Living with cash in Germany

I’ve been living in Cologne for two months, and there are some things that just don’t make sense. I visited Berlin two years ago and I don’t remember being that frustrated, so maybe all of this is specific to the region.

By Maximilian Schönherr via Wikimedia Commons
By Maximilian Schönherr via Wikimedia Commons

The public transport seems great: you can get anywhere, with frequent service, and they are very punctual and efficient (if you know where you are going). The problem is when you want to pay for it. I’ve read they’ve been discussing increasing the penalty fare, since there are so many fare dodgers.

Reading that you might think the Germans are dishonest, but the truth is half the times the touch screen just won’t work. Or it’ll work so bad that by the time you manage to get to the pay screen, you already arrived.

If the screen is working, the next handicap is having to pay with coins: 2.70€ per ride, 9.70€ for the 4-trip ticket. You probably don’t carry that amount in coins every day, but even if you do, more often than not it’ll demand the exact change. Even at 11am on a weekday.

You might see in the picture a slot to pay with card, but don’t be fooled: Visa/MasterCard are unheard of around here. They only accept their EC cards, so don’t think any of your other cards will work.

Speaking of cards, I went to an electronics store recently to buy some stuff, for a total over 100€. Guess what: only EC or cash.

I wonder what’s going on with Visa/MasterCard here.