charge cards at restaurants

Aug 10th, 2015, 09:10 AM
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 7,740

I have lived in Munich for a couple of years, and while I am sure the banks' vestibules have been locked as you said, you must have had the misfortune to encounter two very rare exceptions of the rule. I did not have to use any of my cards to access vestibules for years now.
Cowboy1968 is offline  
Aug 10th, 2015, 09:58 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,271
Germany...a country noted for its efficiency and a rather technological advanced country not being in the forefront of 21st century technology and using the only sensible way to pay for things in this day and age? How disappointing.
xyz123 is offline  
Aug 10th, 2015, 01:02 PM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 824
Having my charge card number comprised 3 times (Target, Home Depot & a health care provider), I have to wonder about it being the most sensible way to pay for things. I still use it (someone else had to foot the bill); but, from society's point of view, I wonder if we are going forwards or backwards.
Gary_Mc is offline  
Aug 10th, 2015, 01:08 PM
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 6,047

Efficiency is "a level of performance that describes a process that uses the lowest amount of inputs to create the greatest amount of outputs".

Credit Card organizations like MasterCard, VISA, American Express and Diner's Club charge considerable fees for each transaction.

So, from an economic point of view, credit cards are not efficient.

The European cashless paying system MAESTRO is much more efficient because the fees are siginificantly lower.

Paying with cash has no fees at all, so it is the most efficient way to pay - at least in a country with low crime rates like Germany.

If you are sure to know "the only sensible way to pay for things in this day and age" you are as arrogant as ignorant. Please abstain from travelling. It will disturbe your mind.
traveller1959 is offline  
Aug 10th, 2015, 02:08 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
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Paying with cash has no fees at all, so it is the most efficient way to pay - at least in a country with low crime rates like Germany.

I tend to agree, but an acquaintance who used to run a business said that it cost $50+ to take the money and deposit in a bank. Let others more familiar with cash versus card for the vendor in the U.S. weigh in.
Michael is offline  
Aug 10th, 2015, 03:03 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,271
Sorry you feel that way 1959 but...from my view, using a credit card is by far the most efficient way I both travel and deal with things at home. As a matter of fact, the last time I paid cash for anything was sometime last January and I forget what it was for. I don't have to remember to go to the bank to get cash either at home or on the road by using my credit cards. The vast majority of merchants include the credit card costs in their pricing anyway. Cash can disappear from a merchant's view point (dishonest employees, mistakes in giving change and several other ways). Checks can bounce. As a consumer, I have zero liability for fraud if my card is compromised. Cash can be stolen from me. In dozens of different ways, it is far more efficient both for a merchant and for a consumer to use 21st century technology to deal with the daily nuisances of life to buy things. But I will admit that even I have my limits. I do not try to use my cards for purchases less than $1, or €1 or £1. (This is not to mention the number of consumers who might buy something if they use a card and don't have to worry about running out of cash or hitting the atm in a foreign country to stock up). Whether at home or abroad, for me, the most efficient way is via credit card. But I do apologize to you if you feel differently.
xyz123 is offline  
Aug 10th, 2015, 03:06 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,271
Oh yes, then there's the 2% I get back for everything I charge on some of my cards or the airline miles I accumulate. Takes some of the pain out of buying things. Oh yes, I do remember the last time I paid cash for something. It was to buy a soda from a vending machine which hasn't entered the 21st century yet and didn't have a credit card slot and getting that machine to take my 2 $1 bills was a pain in the you know what. You call that efficiency? I call that something else.
xyz123 is offline  
Aug 10th, 2015, 10:57 PM
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 7,740

To put in perspective:

Debit cards still have wider acceptance in Germany when compared to credit cards as they have been around much longer than in the US (I think).

They came as a package for each bank customer when banks switched from cash tellers to ATMs, a bit later replaced checks altogether and introduced offline and online direct debit.
Anyone with a checking account (which is more or less the whole population since checks have not been in use any longer for decades) had that piece of plastic in his wallet anyway.

So unless you wanted to buy something "on credit", i.e. make use of the CCs feature to pay in installments, or were traveling overseas, the credit card had no extra benefits, just extra costs. As in those years, CCs usually came with a substantial annual fee.
I was the first person in my family to have a credit card (in the early 1990s), because of my trips to the US.
OTOH, I never wrote a check in my whole life.

Nowadays, you have more points of sale implementing payments by mobile phone apps than worrying about credit cards which will probably lose importance when you can pay by tapping your mobile phone against a contactless reader.
Cowboy1968 is offline  
Aug 11th, 2015, 12:01 AM
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 6,047
The Americans here argue how the financial system works in the U.S. and they take it for granted that we have exactly the same system here in Europe.

However, it is different here. As Cowboy has explained, we organize our payments directly with our bank accounts. It works like this:

When you open a bank account you can transfer (and receive) money to any other bank account in the European Union via a system that is called "SEPA". You can do it online from your computer or smartphone. It is extremely safe and efficient. E.g., the SEPA system of money transfer is used for payments for vacation rentals or for traffic fines. (Occasionally, on this forum, Americans receive tickets for traffic violations and usually they do not know how to pay because the European authorities expect payments via SEPA money transfer.)

You also get a bank card which is not a credit card, but has the "MAESTRO" sign. For payments in shops, restaurant etc. you show this card and the payment is done by direct debit authorization. You authorize either via signature or via PIN. This system is also very efficient, so it is widespread. Virtually EVERY business and EVERY restaurant accepts MAESTRO cards. Cheques are a thing of the past. Nobody uses them anymore (except in France where I have seen customers writing cheques at supermarket cashiers).

Vendors dislike credit cards because they involve a third party, the credit card organization, which acts like a parasite by charging extra fees without extra benefit. Credit cards are simply unnecessary for the European financial system, inefficient and a waste of money.

However, from the customer's perspective, credit cards may have an advantage. I have a credit card issued by Lufthansa and I receive a bonus mile for each Euro that is paid with this card. This way, I have earned a couple of free transatlantic business class flights already.

However, there is no free meal. Somebody has to pay. And the ones who pay for my bonus flights are the shopkeepers and restaurant owners because they pay these unnecessary fees. So it is understandable that a few restaurant owners do not accept credit cards. For us Europeans, it is no problem because in this case we pull out our MAESTRO card and pay cashless (however without bonus points).

Many online businesses here in Europe offer different payment methods. You can pay via direct debit authorization, via SEPA money transfer, via cash on delivery, via Paypal or via credit card. Usually, the customer has to pay an extra fee (€5.00 or €10.00) if he chooses to pay via credit card. From an economic point of view, absolutely understandable.

When you are travelling to foreign countries you may find systems which are different from those you have at home. Be prepared to avoid unpleasant surprises. And, please, do not complain about other countries. They are different, something is worse than at home and a few things may be better, because they are different. And these things are the reason why you travel.
traveller1959 is offline  

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