Is cash widely used in Europe?
Most international travelers will end up using a combination of cash and cards when visiting Europe. While credit cards are accepted in most situations, currency can be more convenient for public transportation and small vendors.
Payment options in Europe can vary greatly depending on which country you visit. In general, credit cards and travel cards are widely accepted, however, having cash on hand may also be required.
If you prefer dealing in cash, then by all means get some euros out before your trip. But actually, you'll find that debit and credit cards are widely accepted in most European cities. Paying by card can be easier and more convenient, without the potential security risk of carrying cash around you.
Although most payments were still made in cash, 55% of euro area consumers prefer paying with card or other cashless means of payment. This is mostly due to the convenience of cashless payments: people do not need to carry hard cash.
A good rule of thumb, though, is that, on average, you should plan to carry between $50 and $100 per day in the currency of the country in which you're travelling. As with all things, research is your friend here. Understand where you're travelling and what the local customs regarding cash are.
Because merchants pay commissions to credit-card companies, small European businesses (B&Bs, mom-and-pop cafés, gift shops, and more) often prefer that you pay in cash. Vendors might offer you a discount for paying with cash, or they might not accept credit cards at all.
Advantages of using cash
If your spending discipline breaks down when you use credit cards, cash may be a better choice while you let loose on vacation. No foreign transaction fees: Many credit cards charge an extra fee of up to 3% on purchases made outside the country, although you can find cards that don't.
Europe's most cash-reliant countries in 2022
Our research reveals that Bulgaria is the most cash-reliant country in Europe with a cash reliant score of 8.35 out of 10 on the index.
Keep it on you. The best place to keep your money is in a place that is 100 percent hidden and unnoticeable. Money pouches are an effective way to keep your valuables safe and on your person at all times. Some can be attached to your belt, others may hang around your neck.
Here is an overview of what two weeks in Europe on a high budget may look like: Accommodation: 200 Euros per night for 14 nights = 2,800 Euros. Food: 80 Euros per day for 14 days = 1,120 Euros. Transportation: 30 Euros per day for 14 days = 420 Euros.
Is Europe mostly cashless?
Within Europe, there's a huge divergence of preference when it comes to paying with cash. In 2019, Austrians withdrew a staggering €140 a week from ATMs, with Norwegians taking out just €35. While in 2020, 96% of the Icelandic population used online banking, compared to only 9% in Romania.
In 2023, Sweden will become the first cashless society in the world, with its economy going 100% digital. According to the Swedish Central Bank, already now, nearly 80% of the country's residents use cards for conducting purchases. Overall, 58 % of transactions use payment cards, and only 6% are made in cash.
Resist the urge to buy foreign currency before your trip.
Some tourists feel like they just have to have euros or British pounds in their pockets when they step off the airplane, but they pay the price in bad stateside exchange rates. Wait until you arrive to withdraw money.
Should You Use Cash or Credit When Traveling to Europe? Most international travelers will end up using a combination of cash and cards when visiting Europe. While credit cards are accepted in most situations, currency can be more convenient for public transportation and small vendors.
Though there may be a small fee if you exchange less than a certain amount, your bank or credit union will almost always be the cheapest place to exchange currency. You may be able to order currency at a branch location, by phone, or online to have it delivered to you or to pick up at a branch.
The general consensus is that you should have $50 to $100 in cash per day for each traveler. However, this amount could vary considerably depending on where you are vacationing. Some destinations are more cash-friendly than others.
Debit cards from any major US bank will work in any standard European bank's ATM (ideally, use a debit card with a Visa or MasterCard logo). As for credit cards, Visa and MasterCard are universal, American Express is less common, and Discover is unknown in Europe. Check your cards' expiration dates.
Digital/Mobile Wallet. Credit Card/Charge Card. Debit Card. Bank transfer.
- Romania: With 78% of all payments using cash, Romania still heavily relies on cash daily transactions every business day.
- Egypt: With nearly 70% of the country not using a bank account, Egypt's citizens regularly use cash.
To quickly recap, if you are traveling to Europe, you are looking at spending around 120 euros per day on average. However, once you have your itinerary in place (try using our convenient tour builder), you will have a tailored and accurate answer to the ever-relevant question - how much to budget per day in Europe.
Should I carry cash when flying?
You shouldn't place cash in your checked luggage. This is because your bags are out of your sight and a lot more people have access to them. They also go missing much more often so it is safer to keep in your hand luggage where you can control its location and track its whereabouts much more easily.
Cash. While many European countries have embraced alternative payment methods, cash remains the most common payment method in Italy. It's especially popular for purchases of €60 or less. The European Central Bank estimates that Italian customers use cash for 86% of in-person transactions.
Of them all, Sweden is by far the closest to achieving a totally cashless society. According to the European Payments Council, only 1% of the country's GDP is represented by cash, and cash withdrawals have been declining 10% annually.
Currently, the euro (€) is the official currency of 20 out of 27 EU member countries which together constitute the Eurozone, officially called the euro area.
The euro as the official currency
Within the euro area, the euro is the only legal tender.