charge cards at restaurants

Aug 7th, 2015, 06:29 PM
Original Poster
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charge cards at restaurants

Do most restaurants and cafes accept credit cards for meals in Germany and Prague??
dotsy is offline  
Aug 7th, 2015, 07:47 PM
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We recently returned from Germany and Prague, and yes, we never had a problem using our credit card. My United Explorer credit card does have the chip technology....don't know if that made a difference.
Janeyre is offline  
Aug 7th, 2015, 08:47 PM
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It depends. It will not work in small, non-touristy cafes in small towns in Germany. If you're mostly in places frequented by tourists, then yes.
Ingo is offline  
Aug 8th, 2015, 05:22 AM
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Be aware that each charge on you card probably will carry a service fee, even if the card is free back home. Cash from an ATM is a cheaper way to handle foreign currency.
Southam is offline  
Aug 8th, 2015, 08:59 AM
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Visa and MC are taken in most restaurants and cafes (although small, local ones may want cash only). AmEx is usually taken only in more upscale places.
nytraveler is offline  
Aug 8th, 2015, 09:10 AM
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I didn't have any restaurant that wouldn't take my credit cards in Prague a few weeks ago. But hard to say if we will eat at the same type of places. I don't go deluxe, but don't eat at very small, cheap places n the outer districts, either. I presume someone selling snacks on the street or such might not, but I never try to pay for a bottle of water with a credit card at places like that.

I think the OP was asking if places will take credit cards at all, not about some chip issue. And I do have a chip in at least one card I used, but it was chip and signature, anyway, so I don't think that gets you anywhere. The United Explorer is from Chase so I'm sure it was just chip and signature because that's all Chase has.
Christina is offline  
Aug 8th, 2015, 04:39 PM
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Just back from Germany and we were surprised how many restaurants were cash only, maybe half, our first experience with this in Europe.

Also, street facing ATMs are not common in Germany so getting cash after bank hours is more problematic than UK, France, Italy, etc, where this is a carefree activity.
tom_mn is offline  
Aug 8th, 2015, 09:48 PM
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Hi dotsy,

I live in Germany and can confirm that, yes, it is a cash country. I was once embarrassed by wanting to treat my friends to a restaurant meal . . . and was aghast at the end of the meal to discover that the restaurant didn't take cc. My friends were good sports.

Anyway, if a restaurant does accept cc, generally they'll only do it for a specific amount, say over 30€. So you can't just go to a cafe, have coffee & cake, and pay for the 5€ bill with a cc.

Oh, if you want to get cash from a bank machine, you can usually open the doors by swiping the debit card you want to use. That will open the bank doors so you can access the atm.

Have fun as you plan!

swandav2000 is offline  
Aug 9th, 2015, 06:27 AM
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I only had to do this once, but at the 3 banks I tried in Munich: the first did not have an ATM in the entry vestibule, the second did but my card did not unlock the door, and for the third it did unlock the door, but after getting my cash I could not find the release inside to unlock the door (it was not on the inside of the door, i.e turning the inside handle did not open the door) so had to wait for another customer to unlock the door from the outside for me to exit.

In Frankfurt right under the huge Euro sculpture in the heart of the (apparently cash only) entertainment district the bank HQ buildings did not seem to have ATMs in the lobby or maybe I tried the wrong doors. Anyway, had to walk 4 blocks to the train station for an ATM to pay for dinner at the cash only restaurant.

If I had not been about to come home, I would not have been so tight on cash so would not have normally been a problem.
tom_mn is offline  
Aug 9th, 2015, 06:43 AM
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I can't speak to Germany but we've just returned a few months ago from Norway, and Sweden with a stopover in Iceland and CC were accepted everywhere.

If you have a newer CC with a chip it'll be easier, if not ask your Bank. Most of Europe uses the pin and chip.

Cash from an ATM is not always cheaper. The ATM bank will charge you a fee and your bank will charge you a fee, and you can't always get the best exchange rate.

CC generally don't have fees for the user, and I think (in our experience ) the exchange rates are much better.
nanabee is offline  
Aug 9th, 2015, 06:46 AM
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That's so interesting swandav. I had no idea. If Germany is a cash country, then the Scandinavian countries are almost to the point of cashless. We only used our CC and never once used cash for anything.
nanabee is offline  
Aug 9th, 2015, 07:01 AM
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"Cash country" is exaggerated. I too live in Germany and honestly can say that over 90% of the restaurants take MasterCard and VISA. But the 10% that do not exist and they will stand out in your memory. It is not only small businesses - there are even Michelin starred restaurants that do not take plastic.

But many restaurants which do not take credit cards will take MAESTRO cards which are much more common in Europe than MasterCard and VISA because the fees are lower. American Express and Diner's are taken nowhere, not even in first class restaurants.

To avoid surprises look for the credit card sign on the door or ask before you order.

In Germany, you find ATMs in bank lobbies, accessible after hours when you put your card in an automatic lock at the door. However, I am not sure if it works with all foreign cards. You also find ATMs in airports and train stations. However, in EVERY foreign country you may encounter problems with ATMs. So, do not wait until you have spent your last Euro before drawing more cash. I never leave home without at least €200 in cash in my wallet.
traveller1959 is offline  
Aug 9th, 2015, 07:14 AM
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"Cash country" is no exaggeration. It is, in fact, my experience here. I live in a small town in Bavaria.

Yours may differ, traveller1959, but I would not call your experience into question by saying it is an exaggeration or an understatement.

swandav2000 is offline  
Aug 9th, 2015, 09:44 AM
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If you do use ATM machines while in Germany, I would get a Bank Debit card with BANK Of America (we hate BofA but only use it it for foreign travel), because BofA partners with Deutsch Bank (a German bank) and when you use Deutsch bank's ATM there is no fees involved. It can save you lots of money. I think Capital One use to have something similar.
nanabee is offline  
Aug 9th, 2015, 12:34 PM
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nanabee...there are plenty of banks which charge no fees for cash withdrawals from any bank. BofA is in effect ripping your off by restricting your cash withdrawals without fees to only specific banks in specific countries (Barclay in Great Britain, BNP I believe in France etc. BofA also imposes a 3% foreign transaction fee on cash withdrawals above the interbank rate when converting the currency from euro to US dollars. Many banks charge the proper fee namely 0.
xyz123 is offline  
Aug 9th, 2015, 12:41 PM
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, because BofA partners with Deutsch Bank (a German bank) and when you use Deutsch bank's ATM there is no fees involved.

Not true, in the sense that BofA uses a conversion rate of 3% or more. The free exchange (no fee and suing the day's converison rate) with partner banks ended a couple of years ago.
Michael is online now  
Aug 9th, 2015, 01:33 PM
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Maybe a few updates from a local German perspective:

Since a few years ago, you no longer need your card to access the vestibules of banks to get to the ATMs in Germany. This had been a reaction to case of manipulation of those readers at the door to clone cards.
Even when there is still a card reader installed you can ignore it, the door is always open.

When one establishment is accepting credit cards, you can normally pay with any, including Amex.
But still a certain percentage of establishments takes only debit card, both Maestro and V-Pay.

While there is a certain correlation between costs for dining and acceptance of cards it still is no guarantee. Either look for the stickers at the door or ask your waitstuff if they take your specific credit card (not just "cards") - locals ask that all the time, too.

The upside is that ALL establishments that take credit cards do NOT require Chip & PIN. Also the mobile card readers that you handle at the table are multi-tasking and can swipe a card.

As a rule of thumb, I would have 50 to 100 euro in cash with me (or with each person in my party). This would not be considered to be carrying a reckless amount of money, even though it may be outside your comfort zone.
Cowboy1968 is offline  
Aug 9th, 2015, 03:10 PM
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Re: charges for ATMs or credit cards. Know what YOUR bank charges as there as many different charges as there are banks. We have (between the two of us) 4 different Visa credit cards, none of which charge for foreign exchange. We have 2 ATM cards that not only don't charge for use of a foreign ATM, but they will also refund any charges by the local ATM. These cards change 1% on foreign exchange.

Do your research ahead of time so you know what you will be charged. If you travel overseas often, get yourself credit cards that do not charge for foreign exchange and get a bank account that won't charge you an arm and a leg to withdraw money in foreign countries.
Kathie is offline  
Aug 9th, 2015, 03:24 PM
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Cowboy: If you go to the Ostbahnhof in Munich the two closest banks have locked vestibules: The Targo and the Santander. The Targo is the one I got locked inside, and would like to know the trick on how to open the door from the inside.
tom_mn is offline  
Aug 9th, 2015, 08:31 PM
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Just spent a week or so in Bavaria and found that in Nuremberg and to a lesser degree in Munch there were a few restaurants that did not accept credit cards. Not only little mom and pop places, either. Would check to be sure before ordering!
Did not have any problem finding ATM's anywhere in Germany.
Seamus is offline  

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