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Cash or Credit card in Germany and Austria?

From what I have read here and on other forums tap to pay credit cards have really taken over in Europe and cash is not needed except for maybe tips. I also thought I read something from those traveling that Germany was the exception the rule on this as many stores & restaurants still preferred cash. We are taking the RS My Way Alps trip soon and was wondering how much cash I should get out of an ATM when I arrive?

Posted by
39 posts

I was on Munich, Salzburg and Vienna tour and used both cash and credit card; either accepted wherever I was (one restaurant did have a minimum charge for using card). Using foreign currency for me was part of the fun. At smaller shops, I would ask what form of payment they preferred, and the question would be appreciated.

Posted by
1267 posts

I've been using Apple Pay almost exclusively, throughout Germany, since 2016. Sure there are some cash only places and some minimum charge places but Covid has changed many of the holdouts to Tap & Go merchants. You don't say for how long you'll be travelling - me, I'd begin with 100€ cash - and be miserly with the cash, charge everything you can.

Posted by
8242 posts

If you go to festivals, farmers markets, flea markets, small restaurants, or food trucks, these are all cash only.

Posted by
1526 posts

I spent a month in Germany in March and only paid with cash once (and that was on a river cruise). Otherwise, everything was credit - I mostly used Apple Pay on my phone or watch but sometimes did the "tap and pay" with my card. I did not go to any farmers markets but did go to a festival in Nuremberg and a couple of food trucks in Berlin and they took credit cards.

If you are in a restaurant, the server will bring you the machine and tell you the total. If you want to add a tip, let them know so they can add it onto the bill (unless you just want to leave some cash for the tip).

Posted by
6147 posts

If you stay to businesses frequented by tourists, then you probably will use card most of the time. Germany did move pretty far to cashless and contactless during the pandemic, but old ways die hard, and some areas are starting to backslide.

ATMs are everywhere, so get 200 euro or so, see how it goes. That could last you the trip, but you always have the option to get more, or push spending cash to whittle it down near the end.

Posted by
3248 posts

We spent a month in Germany in May and they were still very much accepting of cash or cards at most places, ie admission tickets, grocery store, bus tickets from driver (!) , restaurants with the exception of one restaurant. We used a combination of cash and cc.

Posted by
13215 posts

I don't know about stores but paying in cash definitely applies to Austria and Germany when it comes to eateries, be they restaurants or vendors in train stations. In Germany in food stores and others I always pay cash.

In Vienna I made a note on which restaurants, cafes, etc where no credit card payment was allowed, even in "tourist areas" plus I've seen it a few times ie, the customer, Americans and other nationalities, give the server a credit card only to be told that was not possible, and should the customer not have the cash, he is told where the closest ATM is.

Posted by
990 posts

We just came back from Munich... the week prior we were in Belgium and Paris and hardly used cash at all. But in Munich, many more places preferred cash, and some even did not take cards (including a bakery near where we stayed). You can always get cash whenever you come across an ATM.

Kim :)

Posted by
1267 posts

I especially like that the Bäckerei in most German train stations have finally recognized the value of Contactless Pay to customers - choose, Tap, board the train. Polish train stations have offered that convenience for years.

Posted by
907 posts

Cash is still the safe bet. I'm traveling in Germany for 3 weeks next month and one of the places I'm staying only takes cash or payment by EC card (which is a Germany specific Debit Card system). Regarding how much cash you should have, if you are on a tour then you only need to worry about "walking around" cash. Personally I would plan on having about €150/week handy in cash if I don't need to plan for paying for a hotel with cash.

DJ

Posted by
13215 posts

"Cash is still the safe bet." How true. The key word is "still" Hopefully, it stays like that.

My Pension in Berlin is another place that only takes cash. When confronted by guests at check-out wanting to pay with a credit card, the proprietor tells them to go out to the ATM ca. 3-4 minutes to get the cash. She used to accept credit cards but reverted to the policy of cash only.

Posted by
7 posts

by cash is that only euros or will most businesses accept dollars? I presume euros but wanted to ask?? Thanks!

Posted by
1267 posts

"by cash is that only euros or will most businesses accept dollars"

Euro only - highly doubt anyone still wants to deal with US dollar exchange rates or possible counterfeit bills - that era, I think, has long past.

Posted by
8242 posts

You cannot use dollars in Germany unless you are at the airport McDonalds perhaps. Can one use euro in the US at businesses? No, of course not.

Posted by
54 posts

I never asked if businesses would they take US dollars. I would never expect them to accept foreign currency, My question was if cash ie Euros where required because credit cards would not be accepted.

Posted by
18465 posts

My partner uses her cards in this country whenever possible, and in the last few years she has had a card compromised (used to make a purchase somewhere she has never been) a half dozen times. Since she never informed the bank she would be where the card was used fraudulently, they've taken the charges off her card, but issued her a new card and had her change the pin.

Last time we were in Europe (Germany, Switzerland, Austria) she had a new ATM card and had forgotten what she had changed the pin to, so she could not get any euro with the card. She wanted to have some money "of her own" and not have to ask me for everything. She had a stash of several hundred US dollars, and for the first week we went to banks trying to exchange her dollars for euro, and found that, apparently, no one wants US dollars anymore.

The first bank we tried was in St Goar. I was really surprised at that, because I consider St Goar to be a touristy place, and would have expected them to take dollars if anyone would. Because I abhor large cities and enjoy small towns, the average population of places where we stayed was less than 13,000.

We were there for 20 nights. I know the places we stayed in for 14 of those nights only took cash (they told me). I'm not sure about the 2 places where we stayed for 6 nights; I only know that, even today, their websites don't explicitly say that they take plastic

Including 9 nights in a FeWo in a small town on the Main River, our overnight expenses averaged just 60€. Breakfast was not included at the FeWo; it was at the other places. There was a grocery store near the FeWo where I got coffee, Brötchen, butter, meat, cheese, etc for breakfasts. The average price/night at the three places that I know only take cash was less than 50€/nt, double occupancy.

So, yes, if you are willing to pay more, you can probably find places that will allow you to pay without cash, but I think it pays to be miserly and pay cash.

Posted by
18465 posts

Rick says to take along a couple hundred dollars for an emergency, to convert to euro.

Considering the difficulty we had exchanging dollars for euro, my advice is, the first time you go to the ATM, set aside a couple hundred dollars in euro (or whatever local currency is) for an emergency. Keep that stash set aside for the entire trip. You know you they will always take it.

I always bring several hundred euro home with me to have as an emergency stash when I go back. If you don't want to do that, spend it down the last few days.

If anyone tells you you can pay in US dollars (it's call Dynamic Currency Conversion) expect their conversion rate to be less favorable to you than if you paid in euro.

Posted by
3026 posts

While it's true that Germany is far more card friendly than it used to be, it's still setting yourself up for failure to not carry euros with you, especially if you want to go to traditional out of the way places. I've never been to a Besenwirtschaft that accepted cards, for instance.

Worst case scenario you have to pay cash a bit more at the end of your trip, not a problem. Better than being caught without cash when you need it!

Posted by
13 posts

Yes, definitely carry some cash. Have recently returned from a trip in Germany in late August and ate at a restaurant that did not take cards. Some museums do not take cards for charges less than 20 Euros. All of these places were in high tourist population areas. Did not see any consistency to miniumums for cards. Charged a couple of euros a few times with no questions. Also pay toilets that only accept cash. Will likey need a few coins too. How much? Probably enough to cover your costs at a restaurant or two for the day.

Posted by
289 posts

If you are going to use an ATM to get cash out, make sure it is a card tied to your bank account. If you get money out with a true credit card, it is a cash advance, and interest starts accruing that day and the interest rate is way high. I learned that one the hard way.

Posted by
17 posts

I am in Vienna right now and many restaurants prefer cash. I have seen signs in some that say cash only. If they don't have a sign they will take a card but we had one place yesterday that asked us to reconsider when we were going to use a card. We are heading to Munich next and wondered if it would be the same. In France every place seemed to prefer a card. Even if spending 2 euros on some postcards.

Posted by
1267 posts

asked us to reconsider when we were going to use a card

Did they offer a 10% discount on your purchase as an incentive to reconsider? Personally, without an incentive I see it as an inconvenience to me to be bothered with paying cash.

Posted by
13215 posts

"...that asked us to reconsider...." I have not seen that in Vienna but I had that experience in London some years back. This was in B&Bs in Kings Cross, where if you paid cash, that would be to your advantage, otherwise for allowing the guest the luxury of paying by credit card, the B&B tacked on another 3-4%. One restaurant in London Chinatown did likewise. This was in 2009-16 , don't know whether that is still the B&B practice.

One of the B&Bs where I stayed did change this former practice, is, no penalty /surcharge with credit card payment.

In Vienna "many restaurants prefer cash"....very true. I didn't see signs to that effect but in the menu itself and saw customers, American and others, informed of this when paying with a credit card. I made a list of eateries I was at where it was cash only both in so-called tourist areas and those distinctly non-tourist areas

Chances are that you will encounter a similar situation in Munich to that in Vienna, maybe more so....it all depends. The places I went to I recall did take the credit card. True, on credit payment France is more receptive to that than are Germany and Austria.