Every year, Romania receives thousands of expats and millions of visitors. Truth be told, Romania is a beautiful country that also has a lot to offer in terms of quality education. While in the country, you could take a hike in the mountains if you are into that kind of fun. Similarly, you could choose to tour the enormous and enchanting Palace of the Parliament at the centre of Bucharest. Whichever you prefer, you can count on having the time of your life.
So, whether you are in the country just to soak up the atmosphere in a beer hall or nightclub, or to visit a castle in Transylvania, you will need money. For most people, credit cards are the most popular mode of payment. If you are one of these, then you are in luck because Romania is increasingly becoming a card economy.
Overview of Romania’s Money Economy
If you have done your research on Romania, then you know it has the largest ecommerce markets in Central and Eastern Europe. Romania was a largely paper only economy for the longest time. Then came the COVID-19 pandemic. Romania quickly transformed and shifted toward electronic payment.
During the pandemic, most businesses declined cash payments and encouraged their customers to use card and contactless payments. Today, more businesses continue to accept credit card payments in the country. However, you should know that businesses in smaller towns and villages will not accept credit cards. So, you should always carry some money with you.
Another downside to using a credit card in Romania is the increasing number of credit card fraud cases. As an expat, you should apply every caution when using a credit card in the country. It’s a sad reality but credit card scams are quite popular in Romania so be careful.
Using a Credit Card in Romania
Using your credit card in Romania will in large part be the same as in any other European country. It’s simple and straightforward. This is particularly true for major cities and towns. So, don’t overthink it and don’t let scammers discourage you from using this convenient mode of payment.
Besides, I believe that in every aspect of life, there is a certain degree of risk taking. So, use your credit card wisely in Romania and take every precaution at your disposal. The popularly accepted credit cards in the country are Visa and Mastercard. Most businesses in large cities and towns will accept these cards. Another common card is the American Express credit card, though it is not as popular as the first two.
Using a credit card in Romania’s smaller towns or rural areas is another issue altogether. I would recommend carrying cash whenever you travel to or visit such places. Most businesses will not accept credit cards and there are only a few ATMs. So, if one Saturday or Sunday morning you decide to visit a castle in Transylvania, carry some cash with you. It will come in handy.
However, you can also carry your credit card since you never know. Some local shops have been known to accept credit cards that are compatible with chip-and-pin. I should also let you know that in Romania you are less likely to be asked for an ID after a credit card transaction. So, don’t shy away from using your card when you forget your ID at home.
Most businesses have a minimum purchase limit for cards so use cash for small purchases. Also note that taxis and most public transport don’t accept credit cards.
Potential Credit Card Fees you may encounter in Romania
Like in many other countries, there are credit card fees you should expect in Romania. First of which is the foreign transaction fees. It entails a non-sterling fee of around 3% per use. It means that for every £500 you charge to your card, you pay a fee of £15. However, this will vary depending on your credit card. So choose wisely.
In some cases, a business owner might offer to take payment in a different currency instead of in lei. It is popularly known as a dynamic currency conversion (DCC). I wouldn’t go for it because it involves higher fees. Similarly, your provider might charge a cash advance fee to give cash advances. So, you should confirm with them before you sign up.
Finally, there is the cash machine fees. It is charged by a cash machine provider whenever you use a credit card to withdraw cash. My advice, don’t use your card to withdraw cash unless you are in a tight spot.
For cash advances and non-sterling transactions, most providers will commence the interest charge on the day your account is debited. This is contrary to the normal “up to 55 days interest-free” that is applicable to those who clear their balance in full each month.
The Best Credit Card to Use in Romania
Be on the lookout for credit cards that have commission-free currency conversion. You should also go for providers who won’t penalize you for using your credit card to withdraw cash. Always remember to use ATMs that don’t charge a fee so avoid those in convenience stores or bars.