Cash or credit card in Copenhagen?

Small card holder with credit cards
Credit cards are widely accepted in Copenhagen

Do I need cash when visiting Copenhagen?

Generally speaking, no. Credit cards are accepted practically everywhere and I haven’t used any cash myself for a couple of years, if I remember correctly. BUT, there is typically a fee for using foreign issued credit cards of around 2.75% and up to over 6.0%, so that is something to take into account. As far as I know, this only applies for credit cards and corporate cards, not for debit cards.

Person paying at a credit card terminal in a café
A lot of the newest credit card terminals, used by smaller shops, don’t have the option to use the magnetic stripe

Using your credit/debit card

Your own bank, who issued the card, might also have a fee, which you might want to check up on. Mastercard and Visa are viable cards almost everywere and most places they also accept a wide range of the other big international cards, but you might encounter some places which don’t.

Nowadays, you can pay several ways, if your card supports it. There is the magnetic strip (swipe), the chip and contact-less. Most places have a terminal that supports all 3 methods, but sometimes contact-less is not an option and that’s why yo should make sure you have/remember your 4-digit PIN code. That’s what we use in Denmark and you will also need it, if using an ATM. If you have a PIN consisting of more than 4 digits, contact your bank and explain that you need a 4 digit PIN.

Using ones signature is not used anymore, but you might be asked to show some photo ID, when using a foreign card, so keep that on you.

So, how much cash should I bring then?

Bearing the surcharges in mind, you might want to bring some cash, but how much then? In this article I recently wrote on whether Copenhagen is expensive, you can see what you approximately can expect to use per day on food and drinks.

Whether you want to exchange some money at your won bank, beforehand or just want to withdraw some in Denmark is up to you. I would check with my bank to see what kind of exchange-rate they can offer and at the same time check what (if any) kind if fee they charge when withdrawing money at an ATM abroad.

There is typically a maximum of 2000DKK/per day on Danish ATMs, so for some people that might restrict them a bit, if they are only using cash.

Which currency is best to use?

In Denmark and in Copenhagen we use Danish kroner (crowns). Even thought we’re a part of the European Union, we have decided to keep our national currency (just like Sweden and Norway also have their own kroner), which is pegged to the euro.

If paying by credit card, you will sometimes be prompted, on the card terminal, to choose whether to pay the bill in DKK (Danish kroner) or your local currency (e.g. dollars, being from the U.S.). Here you should always choose DKK, since your bank will get a better exchange-rate, than the merchant, plus they charge a fee for the service of presenting you with the bill in your own currency. Source: Forbes

Should you want to use some of the leftover cash in euro, before returning home, ask when booking a table at a restaurant, if they accept it as payment. You CAN use euros (and sometimes even dollars) in larger stores and at some restaurants, but if you’re to receive any change, it will most likely be in kroner.

Blue ATM
They might not look exactly like this in Copenhagen, but ATMs are found wherever there is a bank

Where can I withdraw money?

ATMs are to be found allover the city. In Danish they are called “pengeautomat” or “hæveautomat” and can be found wherever there is a bank. They also appear other places, but personally I would steer clear of these. Not that it’s commonm that they are tampered with or they charge large unforeseen fees, but just to be safe, I would only use the ones in conjunction with a bank.

Here are some ATM locators for the most common banks. Some of them are unfortunately only in Danish, but you should still be able to use the map. The one for Nordea only displays the ATM, if you type in the postal code you’re searching for, but here Google can help you, if you don’t already know which you’re in.
Danske Bank
Arbejdernes Landsbank

Danish coin and banknotes denominations

Here are the denomination of the Danish krone, with photos below.
1 krone is divided into 100 ører (like cents in a dollar).
We have 6 coins:

and 5 banknotes:

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