The euro (€) is the single European currency of Germany and other participating countries. Exchange rates of participating countries are locked into a common currency fluctuating against the dollar.
The major cities of Germany are some of the world's most expensive. So, if you want to see the country without breaking the bank, you may want to cut short your time in Frankfurt, Munich, or Berlin and concentrate on regional capitals such as Freiburg in the Black Forest, where you can cut your travel cost by anywhere from 20% to 40%. You may also want to consider a rail pass.
Although prices in Germany are high, you generally get good value for your money. The inflation rate has remained low. Hotels are usually clean and comfortable, and restaurants generally offer good cuisine and ample portions made with quality ingredients. Trains are fast and on time, and most service personnel treat you with respect.
Many people come to Germany just for winter sports. The most expensive resorts are places like Garmisch-Partenkirchen. However, if you avoid the chic places, you can enjoy winter fun at a moderate cost. Some of the winter spots in the Bavarian Alps that haven't been overrun by the beautiful people give you great value for your money. And prices in a village next to a resort are often 30% lower than at the resort itself.
In Germany, many prices for children (generally defined as ages 6-17) are considerably lower than for adults. And fees for children 5 and younger are often waived entirely.
Frommer's lists exact prices in the local currency. However, rates fluctuate, so before departing consult a currency exchange website to check up-to-the-minute rates.
ATMs: The easiest way to get cash away from home is from an ATM, sometimes referred to as a Geldautomat. Note: Remember that many banks impose a fee every time you use a card at another bank's ATM, and that fee can be higher for international transactions. In addition, the bank from which you withdraw cash may charge its own fee. For international withdrawal fees, ask your bank.
Note: Banks that are members of the Global ATM Alliance charge no transaction fees for cash withdrawals at other Alliance member ATMs; these include Bank of America, Scotiabank (Canada, Caribbean, and Mexico), Barclays (U.K. and parts of Africa), Deutsche Bank (Germany, Poland, Spain, and Italy), and BNP Paribas (France).
Credit Cards: Credit cards are another safe way to carry money. They also provide a convenient record of all your expenses, and they generally offer relatively good exchange rates. You can withdraw cash advances from your credit cards at banks or ATMs, but high fees make credit card cash advances a pricey way to get cash. Remember that you'll pay interest from the moment of your withdrawal, even if you pay your monthly bills on time. Also, note that many banks now assess a 1% to 3% "transaction fee" on all charges you incur abroad (whether you're using the local currency or your native currency).
In Germany, American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard, and Visa are commonly accepted, with the latter two cards predominating.
Beware of hidden credit-card fees while traveling. Check with your credit or debit card issuer to see what fees, if any, will be charged for overseas transactions. Recent reform legislation in the U.S., for example, has curbed some exploitative lending practices. But many banks have responded by increasing fees in other areas, including fees for customers who use credit and debit cards while out of the country—even if those charges were made in U.S. dollars. Fees can amount to 3% or more of the purchase price. Check with your bank before departing to avoid any surprise charges on your statement.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.