As a visitor to Sweden, what are my options for paying for things?
Should I buy some kind of pre-paid card and load it?
Will merchants accept a MasterCard from Ireland with microchip/rfid?
I visited Sweden half a year ago, and I was able to pay everywhere (from the smallest coffee shop to fancy restaurants) by just tapping my Dutch ATM card on the POS of the merchant. Dutch ATM cards are Maestro cards, and are happily accepted in Sweden.
Sweden is amongst the most cashless countries in the world, but cash is still widely accepted to the degree that coffee-shops or city-buses not excepting cash are exceptions.
Very few shops don't accept visa and master card; and most places have touch-less cart-terminals as well as chip and magnet card-readers.
Yet, many Swedes, like me, never use cash, and don't readily recognise the recently redesigned Swedish coins. Where cards are not used, amongst street-vendors and between friends, many Swedes instead use Swish rather than cash. Swish is a national peer-to-peer payment system tied to bank-accounts and using phone-numbers as identifiers for instant money-transfers approved by Swedish digital ID:s on smart-phones. As a short term visitor, however, it will be difficult to get Swish, as it requires A Swedish bank account a Swedish digital ID and national ID-number. To go Dutch on a bill, buy an apple or a hot-dog from a street-vendor or to give money to beggars and street-musicians, you should consider cash which you can get readily from ATM:s.
The currency in Sweden is the crown (SEK), though some shops, like Systembolaget (the alcohol retail store) accepts other Scandinavian currencies and Euros.
The Banks of Sweden is currently investigating the issuance of non-physical money in compliance with the trends towards a cash-less economy.
Contactless payments are available almost everywhere.
I visited Sweden from the UK three weeks ago. Every shop I went into, even the tiny little cafes and the otherwise fairly haphazard outdoor ice rink, were perfectly happy to accept both my UK VISA debit and my Mastercard credit card.
There are indeed some places that do not accept cash but most still do: those that don't have fairly prominent signs (usually only in Swedish) near the registers to say so.
Visa and Mastercard works fine, chip is preferred
Visa and Mastercard works pretty much everywhere.
Chipped card is the preferred way to go.
Swiping is no longer in use at all.
About a quarter of all machines have enabled RFID (estimate from personal experience).
ATMs will give you Swedish currency from your Visa and Mastercard if you need it, but you rarely do. I as a Swedish citizen cannot even identify the new coins we have since over a year back because I use cash so seldom, less than once per quarter year.