftover currency on to a Debenhams gift card, and get an extra 20% free. Go to site Show details
    GBP 5 GBP 0.00 1.109 EUR
    554
    Click & collect – eurochange deliver convenience and value, both online and in over 145 branches. They provide travel money in over 70 currencies. Click & Collect in 60 seconds in branch. Go to site Show details
    GBP 0 GBP 0.00 1.108 EUR
    554
    Click & collect – One of the UK’s most popular foreign exchange retailers, with a network of stores across the country. Local service and customer commitment are the two main features of No.1 Currency’s service. Go to site Show details
    GBP 10 GBP 0.00 1.104 EUR
    552
    Click & collect – Travelex Group is a foreign exchange company based in London. It's the biggest foreign exchange bureau in the world. Go to site Show details

    Compare up to 4 providers

    How much money do I need to bring to Germany?

    Germany is a western European country so don’t expect prices to be rock-bottom. It can be, however surprisingly affordable, especially in Berlin which is by far one of the best-value cities in Western Europe. There are of course options for everyone, but if you’re looking for luxury be prepared to for relatively high prices. If you’re looking to save money we recommend eating at local street vendors or choosing cheaper Turkish and Middle Eastern restaurants. Check out our rough budget guide for Berlin below.

    Berlin Budget Mid range Expensive
    sleep Sleep Hostel
    £15 – £30 per night
    3 star hotel
    double room
    £50-£100 per night
    5 star hotel
    £120 + per night
    food Eat curry wurst & chips
    £3
    Midrange restaurant
    $20 – $40 per dish
    4+ course meal at a 5 star restaurant
    £250 a head
    camera Do Walking tour of Berlin
    Free (Give a tip if you enjoyed it)
    Jazz every wednesday at The B-flat Jazz Club on Rosenthaler Straße
    Free
    Private WW2 and cold war walking tour of Berlin
    £16 per person
    Private Berlin Wall tour
    £35 per person (up to 3 hours)
    1 hour private flight over Berlin
    £250 (up to 3 people)
    Tour of Jewish heritage in Berlin
    £200 (up to 3 people)

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

    Travel card, debit card or credit card?

    Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted in Germany. American Express and Diners Club credit cards are accepted in far fewer locations. While Germany ranks highly in Europe for the acceptance of new technology like contactless and mobile payments, it’s still a cash economy. Some businesses may not accept cards for purchases below a certain amount, for example €20, and most supermarkets (even Aldi) won’t take credit cards at all. While it’s important to find a card that’ll let you make over the counter purchases cheaply, finding a card which lets you use ATMs without the ridiculous charges is most crucial for your trip to Germany. Whichever option you choose make sure you notify your bank before heading to Germany to ensure your card isn’t blocked.

    A quick summary of your travel money options in Germany

    Travel Money Option Pros Considerations
    Debit cards for travel
    • No currency conversion and international ATM fees
    • No extra set-up before setting-off
    • Usually offer cheaper ways to access cash via ATMs while overseas
    • Debit cards are linked directly to your personal savings account. 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 to use, if the card is missing or stolen
    • Loads your money at a fixed exchange rate
    • Easier to manage expenses
    • All travel cards support Euro
    • May need to wait for the funds to be cleared before you can use your money
    • ATM fees, reload fees, inactivity fees, card issue fees
    Credit cards for travel
    • Line of credit for both regular and emergency use
    • Accepted in large German retailers and mid to upmarket restaurants
    • Often comes with features such as complimentary travel insurance or a rewards scheme
    • Withdrawing cash from an ATM can get expensive. The transaction is treated as a cash advance. Charges are often around 3%
    Traveller’s cheques
    • Acceptance
    • Security
    • Expensive way to carry foreign cash
    • Commission of up to 8% when encashed
    • Not all merchants accept traveller’s cheques
    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 prepaid travel card

    Prepaid travel cards let you load British pounds and lock in a rate when you convert the funds to euros. This allows you to avoid paying additional currency conversion fees which are often around 3%. However, these cards have other charges such as reload fees, card issue fees and inactivity fees (when you’re not using the card). You’ll also be provided a spare card encase one of them goes missing. These cards can be cancelled separately to one and other.

    Using a debit card

    Its worth choosing a debit card provider that doesn’t charge for currency conversion, international ATM withdrawals fees or an account keeping fee. A travel debit card lets you make cheap overseas ATM withdrawals and over the counter purchases by waving the currency conversion fee, international ATM fee or both.

    The Citibank Plus Transaction Account is the product to use if you’re conscious about saving money on international transactions. If you’re bank is part of the Global ATM Alliance group, such as Barclays you can withdraw money from any Deutsche Bank without paying the withdrawal fee.

    • Tip: 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 credit card

    Credit cards are far less accepted in Germany than in the UK. Even some major supermarkets such as Aldi don’t accept them. Although you should be fine to use them in many more up market restaurants and hotels. If in doubt about credit card acceptance, shop windows will have little Visa and Mastercard stickers, and you can always ask too, many people in Germany have an understanding of English or have a go with this one: ‘Akzeptieren Sie Kreditkarten?’

    A credit card provides a line of credit suited for both regular and emergency use. If you don’t use your card, you won’t pay for it (besides the annual fee). Plus, if your card has an interest free days offer, purchases won’t accrue interest if you pay back everything at the end of the month.

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

    Using a traveller’s cheques

    Banks can cash traveller’s cheques if this is your preferred method of taking euros to Germany. Traveller’s cheques can be an expensive way to carry foreign cash. Expect to pay a commission of anywhere up to 8% when you get your cheques cashed. Traveller’s cheques have been replaced by ATMs, which make it cheap (if you use the right card) and easy to get euros when you arrive.

    Paying with cash in Germany (Euro)

    Cash is key in Germany and will be necessary for most of your smaller purchase. It suggested that the history of hyperinflation in Germany following both World Wars has influenced German’s preference to use cash. Regardless of the reason, you will need cash to pay for many of 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 which doesn’t charge an international ATM fee. Familiarise yourself with the various Euro denominations to save hassle when you’re there.

    euro-banknotes

    ATM withdrawals

    ATM’s are plentiful all over Germany. Independent ATM operators will charge a fee, but Germany’s major banks will not. Stick to ATM’s attached to the side of a bank to be sure. If you put an British issued credit, debit or travel card into a German ATM, the screen will automatically come up in English, nine times out of 10. If not, you will be prompted to ‘pick your language’ making ATM use easy for non-German speakers. Make sure you chose to be charged for your withdrawals in Euro’s as otherwise you’ll pay forced to pay the unfavourable Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC) exchange rate.

    Where to exchange cash

    There are a number of places you can change cash: Banks and exchange offices can change cash in Germany. Some exchange offices (Wechselstuben) can offer a good rate, but always check what’s on offer against the market rate before you agree to a deal to get an idea of how many euros you should receive. Sometimes it might be better to withdraw money from an ATM.

    Finding cash and ATMs in Germany

    Why you’ll need a combination of travel money options

    It is possible to find a card that ticks all the boxes in Germany? No currency conversion fee, international ATM fee and no annual fee. That’s unlikely. Remember German Bank ATMs don’t charge a fee either. Even if you can get by using the one card for all your transactions, never put all your eggs in one basket. A combination of travel debit or travel prepaid cards and credit cards will ensure you can make cheap transactions in euros all the while giving you access to an emergency line of credit and travel perks like insurance.

    Why pay fees and charges on holiday if they can be easily avoided. A little homework before you leave can mean the difference between smooth sailing and rough seas. If you have any questions or comments that will help you or other readers clarify the best way to take and spend money in Germany, please leave them below.

    Oktoberfest in Munich


    Caroline went to Germany on her trip to Europe. She visited Berlin and then travelled 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?

    • The CItibank Plus Transaction Account (Visa Debit Card)
    • Her existing credit card

    Why did you take these cards?

    Caroline applied for the Citibank Plus Transaction Account as her dedicated travel card so she could use the Visa Debit Card in Germany. The Citibank Plus account does not charge a fee for converting your pounds to euros. Citibank gave her free international ATM withdrawals and the account cost nothing to open and keep. Although she took her credit card with her to Germany, she avoided using them as much as possible as they both charged 3% for spending in euros and her Citibank Visa Debit Card does not.

    Where could you use your cards?

    She says the 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 she could use her card in more places back home than she could in Germany. She notes supermarkets don’t take credit cards (with the exception of FAMILA which take Visa and Mastercard). Many restaurants, cafes, markets and street vendors and taxis are cash only too. She used her card to book her travel tickets (including train tickets throughout Germany), car rental and to pay for her hotel.

    What about ATM withdrawals?

    Card acceptance wasn’t such an issue because Caroline made frequent ATM withdrawals and used cash. She didn’t pay any ATM fees when she used her Citibank Plus Visa Debit Card to get euros. She always had enough cash in her wallet to cover whatever expenses she had for the day (and euros for the unexpected too). At the beer festival, there are a few ATMs in some tents; however, Caroline says you’ll pay a fee to use these ATMs. She says make a withdrawal in Munich at a bank Geld Automatic so you have enough cash to last you for the whole day.

    What is your travel money recommendation for Germany?

    Make ATM withdrawals for peace of mind. Caroline says German bank ATMs don’t charge fees and she didn’t pay international ATM fees as well as currency conversion fees. She was able to withdraw euros for no cost and at a great rate set by Visa (plus a tiny margin from the bank which provides the ATM).

    What are your travel money tips?

    Caroline says tipping is generally appreciated and polite in Germany, but isn’t expected. If you’re at a bar, in a taxi or at a restaurant, a tip between 5% – 10% is good form but you don’t need to tip unless you really want to. It’s also good practice to round up to the nearest euro if the bill is under €10. She also says to remember not to leave change on the table if you want to tip, it’s considered rude in Germany and other parts of Europe, give the tip to the person directly.

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