Brussels - Post Report Question and Answers

Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Credit cards used mostly everywhere, but Belgian prefers debit payment vs. credit cards. You will need to register for a local checking account, because some things just can't be done by credit card or cash, will need to transfer money through your local checking account. - Feb 2023

You'll need to get a Belgian bank account and local debit card. - Jan 2022

Credit cards are more widely accepted now due to the pandemic, but you will still run into places that are cash only. We had to start carrying cash when we moved to Brussels after one too many experiences like this. ATMs are common and usually safe to use. Use the same discretion as in the US (better to use an inside ATM than an outside one, etc.). - Oct 2021

ING. - Apr 2021

Yes and yes. Very easy and it always worked. We did open a local bank account to pay local bills that was recommended by the embassy staff. We also openned back accounts for our daughters age 12-14, who really enjoyed using their bank card at malls and stores vs cash. It is safe and it was a great experience for our kids. - Sep 2020

Yes, and yes. Contactless payments has become very common. - Sep 2020

Yes and yes. For some things you need a Belgian bank card. You typically need to open a local account because most bills are paid electronically via bank transfer (medical bills, after school activities for kids, mobile phone bills, internet, etc.) - Mar 2020

Yes, they are everywhere. - Feb 2019

Yes. You get a Bancontact card at a local bank when you arrive and you can use it to extract money and to pay bills. Credit cards are accepted most everywhere. - Feb 2019

Yes, though occasionally the U.S. cards don't work here. Most people need a local account for paying local items (like phone bills, school bills, etc.) via bank transfer and that local account card comes in very handy for the times the U.S. debit/credit card won't work. - May 2018

Most places do take credit cards, though some smaller shops are cash only and a few shops including the Colruyt discount grocery chain only take the local Bancontact debit cards. American cards without PINs work in 99% of places where you're interacting with a human, but they don't work in most unattended kiosks (train tickets, parking meters, etc). ATMs are everywhere and don't charge fees. Local cards are almost all contactless, which means that Android Pay and Apple Pay are widely accepted. I tend to use my American cards whenever possible because I want my airline miles. - Jan 2018

Credit cards are widely accepted but must have a chip. ATMs are available but most can only be accessed during bank hours. We generally took out cash at the Embassy. You do need a local bank account to pay bills and get gas. Diplomats can get a special gas card that links to your local account and waives the VAT. - Feb 2017

We use credit cards almost exclusively and have never had an issue. You WILL need to get a local bank account, however, for some things. Your gas will be debited directly from your LOCAL account only. You will pay for your internet bill, phone bill, local doctors bills online with your LOCAL bank too. You will find a few (very few) stores only accept local bank cards - not Visa or MC. - Dec 2016

We have a local account and use that bank card to pay. It is a debit type card - not a credit card. We have a U.S. credit card for travel and U.S. military installation shopping. - Aug 2014

Most places take credit cards and ATMs are everywhere. Just check to make sure a restaurant takes cards, as there are some that don't even take the local bank cards - just cash. - Jul 2014

Plenty of ATMs and credit cards are widely used. However, some retailers will only take a debit card to a local account. Also, because not all U.S. cards have chips; they may not be accepted. - Apr 2014

ATMs are everywhere. Be cautious. Attempts to steal PINs and then nick cards are high. Reporting theft means going to a local police station to file a report before the bank will begin an investigation. Local banks offer a Maestro "bank contact" card that is widely accepted throughout Belgium. I find myself needing to rely on my U.S. Visa card when visiting other countries. - Jan 2014

Don't expect to use credit cards too often. A European Bancontact/Maestro debit card with a chip is a must or use cash at most places. - Jan 2014

Common practice, although I rarely did it, but preferred to operate in cash to avoid the finance fees. - Oct 2012

No problem. - May 2012

Easy to use. However, for normal bills (phone, cell phones, cable, gyms, etc.) you will need a local bank account. - Jan 2012

ATMs are extensively used. - Nov 2011

I have had no problems using either credit cards or ATMs here at all. The Belgian banking system is much more advanced than the US and many vendors expect to be paid by either credit card or electronic funds transfer. - Aug 2011

I use mine everywhere. No worries at all. - Jul 2011

Maestro and Visa are used everywhere without any problems. But some smaller places only accept the Belgian 'bancontact' debit system, which is linked to Belgian accounts. - Jun 2011

Many places don't take US- style credit cards - but almost all will take debit cards from a European bank. - Jun 2011

ATMs are everywhere, but you must pretty much open a local account. Credit cards are not accepted in many bars and restaurants. - Jun 2010

Very available, and safe outside of main tourist areas. - Jun 2010

Not as prevalent as in the US, but still lots. - Mar 2010

Credit cards & ATMs are used more often than cash in Europe. - Jul 2009


Subscribe to our newsletter

New book from Talesmag! Honest and courageous stories of life abroad with special needs.

Read More