Travel Money Guide: Germany

Rates and Fees verified correct on December 6th, 2016

Packing your bags for a holiday to Germany? Here’s all you need to know to get your travel money in order before you leave.

From the poster child of über-cool; Berlin, to quaint and traditional rural towns, Germany is as surprising as it is delightful. In order to get the most out of your German getaway, familiarise yourself with their currency customs and start comparing you travel money options today.

In 2002, the euro replaced the German mark has the national currency of Germany after a three year introductory period. Unlike other developed economies like the United States, cash is king in Germany — research has found that even today, cash accounts for 80% of all transactions. However, you’ll still need access to cards to withdraw cash and pay for large or emergency purchases. Use the guide below to learn the ins and outs of German finances and to hand pick the cards that’ll work best for your holiday.

Which option is right for your next trip?

ANZ Travel Card

ANZ Travel Card

The ANZ Travel Card is a prepaid card that can be loaded with up to 10 foreign currencies to make purchases overseas at over 36 million locations.

  • Lock in your exchange rates and know how much money you have to spend
  • No transaction fees for electronic purchases in Australia and overseas
  • Multiple reload options - online, over the phone or in person
  • Manage your money online or over phone 24/7
  • Spare card if in case one is lost or stolen

    Compare travel cards for Germany

    Rates last updated December 6th, 2016
    Available Currencies ATM Withdrawal Fee Reload Fee Initial Load Fee
    ANZ Travel Card
    ANZ Travel Card
    AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD, AUD 3.50, CAD 3.00, EUR 2.20, GBP 2.00, HKD 20.00, JPY 260, NZD 4.50, SGD 4.00, THB 95, USD 2.50 1.1% of the value purchased $0 Go to site More
    NAB Traveller Card
    NAB Traveller Card
    AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD $0 per withdrawal on international ATMs and $3.75 per withdrawal at any Australian ATMs $0 $0 Go to site More
    Cash Passport MasterCard
    Cash Passport MasterCard
    AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD $2.50 for withdrawals made overseas 2.95% of the amount withdrawn for domestic withdrawals $0 $0 Go to site More
    Qantas Card with Qantas Cash
    Qantas Card with Qantas Cash
    AUD, AED, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD AUD 1.95, CAD 2.00, EUR 1.50, GBP 1.25, HKD 15.00, JPY 160, NZD 2.50, SGD 2.50, USD 1.95, THB 70.00, AED 6.50 $0 $0 Go to site More
    Travelex Travel Card
    Travelex Travel Card
    AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD Travelex does not charge an ATM withdrawal fee when you use your Travelex Multi-currency Cash Passport to withdraw currencies that are loaded on the card at overseas ATMs where MasterCard is accepted. The greater of 1.1% of the initial load / reload amount or AU$15.00 $0 Go to site More
    Rates last updated December 6th, 2016
    Foreign Currency Conversion Fee (MC) Foreign Currency Conversion Fee (VISA) Overseas ATM Withdrawal Fee Annual fee
    Bankwest Zero Platinum MasterCard
    An introductory offer on balance transfers with $0 annual fee. Complimentary travel insurance & 24/7 Concierge service and $0 foreign transaction fees.
    0% of transaction value $0 $0 p.a. Go to site More info
    28 Degrees Platinum MasterCard
    Benefit from no international transaction fees on purchases, no currency conversion fees and no annual fee.
    0% of transaction value $0 $0 p.a. Go to site More info
    Rates last updated December 6th, 2016
    $
    Monthly Account Fee Debit Card Access ATM Withdrawal Fee Fee Free Deposit p.m. Details
    St.George Complete Freedom Account
    $0 Overseas ATM fee when you withdraw from the Global ATM alliance network.
    Visa $0 $2,000 No account keeping fees, if you deposit $2,000 per month plus no minimum balance required. No ATM fees when using St.George, Westpac and BankSA ATMs. Open More
    Westpac Choice
    $0 Overseas ATM fee when you withdraw from the Global ATM alliance network.
    Mastercard $0 $2,000 No ATM fees when using St.George, Westpac, BankSA or Bank of Melbourne ATMs in Australia. Deposit at least $2,000 per month and enjoy no monthly service fee. Open More
    Bank of Melbourne Express Freedom
    $0 Overseas ATM fee when you withdraw from the Global ATM alliance network.
    Visa $0 $1,000 No ATM fees when you use Bank of Melbourne, St.George, Westpac and BankSA ATMs. No monthly fees if you deposit $1000 into your account each month. Open More
    Bankwest Qantas Transaction Account
    No overseas ATM withdrawal fees (charged by Bankwest), 3rd party ATM fees and international transaction fees may still apply.
    Mastercard $0 $2,000 No monthly fees when you deposit at least $2,000 into your account each month. Free access to Bankwest and CommBank ATMs in Australia. No overseas ATM withdrawal fees (charged by Bankwest) though third party fees may apply. Open More
    Citibank Plus Everyday Account
    No international transaction fees and no overseas ATM withdrawals fees if you use a Citibank ATM overseas.
    Visa $0 $0 No ATM fees using Citibank, Westpac, BankSA and St.George branded ATMs in Australia. Use overseas Citibank ATMs for free. More

    How many euros do I need to bring to Germany?

    Germany is a western European country so don't expect prices to be rock-bottom. It is, however surprisingly affordable, especially Berlin which is by far one of the best-value cities in Europe. Depending on your spending habits, you can compare some of the daily expenses you can expect below:

     BerlinBudgetMidrangeExpensive
    sleepSleepHostel
    $15 - $30 per night
    2 star hotel
    $30 - $100 per night
    5 star hotel
    $160 - $320 per night
    foodEatCurrywurst $3
    + chips: $5
    Midrange restaurant
    $20 - $40 per dish
    4+ course meal at a 5 star restaurant
    $250 a head
    cameraDoWalking tour of Berlin
    Free (Give a tip to your guide at the end if you’re satisfied)
    Jazz every wednesday at The B-flat Jazz Club on Rosenthaler Straße
    Free
    Private WW2 and cold war walking tour of Berlin
    $30 per person
    Private Berlin Wall tour
    $90 per person (up to 3 hours)
    1 hour private flight over Berlin
    $350 (up to 3 people)
    Tour of Jewish heritage in Berlin
    $350 (up to 3 people)

    *Prices are approximate and based on summer seasonality and are subject to change.

    Exchange rate history

    The global financial crisis and European debt crisis resulted in instability among global currencies. The past couple of years, AUD$1 will get you between 0.6 and 0.7 euros. Travel cards and traveller’s cheques let you lock in a rate if you think it’s going to be more expensive to buy euros in the future.

    YearAverage annual exchange Australian Dollar (AUD) to Euro (EUR)
    20120.806041
    20130.728778
    20140.679508
    20150.677914
    20160.65553
    Back to top

    Travel card, debit card or credit card?

    Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted in Germany. You can also use American Express and Diners Club credit cards; 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. Some businesses may not accept cards for purchases below a certain amount, for example €20, and most supermarkets (even Aldi) won’t take credit cards at all. While it’s important to find a card that’ll let you make over the counter purchases cheaply, a card which lets you use ATMs without the ridiculous charges is more relevant for a trip to Germany.

    A quick summary of your travel money options in Germany

    Travel Money OptionProsConsiderations
    Debit cards for travel
    • No currency conversion and international ATM fees
    • Convenience
    • No extra set-up before setting-off
    • Usually offer cheaper ways to access cash via ATMs while overseas
    • Debit cards are linked directly to your personal savings account. If your card is stolen, or you become a victim of fraud, the thief could gain access to your entire bank balance.
    Prepaid travel money cards
    • Comes with a back-up to use, if the card is missing or stolen
    • Lets you load Australian dollars and spend it in a variety of currencies
    • Easier to manage expenses
    • All travel cards support Euro
    • May need to wait for the funds to be cleared before you can use your money
    • Can be an expensive way to access the travel money for Germany if used incorrectly
    Credit cards for travel
    • Line of credit for both regular and emergency use
    • Accepted in large German retailers and mid to upmarket restaurants
    •  Often comes with features such as complimentary travel insurance or a rewards scheme
    • Withdrawing cash from an ATM can get expensive. The transaction is treated as a cash advance.
    Traveller's cheques
    • Acceptance
    • Security
    • Expensive way to carry foreign cash
    • Commission of up to 8% when encashed
    • Not all merchants accept traveller's cheques
    Cash
    • Greater payment flexibility
    • Convenience
    • More difficult to manage expenses
    • Higher risk of theft
    Back to top

    How credit cards, debit cards and travel cards work in Germany

    Using a prepaid travel card

    Prepaid travel cards let you load Aussie dollars, convert the funds to euros (at a fixed rate) and spend the euros in Germany and wider Europe. You won’t pay the usual fee for spending in a foreign currency (about 3% on most credit cards and debit cards), you can hold a number of different foreign currencies on the card at the same time (which makes sense if you’re travelling to the UK as well as Germany; however, there’s cards don’t support the currencies of smaller European nations such as the Czech Republic or Hungary) and you get a backup to use if the main card is stolen or lost.

    Using a debit card

    A travel debit card lets you make cheap overseas ATM withdrawals and over the counter purchases by waving the currency conversion fee, international ATM fee or both. The Citibank Plus Transaction Account is the only travel debit card in Australia, and is product to use if you’re conscious about saving money on international transactions. As part of the Global ATM Alliance, Westpac account holders will have their usual foreign ATM withdrawal fee waived when withdrawing cash from Deutsche Bank ATMs. Citibank transaction plus customers still enjoy most Citibank privileges in Targobank, which bought the German arm of Citibank in 2009. That means a lot of options for fee free withdrawals.

    • Tip: Westpac cardholders can avoid the international ATM withdrawal fee as well as the local ATM fee by using Deutsche Bank ATMs in Germany.

    Using a credit card

    A credit card provides a line of credit suited for both regular and emergency use. If you don’t use your card, you won’t pay for it (besides the annual fee). Plus, if your card has an interest free days offer, purchases won’t accrue interest if you pay back everything at the end of the month. Credit cards are accepted in large German retailers and mid to upmarket restaurants, for example. While Germans are typically considered innovative, they’re hanging on cash. Credit cards are accepted in fewer places than Australia, and in some of the places which do take cards, you’ll find that the EuroCard is the preferred plastic. If in doubt about credit card acceptance, shop windows will have little Visa and MasterCard stickers, and you can always ask too, many people in Germany have an understanding of English or have a go with this one: ‘Akzeptieren Sie Kreditkarten?’

    • Tip: Avoid using your credit card to withdraw cash. Cash advance charges will eat up your available credit quickly.

    Using a traveller's cheques

    Banks can cash traveller’s cheques if this is your preferred method of taking euros to Germany. Traveller’s cheques can be an expensive way to carry foreign cash. Expect to pay a commission of anywhere up to 8% when you get your cheques cashed. Traveller’s cheques have been replaced by ATMs, which make it cheap (if you use the right card) and easy to get euros when you arrive.

    Paying with cash in Germany (Euro)

    More than 80% of payments in Germany are made using cash. The same research indicates cash payments account for 60% of all transactions in Australia. It suggested that the history of hyperinflation in Germany following both World Wars has influenced German’s preference to use cash. Regardless of the reason, you will need cash to pay for many of your transactions on your trip. The best way to get euros is to make an ATM withdrawal when you arrive in Germany using a card which doesn’t charge an international ATM fee.

    Back to top

    Oktoberfest in Munich


    Caroline went to Germany on her trip to Europe. She visited Berlin and then travelled South to Munich for Oktoberfest. She visited a number of other countries including France, Belgium, Netherlands and the Czech Republic.

    What cards did you take?

    Why did you take these cards?

    Caroline applied for the Citibank Plus Transaction Account as her dedicated travel card so she could use the Visa Debit Card in Germany. The Citibank Plus account does not charge a fee for converting Australian dollars to euros, Citibank gave her free international ATM withdrawals and the account cost nothing to open and keep. Caroline originally applied for the NAB Low Rate because it had a 24 month balance transfer promotion, which she used to pay off the balance of her Woolworths Everyday Money Qantas Platinum Credit Card. Although she took both credit cards with her to Germany, she avoided using them as much as possible as they both charged 3% for spending in euros and her Citibank Visa Debit Card does not.

    Where could you use your cards?

    She says the beer tents at Oktoberfest were cash only, and there was no entry fee to get into any of the tents. Outside the festival, Caroline says she could use her card in more places back home than she could in Germany. She notes supermarkets don’t take credit cards (with the exception of FAMILA which take Visa and MasterCard). Many restaurants, cafes, markets and street vendors (obviously) and taxis are cash only too. She used her card to book her travel tickets (including train tickets throughout Germany), car rental and to pay for her hotel.

    What about ATM withdrawals?

    Card acceptance wasn’t such an issue because Caroline made frequent ATM withdrawals and used cash.  She didn’t pay any ATM fees when she used her Citibank Plus Visa Debit Card to get euros. She always had enough cash in her wallet to cover whatever expenses she had for the day (and euros for the unexpected too).  At the beer festival, there are a few ATMs in some tents; however, Caroline says you’ll pay a fee to use these ATMs. She says make a withdrawal in Munich at a bank Geld Automatic so you have enough cash to last you for the whole day.

    What is your travel money recommendation for Germany?

    Make ATM withdrawals for peace of mind. Caroline says German bank ATMs don’t charge fees and she didn’t pay international ATM fees as well as currency conversion fees. She was able to withdraw euros for no cost and at a great rate set by Visa (plus a tiny margin from the bank which provides the ATM).

    What are your travel money tips?

    Caroline says tipping is generally appreciated and polite in Germany, but isn’t expected. If you’re at a bar, in a taxi or at a restaurant, a tip between 5% - 10% is good form but you don’t need to tip unless you really want to. It’s also good practice to round up to the nearest euro if the bill is under €10. She also says to remember not to leave change on the table if you want to tip, it’s considered rude in Germany and other parts of Europe, give the tip to the person directly.

    Back to top

    A guide to euro banknotes

    euro-banknotes

    Buying currency in Australia

    It will be cheaper to buy euros in Germany than Australia. If you want euros in your pocket when you land, you’ll have to get money changed before you leave. As euros are a major international currency, you won’t have any issues finding a place to get your money changed in Australia. Your options including financial institutions such as banks and mutuals and specialist foreign exchange providers such as Travelex. Banks tend to charge a commission, although NAB don’t when you order online. This is the main point of difference between say, Commonwealth Bank and Travelex for example. The rates are comparable, choosing one service over the other is going to save you a couple of dollars, but it comes down to convenience. Travelex and Australia Post let you order cash online and offer pickup locations at major Australian airports. We compare these providers if you want to buy euros in Australia.

    ATM withdrawals

    ATMs are plentiful all over Germany. Independent ATM operators will charge a fee, ATMs from German banks are free to use (stick to ATMs attached to the side of a bank to be sure). If you put an Australian issued credit, debit or travel card into a German ATM, the screen will automatically come up in English, nine times out of 10. If not, you will be prompted to ‘pick your language’ making ATM use easy for non-German speakers.

    Where to exchange cash

    There are a number of places you can change cash: Banks and exchange offices can change cash in Germany. Some exchange offices (Wechselstuben) can offer a good rate, but always check what’s on offer against the market rate before you agree to a deal to get an idea of how many euros you should receive. Sometimes it might be better to withdraw money from an ATM.

    Finding cash and ATMs in Germany

    Why you’ll need a combination of travel money options

    It is possible to find a card that ticks all the boxes in Germany? No currency conversion fee, international ATM fee and no annual fee. That’s unlikely. Remember German Bank ATMs don’t charge a fee either. Even if you can get by using the one card for all your transactions, never put all your eggs in one basket. A combination of travel debit or travel prepaid cards and credit cards will ensure you can make cheap transactions in euros all the while giving you access to an emergency line of credit and travel perks like insurance.

    Why pay fees and charges on holiday if they can be easily avoided. A little homework before you leave can mean the difference between smooth sailing and rough seas. If you have any questions or comments that will help you or other readers clarify the best way to take and spend money in Germany, please leave them below.

    Back to top

    Get travel insurance quotes for your holiday in Germany

    Made a search before? Retrieve your search results

    At least one destination is required
    Both dates are required
    Add more travellers
    Enter the age of each traveller between 0 and 99

    Enter a valid email address

    At least one destination is required
    Both dates are required
    Add more travellers
    Enter the age of each traveller between 0 and 99

    Enter a valid email address

    Type or select your destination

    Popular Destinations

    Americas
    Asia
    Europe
    Pacific
    Africa
    Can't find your destination? Just type it in the box above.

    We compare products from

    By submitting this form, you agree to finder.com.au privacy policy
    Back to top
    Was this content helpful to you? No  Yes

    Related Posts

    This page was last modified on 16 November 2016 at 17:13.

    Ask a Question

    You are about to post a question on finder.com.au

    • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
    • finder.com.au is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
    • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
    • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

    Disclaimer: At finder.com.au we provide factual information and general advice. Before you make any decision about a product read the Product Disclosure Statement and consider your own circumstances to decide whether it is appropriate for you.
    Rates and fees mentioned in comments are correct at the time of publication.
    By submitting this question you agree to the finder.com.au privacy policy, receive follow up emails related to finder.com.au and to create a user account where further replies to your questions will be sent.

    2 Responses to Travel Money Guide: Germany

    1. Default Gravatar
      Stefan | September 27, 2016

      Actually it is possible to pay with credit Card at Aldi Stores, also in other Shops.

      • Staff
        Chester | September 28, 2016

        Hello Stefan!

        Thanks for your question.

        Aldi stores accept various forms of payment. They accept cash, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express, most debit cards, the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) and Link cards payments.

        I hope this helps,

        Cheers!
        Chester

    Ask a question
    feedback