Money makes the world go 'round - or at least money makes it easier to get around. Read on for tips on spending money in Germany.
Germany introduced the euro in 2001. One euro is approximately equal to $1.36, 1.53 Australian dollars, and 0.83 British pounds.
The euro was designed for societies accustomed to carrying coin purses and paying cash and has a plethora of coins in different denominations: two euros, one euro, 50 cents, 20 cents, 10 cents, five cents, two cents and one cent.
The best way to avoid paying expensive exchange fees is to withdraw cash directly from an ATM (look for a Bankautomat or Geldautomat). Before you go, ask your home bank if it charges a fee for using an ATM abroad.
It is also possible to change money or cash traveler's cheques at any bank for a fee.
Paying with a credit card is not common. Most Germans simply carry cash or pay with a debit card. Larger department stores and hotels accept credit cards, but smaller shops generally do not. Restaurants and cafés rarely take credit cards and many don't accept debit cards either. It's a good idea to keep cash on hand.
Tax is always included on the price tag. What you see is what you pay and value-added tax is19 percent. For selected items like books and food, as well as taxi rides, tax is only seven percent.
Many stores, especially grocery stores, do not give out bags for their customers' purchases. Employing someone to bag groceries is largely unheard of. Bags are usually available for purchase, however, many shoppers bring their own re-usable shopping bag with them.
When purchasing beverages, keep in mind that most glass and plastic bottles have a Pfand or deposit, ranging between 0.08 and 0.30 euros. Check for the recycling symbol on the bottle to determine whether or not it can be exchanged for a deposit.
Most stores in Germany open during the week at 9 a.m. or 10 a.m. and close between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. They tend to close earlier on Saturday, sometimes as early as 2 p.m. In larger cities, many shops will stay open from Monday through Saturday until 8 p.m., with some open until 10 p.m.
Some shops close for lunch, generally between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. This is more common in smaller towns, but may also be the case in larger cities as well.
Nearly all stores are closed on Sundays and public holidays. For urgent necessities, however, you can go to a gas station convenience store. Some bakeries and flower shops also open for a few hours on Sundays. Another important exception is train stations in larger cities. Shops within the station often open on Sundays, and sometimes on public holidays.
Once a month, some cities allow their shops and department stores to open Sundays.
If you enjoyed a bit too much of Germany's most famous beverage, you won't find an aspirin in the supermarket or the drug store - and most certainly not on a Sunday. Over-the-counter medications, such as pain-killers, are only sold in pharmacies, not in supermarkets or drug stores.
Pharmacies are very common in Germany, so you will not have trouble finding one - look for an Apotheke. It's not a good idea to go overboard on a Saturday night, because only selected pharmacies are open on Sundays. These are generally listed in the newspaper. The pharmacies that are closed on Sunday will also post a listing of those in the area that are open. Most larger cities have a pharmacy in their trains stations.
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