Which credit card issuers are accepted in Germany?
Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted in Germany. You can also use American Express cards and Discover cards with the Diners Club logo; however, they’re accepted in 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.
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.
Potential credit card fees in Germany
Using your card for purchases in Germany could incur the following fees:
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. To avoid this, use a credit card without foreign transaction fees and use local currency.
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.
Save money if you often travel to Germany with these cards:
Both cards also let you earn and redeem miles on Lufthansa — the largest German airline — whenever you fly between the US and Germany.
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 it gets eaten by the ATM.
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.
Should I use my credit card to get cash in Germany?
Given that more than 80% of payments in Germany are made using cash, you should carry cash with you at all times. Smaller shops, such as 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. Using a credit card to do this, however, will incur a cash advance APR and a cash advance fee. One way to avoid this is to use a debit card.
It depends on the city/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.
Germany is predominantly a cash society. But most large hotels and establishments accept credit cards.
Kliment Dukovski is a credit cards and investments writer. He's written over 600 articles to help readers find and compare the best credit cards. Kliment has also written on money transfers, home loans and more. Previously, he ghostwrote guides and articles on foreign exchange, stock market trading and cryptocurrencies.
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