Munich is an expensive city. Although prices in Germany are high, you generally get good value for your money. 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 offer great value. 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 ages 6-17) are considerably lower than for adults. Fees for children 5 and under are often waived entirely.
The euro (€), is the single currency of Germany and other participating countries. Exchange rates of participating countries are locked into a common currency fluctuating against the dollar.
Frommer's lists exact prices in the native currency. However, rates fluctuate, so before departing consult a currency exchange website such as www.oanda.com/convert/classic to check up-to-the-minute rates.
You can exchange money at your local bank. If you're far away from a bank with currency-exchange services, American Express offers traveler's checks and foreign currency, though with a $15 order fee and additional shipping costs.
The easiest way to get cash is from an ATM, sometimes referred to as a geldautomat. The Cirrus (tel. 800/424-7787; www.mastercard.com) and PLUS (www.visa.com) networks span the globe; look at the back of your bank card to find out which network you're on, and then call or check online for ATM locations at your destination. Be sure you know your personal identification number (PIN) and daily withdrawal limit before you depart. 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 (up to $5 or more) than for domestic ones (where they're rarely more than $3). 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, the Caribbean, and Mexico), Barclays (U.K. and parts of Africa), Deutsche Bank (Germany, Poland, Spain, and Italy), and BNP Paribas (France).
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. Keep in mind 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.
For tips and telephone numbers to call if your wallet is stolen or lost, see "Lost & Found" in the "Fast Facts" section.
You can buy traveler's checks at most banks. They are offered in denominations of $20, $50, $100, $500, and sometimes $1,000. Generally, you'll pay a service charge ranging from 1% to 4%.
The most popular traveler's checks are offered by American Express (tel. 800/528-4800 or 800/221-7282 for cardholders -- this latter number accepts collect calls, offers service in several foreign languages, and exempts Amex gold and platinum cardholders from the 1% fee); Visa (tel. 800/732-1322 -- AAA members can obtain Visa checks for free for checks up to $1,500 at most AAA offices or by calling tel. 866/339-3378); and MasterCard (tel. 800/223-9920).
American Express, Thomas Cook, Visa, and MasterCard offer foreign currency traveler's checks, which are useful if you're traveling to one country, or within the euro zone; they're accepted at locations where U.S.-dollar traveler's checks may not be.
If you carry traveler's checks, keep a record of the serial numbers separate from your checks, in the event that they are stolen or lost. You'll get a refund faster if you know the numbers.
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.