cash or credit card

May 20th, 2014, 06:27 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2014
Posts: 3
cash or credit card

We will be traveling in Europe for the first time this July. A river cruise down the Danube.
I have a credit card with a chip and no transaction fees.
Would this be the best way to use for payments or should I use cash.
radtechmike is offline  
May 20th, 2014, 06:38 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 7,134
Your credit card has neither a fee per use abroad nor a currency conversion fee? Then use it as much as possible. Does your card have a PIN as well as a chip? If not, the card won't work in some machines like train ticket machines or highway tollbooths.

You will however need some cash, which you can get from ATMs. Do you have a debit/ATM card with similar features? If so, use that for the ATMs. If you use the credit card to get cash, interest will start immediately. If you buy euros, either from a bank or from a currency exchange, you'll pay too much.

BTW what kind of credit card do you have? And does it have a PIN? The rest of us might be interested.
Mimar is offline  
May 20th, 2014, 07:02 AM
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 2,394
Living in Vienna, I can suggest that having cash on hand is important in Austria and the Czech Republic, even though it means having two currencies in your pocketbook. We have European chip and PIN cards but have learned that many restaurants and stores still prefer cash, especially for smaller value purchases.

We were recently in Copenhagen, where our card was more widely accepted, however. In Germany the need for cash varies widely if you're outside of the tourist areas, so we have found. If in doubt, just be prepared to pay in cash.
fourfortravel is offline  
May 20th, 2014, 07:06 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: May 2014
Posts: 3
I have a bank of America / travel rewards
Visa signature
radtechmike is offline  
May 20th, 2014, 07:42 AM
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 6,047
In all these countries, you need cash for
- any payments under € 20
- taxi drivers
- fast food or street stands
- some restaurants (there are even Michelin-star restaurants that do not accept plastic!)
- smaller stores with non-touristy items including grocery stores
- many museum and attractions
- many machines (for tickets, parking fees etc.)
- public transportation
- gratuities
traveller1959 is offline  
May 20th, 2014, 09:15 AM
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 2,435
Check out what banks near where you'll board the cruise are in Bank of America's ATM network (so no fees). Then before boarding, take out a couple of hundred Euro from one of them (unless you are going to dock somewhere else for long enough to withdraw another hundred mid-cruise if necessary). I'd use your credit card for larger purchases. But make sure the issuer doesn't charge currency conversion fees. BofA does.

If you have another bank's ATM card with a four digit password, I'd use that to withdraw cash. Same thing about finding banks within the network.
dwdvagamundo is offline  
May 20th, 2014, 09:31 AM
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 7,740
You may also want to remember that at many places where CCs are accepted, the machine (or person) will ask you whether you want to pay in your home currency or in the local currency. You should then always choose the local currency or you end up paying a conversion fee for the "convenience" to see the charged amount in your home currency.

In Germany, it is a very mixed bag.
You find parking garages where you enter and leave by sliding your credit card in at the barrier. And parking meters where you need coins.
Vending machines for long distance rail travel accept CCs, local transit machines sometimes do, but often just take debit cards.
Supermarkets accept CCs, except for some budget supermarket chains which only accept debit cards. And food stands which accept nothing but cash.
In restaurants, when they accept CCs, it is not unusual to also charge the tip.
Many taxis accept CCs, but not all. When at a rank, ask the driver. When having your hotel call a cab, tell the concierge you need one that accepts CCs.
Cowboy1968 is offline  
May 21st, 2014, 07:49 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 7,134
From what I can see on the Bank of America web site, it looks like there's 3% conversion fee on foreign transactions. Not great.

If you have enough time, get a credit union card. I have 2. Both have no transaction fee and charge a conversion fee of only 1% over the interbank rate. I also have travel money in my credit union accounts because it's similarly cheap to withdraw cash from foreign ATMs using a credit union debit/ATM card. It would be a very good idea for you to bring another card.

ATMs are very common in all of Europe. At all but the very smallest airports there's a line of them as you leave. That's where I buy some euros for my trip. But I don't buy a lot, I just buy enough for a few days. No need to carry a lot of cash.
Mimar is offline  
May 23rd, 2014, 01:27 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 752
The BOA travel reward card is a chip and signature card with no transaction fees. We just returned from France and Germany and it worked great everywhere that accepted credit cards except at a train station in Germany in a machine (had to use cash). Quite a few places in Germany do not accept credit cards - one of our hotels did not and a few stores and restaurants. So be prepared to pay cash, but use the card when you can.

You didn't mention a debit card - the BOA debit card has 3% foreign transaction fees and a $5 charge of you're out of network. We used a USAA and a Capitol One 360 debit card with only the 1% Visa & MC charge and no worry about charges out of network. Just don't get cash from ATM with your credit card because the interest charges are high.
blh is offline  
May 23rd, 2014, 05:00 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,890
We have traveled trough all of those aras and used CC for larger charges (hotels, gas, most meals and purchases everywhere) but we also always had cash for walking around money. I would expect to pay cash for anything less than $20 or so - and also there will be some modest restaurants that may want cash (although we used it only for a drink in a cafe or food from a street stand.)

One note: do not rely on AmeEx as your only card. We use it whenever possible but there are a fair number of places (esp less expensive ones) that will not take it when they will take Visa or MC.
nytraveler is offline  
May 24th, 2014, 12:20 AM
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 4,470
You've tagged Denmark, not sure if you are going there before/after your river Cruise on the Danube or if it was taged in error.
Nevertheless, it is also a mixed bag in DK. In some smaller places, they don't take foreign issued credit cards, or if they to, they charge a small % extra. Have also had issues where payment would not go through in supermarkets, esp in out of the way places. Not everywhere takes CC, so check first.
Odin is offline  

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