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credit card use Germany

We have chip signature credit cards, not chip and pin. What are usage limitations for Germany for 2019? For 2018 we used these credit cards for all of our purposes without a problem in London and all of Ireland. Thank you for helping us.

Posted by
2987 posts

On the whole these days you should be fine in general at most stores. A few years ago stores began replacing the chip + pin only machines and now most can read signature chip cards.

However depending on where you go in Germany, you may still encounter cash-only restaurants and pubs, so for that reason it's always smart to carry a decent amount of cash on you, especially in rural areas or smaller towns.

Posted by
5 posts

Just returned from a week in Germany; used a CC at about 8 or 9 different places. There was only once when we needed the pin (I think this was at the ticket vending machines on the S-bahn platform in Berlin); there were actually a couple of times when the contactless payment thing worked. Also just as a note: there was one restaurant in Berlin which was credit card only! (Little Green Rabbit).

Posted by
4004 posts

Just ensure you have some cash since many establishments in Germany do not accept credit cards; more than in other countries. As for the CC, whenever we use them in Europe, although chip & PIN, we’re almost always asked for a signature.

Posted by
12895 posts

As a back-up have that cash handy for the just in case moment.

Don't expect that credit cards will be accepted everywhere in big cities either, eg , in Berlin. I've seen eating establishments where Americans (in this case) were told to go to the ATM and likewise in Hamburg, in this case (Spanish speaking tourists) at a restaurant across the street from the central station. I was there too.

True, I had no problems getting credit card acceptance in London, don't expect likewise in Germany. It's different.

Depending on where you are staying, a 2 or 3 star hotel, there are those 2 star small hotels in Germany in big cities where payment is by cash only or maybe only the EuroCard. if a credit card is accepted. In 2009 I stayed in one in Hamburg...cash only.

Posted by
18310 posts

Depending on where you are staying, a 2 or 3 star hotel, there are those 2 star small hotels
in Germany in big cities where payment is by cash only

False! According to the criteria catalog published by DEHOGA (German Hotel and Restaurant Assoc, who issue hotel stars in Germany) any hotel, to have more than 1 star, has to accept credit cards for payment. That is probably why a great number of perfectly fine hotels don't have any stars, because they are only willing to accept cash. I've stayed in a lot of very nice, economically priced, hotels and gasthouses in Germany that do not accept credit cards. Based on my experience, places that do accept cards tend to be on the more expensive end of the spectrum. If you want to save money staying in Germany, plan on using cash.

Posted by
12895 posts

The Pension in Berlin is a simple place, definitely not a 3 star place by any definition, WC down the hall kind of a place, just as in the old days. therefore it's 2 star place. Payment is only by cash. The Inhaberin insists on it. I have seen her once for sure or, if not twice, tell the guest at check-out to go to the ATM since s/he did not have the cash.

Another place was in Hamburg, even more simple of a place, across from the Hbf, it took cash only too. Maybe this place was a one star hotel. I stayed there once too... in 2009.

In 2007 at another small hotel, my last time there, in Berlin on Kantstrasse, run by the Russians, only took cash. It was a two star place, WC down the hall.

Posted by
1492 posts

DEHOGA (German Hotel and Restaurant Assoc, who issue hotel stars in
Germany)

Also false! This association is not mandatory for hotels and restaurants. So, each hotel can pin up a few dozen stars on its website without any legal binding or at least info on what is the real comfort level of hotel. You will find also 5 star hotels which are not member in DeHoGa. If a hotel states to be member the features must comply to DeHoGa list and self star-rating.

Posted by
1492 posts

@OP: look on use cases.

  • Public toilet: cash
  • Luggage storage: cash
  • Parking tickets: cash
  • Transport ticket machines: cash & card.
  • Local buses: cash and suitable amount. Bus drivers do not have much change on board.
  • Taxis: cash & card
  • Retail (normal): all in large retail chains, more cah only in small specialised shops.
  • Restaurant / cafés: very individual from cash only to card only. In tourist areas you will find places accepting all. Tip: ask for payment type before ordering.
  • Hotel: likely all but same tip like before.
  • Rent a car: credit card necessary (no debit)
  • Luxury shopping: all and very new AliPay is on the rise because Chinese, Russian and Arabic tourists are the three top luxury shoppers. US travelers are not in top 5.

Caution: some shops / cafés have also a minimum amount to pay to accept credit cards.

Posted by
12895 posts

"...usage limitations...." Train station eateries in den Hauptbahnhöfen take cash only, a few take credit cards too, eg, Nordsee, but don't count on it.

Posted by
1492 posts

Good point, Fred.

Tip: travelers can check the food places at train station on portal EInkaufsbahnhof (German).

After chosing a station from dropdown click on "Alle Geschäfte". In a category you can click into a business and see at the bottom the accepted payment methods ("Zahlungsmittel"). Example: Nordsee (fish retaurant) at Hanover station.
https://www.einkaufsbahnhof.de/hannover-hauptbahnhof/store/nordsee-s6508/

"bar" = cash
Girocard is a European debit card standard.

Phone-based payment is not listed. In average 60-70% of German card payment terminals can also handle smartphone payment.

Posted by
12895 posts

@ Markk... Admittedly, at Nordsee I've paid with a credit card, used to, when I was lazy.

In 2017 I saw this in Bahnhof Friedrichstrasse, Berlin at the eatery, a big one, with a Bavarian theme to it, with the traditional blue/white colors, etc, I'm you know which one. I'm having my lunch (good, decent food too). Two American older women approach that eatery, pick out their order in English and proceed to offer the credit card, only to be told by the guy serving them that there was an ATM in the station they had to go to.

One stayed with the food, the other went looking for the ATM.

Posted by
3028 posts

A tongue-in-cheek rip off of a RS concept:

Credit Card Use As a Political Statement...

In general, independent businesses always prefer cash to avoid merchant fees associated with credit cards, even if they take credit cards. The owner of the B&B where I stay in Berlin accepts credit cards, but prefers cash for this reason. So, I always pay her in cash. It's more important to me to increase her profitability (even a little bit) than for me to get points/miles on my credit card.

Corporate places? I use a credit card.

Trivial fee in a city-owned parking garage in Greenville SC (next town over from me)? I always pay with a credit card, hoping the merchant fee is more than what they get from me. It's my way of sticking it to the man.

Posted by
27743 posts

I think that in this case information over a year old, especially over 10 years old, is probably out of date in such a fast moving tech frontier.

I know that when I tried to use my phone or a contactless card about a year ago in various places in B-W, Bavaria, Saar, and around the Ruhr, many places didn't take contactless.

I've used my phone in all but a very few places which needed cash (bar).

Places which didn't take cards at all, 2 different small Chinese take-aways, one in a shopping mall in Neuenkirchen in Saarland and one in a shopping mall in Nuremburg, one shopping mall toilet in Frankfurt (only 0.50€ which I had already).

Places where I have been able to use my phone - I need to because the card I want to use which has no fees at all has a PIN that I have forgotten because I only keep this one for European travel, but it is in the Apple Pay Wallet, so if they take contactless I'm happy -

all the hotels I have used in Lille in France, Neuenkirchen in Saarland, Frankfurt a.M., and now Nuremburg. Everything from breakfast (Lille), to parking to taxes, to the whole room rate.

Lunch in a department store in Frankfurt, dinner at a small restaurant in Frankfurt, all day transit pass at a machine in Frankfurt, gelato at a small stand in a small town in the Altmühltal south of Nuremburg, ice cream at a bakery near Nuremburg, diesel for the car on a Sunday in a small town in the Altmühltal south of Nuremburg, Media Markt which last year was a total loss now twice perfect, a shopping mall parking machine in Nuremburg. Purchase amounts have been between 1.20€ and 160.00€

That's not to beat a dead horse, just to say how things have changed, in less than a year. Perhaps as indicated above take-up has been less in Berlin, but in Hesse, B-W, Bavaria, Pfalz, Saar, I am pleased that I haven't been turned down yet by a place which takes cards.

I'm so glad I haven't had to use my back-up cards.

Posted by
12895 posts

"Credit Card Use as a Political Statement"....Fantastic!

Come to SF and Oakland and patronize the Chinese stores, take-aways, dim-sum places, markets, etc and see how many are cash only, something you would find in Germany too. Of course, there are those taking credit cards as well as lots of them that do not and want only cash.