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Germany Currency: Everything You Need to Know

Germany Currency: Everything You Need to Know

What currency does Germany use? The Euro. Here is some general information on Germany and the national official currency (Euro) that I hope will be useful for anyone planning a trip.

What Is the Euro?

European Central Bank Logo

The Euro was introduced as a cash currency in Germany on the first of January 2002. It was most often used for cashless purchases by the banks and stock markets.

Not many people were happy about the introduction of the Euro. Many people wanted to keep the Deutsche mark.

There are currently nineteen states in Europe that use the Euro. These include Germany, Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Greece, and Latvia.

Paying in Germany

Woman is paying In cash with euro banknotes
pixinoo / Shutterstock

When you travel to Germany, you will undoubtedly need money. If you are a visitor, you may find that an online currency converter tool can come in handy to see how many Euros you would get for your local currency.

The exchange rate for the Euro is about 1.11 to 1.21 United States dollars for one Euro. The best way to get a good exchange rate in Germany is through an ATM, a Geldautomat.

You will find them everywhere around Germany, including banks, shopping centers, train stations, post offices, hotel lobbies, and the airport. You can also select English as your language on each of them, so you won’t have to worry about not understanding the machine.

In addition to the Euro as currency, you will also find that you can pay with credit cards; however, this payment method is not as common as it is in the US.

Converting Your Currency to the Euro in Germany

Close-up of two hands of people exchange a 50 euro notes
nadia_if / Shutterstock

One of the first things you will need to do when planning your trip to Germany is convert your national currency to the Euro.

To do this, you can get it at your local bank before your departure or at the arrival airport in Germany at a currency conversion table. When converting currency at the airport table, remember that most are not open 24/7.

Do not be surprised if the denomination of your converted currency is much less than that of your local currency. In recent years, the Euro has been doing extremely well.

Another way to get Euro in Germany is to use your ATM card. You can find an ATM at any bank. Most accept foreign ATM cards, but not all.

If your ATM card is rejected, you will probably get a “card not in-network” prompt on the screen. Depending on your card provider, you can expect a foreign ATM charge of anywhere from 2 to 4 dollars per transaction.

Do not be dependent on your foreign credit card. Many businesses in Germany accept American Express, so there may not be as many credit cards as in your local country.

For example, a Visa is accepted in most gas stations but only a few restaurants. It is a good idea to take Euro cash along any time you go on the economy in Germany.

Some American-based companies/restaurants take the United States dollar; for example, all McDonald’s in Germany take the United States dollar.

Here is a comparison of the different options for exchanging currency in Germany:

Exchange MethodExchange RateConvenienceFeesRecommended Use
ATMs (Geldautomat)Best, close to interbank rateHigh, widely availableLow, some banks charge a foreign transaction feeWithdrawing local currency as needed for everyday expenses
BanksGood, close to interbank rateModerate, limited hours and locationsLow to moderate, varies by bankExchanging larger amounts or when ATMs are not available
Currency Exchange Counters at AirportsPoor, significantly lower than interbank rateHigh, open long hoursHigh, poor rates and additional feesAvoid if possible, only use for small amounts in an emergency
ReisebankModerate, slightly lower than interbank rateModerate, located in major cities and train stationsModerate, better than airports but higher than banksExchanging money when banks are closed or in transit
Travelers’ ChecksModerate, depends on the issuing bankLow, not widely acceptedModerate, some banks charge a fee for cashingNot recommended, as they are not as widely accepted as in the past

Tips for Exchanging Currency in Germany

Euro banknotes

Here are a few tips to help you when it comes to exchanging currency in Germany.

Understanding the Mid-Market Rate

Familiarize yourself with the mid-market rate before you leave on your trip. This is known as the true exchange rate and has no hidden fees.

You can use an online currency converter to see what money is worth ahead of your trip. This helps ensure you get a fair rate when purchasing your travel money.

Choose German Currency for ATM Charges

ATM (Geldautomat) in Germany
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

If you are offered to pay in your currency at an ATM, you may actually pay more than if you chose to pay your fees with German currency instead. When you pay in Euros, the local currency in Germany, you can reduce your overall costs and find the best possible rates.

Avoid Currency Exchanges at Airports or Lodging Facilities

Many airports and hotel lobbies raise the exchange rates and are also known for charging hidden fees. Don’t stop at the airport or your hotel to avoid this overly expensive option when exchanging your money for German currency. If you plan and spend your money wisely, Germany will be a GREAT vacation experience.

See Related: Things to Do in Berlin

German Currency FAQ

If you still have questions about German currency or how to use it, review our brief FAQ below for answers to some of the more commonly asked questions.

Should You Use Credit Cards or Cash When Traveling in Germany?

Germany is a relatively safe country, so you should feel secure enough to carry cash on your travels. Using a traditional magnetic stripe credit or debit card may actually prove to be quite problematic in some areas because not a lot of places accept them, like smaller shops, cafes, and grocery stores.

Local cash will be the easiest and most convenient way to pay for things in Germany unless you can find a credit or debit card designed specifically for travelers. When traveling abroad, you also want to avoid withdrawing money from a credit card because it can incur much higher fees and interest.

What Is Currency Manipulation?

Currency manipulation is a policy that governments and central banks use with some of the largest trading partners to artificially lower the value of their currency to gain an unfair competitive advantage. The Germans did not set the strength of the currency in Germany.

Instead, it is set by the European Central Bank. Some say that Germany is a currency manipulator, but many Germans feel they are not to blame for the Euro’s weakness.

Can You Use Traveler’s Checks in Germany?

The only place that will accept traveler’s checks in Germany will be a money exchange place like you would find at the airport or a train station. You will also find that you will pay a good fee, and the exchange rate is less than desirable.

Can you use the Swiss Franc in Germany?

The Swiss Franc is the official currency of Switzerland and Liechtenstein and is the sixth most traded currency in the world. Germany, however, uses Euros, so the Swiss Franc is not an accepted currency in the country.

What is currency reform?

Currency reform involves withdrawing all or some devalued paper currency from circulation. It is then replaced with new money that is either paper or metal.

It also has to do with a change in the content of money, the exchange rate, and the reorganization of a monetary system, as you saw when Germany moved from the Deutsche Mark or German Mark to the Euro.

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