Travel Money Guide: Germany

Rates and fees last updated on

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

  • Load up to 10 currencies
  • Lock in your exchange rates
  • No overseas transaction fees

ANZ Travel Card

The ANZ Travel Card is a prepaid card that can be loaded with up to 10 currencies to make purchases overseas at over 38 million merchants and over 2.3 million ATMs worldwide.

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

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Compare travel cards for Germany

Rates last updated September 23rd, 2017
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, USD 2.50, GBP 2.00, EUR 2.20, NZD 4.50, CAD 3.00, HKD 20.00, SGD 4.00, THB 95, JPY 260 1.1% $0 Go to site More
Qantas Cash
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
NAB Traveller Card
NAB Traveller Card
AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD

Overseas: $0 per withdrawal via international ATMs

Domestic: $3.75 fee applies

$0 $0 Go to site More
Cash Passport Mastercard
Cash Passport Mastercard
AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HKD, JPY, NZD, SGD, THB, USD USD 2.50, EUR 2.50, GBP 2.00, NZD 3.50, THB 80.00, CAD 3.50, HKD 18.00, JPY 260.00, SGD 3.50, AUD 3.50 $0 $0 Go to site More
Australia Post Multi-currency Cash Passport
Australia Post Multi-currency Cash Passport
AUD, NZD, USD, EUR, GBP, THB, SGD, CAD, HKD, JPY Overseas: $0

Domestic: 2.95% of the amount withdrawn

$5 $0 Go to site More
Rates last updated September 22nd, 2017
Name Product Foreign Currency Conversion Fee (MC) Foreign Currency Conversion Fee (VISA) Overseas ATM Withdrawal Fee Overseas Cash Advance Fee Annual fee Product Description
Bankwest Zero Platinum Mastercard
0% of transaction value
$0
The greater of 2% or $4
$0 p.a.
Receive complimentary international travel insurance, access to a 24/7 concierge service and 0% foreign transaction fees.
ANZ Rewards Travel Adventures card
0% of transaction value
$0
$225 p.a.
Receive 40,000 bonus Velocity Points when you spend $500 on eligible purchases in the first three months.
28 Degrees Platinum Mastercard
0% of transaction value
$0
3% of the cash advance or $4 (whichever is greater)
$0 p.a.
Designed for travel, benefit from no international transaction fees on purchases and no currency conversion fees.
Bankwest Breeze Platinum Mastercard
0% of transaction value
$0
Greater of 2% or $4.00
$99 p.a.
Offers an introductory balance transfer rate of 0% p.a. for 13 months with a 2% BT fee, plus platinum perks.
Bankwest More Platinum Mastercard
0% of transaction value
$5
2% or $4, whichever is greater
$160 p.a.
No fees on overseas ATM withdrawal, no foreign transaction fees and earn 75,000 bonus More rewards points.

Compare up to 4 providers

Rates last updated September 23rd, 2017
$
Monthly Account Fee Debit Card Access ATM Withdrawal Fee Fee Free Deposit p.m. Details
Bankwest Qantas Transaction Account
$0 Overseas ATM withdrawal fees charged by Bankwest. Third party ATM fees and international transaction fees may still apply.
Mastercard $0 $2,000 $0 account keeping fees when you deposit at least $2,000 into your account each month. Otherwise, a $6 monthly fee applies. Unlimited Free withdrawals at Bankwest and CommBank ATMs in Australia. Go to site More
Westpac Choice
$0 Overseas ATM fee when you withdraw from the Global ATM alliance network. International transaction fee still applies.
Mastercard $0 $2,000 $0 account keeping fees if you deposit at least $2,000 per month. Otherwise, a $5 monthly fee applies. Unlimited free withdrawals at St.George, Westpac, Bank of Melbourne and BankSA ATMs. Go to site More
St.George Complete Freedom Account
$0 Overseas ATM fee when you withdraw from the Global ATM alliance network. International transaction fee still applies.
Visa $0 $2,000 $0 account keeping fees if you deposit at least $2,000 per month. Otherwise, a $5 fee applies. Unlimited free withdrawals at St.George, Westpac and BankSA ATMs. Go to site 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
20160.672243
20170.690959

*Exchange rates are accurate as of 3 September 2017

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

This table is a general summary of the travel money products in the market. Features and benefits can vary between cards.

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.

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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.

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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.

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This page was last modified on 4 September 2017 at 6:33pm.

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4 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    AshAugust 12, 2017

    Hey, I a, going on a trip to Germany and was looking at getting a city bank card. Was wondering how well it would work.
    Thnaks

    • Staff
      ArnoldAugust 12, 2017Staff

      Hi Ash,

      Thanks for your inquiry.

      With Citiplus debit card, You load the associated account with funds and withdraw it free of charge overseas plus competitive exchange rates. Withdrawing money shouldn’t be a problem, there are plenty of Citibank ATMs you can use with no fees.

      For more info, please check out our Citibank Plus Transaction Account overview.

      Hope this information helped.

      Cheers,
      Arnold

  2. Default Gravatar
    StefanSeptember 27, 2016

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

    • Staff
      ChesterSeptember 28, 2016Staff

      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

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