Before you travel to Belgium, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the country’s currency and payment methods. This will help you make informed decisions about how to manage your money while you’re there.
The official currency of Belgium is the euro (€). One euro is subdivided into 100 cents.
Bills and Coins
Bills (banknotes) come in the following denominations: 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500 euros. Coins come in the following denominations: 1 cent, 2 cents, 5 cents, 10 cents, 20 cents, 50 cents, 1 euro, and 2 euros.
It has no be noted that the 1 cent and 2 cent coins are being phased out and prices are rounded up.
Currency exchange in Belgium
The euro is a widely traded currency, and exchange rates can fluctuate daily. To get the best exchange rate, it’s always a good idea to shop around and compare rates from different banks and currency exchange bureaus.FreeCurrencyRates.com
Cash Withdrawals in Belgium
ATM’s or Cash Machines are widely available. For cash withdrawals it’s recommended to use a Debit Card since Credit Cards might charge extra fees for withdrawing money. Cash exchange services will probably cost you extra fees compared to cash withdrawals.
Before you depart, inform at your bank about the currency exchange rate and additional fees for withdrawing money in Belgium.
While cash is getting less popular than it once was in Belgium, it is still widely accepted. Cash is often the preferred payment method for smaller purchases. Some old luggage lockers and vending machines might also require coins. It’s still a good idea to have some cash on hand, especially for smaller amounts.
Cashless payments in Belgium
Belgium is developing into a cashless society, and you can make most payments electronically without having to carry cash.
Belgians prefer the use of debit cards over credit cards. Debit cards will be accepted at most places, whilst credit cards may be refused at smaller shops or retailers. Often an extra fee of 5% is charged for paying with your credit card. Make sure you have a card with the Visa, Mastercard , Maestro or Cirrus logo.
Bancontact debit cards are the most popular electronic payment method in Belgium. Most Belgians will use this type of card since it’s widely accepted across the country.
Mobile Payment Options
Payconiq (by Bancontact) is a popular mobile payment option in Belgium. Some shops might also accept payment from PayPal, Apple Pay, or Google Pay, but not all.
Payment Methods for Specific Situations
- Restaurants: Most restaurants accept credit cards, debit cards, and cash. Some restaurants may also accept mobile payment options.
- Hotels: Hotels typically accept credit cards, debit cards, and cash. Some hotels may also require you to place a deposit on your reservation.
- Transportation: You can pay for public transportation in Belgium with a contactless chip card or by making in-app purchases.
- Shopping: Most shops accept credit cards, debit cards, and cash. Some shops may also accept mobile payment options.
Taxes in Belgium
All advertised prices in Belgian shops and restaurants always include taxes. There are 3 different taxing categories
- The 6% rate applies on food & drinks and on public transport
- The 12% rate applies on foods & drinks you consume in restaurants
- The 21% rate applies on luxury goods and services.
Tipping culture in Belgium
It is not customary to tip in Belgium. Staff workers are well paid and don’t rely on tipping for a decent salary. However in some occasions, such as bars and restaurants it’s appreciated if you do when the service was great. Usually people round up the amount of the bill. At most places the tip is then put into a jar and shared by all staff workers.