Are ALL Mastercards Usable In Germany?

I am going to need to order a copy of my German birth certificate from the Birth Registry where I was born, and they have informed me that the cost will be 16 Euros.

That is for 12 for the birth certificate and 4 for the Surname (which I don’t understand).

I’ve used my MC while on vacation back home, but haven’t ever been able to use it online, and that’s what I would need to do.

Barring that, I’ll get my friend in Rothenburg to pay it for me and reimburse him.



It should work, however, you might want to look into the fees incurred while using your Master Card in foreign currency. With the recent changes in the fees and interest that credit card companies can charge, they’ve upped their other fees.

I don’t really understand the question. Do you mean you’ve successfully used a MC in Germany at physical machines, but never managed to do so online? Or do you mean you’ve successfully used another MC in Germany not not this one?

The latter thing seems really weird to me. MasterCard and Visa are worldwide associations of card-issuing banks, but they don’t draw distinctions between the banks issuing the cards - any card with the MC logo should be able to be used wherever MCs are accepted (provided that the card limit is not exhausted, of course). What is possible, however, is that this registry accepts Visa but not MC - we all intuitively assume that vendors who accept one of the cards will also accept the other, and normally this is true, but not necessarily.

One thing that I’m curious about: does the office that you are in contact with (the Standesamt of your native town) in fact accept credit cards? That would be somewhat unusual for German municipialities.

Any MC will be valid in any German location which accepts MC


I think the problem you’ve had using them online is the same one I’ve sometimes had when using my collection of Visas online. As I finally found out thanks to a very nice lady from the British Standards Organisation, the problem behind most of the “card not valid”-style messages is that the security process used by the webpage is incompatible with the one from your bank.

Depending on the data required you might run into the issue of the billing address - some websites require you to key in the address where the statements are send to. I have had issues when I first moved to Germany whereby the system would only allow you to key in German addresses…

Once again it seems I’ve been unclear! :slight_smile:

I meant that when I bought something in Germany and paid for it with my Master Card, it “became” a “EuroCard” and the transaction went through, no problem.

My confusion is: why would a merchant (local within Germany) accept my card, but online, there’s a problem?

Also, you German Dopers: How much trouble is it, if I send my friend the funds in USD for him to exchange it for Euros, or can American money be used in any transaction?

I know: Why don’t I know this already, being German?

Because every time I’ve been home as an adult, I’ve used my credit card for purchases or my bank’s debit card if I needed Euros.



See my post and Future Londonite, Q: it’s a problem between your bank and the webpage. One is saying “security procedure”, the other one is saying “identity-protection process”, each thinks the other one is wrong and pigheaded (and, both being computers, they’re right about the “pigheaded” part).

IANGerman, but any money you send, your friend will receive as Euros: the bank or money-sending-company will convert it automatically. Since you know how much he needs to pay in Euros, your best option is to tell the bank or company the amount in Euros: they will tell you how much you need to pay in dollars. This is better than trying to figure out the conversion yourself, as he will receive the amount in Euros that you stated whatever the money market does in between.

No idea, though I did notice when I use my debit card from the credit union [4 digit PIN] it works and when mrAru used his from a bank [8 digit PIN] it didn’t…

Um, depends on how he sends it!!

Sending by putting cash in an envelope (risky with mail-theft, but’s a seperate issue): your friend has to exchange the Dollars at his bank, and the course might change in the meantime.

Sending by transferral from your bank account to his bank account: the US bank will convert to Euros before transferring (or should at least) and charge a fee (maybe buried in a bad exchange rate) to your account; your friend will receive Euros and no fee.

Additionally your bank might charge a “hassle” fee - as in “it’s such a hassle to send money to a different bank in a foreign country and foreign denomination so we will punish you for making our life difficult” (okay, that’s not what it’s called officially, but what it feels like). In the 90s, the fee for transferring money from a German to an US account was like 45 Marks if the amount transferred was below 100 Mark. With the introduction of IBAN numbers and several court decisions where the courts said “Bad, bad banks - computers make everything easy, and you still gouge the customers over fees, stop that!”, the fees inside Europe have dropped. But I don’t know what US banks charge.

Sending by writing a check and putting in an envelope: That’s getting complicated for your friend, because cashing a check in a foreign denomination - oi. I have no idea of the fees involved in that. (I once got a check for an internet thingie from an US bank; after some questioning, I used it to pay a different US company for a book or similar). Checks are rarely used in Germany at all.

The easiest way I can see: send the money to your friend via PayPal, or, if he doesn’t have an account, ask him if he’d like a gift certificate from or similar in the amount. (Check before to make sure that will accept coupons from There are some web-services that offer to sell gift certificates for all major companies, though I haven’t tried them cross-country yet.

Do you mean with ATMs or online? German ATMs are generally set for 4-digit PINs because that’s what German EC-cards have.

I’d say that depends on the size and modernity of the town; he mentions Rothenburg - if he means Rothenburg ob der Tauber, with lots of tourists, they might have jumped onto the internet wagon and make things easy to do online.

Yeah well, that’s why I talked about sending it via a bank or another money-sending company (like the post, or western union). Using either of those, he can say “I need to send money to Germany, the amount received must be XCV Euros”, they will convert it, apply any fees and then tell him how much the total is. Paypal has given me trouble trying to send things in that fashion.

I’d use either the USPS or Western Union: both of them have worked well for me, unlike banks (I’ve had to explain IBANs to US bank workers - even if it had been once, it would have been once too many, but this happened several times).

Are you CERTAIN that the card is being rejected by the vendor, and it’s not the transaction being denied by your credit card?

I recently bought airline tickets in Costa Rica, and the charges were denied, until I called my credit card company. Unexpected online foreign credit card activity are regarded as suspicious transactions, which may be blocked as a matter of course by your credit card unless you personally verify the amount with them.

When I tried to buy the tickets, it was NOT at all apparent that the transaction was declined by the credit card company. It looked like a processing error by the vendor.

Call your credit card and see if they’ve been declining the transactions.

I regularly get payments from the US by check (because the company there, named for female warriors or a large river, cannot be bothered to institute international direct transfers), and my bank charges 6 EUR for checks under 50 USD (for large checks, 10 EUR plus 0.25% of the amount). So it’s probably not a very practical way to pay small sums.

I haven’t been to Germany, but I’ve used US bank issued Visa cards to make purchases while physically in Canada with no problem whatsoever. It looks like some of the charges were made in Canadian dollars (converted through the normal process), and some were in USD natively (apparently some Canadian places will bill you in USD if you present an American card), but on my end it came as USD.

I’ve also used a US bank issued ATM card at ScotiaBank, and got Canadian currency, and I got charged a 5 USD “Foreign ATM” fee. I did have trouble using my ATM card at two “white label” Canadian ATM’s, though.

I made an online purchase from a company in Israel, and they charged my US bank issued Visa card in New Israeli Shekels, and the bank handled the conversion and billed me in USD.

There are, essentially, two possibilities for you to do that: You can either send a transfer through some specialised money transfer service, such as Wells Fargo, which does not require a bank account on either side - you pay in the money at any agency of the service, get a code which you give to your friend by phone, and with that code your friend can get the money in cash from any other agency. Works within minutes, and the currency conversion is automatic (you pay dollars, she gets euros), but incurs fees.

The other option would require a bank account on both sides. You send a SWIFT/IBAN direct transfer (that’s an internationally standardised bank account number format, identifiying each bank account in the woirld uniquely) from your account to hers. Your account gets debited in dollars, hers gets credites in euros (unless your friend has a dollar-denominated account with her German ank, which is possible but unlikely). This, too, incurs fees, though they may vary depending on your banks.

ATM in Germany. I know they have 4 digit PINs.

Only ATM his card worked at was at the exchange unit at Ramstein Air Base. It was a AF Fed Cred that worked with his citibank card.

Thanks for all those great answers and suggestions, everyone!

I send my nephews in Rothenburg $10.00 in cash in their birthday cards every year (I know: “Big Spender”, right?;)) and haven’t had a problem with them getting it, but my friend Peter does buy a lot of stuff on that site named after the female warriors and that South American river :), so that’s a very good suggestion.

Today I did get an e-mail from the birth registry telling me my request is being processed, so I am going to wait and see what happens regarding the charge, because in certain instances, according to their website, one may not even incur a charge.

My German birth certificate was destroyed when my parents’ home partially burned. Luckily my naturalization papers were with me. I’d hate to have had THAT hassle.

Thanks again!