So do they take credit cards in Vienna?
- Credit cards are not ubiquitous (or even popular with the Viennese)
- You should be fine, though, at larger businesses frequented by tourists
- Debit cards are, however, widespread and popular
- But carry cash, particularly for the Christmas markets
- See also:
Vienna and credit cards
Vienna (and Austria in general) does not have a strong tradition of credit card use.
To give you an idea of what I mean, I’ve lived here almost 30 years and have never seen a local pay with a credit card in a bar or restaurant. I’ve owned a credit card all that time and have never used it locally even once (only for online transactions).
The relatively low uptake/use of credit cards in the population compared to places like the USA has its roots in traditional values.
Austria is not a credit-driven economy; mortgage-financed home ownership is not that usual in Vienna, for example, partially thanks to the widespread low rent (and high quality) public housing.
The credit card companies typically charge an annual fee which also puts off some people.
And…many people prefer debit (Bankomat) cards, where each payment or ATM withdrawal you make comes straight off a bank account. These are extremely common and widely accepted.
I’m no expert on international banking systems, but it may be your cards with debit functionality work here: check locally. My Austrian debit card works fine in the UK, for example (albeit with a transaction charge now the UK is outside the EU).
This reluctance to use traditional credit cards is reflected in the retail world.
You should not assume you can pay for everything and anything with a credit card. Always check for the appropriate symbol on the door or till, first.
Don’t get me wrong – many places in Vienna (including hotels and other larger businesses that regularly serve tourists) do take credit cards. But refusing them is not unusual, especially among small businesses, so check first if in doubt.
In particular, be prepared to use cash at the Christmas markets (all the main ones have an ATM on site), and at some cafés, bars, restaurants etc. outside of the tourist hotspots.
Only recently (early 2023) I went into one of Vienna’s most central, popular, and established coffee houses, and a sign on the entrance door explained that it only accepted cash as payment.