Money in German: Everything You Need To Know

Money makes the world goes round, so they say. And money is something you’re going to encounter whenever you spend any time in any German speaking countries. Knowing how to talk about money in German is an essential skill, and is a topic with it own set of vocabulary and phrases.

After reading this post you will know:

  • Useful German money vocabulary & phrases
  • The currencies of Germany, Austria & Switzerland
  • How to correctly talk about money plus how to pay in Germany

Essential Money Vocabulary

When it comes to talking about money in German, there’s quite a bit to get through, so let’s start with some essential vocabulary that you need to know:

das Geldthe money
das Bargeldthe cash
die Kreditkartethe credit card
die Münzethe coins
der Geldscheinthe banknote
die Quittungthe receipt
der Bon the receipt
das Trinkgeld the tip
der Geldautomat the ATM
die EC-Karte the EC card
die Rechnung the bill / check
zahlen to pay
Euro Euro (€)
Cent cent
günstig good value / cheap
teuer expensive

Currency in German Speaking Countries

Depending on which German speaking country you visit, you’ll encounter different currencies. In this post you’ll learn mostly about the German currency, since this is where I have the most experience. However I also want to give you a heads up about Switzerland and Liechtenstein’s currency in this section.

Money in Germany & Austria

In Germany, Austria and much of Europe, the currency is the Euro (€) with the ‘cent’ as the unit.

Euro banknotes are available as: 200 €, 100 €, 50 €, 10 € and 5 €. Note how the Euro symbol (€) always appears after the number unlike dollars and pounds.

Euro and cents coins are available as: 2 €, 1 €, 50c, 20c, 10c, 5c, 2c and 1c.

The Euro was introduced in Germany and Austria in 2002. Prior to this Germany’s currency was the Deutsche Mark (DM) and Austria’s currency was the Schilling (S)

euros notes and coins

Money in Switzerland & Liechtenstein

If you’re fortunate enough to travel to Europe regularly, you’ll get quite used to using the Euro. But be aware that not all countries in Europe use the Euro. This includes the German speaking countries Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

In Switzerland and Liechtenstein the currency is the Swiss Franc (CHF). However Liechtenstein does accept Euros.

swiss francs

How to Talk About Money in German

In order to talk about money in German, you first need to familiarise yourself with the German numbers. Once you have a basic understanding of how numbers work in German, you can have a bit of fun talking about money in German.

The format used in spoken German for money follows the same pattern as in English:

$10 / £10 / 10 €ten dollars / ten poundszehn Euro

Note how when we use Euros, we never use a plural, so we could say 1 € (ein Euro) or 100 € (einhundert Euro).

If we are using both Euros and cents, the format is again similar to English. However unlike in English where we might leave out the word ‘dollar’ or ‘pound’, the word Euro is always used. Here’s an example:

$10.50 / £10.50 / 10,50 € ten (dollars / pound) fiftyzehn Euro fünfzig

Money in German: Paying with Cash

If you’re heading to Germany, one thing you’ll notice early on is how common it is to use cash. Despite the rise in popularity of paying by card, in Germany many people prefer to use cash instead of cards.

Regardless of whether you’re hitting the tourist spots, or going off the beaten path, you’ll regularly discover cafés and small businesses which only accept cash so it’s a good idea to always have some cash with you.

Money in German: Paying by Card

Many places in Germany do accept credit or debit cards as a form of payment particularly Mastercard or Visa. However it’s always wise to check beforehand. A great phrase to remember is:

Kann ich mit Kreditkarte zahlen?Can I pay by card?

Different banks may have various charges for paying abroad, so it’s important to check what charges you may be subject to before you travel.

My bank’s charges are horrendous, so I use a Revolut card instead of my normal bank card for travel. You preload your Revolut card (a Visa, so widely accepted) and get some of the best exchange rates.

There are no hidden charges and you can even withdraw local currency easily for free from ATMs at great exchange rates.

money in german

A note on the EC-Karte

The EC-Karte, also known as the Girocard is a common debit card in Germany. This is a debit card which you can get if you have German bank account, so if you’re just heading to Germany for travel this won’t be an option for you.

The reason I mention it is because you’ll likely encounter businesses which accept the EC-Karte or cash, but not Visa or Mastercard. In fact, this exact thing happened to me at the end of my last trip to Germany, when I’d run out of cash:

Hallo, kann ich mit Kreditkarte zahlen?Hello, can I pay by card?
Nur mit Bar oder EC-Karte.Only with cash or EC-Karte.

At the time I hadn’t actually heard of the EC-Karte, so I said alles gut, danke (alright, thank you) and left to find another café. It was only after a bit of googling that I learned about the EC-Karte, so I thought it was important to let you know about it too.

Money Phrases in German

Here are a few useful phrases related to money which you may hear or say:

Möchten Sie mit Bar oder Kreditkarte zahlen?Would you like to pay with cash or card?
Ich habe leider kein Bargeld.Unfortunately I don’t have any cash.
Wissen Sie, wo ein Geldautomat ist?Do you know where an ATM is?
Wie viel kostet es?How much does it cost?

Money talks! And now you know exactly how to talk about money in German.

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