Travelers enjoy the simplicity and ease of being able to use a credit card at various locations when traveling to foreign countries. Especially when traveling between several countries in Europe, having a card accepted in most nations provides better mobility and less concern or stress about traveling.
Making sure your card is accepted in most nations is important. If any emergencies arise, it is recommended to have a form of immediate and accessible payment to use. Otherwise, travelers can end up stuck or in need of assistance.
Many travelers may not know if American Express cards are accepted throughout Europe or if any international fees apply for their usage.
Is American Express Accepted In Europe?
American Express is accepted in various countries throughout Europe to a limited extent. Most American Express cardholders will need to purchase from merchants that cater to tourists, however, as it is not a common card in Europe.
When using an American Express card outside of the United States, most foreign governments advise having a backup Visa or Mastercard.
The most common type of merchant that accepts American Express cards will be major European retailers.
American Express charges several fees for purchases made overseas, including foreign transaction fees and the foreign exchange rate mark-up.
Where is American Express Accepted In Europe?
American Express is accepted for purchases in most major European cities and some smaller European localities, especially those which often cater to tourists from the United States. An American Express card for withdrawing cash from an ATM should be accepted anywhere in Europe.
To determine if a particular merchant accepts American Express, check their shop to see if they are displaying the American Express symbol first. If a store displays this symbol, this is to signal to customers traveling from the United States that they can use American Express at that store.
Typically, only higher end merchants or European retailers accept American Express. Smaller family businesses or cheaper stores will most likely not accept American Express.
This is due to American Express’ higher merchant charges for transactions, which can become unprofitable for smaller stores to pay that do not often cater to customers traveling from the United States.
How Do I Know Where in Europe is American Express Accepted?
Another way to check if specific merchants accept American Express is to check online before traveling. Some store’s websites can be translated into English or another language through Google Translate. After translating, navigate the website to determine if the store accepts American Express.
Alternatively, refer to American Express’ online map to locate participating merchants. This is the recommended approach, as this map includes only active participating merchants.
This map will also inform you of the store’s address, phone number, website, and what type of payment they accept (i.e. contactless payments, etc.).
How Much Does It Cost To Use American Express In Europe?
Regardless of if you decide to use your American Express debit or credit card, there are certain foreign transaction fees which will be incurred. These fees include the foreign exchange rate, foreign transaction fees, ATM fees, and credit card interest rates.
The foreign exchange rate (or “mark-up”) is the daily exchange rate determined by American Express to convert U.S. Dollars (USD) into a foreign currency. This rate fluctuates on a daily basis. This rate is not to be confused with the real exchange rate found on Google, as this rate is less favorable to the cardholder. This rate will make purchases slightly more expensive almost everywhere.
Foreign transaction fees are included once a transaction has been converted into U.S. dollars. Almost all purchases in most European countries are subject to foreign transaction fees. The amount of fee charged varies highly between the different American Express cards. Some cards can have these fees waived, whereas other cards are charged 2.5 to 2.7% on each foreign purchase.
Is There an ATM Fee for Using AMerican Express in Europe?
ATM fees apply only when using an American Express card to withdraw cash from an ATM. Both the ATM operator or bank and American Express can charge fees, which vary between different European regions and the type of American Express card being used. For example, ATM fees will be substantially higher if requesting a credit card cash advance.
To avoid most ATM fees, try to withdraw cash from an ATM on American Express’ partner network. Participating ATMs and banks can be found by consulting the Partner Network map.
Finally, make sure to pay attention to credit card interest rates. Each American Express card has different rates, so be sure to consult your credit card statement for more information.
What Happens If I Lose My American Express Card?
If your American Express card is lost or stolen while overseas, protect yourself by immediately contacting your card issuer. Request the card to be frozen or canceled.
American Express offers emergency funds for some cards and policies. Additionally, consumers can obtain credit card protection insurance when traveling abroad.
When traveling to foreign countries, make sure to bring a backup form of payment in case of this event. Backup forms of payment can include other cards, cash, or travelers’ checks.
Can I Use My American Express in Europe?
American Express is accepted in a number of European nations. Due to the fact that the American Express card is not widely accepted in Europe, most cardholders will have to make purchases from businesses that cater to travelers.
Most foreign governments recommend bringing a backup Visa or Mastercard when using an American Express outside of the United States. If you plan on traveling soon, make sure to follow these steps to prepare financially for your next trip:
- Check to see if your card has a foreign transaction fee
- Consider bringing travelers’ checks as a backup form of payment
- Buy protective sleeves for your credit, debit, or ATM cards
- Notify your bank or credit card company about your travel plans
- Obtain foreign currency before departing the U.S.
For more information on preparing for a trip abroad, refer to the U.S. Department of State’s Traveler’s Checklist.
Benjamin is a certified financial advisor, with over 10 years of experience in the industry. He is knowledgeable about various business and financial topics, such as retirement planning and investment management. Ben has been recognized for his work in the financial planning industry. He has also been featured in various publications.