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Using a credit card in Belgium
Consider a card without foreign transaction fees and save money.
Local businesses have adopted new technologies to make it easy for tourists to spend money, so you should have no problems using your credit card in Belgium.
Debit and credit cards with Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted, and you may be able to use your American Express card in some areas.
Several businesses require that you show them a valid ID when you use your credit or debit card, and some might insist on looking at your passport.
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If you’re traveling to Europe, or frequently travel abroad, consider an airline credit card with no foreign transaction fees that could save you money on both flights and extra fees.
Potential credit card fees in Belgium
Using your credit card in Belgium can incur fees such as:
- Foreign transaction fees. If you’re using a credit card with foreign transaction fees, you could pay up to 3% of the amount of each transaction. This means $5,000 spent abroad could cost $150 in fees.
- Currency conversion fees. A retailer could offer you to pay your bill in US dollars. This is known as Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC). At first it may sound convenient, but it comes with additional currency conversion fees.
Can I incur both fees?
Yes. Avoid this by getting a credit card with no foreign transaction fees and declining DCC if offered.
Which credit card issuers are accepted in Belgium?
Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted in Belgium, with American Express and Discover cards lagging behind.
If you own an American Express or a Discover card, look for BNP Paribas Fortis ATMs. Citibank ATMs also accept Discover cards, but not American Express.
Should I use my credit card to get cash in Belgium?
If paying your bill with a credit card isn’t an option, consider making an ATM cash withdrawal. However, cash withdrawals often come with cash advance fees and cash advance APR — which is usually higher than the standard APR on purchases.
One way to avoid this is to get a debit card for cash withdrawals and a credit card for payments.
You can learn more about spending in Belgium with our travel money guide.
Do taxis in Belgium accept credit cards?
Some do, but not all of them. Make sure you ask the driver before you take the trip.
Alternatively, you could consider using a rideshare app such as Uber, and pay with your card.
Chip and PIN credit cards
Chip and PIN cards are widely accepted in Belgium. You should consider calling your bank to ask for a four-number PIN before making your travel arrangements. This can help you avoid unpleasant situations, especially where the payment terminal is unmanned and you need to enter your PIN.
Is it safe to use my credit card in Belgium?
Using your credit card in Belgium is generally safe. However, you should still exercise caution and make sure you:
- Select ATMs with care. Stick to ATMs in banks and avoid using ones on the street. This can help you avoid card skimmers and you can retrieve your card easily if it gets stuck.
- Take two cards. It’s usually a good idea to have a backup as you never know when your card may get declined or stuck in an ATM.
- Keep your card in sight. Wherever you pay, make sure you keep an eye on your card.
How to prepare before traveling to Belgium
- Go with Visa or Mastercard. Carry at least two cards on your trip to Belgium, preferably connected with Visa or Mastercard. If you just take an American Express card, you won’t get to use it in many places.
- Think no foreign transaction fees. When there are cards that come with no foreign transaction fees, using ones that charge 2% or 3% of each overseas transaction does not make sense. Some travel credit card don’t charge foreign transaction fees.
- Keep your bank informed. In their efforts to thwart fraudulent transactions, banks block credit cards if they detect suspicious activity such as unexpected overseas transactions. To make sure this does not happen to your card, let your bank know about your travel plans before you depart.
- Keep the emergency number handy. Know which numbers you will need to call if you end up losing your card or if you need an emergency replacement.
- Know where you’ll get cash from. Consider using your debit card to withdraw cash from ATMs. If you need to exchange money, stick to banks or official money-exchange offices because possessing counterfeit money in Belgium is a serious crime. Try to avoid exchanging money at airports and popular tourist destinations because of typically poor exchange rates.
You can use your credit card in most of Belgium, especially if it’s Visa or Mastercard. ATM cash withdrawals could be your solution for places that won’t accept foreign credit cards. Make sure you use a debit card to avoid incurring high cash advance APR.
Travel credit cards without foreign transaction fees can save you money on all of your purchases.
Frequently asked questions
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.
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