Using a credit card in Germany | finder.com
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Using a credit card in Germany

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You can use credit cards almost anywhere, but carry cash as well.

Despite having one of the strongest economies in Europe, Germany isn’t known for obsessive credit card use. You can pay with plastic in most places, but Germans prefer cash.

Our pick for use in Germany

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

  • Earn 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 2x miles on all purchases. You can also earn 10x miles on eligible hotel purchase at hotels.com/venture through January 2020
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
  • No blackout dates on travel bookings
  • Transfer miles to over 12 travel loyalty programs
  • Miles have no expiration date and no cap
  • No foreign transaction fees
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Promoted

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
None
$0
17.74% to 26.74% variable
Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the card within your first 3 months of card membership. Rates & fees
None
$0
0% intro for the first 12 months (then 14.24%, 20.24% or 24.24% variable)
Earn 20,000 bonus miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.
None
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
17.74% to 26.74% variable
Earn 30,000 miles after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months, plus $50 when you make a direct Delta purchase in the same timeframe. Rates & fees
None
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
17.99%, 22.74% or 25.24% variable
Earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.
None
$0
17.99% to 24.99% variable
50,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from your account opening.

Compare up to 4 providers

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.

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 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.

Merchant acceptance
ATM acceptance
Visa
check mark iconHigh
check mark iconHigh
Mastercard
check mark iconHigh
check mark iconHigh
American Express
exclamation point iconMedium
check mark iconHigh
Discover
exclamation point iconMedium
cross mark iconLow

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.

Learn more: Travel money guide: Germany.

Do taxis in Germany accept credit cards?

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.

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

  1. Get a credit card without foreign transaction fees. Otherwise, you could pay up to 3% of the amount of each transaction made abroad.
  2. Visa and Mastercard are universally accepted. But you can also pay with an American Express card. Discover cards are rarely accepted in Germany.
  3. Notify your bank. Inform your bank of your travel itinerary. Otherwise, you could end up with a blocked card.
  4. Get your bank’s phone number. In case your card is blocked or lost, a simple phone call could fix your issue.
  5. Get a backup card. And keep it in your hotel room safe.
  6. 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.

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 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

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Images: Shutterstock

Disclaimer

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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