Credit card distribution in Germany: Visa, Mastercard to AMEX

The credit card as a means of payment is becoming increasingly popular in Germany. Until ten years ago, credit cards were preferred by people with higher incomes or business travelers. Today, it is basically available to everyone as a supplement to the EC card.

Distribution of credit cards in Germany

Distribution of credit cards in Germany

The credit card has become particularly popular in recent years thanks to online shopping and has benefited from an increasing spread. Around 33 million credit cards from various providers are used more or less regularly in Germany.

The statistical data speak of 955 million transactions that credit card holders prefer to carry out with Mastercard or Visa per year. Despite this large number of transactions, only 6% of retail payments are made with a credit card. Special surveys show that Germans prefer to pay in cash.

The study “ Card-based payment systems in retail 2016 ” (source), carried out by the research and educational institute for retail, provided meaningful figures. For example, Girocard sales have decreased by 0.5% for the first time since this payment method was introduced in 1990. At the same time, credit card transactions increased. Payment by cash is also declining by 0.9%, which in part benefited the EC direct debit. Despite these figures, there is a continuous upward trend in credit cards in Germany.

Credit card payments are accepted more and more

Credit card payments are accepted more and more

In the online shop , payment by credit card is now part of the standard procedure and is accordingly widespread. Not so in retail , where acceptance in Germany can still be expanded. In this regard, gas stations play a pioneering role.

Whether on the motorway or the small petrol station in town: almost everyone offers payment by credit card. If this is not the case in exceptional cases, having a Maestro debit card that matches the credit card is the solution. It has the normal function of an EC card, but does not debit the current account, but the credit card account. Buying train and plane tickets is just as easy with a credit card as buying concert tickets.

The situation is different in retail and catering , with the exception of hotels . Here it is still necessary to inquire in advance whether your credit card will be accepted. While it was the high costs that deterred retailers in particular, acceptance increased due to lower InterChange fees. These costs are borne by the seller and were capped at 0.3% of sales (EC cards 0.2%). Requirements that demonstrably increase the willingness of retailers to offer several types of card payment. This applies, for example, to various discounters or media markets that now offer EC and credit card payments nationwide, says Horst Rüter, Managing Director of EHI Handelsdaten.

Nevertheless, the credit card does not yet show the high distribution in retail and catering that many cardholders in Germany want. Because the card turnover in retail is currently 44.5%, while cash turnover secures the first place with a share of 52.4%.

Credit card acceptance by Visa and Mastercard

Credit card acceptance by Visa and Mastercard

Thanks to the intensive cooperation between banks and other issuing institutions and companies with the major providers Visa and Mastercard, these two are among the most widely used credit cards in Germany.

This results in a much higher and more logical acceptance of these two cards in retail and online shops. According to statistics, Mastercard and VISA each have 515,000 acceptance points ( as of 2016 ).

The exclusive credit card brands American Express (AMEX) and Diners Club show a significantly lower distribution in Germany. American Express is accepted in 330,000 retail and hospitality stores, while Diners Club ranks last among the four major credit card providers with 158,000 acceptance points.

This credit card is the most widely used

This credit card is the most widely used

VISA and Mastercard are among the most popular credit cards in Germany, with the same circulation . Which of the two cards the decision is made depends solely on the additional offers from the issuing offices. Basically, both credit cards are absolutely equivalent in terms of payment options.

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