Money and Costs
Budget: Less than €120
- Hostel, camping or private room: €15–30
- Low-cost meal or self-catering: up to €8
- Day ticket on public transport: €5–7
- Private apartment or double room: €60–120
- Three-course dinner at a good restaurant: €30–40
- Couple of beers in a pub or beer garden: €8
Top end: More than €200
- Fancy loft apartment or double in top-end hotel: from €150
- Sit-down lunch or dinner at top-rated restaurant: €100
- Concert or opera tickets: €50–150
Gentle haggling is common at flea markets; in all other instances you’re expected to pay the stated price. In hotels, you may get a better rate if you're staying more than one night.
ATMs widely available in cities and towns, rarely in villages. Credit cards are not widely accepted.
Germany is still largely a cash-based society and credit card use is not common. International hotel chains, high-end restaurants, department stores and fancy boutiques usually accept credit cards, but always make it a habit to enquire first, just to be on the safe side. Mastercard and Visa are more widely accepted than American Express and Diners Club. ATMs are ubiquitous in towns and cities but not usually in rural areas. Be wary of those not affiliated with major banks as they charge exorbitant transaction fees. ATMs do not recognise PINs with more than four digits.
ATMs & Debit Cards
- The easiest and quickest way to obtain cash is by using your debit (bank) card at a Geldautomat (ATM) linked to international networks such as Cirrus, Plus, Star and Maestro.
- ATMs are plentiful in towns and cities and usually accessible 24/7.
- ATM cards often double as debit cards, and many shops, hotels, restaurants and other businesses accept them for payment. Most cards use the ‘chip and PIN’ system; instead of signing, you enter your PIN. If your card isn’t chip-and-PIN enabled, you may be able to sign the receipt, but ask first.
- Deutsche Bahn ticket vending machines at train stations and local public transport may not accept non-chip-and-PIN cards.
Cash is king in Germany. Always carry some with you, and plan to pay cash almost everywhere. It's also a good idea to set aside a small amount of euros as an emergency stash.
The unit of currency in Germany is the euro (€). Euros come in seven notes (€5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200 and €500) and eight coins (€0.01, €0.02, €0.05, €0.10, €0.20, €0.50, €1 and €2).
- Credit cards are becoming more widely accepted, but it’s best not to assume you’ll be able to use one – ask first. Sometimes a minimum purchase amount applies. Even so, a piece of plastic is vital in emergencies and also useful for phone or internet bookings. Visa and Mastercard are more commonly accepted than American Express or Diners Club.
- Avoid getting cash advances on your credit card via ATMs, as fees are steep and you’ll be charged interest immediately (in other words, there’s no grace period as with purchases).
- Report lost or stolen cards to the central number 116 116 or the following:
American Express 069-9797 1000
Mastercard 0800-819 1040
Visa 0800-811 8440
For current exchange rates see www.xe.com.
- Commercial banks usually charge a stiff fee (€5 to €10) per foreign-currency transaction, no matter the amount, if they offer exchange services at all.
- Wechselstuben (currency exchange offices) at airports, train stations and in bigger towns usually charge lower fees. Traveller-geared Reisebank (www.reisebank.de) branches are ubiquitous in Germany and are usually found at train stations. They keep longer hours than banks and are usually open on weekends.
- Exchange facilities in rural areas are rare.
- Hotels €1 per bag is standard. It's nice to leave a little cash for the room cleaners (€1 or €2 per day).
- Restaurants Bills always include Bedienung (service charge); most people add 5% or 10% unless service was truly abhorrent.
- Bars About 5%, rounded to nearest euro. For drinks brought to your table, tip as for restaurants.
- Taxis Tip about 10%, rounded to the nearest euro.
- Toilet attendants Loose change.