Visa cards are accepted in Europe
Which credit cards are accepted where?
Are you looking for a credit card for your next trip? Do you want to make sure that you can pay with this card anywhere in the world? Then you should take a close look at this advisory text. We'll show you where you can pay with your credit card. In addition, we explain to you which card type offers the greatest acceptance.
What different credit cards are there?
Different types of credit cards are also issued in Germany. The two most important providers are without a doubt Visa and Mastercard, which are fighting for market leadership in this country. There are more than 20 million cards from the two major credit card banks in this country (as of 10/2016). The cards are not issued directly by Visa or Mastercard. Rather, it is partner banks that issue credit cards from the two companies. For example, you can get your card directly from your savings bank or direct bank. American Express credit cards are an alternative. There are currently just under two million cards in circulation in Germany (as of 10/2016). With American Express, the credit card is issued directly by the company. Other internationally known credit card providers are:
- Diners Club
- JCB International
- China UnionPay
What is the best credit card for me to shop in Germany?
If you only want to use your credit card in Germany, it is basically clear which card you should use. In principle, your choice cannot bypass Visa or Mastercard. The two card providers enjoy by far greater acceptance in this country. Diners Club, JCB International and China UnionPay cards are only accepted in Germany in exceptional cases. This applies, for example, to expensive boutiques or luxury hotels. American Express is a kind of surprise bag in the area of acceptance. You can usually use this credit card for luxury purchases and at most petrol stations without any problems. In stationary retail and e-commerce, however, things get more complicated. Recently, however, the acceptance of American Express credit cards has increased significantly.
Where is my Visa credit card accepted in Germany?
If you have a Visa credit card in your wallet, you don't have to worry about its acceptance. You can now pay with such a credit card almost anywhere in major retail and online shops. Supermarkets like Rewe, Aldi or Lidl now accept credit cards with absolutely no problems. All major online retailers, including Amazon, Otto and Galeria Kaufhof, are also happy to accept your Visa credit card. On the other hand, you might run into problems if you want to pay in smaller shops.
In rural areas in particular, only giro cards and cash are usually accepted. On the other hand, you shouldn't have any problems paying at petrol stations, because here the Visa credit card is accepted without any major problems. The same applies to ATMs throughout Germany. You can generally withdraw cash from almost any machine with your Visa credit card. Please note, however, that there may be fees. After all, you have a network of almost 60,000 ATMs in Germany. The number of acceptance points for Visa credit cards in retail and online trade is over 500,000 (as of 10/2016).
Where is my Mastercard credit card accepted in Germany?
Meanwhile, with a Mastercard credit card you are no worse off. The former German market leader has slightly more acceptance points in this country than Visa. The differences are small, however, which is why the number of acceptance points should not be decisive for your choice. In principle, you can use both Visa and Mastercard with almost all merchants and are therefore completely flexible. You can also usually find both the Visa and Mastercard symbols at ATMs. So your decision to make purchases in Germany should always be on either a Visa or a Mastercard credit card. So you definitely can't go wrong with acceptance.
Where is my American Express credit card accepted in Germany?
If, on the other hand, you rely on American Express, the chances are slightly worse. Unfortunately, Amex is by no means accepted everywhere in this country. Unfortunately, there is a lack of official figures on acceptance, because American Express is ignoring this issue. So you can only estimate how high the number of acceptance points is. If you consider that American Express accounts for only 14 percent of all payments with credit cards (as of: 06/2015), you can assume that the acceptance is a maximum of a third of that of the competition. You can also test this for yourself by taking a look at local dealers. Recently, however, something has happened because American Express has lowered its fees and has been able to win many new retailers as partners.
In principle, you can pay with your American Express credit card in the luxury sector, in hotels, with airlines, at petrol stations and now also at supermarkets such as Rewe. ATMs with the American Express logo can also be found in almost all German cities with at least 10,000 inhabitants. American Express is certainly still more difficult to use than Visa or Mastercard cards, but the gap is getting smaller.
Where are JCB, Union Pay and Diners Club cards accepted?
Until recently, Diners Club credit cards were also issued in Germany. JCB and Union Pay, on the other hand, can only be obtained in exceptional cases or if you live in another country. So it is not surprising that the number of acceptance points for these cards is very limited in this country. In Germany, you can usually only pay with the “special” cards at a few luxury retailers with an international focus and in selected hotels of the highest category. If you only have one of the cards mentioned in your wallet, the chances are correspondingly poor in Germany. You should rather get another credit card for day-to-day business.
Are Visa and Mastercard credit cards accepted across Europe?
In general, you can also use your Visa or Mastercard credit card outside of Germany without any problems. If you are traveling in the European Union, you can get cash at over 400,000 ATMs. The number of acceptance points is in the high single-digit million range and differs depending on the estimates. As in Germany, the differences between Visa and Mastercard are marginal. Please note, however, that acceptance differs depending on the country. For example, acceptance is extremely high, especially in Northern Europe. In principle, you can pay with credit card anywhere in Sweden or Denmark. Visa and Mastercard credit cards are also accepted very well in some Eastern European countries such as Poland. This also applies to most of the countries in Central Europe.
However, you could face difficulties in less developed countries in Eastern Europe or in Southern Europe. Credit cards don't have a particularly long tradition here, which is why Visa and Mastercard are less widely accepted. At least one ATM with a Visa or Mastercard logo can be found in these countries without any problems. It is generally difficult to use credit cards in some countries that are not members of the European Union. This is especially true for former Soviet states such as Ukraine or Belarus. Here you can often only pay with your Visa or Mastercard credit card at selected retailers and in the luxury segment. Even in Russia itself, the acceptance of Visa and Mastercard is not guaranteed everywhere. This is also due to sanctions that flare up again and again, which make the business of Visa and Mastercard much more difficult.
Are other credit cards accepted throughout Europe?
In general, you can of course also use your American Express or Diners Club credit cards abroad. In some cases, however, the acceptance is even worse. For example, you can only rarely pay with your American Express or Diners Club credit card in Eastern Europe. Even in Northern Europe, the acceptance of American Express can be greatly expanded compared to Visa and Mastercard. Although you should find ATMs almost everywhere that accept American Express or Diners Club credit cards, the search may take a little longer. There are no figures for exact acceptance, but the subjective impression is quite negative. So if you are not traveling to Belgium or Sweden, you should also pack a Visa or Mastercard credit card in your wallet.
Can I shop worldwide with Visa and Mastercard?
You probably don't just travel within Europe. Therefore, the acceptance of Visa and Mastercard outside of the European Union and Europe certainly also plays a role for you. The following applies: The acceptance differs depending on the world region. In general, you are well positioned with Visa and Mastercard, although Mastercard has significantly more partners. The acceptance is particularly good in the USA, where acceptance is greater than in any other country in the world. But with Visa and Mastercard, for example, you won't have any real acceptance problems in Australia, Brazil, Thailand or South Africa. Please note, however, that the acceptance of credit cards is closely linked to a country's level of development. A high level of acceptance is by no means guaranteed, especially in less developed countries.
Even in larger countries like Brazil, Thailand or South Africa, this is especially true for rural regions. While you hardly have any problems here in big cities, problems can often arise outside the city limits. So better take some local currency cash with you. In addition, there are countries in which the acceptance of Visa and Mastercard is generally lower. This applies to China, for example. Here you can pay with Visa and Mastercard in many places. The acceptance is in no way comparable with that in Europe or the USA.
The number of ATMs worldwide where you can get cash with your Visa or Mastercard is around two million. Here Mastercard stands out again slightly from Visa. You can get more cash with your Mastercard at around 400,000 ATMs than with your Visa credit card (as of 10/2016). In normal life, however, this should hardly be noticeable, as Mastercard simply offers more ATMs in many places. So you can usually find a suitable ATM with your Visa credit card without any problems. In general, there are also differences in ATMs depending on the country. In less developed countries you will generally find fewer ATMs. Please also note that in many countries - for example in South America - only selected machines accept credit cards at all. It is better to inquire here before your trip.
- This is where you can search for ATMs that accept your Visa credit card
- Here you can search for ATMs that accept your Mastercard credit card
Are there countries where Visa and Mastercard are not accepted at all?
The credit card is generally a means of payment that is accepted worldwide. Please note, however, that this does not apply to every country as a result. There are still very isolated countries in which Visa and Mastercard credit cards are not yet accepted. This applies to North Korea and Cuba, for example. In Myanmar (formerly Burma), too, Visa and Mastercard credit cards have only been accepted in exceptional circumstances. In addition, you may not be able to use your Visa or Mastercard credit card in the Middle East (for example in Iraq or Afghanistan). In Iran, too, the use of Visa and Mastercard credit cards has so far hardly been possible. This applies to both ATMs and acceptance points. You can also expect difficulties in some African countries (as of 10/2016).
What about the worldwide acceptance of American Express & Co?
Unfortunately, American Express does not publish any figures regarding the international application possibilities. In general, however, the following also applies here: American Express is accepted much less frequently than Visa and Mastercard. The acceptance in North America is very good. In South America and some Asian countries, too, you can shop and withdraw money quite well with American Express. In many other regions of the world, including Australia, you will run into major problems with your American Express credit card. Of course, it is also not possible to use it in countries in which Visa or Mastercard credit cards are hardly or not at all accepted. So it is best to find out before you travel whether American Express is widely accepted in the destination country. The possibilities of using American Express abroad are partly limited to luxury hotels and expensive boutiques. In contrast, American Express is not suitable for use in everyday life in many countries.
You have the same problems with Diners Club. Premium provider cards are even less accepted outside of North America than American Express cards. Here, too, the focus is clearly on the luxury market. With JCB and Union Pay, on the other hand, acceptance is more of a regionally limited matter. Union Pay credit cards are accepted far more frequently in China than all other credit cards. JCB credit cards, on the other hand, are more widely accepted in Japan than Visa and Mastercard credit cards. So if you stay longer in one of these countries, one of the exotic credit cards could be worthwhile. In terms of worldwide acceptance, however, the competition Visa and Mastercard cannot even come close to holding a candle.
Visa and Mastercard are the ideal all-rounders
In summary, it can be said that accepting credit cards is more complicated than it may seem at first glance. In Germany you are definitely in the best position with Visa and Mastercard. This generally also applies to other countries. Please note, however, that you may run into problems with Visa and Mastercard in some countries. You should only bet on an American Express or Diners Club credit card if you are only paying in the luxury sector. Only there is the acceptance of these cards competitive. Cards from the Chinese provider Union Pay and the Japanese provider JCB, on the other hand, are only really interesting when traveling to the countries mentioned.
Visa images: visa.de
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