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Using a credit card in Germany

Know the potential fees and what’s accepted before you take off.

Despite having one of the strongest economies in Europe, Germany isn’t known for obsessive credit card use. While most places may accept plastic, Germans prefer cash.

Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted card networks in Germany, while American Express and Discovers cards aren’t as popular.

If you’re taking along a variety of cards, debit cards and cash, read our full guide on spending money while traveling in Germany.

Which credit card issuers does Germany accept?

Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted in Germany. Or, use American Express cards and Discover cards with the Diners Club logo — but fewer locations accept them. While Germany ranks high in Europe for accepting new technology like contactless and mobile payments, it’s still largely a cash economy.

If you want to make an ATM cash withdrawal, the German Savings Banks Association (DSGV) ATMs accepts Discover cards.

American Express card owners have more ATM options. Look for ATMs from Reisebank, Postbank, Sparkasse and Deutsche Bank, among others.

Merchant acceptanceATM acceptance
Visacheck mark iconHighcheck mark iconHigh
Mastercardcheck mark iconHighcheck mark iconHigh
American Expressexclamation point iconMediumcheck mark iconHigh
Discoverexclamation point iconMediumcross mark iconLow

Potential credit card fees in Germany

The following fees could arise when you purchase with your card in Germany:

  • Foreign transaction fees. You could pay up to a 3% fee on any purchase made abroad. This can add up.
  • Currency conversion fees. Some retailers may give you the option to pay in US dollars. This is called Dynamic Currency Conversion, and it comes with additional currency conversion fees — which are usually higher than if you pay in local currency.

Can I incur both fees?

Yes. Use a credit card without foreign transaction fees and use local currency instead to avoid both fees.

Compare cards for use in Germany

Consider a credit card without foreign transaction fees to avoid fees on purchases made abroad. If you often fly to Germany, an airline credit card could also help save you money on flights.

Name Product Foreign transaction fee Annual fee Purchase APR Filter values
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
None
$95
15.99% to 23.99% variable
Earn 60,000 bonus miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months ​from account opening
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card
None
$0
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 14.99% to 24.99% variable)
One-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
None
$395
16.99% to 23.99% variable
loading

Compare up to 4 providers

Is it safe to use my credit card in Germany?

Yes, but it’s also good to exercise some caution.

  • Select ATMs with care. ATMs located within a bank are generally a safer option. They are less likely to have card skimmers and you can more easily retrieve your card if the ATM eats it.
  • Take two cards. Having a backup will ensure you’re covered in case something happens to your primary card.
  • Keep your card in sight. Avoid card misuse by keeping your eyes on your card whenever you pay.

How to prepare before traveling to Germany

  • Get a credit card without foreign transaction fees. Otherwise, you could pay up to 3% of the amount of each transaction made abroad.
  • Visa and Mastercard are universally accepted. But you can also pay with an American Express card. Discover cards are rarely accepted in Germany.
  • Notify your bank. Inform your bank of your travel itinerary. Otherwise, you could end up with a blocked card.
  • Get your bank’s phone number. In case your card is blocked or lost, a simple phone call could fix your issue.
  • Get a backup card. And keep it in your hotel room safe.
  • Get some cash. You’ll probably need cash in Germany. Consider using a debit card for ATM cash withdrawals to avoid high cash advance APR fees.

When should I use my credit card to get cash in Germany?

Given that more than 80% of payments in Germany are made using cash, we recommend you carry cash with you at all times. Smaller shops like bakeries, bars and some restaurants may only accept cash or the German EC card.

You can easily find ATMs — called Bankomat or Geldautomat — to make cash withdrawals. But using a credit card to do this will incur a cash advance APR and a cash advance fee. One way to avoid this is to use a debit card.

Learn more: Travel money guide: Germany.

Do taxis in Germany accept credit cards?

It depends on the city or district. In some cities, taxis will usually accept credit cards with an added surcharge.

Order a taxi that accepts credit cards from your hotel or use the mytaxi app to pay with your card.

Chip and PIN credit cards

This type of card is most common in Germany. You’ll be required to input your PIN number every time you purchase an item or withdraw cash from an ATM.

If you use a chip-and-signature card, you may have issues when trying to make a purchase at an unattended point of sale, like a gas station. For visitors traveling to Germany with only chip-and-signature cards, ask your bank for a PIN before you leave the US.

Bottom line

Germany is predominantly a cash society. But most large hotels and establishments accept credit cards.

For cash withdrawals, consider getting a debit card. This could save you money on cash advance fees. Also, a travel credit card without foreign transaction fees would be your best choice to save money on your purchases.

See more guides on using a credit card in other countries.

Frequently asked questions

How do I send money to Germany?
Take a look at our money transfer page for the fastest and cheapest way to send money to Germany.

What currency does Germany use?
As a member of the eurozone, Germany uses the euro with a symbol €.

If you make a cash withdrawal, you’ll get banknotes of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 200 euros.

What’s the US dollar to euro exchange rate?

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Images: Shutterstock

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