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Comparison: Best credit cards

Cash, so cash, is paid in the US only for small amounts (up to about $ 20). Otherwise, a credit card is the method of choice. Without a credit card you are, in the truest sense of the word, not creditworthy.

It is required both when renting a car (security deposit, which otherwise has to be done in cash), and when checking in at the hotel as collateral for billable ancillary services such as telephone, etc. Also for illnesses, the credit card is useful because it is used to pay for medical and hospital bills is readily accepted. In order to emphasize your own trustworthiness, it is almost never a disadvantage to wave your credit card. The most common are MasterCard and Visa. American Express and Diners are not widely accepted (also a question of the amount of commissions to be paid by the merchants). Credit cards issued in Germany have the customer-friendly charm that liability in case of loss amounts to max. 50 euros, even if the loss of the credit card organization or issuing bank was reported late. Taking along credit cards is therefore advisable.

Click here for a selection of the best credit cards for your USA trip

However, you should inform yourself in advance about the additional costs calculated domestically. The procurement of cash by credit card is usually associated with expensive fees that burden the domestic bank account, and less recommendable. This should be limited to the emergency. Here are usually estimated one to three percent. The payment of bills by credit card is rather recommended. On the one hand, this is basically problem-free in the USA, on the other hand, the conversion of the dollar amount to the euro-debit on the domestic account takes place at the favorable ask price; however, there are conversion fees.

With the end of the Frankfurt FX Fixing, the currency conversion is handled quite differently by the issuing institutions; the application of the favorable ask price is no longer guaranteed. Some institutions use a reference price from major banks as a basis, other averages public banks or rates from New York or London. A look at the terms and conditions before departure provides clarity here. With regard to the applied conversion rate, it is necessary to select a price formation that can be monitored by the customer. Thus, the district court Frankfurt / M. decided in June 2001 that “conversion at a market rate determined by the Bank” is not sufficient. Formed and published on the market is e.g. the reference price system EuroFX, formed from the average values of 17 banks (among others for US $), also for past data under eurofx.

The earlier time advantage from the difference between the time of invoice payment by credit card and the burden on the domestic account is becoming less important. Since the dealer networks etc. are more and more electronically networked, the billing with the credit card organization and the bank organization takes place very fast. It is not uncritical that hotels and especially rental car companies require blank signed credit card receipts. This is probably normal in the US, but all consumer advocates warn against signing it. The Stiftung Warentest reported in its November 1999 issue of a judgment of the Higher Regional Court of Munich (Case 5 U 6738/98), which condemned a vacationer for payment, because he signed a motorcycle rental company a blank card slip: The signature was a money order to the bank and not to revoke. In case of doubt, however, as a tourist, you will probably opt for the blank signature despite all the misgivings and trust in the seriousness of the companies. It should be noted that we immediately had problems with our first “complaint”. At night there were concerns, whether the bill for the telephone bill of the previous evening at the hotel was probably correct. The night porter did not quite understand the misgivings, searched for the signature, but did not find it. He offered as a “replacement” the usual deposit of “20 US $”. Since we did not accept this, fortunately, after further searching, the credit card slip appeared.

Note: Credit cards are, as the name implies, “credits”. The size of the credit limit per card is limited and will be communicated to the customer upon conclusion of the contract. All purchases, etc. by credit card are credited to the credit line until they are compensated by payment. If the credit limit is exceeded by multiple purchases or bulk purchases, the credit card is automatically blocked for further use and thus useless during the further journey. Therefore, clarify the amount of the available or required credit line with your credit card company prior to departure. Please note that warranty amounts may also affect the credit line. For example, American car rental companies often book the agreed warranty services in full upon signing the contract (and cancel this upon vehicle return). Merchants, etc. are required to check their creditworthiness from certain purchase price levels before accepting a credit card. If the credit limit is exceeded, the merchant, etc. will no longer accept the credit card. By the way: Exceeding the credit card framework can also mean that you are no longer considered creditworthy for credit reports.

Which credit cards are suitable for the USA?

In this area we have listed for you the credit cards that are particularly suitable for use in the US. In most cases, the different credit cards differ by the annual fee, but also by the cost of cash withdrawal and payment by credit card.

1.Santander 1PlusCard – permanent without annual fee

2.Santander TravelCard – Well equipped for all trips

3.Barclaycard Gold Visa – All travel insurance included

4.Eurowings Gold – Car rental and foreign health insurance included

Free credit cards

If you are looking for a credit card just for the trip, you can switch to the – but limited – offer of credit cards without an annual fee. Interesting are also the credit cards of individual direct banks, because they partially enable the free withdrawal of money at ATMs. The free Visa card of the DKB-Bank or the Comdirect Bank as well as the free Mastercard of the SKG-Bank do not incur any fees worldwide, also no foreign fee. By contrast, other direct banks do not charge a fee for withdrawals outside the euro area, but a so-called “foreign fee”. While this is below the bank’s usual two to three percent, Citibank and SEB still account for 1.65 percent of the withdrawn amount; Volkswagen Direct calculates 1.5 percent, the ING Diba 1.25 percent and the ADAC 1 percent. By the way: At the DKB and the SKG the free account is not subject to any conditions. At Comdirect, on the other hand, at least € 1,250 must be received each month (= de facto salary account). Since none of the credit institutions waives a credit check of the customer, an account should already be opened a longer time before the start of the holiday.

Short notes to avoid problems with unjustified charges:

  • keep the vouchers after each payment (only the voucher can be used to prove the correct debit by the customer)
  • Do not throw copies of carbon copies and carbon paper in the trash, but take it with them (fraudsters could easily get hold of the card data),
  • leave blank spaces left and right next to the amount when completing the card slip,
  • the sum on the receipt must be in the “Total” line and the currency entered correctly,
  • Avoid blank signatures, if necessary (upon departure from the hotel, return of the rental car, etc.) require a binding settlement and the destruction of the blank receipt,
  • Exactly check account statements and complain in writing at the latest 4 to 6 weeks after receipt of the settlement.
  • If the credit card is stolen, two things must be done immediately:
  • telephone blocking of the card via the credit card provider’s emergency / service numbers (see below), if necessary also via the house bank;
  • Reimbursement of a theft ad against unknown to the police (often required in the terms and conditions).

A supplementary note for purchases on the Internet by credit card: For each debit, the burden of proof lies with the credit card company. If you have signed a receipt, the proof is basically provided. However, if you have not signed a receipt – as is always the case with purchases on the Internet, the amount must be reversed at the request of the customer. The basis for this are the general terms and conditions. However, such a complaint can be very time consuming. Do you have introductory offers, e.g. Used by erotic providers, and entered their credit card number – even if only for the alleged age control – it is usually very difficult to prove that no contract has been made. It is important that you cancel the taster subscription within certain deadlines. Generally, you should never give card data unencrypted to the Internet. You can recognize encrypted connections by the abbreviation “https” in the Internet address.

Credit-emergency numbers

If there are problems with your credit card, major credit card companies offer a free 24-hour telephone service (currently US numbers only):

  • American Express: 1-800-528-4800
  • Diners Club: 1-800-525-9150
  • Master Card: 1-800-826-2181
  • Visa: 1-800-227-6800

For lost or stolen credit cards, the following US numbers apply:

  • American Express: 1-800-992-3404
  • Master Card: 1-800-826-2181
  • Visa: 1-800-336-8472

In Germany, the following emergency / service numbers apply:

  • Eurocard / Mastercard: 0049 (0) 800 – 81 91 04 0, 0049 (0) 69 – 79 33 19 10, International (R-Talk): 001 31 42 75 66 90 – USA / Canada (R-Talk): 1 -800-30 77 30 9
  • Visa Card: 049 (0) 800 – 81 49 10 0, 0049 (0) 69 79 20 13 33, International (R-Call free): 001 41 05 81 38 36
  • Visa (Citibank): 0049 (0) 5921 – 86 17 17
  • American Express: Blue Card (0049 (0) 69 – 97 97 77 77), Personal Card (0049 (0) 69 – 97 97 10 00), Gold Card (0049 (0) 69 – 97 97 20 00)
  • Diners Club: 0049 (0) 180 – 23 45 45 4, 0049 (0) 69 – 661 661 33, 0049 (0) 180 5 33 66 95
  • GZS – emergency service: 0049 (0) 69 – 79 33 19 10
  • Pluscard: 0049 (0) 681 – 93 76 45 99
  • EC / Maestro or bank customers – Card: 01805 – 02 10 21 (Zentraler Kreditausschuss der Banken und Sparkassen – ZKA), 0049 (0) 69 74 09 87
  • ADAC credit card: 0049 (0) 30 – 55 55 22

Note: Since 1 July 2005, there is a uniform block number in the Federal Republic of Germany: +49 116 116 – Within Germany, the call is free, from abroad you have to pay the call costs. So far, however, only the savings banks, Volksbanks, American Express and Euro card systems (with Mastercard) participate in this service. Whether and when private banks and mobile operators join is uncertain. The complete list of affiliated organizations can be found on the Internet at

You can also find out more on the websites of the credit card organizations: Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Diners Club

Credit card billing systems

A credit card can be used like an installment loan or call money account. You should calculate which billing method brings the most benefits.

Debit cards:

For debit cards, all payments are debited to the customer account immediately. Who maintains a balance on the card account loses credit interest. Those who started at plus-minus-zero usually have to pay 11 to 15% debit interest. For the settlement on the basis of credit interest rates, which, according to the amount of credit at 1 to about 3.5% are not significantly lower than the income of a savings account. On the other hand, attractive interest rates beyond three percent are often only available with six-figure credit balances. Those who do not need their money within the next few days should invest such amounts more profitably. Advantage for travelers: Cash withdrawals by credit card are cheaper from the credit, the maximum amount available per day increases. Incidentally, most Germans already have a debit card in their pocket: the debit card. If you’re asked in the US if your credit card is a debit card, you’d better deny it. Debit cards are not considered “full” there and e.g. not accepted by car rental companies.

Charge cards:

These are credit cards with monthly billing. Sales are collected by an agreed deadline and then collected by direct debit from the customer’s current account. The customer records an interest advantage of almost one month when debiting a turnover made shortly after the last settlement deadline. This can be worthwhile if the current account does not yet have cover on the day of a major purchase. No debit interest is due on the credit card account within the billing month.

Credit cards:

With appropriate creditworthiness, the customer receives a monthly statement and can decide whether he pays the debited amounts immediately or in installments. However, debit interest is due for the debts not immediately repaid. Usual are effective annual interest rates of 12 to just under 15 percent. For many credit card providers in Europe, customers have a choice of what type of credit card usage they choose.

Incidentally, credit card issuers in the US are required by law to write off outstanding repayments after 180 days. In 2001, the failure rate was 5.5%.

Shopping on the Internet

Further notice for purchases on the Internet by direct debit or transfer: Purchases, which are paid by means of direct debit from your own bank account, have a significant advantage under German law: the customer can withdraw any individual debit, regardless of whether it is lawful or not. The bank must then post free of charge. As a precaution, a direct debit should be rejected immediately, ie at the latest after two to three weeks or after return from vacation. Here the legislation is clearly on the side of the consumer; A “safer” way of payment is almost impossible. In the transfer or a standing order, the legal position of the customer is already significantly deteriorated: a chargeback by the bank is no longer possible if the money has already been credited to the recipient account, so often after two to three days. Then you have to deal with the company that has received the money. By the way: a regular check of your own bank statements is recommended, banks carry out direct debits in favor of companies namely without further examination; in plain English: the bank does not check whether a direct debit has actually been issued.

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