Please sign in to post.

Cash vs. Credit

Hello... I am trying to decide how much cash to take on my trip. we will be in Austria for 13 days. I don't want to be carrying alot, but want to have enough you know.... I guess the pressing question is what sorts of places might I run into that wouldn't accept credit cards? Is leaving tips for hotel bellmen/other help customary like in nice hotels in America? If so, how much?
We have the vienna pass and a travelcard for transportation while we are in that area. Planning some day trips to Melk, Mayerling/Vienna Woods. Innsbruck and Salzburg and surrounding areas are the other two locations we will be... Thanks for any advice. Will be traveling the Grossglockner road too, so that's another place to consider...

Thanks Much!
Denise

Posted by
21852 posts

You don't bring much cash from the US. Maybe a hundred euros from your local bank or even a currency exchange at the airport just to have a little local currency on hand to get to your hotel, cover a taxi ride, etc. After that use a debit card at a bank owned ATM where ever you are. Take out a couple hundred Euro as needed. If you need more, get more. Exchange US dollars in country can be very expensive and sometimes difficult to do. We tend to use more cash (euro) than credit cards simply because it is easier. The standard US Visa and Mastercard are widely accept but sometimes you will find min limits of maybe 10 euro. AE and other cards are not always accepted. I tip locals bellmen about half of what I would in the US. DO NOT tip in US currency. That is really being an ugly Am tourist.

Posted by
489 posts

Call all your CC and debit card and let them know you'll be in Europe. Take a hundred or so dollars in case something happens to banks while you are in Europe. Otherwise, when you arrive in country go to a bank ATM and get money in euro. Mainly for tips or small purchases (many small businesses won't want to charge anything under 20 euro. So for that coffee, or drink or snack you'll need Euro. If you go to any open market they will only take euro, NO CC. Figure at least $10 euro/person/day. You'll also need coins for toilets in Austria.
We always bring home euros to have for our next trip and now the $ is very strong to the euro, so a good time to buy euros. I do not think getting euros from your US bank ahead of time is advantageous.

Posted by
4698 posts

Just withdraw cash as you need it from ATMs. Austria is much more cash based than the US. Tipping is really not the same as in the US. It is not expected.

Posted by
1521 posts

... or even a currency exchange at the airport ...

That would be the most expensive way to get Euros. Other than banks, currency exchanges need not to adopt the official exchange rate declared by the Austrian National Bank. The curreny exchange at the airport is the worst rip-off.

The best way to get cash is using a debit card at any ATM; credit cards may be used, too, but the commission is higher.

Most taxis accept credit cards, but you must ask in beforehand. Note that the ride from the airport to the city should be a flat rate, i.e. not using the meter.

The acceptance of credit cards in Austria is better than commonly told. It has improved very much during the last decade.

Posted by
21852 posts

Please, wmtl, if you are going to quote me, please quite within the context as it was used. No one ever suggested that the currency exchange at the airport was appropriate for exchanging large sums of currency but it is fine for a hundred euro if no other choices are available.

Posted by
1521 posts

@Frank
The currency exchange at the airport has a lower exchange rate and charges a commission. It is a rip-off, no matter what sum you want to exchange.

I can't imagine a situation whre this should be the only option, i.e. being stuck at the airport without cash. You can buy train or tram tickets with your credit card - a PIN is required, though - at vending machines, you can pay the taxi driver, etc.

Even using a credit card at an ATM, being charged 3% for cash advance services, is better than the currency exchange.

By the way, the number of currency exchanges in Vienna has diminished drastically since the switch to the Euro due to the reduced need for it. You can find them typically at places where tourists are abundant. Only Americans, Brits and Japanese are the most likely targets for being fleeced.

Posted by
12980 posts

You can bet that Germany and Austria use cash a lot more than credit cards...good! I would suggest having ample cash on you so that if intend to pay with a credit card, the transaction will go through and that the credit card is accepted in the first place. My Pension in Berlin basically takes cash only. Stay 10 nights , you pay at check-out 420 Euro in cash.

Posted by
12980 posts

There are certainly places where cash is the ONLY option in Germany. The DB ticket machine accepts cash and the US chip and signature credit card, (very accomodating) but NOT the machine that sells S-Bahn tickets. Only cash is accepted, credit card payment is not an option.

Look at the payment pictogram. The word "Kredit" has a line through it. Therefore, no US credit card.

In France the SNCF machine for train tickets does not accept cash. Look at the pictogram. The picture of a ten Euro bill has a line through it. For us Americans the SNCF ticket machine is no option since only the chip and pin credit card is accepted. The warning is on the SNCF machine, albeit in small print. So, Americans will have to wait in line to buy a train ticket from a staffed counter, provided it is the correct counter.

Posted by
1240 posts

I always take cash for the whole trip and will continue to do so, exchanged well in advance when the Canadian Dollar appears decent against the Euro. Try prying those euros out of my underpants Luigi or Helmut!

Posted by
4698 posts

I don't worry about Helmut or Luigi, but I do worry about myself losing a huge wad of cash. I also hate sweaty bellies.

Posted by
2 posts

A funny story from a few years ago. We had gotten some euros prior to our trip to Austria and Germany. After arriving at the train station at Salzburg I really had to go to the restroom before heading to our hotel. All I had was bills, no coins. It was a miserable trip to the hotel through heavy traffic. So a word to the wise...

Posted by
12980 posts

That WC situation is no longer the case. The last few trips I have seen in WC Anlagen in Germany and Austria is that change machines are there. Drop in a ten or a twenty Euro bill, you'll get the change needed for get you across to the facility.

Posted by
574 posts

I always exchange cash before traveling. Plan in advance and watch the Euro/USD exchange for trends. I bought very low in February, with a $0.10 swing by the time I left. So I effectively saved 10%. Your back will typically charge a 5% fee for exchange in the states but it will certainly be higher via ATM in Europe, plus each bank is going to charge you a fee (3% - 5%) plus a fee for using an ATM not from your bank.

Also, the first thing you should do at the airport upon arrival is go to one of the shops and buy something/anything for 1 Euro. You will then have coins for the WC.

Posted by
3493 posts

Not every bank charges you fees when you use your ATM or Debit card in Europe or even outside its small network of ATMs.

If yours does, check around as there are many banks in the us that don't change. Not suggesting you change banks entirely, but that if you travel enough or pay fees enough, a small "travel" account might be a good idea at a bank that is less fee hungry.