Germany Credit Card Usage

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darkguy2
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Germany Credit Card Usage

Postby darkguy2 » Mon Feb 29, 2016 4:52 pm

I am planing on spending a few weeks in Germany later this year. I am thinking about getting a Barclay Arrival + a months before I leave to have a chip & PIN card to use. Has anyone had any experience using american chip & PIN cards there? Also what is the best bank to keep my budget in that will allow me to make withdraws from ATMs over there without paying any fees. I think Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Checking offers this, but they require I open an investor account. Anyone know of a better solution?
Discover IT - $5,700
Chase Freedom - $5,700
Costco Citi - $13,000
Sallie Mae - $4,000
Chase Sapphire Preferred - $6,000
Chase Sapphire Reserve - $19,500
Citi Double Cash - $6,500
Amex BCE - $13,000

FICOs: Discover (777), SallieMae (764), Amex (767), Citi (772)
FAKOs: CK- TU (760), EQ (760)


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kcm7
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Re: Germany Credit Card Usage

Postby kcm7 » Mon Feb 29, 2016 5:10 pm

I've been to Germany quite a few times.

I wouldn't worry *too* much about having a chip-and-PIN card. I've used my chip-and-sig cards and even my swipe cards (debit and credit) throughout my trips at hotels, hostels and on bigger purchases (like pricier gifts), and at airports. Actually, even on my card that had the chip, the person manning the hotel front desk ran it through the swipe reader the second they saw I was American and had a stripe on my card. When the machine prompted for chip, they were like, "Oh" and used the chip.

The only time I got stuck was (surprise surprise) trying to buy train tickets at an unmanned kiosk in a non-major train station at night. It rejected my chip and signature card. I had to hoof it back to the hotel, which, luckily, had the local metro cards for sale at the front desk.

In general, Germany is a more cash-based society, so you'll probably get your card turned down (whether it has a chip or PIN or not) at restaurants, food stands, small shops and day-to-day things. I speak German, so I pressed the issue a few times when I was short on cash, pointing out that I'd seen a German customer use a card at that very restaurant five minutes ago, and the waiter got super huffy. So, always have cash. Also, expect hotels and hostels to charge you a fee for using your card to pay for your room.

As for ATMs, Deutsche Bank charges no fees if you use a Bank of America card. Deutsche Bank is practically everywhere, so this is super handy. HOWEVER, lots of German ATMs (even in major cities) are inside the bank lobby. And banks are closed on weekends and even late afternoons sometimes. You have to use a Deutsche Bank card to swipe in, and, in my experience, your BofA card won't work for that.

:cheers:
Cards:

-Capital One Quicksilver
-Barclaycard Arrival (no AF)
- US Bank (no rewards)
-IHG

darkguy2
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Re: Germany Credit Card Usage

Postby darkguy2 » Mon Feb 29, 2016 9:23 pm

That is good to know. Sadly I do not know any German, but I will be with a couple local Germans that I know when I am there so I am sure they will be able to guide me. The only thing I do not like about BoA is they will charge me an 3% conversion fee. Schwab does not charge any fees to use the ATM or convert. I have budgeted around $2500, not including airfare, for my trip so 3% of that is $75 I lose.

I plan to go visit the Christmas markets during my stay so I am sure most of the booths will only take euros.
Discover IT - $5,700
Chase Freedom - $5,700
Costco Citi - $13,000
Sallie Mae - $4,000
Chase Sapphire Preferred - $6,000
Chase Sapphire Reserve - $19,500
Citi Double Cash - $6,500
Amex BCE - $13,000

FICOs: Discover (777), SallieMae (764), Amex (767), Citi (772)
FAKOs: CK- TU (760), EQ (760)

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kcm7
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Re: Germany Credit Card Usage

Postby kcm7 » Tue Mar 01, 2016 10:13 am

darkguy2 wrote:The only thing I do not like about BoA is they will charge me an 3% conversion fee. Schwab does not charge any fees to use the ATM or convert. I have budgeted around $2500, not including airfare, for my trip so 3% of that is $75 I lose.


That's a good point. I've gotten to the point where I just consider the conversion fee part of the cost of travel, and I never considered switching banks to avoid it. I'm pretty lazy when it comes to that kind of thing. :)

The only thing that still annoys me is when hotels charge you extra for using a card (pretty common in Germany, at least in the places I stay -- not sure if nicer properties waive these fees). It sucks when you've got a no-FTF card and still have to eat 3 to 5 percent of the room cost if you want to use your card.
Cards:

-Capital One Quicksilver
-Barclaycard Arrival (no AF)
- US Bank (no rewards)
-IHG

darkguy2
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Posts: 607
Joined: Thu Jan 24, 2013 12:24 am
Location: United States

Re: Germany Credit Card Usage

Postby darkguy2 » Tue Mar 01, 2016 5:40 pm

kcm7 wrote:The only thing that still annoys me is when hotels charge you extra for using a card (pretty common in Germany, at least in the places I stay -- not sure if nicer properties waive these fees). It sucks when you've got a no-FTF card and still have to eat 3 to 5 percent of the room cost if you want to use your card.


Do they charge you a fee even if you book the room online beforehand? Part of my budget would be the room so I guess I could pay in cash if it saves me 5%.
Discover IT - $5,700
Chase Freedom - $5,700
Costco Citi - $13,000
Sallie Mae - $4,000
Chase Sapphire Preferred - $6,000
Chase Sapphire Reserve - $19,500
Citi Double Cash - $6,500
Amex BCE - $13,000

FICOs: Discover (777), SallieMae (764), Amex (767), Citi (772)
FAKOs: CK- TU (760), EQ (760)

User avatar
kcm7
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Posts: 205
Joined: Wed Feb 19, 2014 10:05 pm
Location: TX

Re: Germany Credit Card Usage

Postby kcm7 » Thu Mar 03, 2016 10:20 am

darkguy2 wrote:
Do they charge you a fee even if you book the room online beforehand? Part of my budget would be the room so I guess I could pay in cash if it saves me 5%.


In my experience, most of the properties I've stayed at only allowed you to reserve (not pay for) the room online in advance. Some of them required a small deposit in advance, but paying in full in advance wasn't possible. So, the payment happened at check-in, meaning you'd be subject to the fee, even if you booked online.

I think 5 percent was the highest I saw. Most were 2 percent or a 5EUR flat fee. I stay largely at cheapo places, so the fees were maybe a couple Euros each time. Unless they disclose on the website, you don't know until you get here and read the little sign at check-in, so it can be hard to plan. I usually ended up paying with cash, which entailed carrying a LOT of cash, which is a pain and of itself. Good thing I did, though, because at one place in a small town, they were like, "Our card reader is broken, sorry. Cash only."
Cards:

-Capital One Quicksilver
-Barclaycard Arrival (no AF)
- US Bank (no rewards)
-IHG



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