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What currency to bring?

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We leave in less than 2 weeks and I was thinking about ordering some currency from my bank to take on our trip. We are staying overnight in Copenhagen and will be taking taxis, I know they take credit cards, but can you add tips on them? Also plan on going to Tivoli, and wondering if we need cash for the food stands there. 

 

We have shore excursions in St. Petersberg, Helsinki and Stockholm and will want to tip guides. We are doing Tallinn on our own and going to Rostock, Germany for lunch  on our own. I plan to use my credit card as much as possible, but not sure if we will want to purchase things that are cash only. 

 

If I do order foreign currency, it won't be a lot so we don't get stuck with it.

 

Any advice?

 

Thanks.

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In Denmark you can pay everywhere with plastic,literally EVERYwhere.SO no need for cash there.

I think that the guides in Helsinki and Stockholm will most likely accept USD as cash if you want to tip.

Tallin is doable with credit card as well,Rostock should be doable with credit card as well(although this is the place

where i do have the most doubts regarding credit card payment)

But if you want to have some cash to be on the safe side i would suggest EUR for Tallin ,Rostock and Helsinki

and USD for Stockholm.

Regarding St.Petersburg i am not sure whether they will take USD. They did in the past but i don`t know whether there might have been changes due to the political tensions in the last months.

 

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Germany is not on the same level as the Nordic countries regarding cashless society. 

 

I have my debet card Visa Electron from Nordea (I think its called Nordea Pay or Visa Pay now) declined in ticket machines in Berlin and a taxi in Düsseldorf only accepted Cash as payment. 

 

And on the service stations on the autobahn they don't like small purchases payed by credit card. 

 

My experiences is a few years old so it might have changed but these issues have never appeared in other similar countries. 

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I would bring some EUR for tipping, small cafe purchases, and sometimes - for a restroom (€.50 - €1). Restrooms in Europe will come with a fee many times. And don't be fooled by the larger bills or coins already placed on the 'tip tray' - they are put there by the attendant and €.50 will suffice.  Other times you will need to place coinage in a turnstile or in the lock on the door (which really slows you down if you really have to go :0) 

Unfortunately, Euro banknotes start at €5, the most useful EUR you'll need is €1 and €2 which are coinage (and heavy). We always find ourselves needing more of this denomination. CC are fine on the autobahn. 

As for CC - hopefully you have one with no foreign transaction fees. And in Germany especially there are times when you need a CC with 'chip and pin', not the more readily available 'chip and signature'. Most of the machines (anything that is self-service like tickets and parking) in Germany require a 'chip and pin' card, a 'chip and signature' is fine for hotels, restaurants, and shopping.

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Also for Denmark, Finland and Sweden a Credit Card with chip and pin is highly recommended - primarily for smaller payments.

ApplePay is widely accepted in Denmark.

Euro can be used as tip (Finland also has Euro) - just note that tipping is not required in Northern Europe, (VAT and tips always included in prices)  - tips however appreciated - but normally only rounding up - at some restaurants you can add tip to your bill paid with Credit card.

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We just came back and we took a small amount of each local currency.  I heard that in St. Petersburg they wouldn’t take anything but rubles but found that some of the local vendors would take euros. Most places use credit cards. There was only one stand in Copenhagen that sold hotdogs that would not take credit cards. The vendors in Tivoli all took credit cards. 

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Thank's  for  asking the question  I needed answers to for next year.

 

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Almost all establishments accept credit cards and for tipping, I found that they don't mind receiving USD or EUR. If you really want to have some local currency in case you want to buy souvenirs from small vendors, I suggest just withdraw from the ATM. Most ports have ATMs so it's very convenient and easy to get the local currency. 

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We just got back from a trip and the only cash we needed was US$ for the tour and tip in St. Petersburg, Euros for some non-prepaid tours and tip in other countries, and Euros for one waffle and gelato vendor in Belgium that didn't take cards. (There's always one!) Everyone else -- even the hot dog vendor we bought from in Copenhagen -- took our chip-and-pin credit card. Most of the small vendors now have these small card readers that connect to their phones. 

 

(And we were also able to find free washrooms in the sights and restaurants that we visited, thankfully!)

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On ‎9‎/‎1‎/‎2019 at 5:59 PM, bearchele2 said:

We just came back and we took a small amount of each local currency.  I heard that in St. Petersburg they wouldn’t take anything but rubles but found that some of the local vendors would take euros. Most places use credit cards.

Hi so what did the other places take? Rubles?  Would you advise to bring local currency if you head into a small market or shop along the tour?

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I get that the tours will take Euros or US dollars, but if our tour stopped at a local grocery store or market, how would I pay? Has anyone gotten off the beaten path to interact with the locals?  Or do the tours sequester you to prevent you meeting with regular folks?

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1 hour ago, Magicat said:

but if our tour stopped at a local grocery store or market, how would I pay?

It's a bit unclear for which countries. For Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden - bring your Credit card - any amount to be paid by CC - but Chip and Pin card highly recommended.

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Thanks, what about Russia?  Should we carry some local currency in Denmark, Finland and Sweden or can we purchase small items like a bottle of water with a credit card?

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3 hours ago, Magicat said:

Thanks, what about Russia?  Should we carry some local currency in Denmark, Finland and Sweden or can we purchase small items like a bottle of water with a credit card?

Yes, you can purchase small items with a credit card. Finland is using Euro - don’t bring local currency for Denmark and Sweden - you might also be able to use Euro in Copenhagen shops - bring some Euro and USD.

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We just returned from a similar trip. We only used our credit card in Copenhagen (at times we needed a PIN code so I suggest, that if you don't plan to have Danish Kroner make sure you have a PIN code for your cc.) In Germany we used Euros to tip the tour guide/driver and buy coffee and ice cream.  I believe they would have accepted tips in USD but we would not have been able to purchase snacks. In St. Petersburg we used credit cards and tipped the guide in USD, in Sweden and Finland we credit cards. Since we had Euros, we used Euros in Tallin for smaller purchases and credit card for lunch.

 

Enjoy your trip, it was the best vacation we ever had!

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5 hours ago, MN'smom said:

We just returned from a similar trip. We only used our credit card in Copenhagen (at times we needed a PIN code so I suggest, that if you don't plan to have Danish Kroner make sure you have a PIN code for your cc.) In Germany we used Euros to tip the tour guide/driver and buy coffee and ice cream.  I believe they would have accepted tips in USD but we would not have been able to purchase snacks. In St. Petersburg we used credit cards and tipped the guide in USD, in Sweden and Finland we credit cards. Since we had Euros, we used Euros in Tallin for smaller purchases and credit card for lunch.

 

Enjoy your trip, it was the best vacation we ever had!

Great info thank's.  We do the Baltic May next year,  can't wait. 

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Be aware that PSD2 (the second Payment Services Directive) becomes effective today EU-wide + Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein. It means it will be harder/not possible to pay with swipe+sign and chip+sign.
since the banks no longer are allowed to payments where the consumer approves the purchase
by writing his/hers signature. Purchases with swipe (magnetic stripe) might be voided by
the bank since this method is considered unsafe.

 

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/qanda_19_5555

 

" PSD2 introduces strict security requirements for the initiation and processing of electronic payments. PSD2 obliges payment service providers to apply so-called “strong customer authentication” (SCA) when a payer initiates an electronic payment transaction. Payment service providers include banks and other payment service providers. "

 

In terms of how it works in practice, customers will receive advice from their banks or payment providers. They will have to provide two or more of the following elements when making payments, which can be categorised as:

  • Knowledge: something only the user knows, e.g. a password or a PIN code
  • Possession: something only the user possesses, e.g. a mobile phone, and
  • Inherence: something the user is, e.g. the use of a fingerprint or voice recognition.

 

Se link above for more information.

Edited by Desdichado62

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11 minutes ago, Desdichado62 said:

Be aware that PSD2 (the second Payment Services Directive) becomes effective today EU-wide + Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein

Thank you for the update.

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4 hours ago, Desdichado62 said:

Be aware that PSD2 (the second Payment Services Directive) becomes effective today EU-wide + Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein. It means it will be harder/not possible to pay with swipe+sign and chip+sign.
since the banks no longer are allowed to payments where the consumer approves the purchase
by writing his/hers signature. Purchases with swipe (magnetic stripe) might be voided by
the bank since this method is considered unsafe.

 

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/qanda_19_5555

 

" PSD2 introduces strict security requirements for the initiation and processing of electronic payments. PSD2 obliges payment service providers to apply so-called “strong customer authentication” (SCA) when a payer initiates an electronic payment transaction. Payment service providers include banks and other payment service providers. "

 

In terms of how it works in practice, customers will receive advice from their banks or payment providers. They will have to provide two or more of the following elements when making payments, which can be categorised as:

  • Knowledge: something only the user knows, e.g. a password or a PIN code
  • Possession: something only the user possesses, e.g. a mobile phone, and
  • Inherence: something the user is, e.g. the use of a fingerprint or voice recognition.

 

Se link above for more information.

What would this mean for overseas travellers do you think, don't want to be be refused payment for anything. 

We only have one night pre cruise & one night post cruise so wasn't going to have local currency for Copenhagen, only use credit card. 

Any advice greatly appreciated. 

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7 hours ago, joejoe 59 said:

wasn't going to have local currency for Copenhagen, only use credit card. 

You’ll be safe with a chip and pin card - highly recommended anyway,

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9 hours ago, joejoe 59 said:

What would this mean for overseas travellers do you think, don't want to be be refused payment for anything. 

We only have one night pre cruise & one night post cruise so wasn't going to have local currency for Copenhagen, only use credit card. 

Any advice greatly appreciated. 

If I have understood the news articles about these changes correctly, for foreign cards it should be still possible to use these old-fashioned unsecure payment methods if these cards do not offer the alternative methods. Of course, it is still possible that there will be now some extra hassle with the payment terminals when encountering a foreign card, which does not behave the same way as the European cards.

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3 minutes ago, Hezu said:

Of course, it is still possible that there will be now some extra hassle with the payment terminals when encountering a foreign card, which does not behave the same way as the European cards.

Already today many terminals might only accept chip and pin - if you plan to travel ‘cash less’ simply bring a chip and pin card. If not chip and pin then bring cash.

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On 9/15/2019 at 10:41 AM, Hezu said:

If I have understood the news articles about these changes correctly, for foreign cards it should be still possible to use these old-fashioned unsecure payment methods if these cards do not offer the alternative methods. Of course, it is still possible that there will be now some extra hassle with the payment terminals when encountering a foreign card, which does not behave the same way as the European cards.


I'm not an expert but I would not count on it since the old terminals are supposed to be replaced.
Like Hallasm above I would strongly recommend to acquire a chip+pin card if you don't want to use cash.

Edited by Desdichado62

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I would offer this advice to the OP , based on decades of extensive cruising and independent international travel.  If you want to buy currency in the USA you are going to pay a premium (in terms of exchange rate plus possible fees).  If that makes you happy and confident then certainly go for it.  On our numerous trips to Europe (and Northern Europe) we have never purchased 1 penny of currency inside the USA.  We simply use credit cards (we carry multiple card...but Visa and MC are king) along with ATMs (to obtain local currency).  In the case of Sweden, the country is really moving towards not using any currency.  Yes, they still have their Krona but hardly anyone uses it.  The country runs on credit cards...even for small things like a cup of coffee.  When you pay in cash you get funny looks :).  Finland seems to be slowly heading in the same direction.

 

Russia is a place where we managed to spend 2 days (plus an evening out at the ballet) without using any Russian currency.  We relied on US Dollars (our private tour company was happy to take dollars) and credit cards (we bought lunch in downtown St Petersburg with a credit card).  Understand that if you do get Rubles..you better spend them in Russia because they are not usable outside the country (and few places will exchange anything for a Ruble).  By the way, even in St Petersburg there were plenty of ATMs (if we had wanted to purchase currency).

 

Hank

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  • As others have said, there is little reason for local currency in any of these counties since the Scandinavian countries are going cashless and almost no one carries cash. The only place cash, coins, I have seen it needed has been pay restrooms, 2 euros,  in Finland. In St Petersburg where ships stay 2 or 3 days, cards are accepted everywhere except street vendors without business licenses who accept dollars, euros or rubles. It is highly discouraged to deal with street venders in St Petersburg because they are frequently involved with  pickpockets.The roving street vendors distract a visitor by waving some item in front of them while a partner targets the distracted visitor by removing their wallet or purse, unseen and unfelt. The same tactic is used in many heavy tourist areas of  Europe.
  • Tips are accepted by guides and drivers in convertible currency such as dollars or euros. So it not needed to go to the expense of bad exchange rates given by exchange banks at local banks in your home country.  You can lose 10-20% on each exchange. Exchanging in the destination country usually gives a 1-2% spread between buy and sell..
  • If using your home currency for tips be sure bring only clean unmarked bills because any torn, worn or marked bills are not exchangeable.  Any ink marks for example makes the currency worthless outside your home country.Even wear marks, such as lightening of the print on the bill, such as in creases.

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