The Euro (€) was introduced as German currency 1st of January 2002 (previously, on 1.1.1999, it had been introduced as “book money”). The Euro is the currency of the European Economic and Monetary Union. At present it is the currency of the 19 EU member states and six other European states.
The Euro is divided into coins and banknotes:
Coins 1, 2 and 5 cents; 10, 20 and 50 cents; 1 and 2 Euros.
Bank notes come in 5, 10,20,50,100, 200 and 500 Euro.
If you want to exchange foreign currency, you can do so at your bank in Germany. In the event that you need foreign currency (not Euro), this can be ordered at the bank. Since the introduction of the Euro in Germany, many banks do not have foreign currencies immediately available.
Money can be taken out at ATMs or counters in the bank. Ask which banks and ATMs you can use for free when you open your bank account.
- Cash: the most popular way to pay in Germany is with cash. It is often the case that small restaurants shops or kiosks do not accept EC (electronic cash) or credit cards. You can normally pay by card in larger shops, supermarkets or at machines.
- Debit card / current account card / EC card: you will receive a debit card when you open a bank account. Unlike a credit card, a debit card payment is deducted from your account straight away, so if there is not enough money in the account, the debit card cannot be charged. Payment by debit card is possible at many machines and on the internet.
- Credit cards are used much less frequently in Germany than in other countries, but it is increasing in popularity. However, do not assume that you can always pay by credit card: they are not accepted for small payment amounts in particular.
- Cheques are not a normal payment method in Germany and cannot be used when shopping.
- Direct debit: a direct debit payment can be set up with many services for which a sum of money is paid on a regular basis. For example, your telephone bill can be directly deducted from your account.
- Purchase on account: this payment method is available for larger purchases or internet orders. The amount is not due until after the goods have been received. Please be aware that there are strict deadlines that must be adhered to for payment on account. If they are not observed, it will incur overdue notices and fees.
- There are other prepayment methods available on the internet. The product is not dispatched until payment has been received.
- ‘Sofortüberweisung‘ (direct transfer) offers a new way to pay by online transfer. This is processed with your PIN number and operates in a similar way to the debiting of your account when paying at machines.
Mobile phone payments are becoming increasingly popular, but many businesses in Germany do not yet use this type of payment.