Denmark is one of the most popular Scandinavian countries for tourism, with Copenhagen being the most widely-visited city. The whole nation is well-equipped for overseas visitors who want to spend money using their credit card.
Despite being a member state of the EU, Denmark hasn’t adopted the euro. In January 2018 the EU required member states to adopt the Payment Service Directive 2. The PSD2 is a ban on retailers adding a fee when you pay using a credit card. However, it’s important to note that there are limitations and exceptions to this directive and there are other fees that may apply when you pay by credit card. If your card is from a non-EU bank, uses a network other than Visa or Mastercard or is a business/corporate card, then the merchant is still within their rights to charge you a fee. Prior to January 2018, card surcharges in Denmark were very common.
Visa is the most widely accepted international credit card network in Denmark, closely followed by Mastercard, although there are plenty of places to spend lesser-known credit cards such as American Express or Diners Club too. The Dankort, the country’s national debit card, is usually issued on both the Dankort and Visa networks.
There are plenty of retailers that will allow you to make even small purchases via card, so there’s no problem with pulling out your credit card to purchase a delicious Danish cookie or some Leverpostej. However, it’s recommended to carry photo ID if you’re planning to make credit card purchases, as some retailers will ask you for this before approving the transaction.
You can buy a public transport ticket with credit card, and many taxi drivers will allow credit card payments too.
As with any other overseas country, there are a few potential fees to watch out for when you’re paying with plastic in Denmark.
Foreign transaction fees (charged by your own bank). A non-sterling fee of around 3% per transaction can apply, depending on your credit card. That’s £15 in fees for every £500 spent with your card.
Merchant currency conversion fees (charged by the merchant’s bank). Sometimes, a merchant will offer to take payment in pounds instead of in kroner. This is known as a dynamic currency conversion (DCC) and it can mean higher fees than if you simply paid in the local currency. Sometimes a cash machine will offer this service, in which case the same principle applies.
Card payment surcharges (charged by the merchant). If you’re using a Visa or Mastercard from an EU bank, you won’t need to worry about card payment surcharges.
Cash advance fees (charged by your own bank). Your card issuer may charge a fee for cash advances (withdrawing cash using your card).
Cash machine fees (charged by the cash machine provider). The provider of a cash machine may charge a fee if you withdraw cash using your card, although this is thankfully becoming rarer.
It’s also worth noting that when it comes to cash advances and non-sterling transactions, many card issuers will start charging interest on the day your account is debited, rather than the customary “up to 55 days interest-free” that usually applies provided you clear your balance in full each month.
So how can I avoid the fees?
Consider taking out a credit card offering commission-free currency conversion (see table below), even if you only use it when you’re out of the country. Once you have one of these cards, if a merchant offers to take payment in pounds, say you’re happy to pay in kroner, since you know that your own bank won’t add a margin.
Generally speaking, it’s not a great idea to use credit cards to withdraw cash, but some travel credit cards won’t penalise you for this either. Finally, make sure to check whether any ATM you use is going to charge a fee. High street bank ATMs are generally a safer bet than those in convenience stores or bars.
Compare cards with fee-free currency conversion in Denmark
Table: sorted by representative APR, promoted deals first
Contactless payment technology is starting to take off in Denmark. A study by StatBank suggests 61% of Danish card payments in Q3 2018 were made contactlessly.
You are still likely to make a chip and PIN payment, provided you have a four-digit PIN. If you don’t have one, visit your bank to get one.
Is it safe to use my credit card in Denmark?
As far as safety goes, you can freely use your card in Denmark. However, there are some precautions you can take for increased security.
Use an ATM within a bank. If for some reason the ATM eats your card, you’ll be able to quickly retrieve it. Also, ATMs within banks are less likely to be tampered with. Should you use one outside a bank, check for devices attached to the reader and cash return slot. ATMs tend to be easy to find across Denmark and it’s rare that these machines will charge you to withdraw cash.
Consider taking an additional credit card. You can use your primary card for payments and keep your back-up card in your hotel room safety deposit box. That way, you’ll never be left without money.
Keep your card in sight. Card cloning is rare in Denmark, but just in case, don’t let your card out of your sight.
How to prepare before travelling to Denmark
Get a credit card without foreign transaction fees. If you travel often, avoiding the 3% foreign transaction fee can save you a lot of money. Consider getting a travel credit card to avoid the foreign transaction fees.
Opt for a Mastercard or Visa. They’re the most-widely accepted cards and Denmark is no exception, though you can still use your American Express cards in some locations. There are also enough ATMs around if you want to withdraw cash with these cards as well.
Carry a back-up card. Try to always carry a second card when travelling abroad, given you don’t know what could happen to your primary card.
Get some cash. In general, you can pay with plastic almost anywhere in Denmark. But if you want to make a cash withdrawal, keep in mind that credit cards have additional fees while most debit cards don’t.
Inform your bank you’re travelling to Denmark. If you don’t let your bank know ahead of time the dates you’ll be away and where you’ll be, it may block your card if it suspects the charges are fraudulent.
Make a note of your bank’s phone number. If you lose your card or have payment issues, you’ll be able to call the bank to resolve it.
If you travel to Denmark, you can safely use your credit card to make payments and withdraw cash. You’ll just have to be careful to not incur fees you can otherwise avoid. If you’re visiting from the UK, then with a decent travel credit card on the Visa or Mastercard network, you’ll avoid paying foreign transaction fees and card surcharges. And by simply declining the DCC when offered it by merchants, you’ll also avoid a poor exchange rate or commission.
Frequently asked questions
If you’re stranded without cash in Denmark, check out our money transfer page to find the fastest and easiest way to send money.
Denmark is a member of the European Union, although it rejected the opportunity to switch to the euro.
Instead, it uses the Danish krone, which is divided into 100 ore. The plural is kroner. The demoninations of kroner notes are 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1,000. You can get 1, 2, 5, 10 and 20 kroner coins.
Historical rate chart of GBP and DKK
Updated: 16 May 2021 21:13:48 UTC
The largest banks operating in Denmark are: Agri Bank, Danske Bank, Jyske Bank and Nordea Bank.
You may wish to check with your bank to see if it has an active partnership with any of the local Danish banks. If it does, you could save on fees for ATM withdrawals.
Chris Lilly is a publisher at finder.com. He's a specialist in credit-based products including business and personal loans, mortgages and credit cards, and is passionate about helping UK consumers make informed decisions about their borrowing. In his spare time Chris likes forcing his kids to exercise more.
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