Germany, despite promoting digital transactions, still has a strong preference for conventional payment methods such as cash due to cultural traditions and a desire for privacy. Some businesses still do not accept electronic payments due to high transaction fees, so carrying cash is recommended, especially when visiting smaller shops. However, major cities and tourist destinations are becoming more cashless with more businesses accepting electronic payments.
Although Germany heavily promotes digital transactions, many shops and people still prefer conventional methods.
At many places in Germany, if you like to shop, you will not be able to use your credit card or debit card. This may be because the POS machine only supports EC karte (Euro-Cheque card with 4-digit PIN issued by your bank). The next option you have is to pay in cash.
Whenever you want to pay at a restaurant in Germany, the waiter will ask you ‘bar order karte?’ or simply cash or card? Cash payment means you'll probably get a lot of coins back.
In any case, while in Germany or Europe generally, you cannot avoid the relationship with the coins.
How do I exchange coins at my bank?
Almost all German banks have cash deposit machines or coin deposit machines (Einzahlautomat) at the entrance of the branch. The coin deposit tray in the machine allows you to deposit coins in bulk. As soon as the coins are counted by the machine, you will receive a receipt. The money will be credited into your bank account within 2 - 4 business days.
It is important to note that you can only deposit cash at your bank's ATM. In other words, you cannot use the Sparkasse deposit machine if you have an account with Deutsche Bank.
Despite the fact that most banks offer this service for free, some may charge a small fee.
I only have an N26 account in Germany. How do I exchange coins?
In collaboration with their partner shops, N26 offers Cash26, which is a cash withdrawal and deposit service.
You need to take the coins to one of N26’s partner shops. Then, you need to generate a barcode within the N26 app. Once the cashier counts the coins and scans the barcode in the N26 app, they will deposit the money into your N26 account.
However, the minimum CASH26 deposit is limited to €50 per transaction, and you can deposit up to €999 in a 24-hour period. Furthermore, regardless of your deposit amount, you’ll be charged a transaction fee of 1.5% on the total amount deposited.
How to exchange coins at Coinstar machines?
There are Coinstar machines in many supermarkets throughout Germany. You can put the coins in the coin tray and you will get a coupon. When you bring the coupon to the cashier in the store, they’ll give you the money, or you can even use it to pay for groceries.
Coinstar machines, however, have a service charge of around 9.9%. Exchanging coins with them is the most expensive option in Germany.
Can I exchange the coins for free in Germany?
You can exchange coins for free and instantly at the Deutsche Bundesbank or simply the Central Bank of Germany.
However, you can only exchange coins for currency bills and cannot deposit directly into your bank account. Nevertheless, if you have a lot of coins, this is the best way to exchange them to avoid service fees and waiting period.
Exchange coins at airports in Germany
You can exchange coins at airports in Germany. Most currency exchange bureaus, banks, or coin counting machines at airports (if they are available) will accept euro coins and provide you with cash or other currencies in return. However, it's important to keep in mind that exchange rates and fees at the airport may not be as favorable as other options in the city, so it's always a good idea to compare rates and fees across different exchange services before making a decision. Additionally, it's recommended to exchange larger amounts of coins at a bank or Bundesbank branch to avoid higher fees or less favorable exchange rates at the airport.
If you only have a few Euro coins with you, and you don't have time to visit a bank, go to a supermarket and ask the cashier for Euro bills in exchange of the coins. In most cases, they will be happy to assist you.
Last but not least, if you don't have a shortage of money or if you can find healthy alternatives when you need them, I would suggest keeping the coins as they are for savings. The last 6 years I lived in Germany, I collected more than 450€ and never exchanged them. I have a 3 liter glass jar almost full of coins!