Money and Costs
Budget: Less than €100
- Hostel or private room: €20–40
- Cheap meal: up to €8
- Museums: free–€10
- Private apartment or double room: €60–100
- Three-course dinner at nice 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 and dinner at top-rated restaurant: €100
- Concert or opera tickets: €50-150
ATMs widely available. Credit/debit cards widely accepted, but bring emergency cash reserves.
Somewhat surprisingly, Germany remains largely a cash-based society and credit card use is not as common as you might think. International hotel chains, high-end restaurants, department stores and fancy boutiques usually accept credit cards, but enquire first, just to be on the safe side. Mastercard and Visa are more widely accepted than American Express and Diner's Club. ATMs are ubiquitous. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Cash is king in Hamburg. 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- Visa and MasterCard are more commonly accepted than American Express or Diner's Club.
- Avoid getting cash advances on your credit card via ATMs, as fees are steep and you’ll be charged interest immediately.
- 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.
- Hotels €1 per bag is standard. It's also nice to leave a little cash for the room cleaners, say €1 or €2 per day.
- Restaurants Restaurant bills always include Bedienung (service charge), but most people add 5% or 10% unless the service was truly abhorrent.
- Bars About 5%, rounded to nearest euro. For table service, tip as for restaurants.
- Taxis About 10%, rounded to the nearest euro.
- Toilet attendants Loose change.