When traveling, and especially when moving to another country, it is best to know in advance how an individual can spend money upon arrival. There are many options for spending money abroad, however, with the abundance of credit card use in the United States, it is important to understand how well an individual can go about spending money on credit cards while visiting or living in Germany.
Using Credit Cards
Certain types of locations will typically accept credit cards. Some restaurants, gas stations, shopping centers, department stores, hotels, and other larger places are where a credit card may be accepted. If a location does accept credit cards, they may only take Visa and MasterCard, so those with other credit cards should be wary. However, due to transaction fees, many stores and places in Germany simply do not accept credit cards. For this reason, it is wise to know what alternatives are available while shopping and living in Germany.
Other forms of payment
Cash is always the best form of payment. Cash is accepted everywhere and is easily accessible. Many ATMs in Germany will accept most debit cards. However, not all ATMs accept debit cards from banks based in the United States, so a little bit of searching or research may be required. When traveling, it is beneficial to check with an individual’s main bank to see if his or her debit card is accepted in ATMs in Germany.
Another option is a EuroCheque card, or EC card. If an individual plans on residing in Germany for any length of time, he or she should open a bank account with a local German bank. Should someone decide to open a bank account in Germany, he or she will be issued an EC card, which is used like a debit card. When receiving the card, the user will be issued a personal identification number, a PIN, to be associated with that card. The card can be used at a point of sale in many locations, simply look for the EC or Maestro logo at the location. The EC card can also be used in nearly any ATM in Germany. As long as the ATM has the EC or Maestro logo, an individual can use their EC card to get cash at that ATM.
Another card available to travelers and expatriates is the Maestro card by MasterCard. It works like an American debit card, however it works at more ATMs and points of sale because it is compatible with a chip and PIN machine like the EC card. Chip and PIN machines are common in Europe as they offer additional protection because they read the chip embedded in the card and require a PIN to access the card. They are similar to credit and debit card machines in the United States, which read the magnetic strip and require a PIN. For more information on the Maestro card, click here.
A little bit of research and preparation can go a long way when visiting or moving to a new country. Simply figure out what methods of payment are favorable and whether or not opening a bank account in Germany is a viable option. Then get the appropriate card or simply stick with cash. Though, it is wise to always have cash on hand either way, just in case.