How difficult is it to break large kroner bills (200 or 500 kr) in Copenhagen?

I'm asking because I know it's very hard for a tourist to pay with 50 or 100 dollar bills in US; and some people didn't really enjoy breaking CAD$100 bills for me in Toronto, or even BOB$100 and BOB$200 in Santa Cruz de la Sierra.

Probably the currency exchange store will try to give me large bills when trading euros by kroner in Copenhagen, so I need to know what bill values are accepted by the locals.

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    You can always go into a bank (inside opening hours) and have them excange your 500,- or 1.000,- kroner bills. – Bent Nov 22 '18 at 20:04
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    Oh and to just warn anybody who tries it. Don't try to pay for your bus ticket with a 500 kr or 1.000 kr note. 200 kr is not that good an idea as well. If you buy your ticket in a shop at a station that is not a problem. – Bent Nov 22 '18 at 20:19
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    @Bent: Many bank branches these days have gone cashless and the only cash they deal in is what the ATM spits out, deposit bags (which are taken elsewhere to be processed), or pre-ordered currency. – hmakholm left over Monica Nov 22 '18 at 23:58
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    @HenningMakholm In what country? If there's anyplace where I can expect cash, it's the bank... – Nelson Nov 23 '18 at 2:36
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    @Nelson: Um, in Denmark. – hmakholm left over Monica Nov 23 '18 at 2:44

In my experience, 200 kr bills are not at all unusual and shouldn't give you any issues (unless you're buying something very cheap, like less than 20 kr, from a very small store). The 500 kr bill is more unusual, but it should be fine in larger stores and restaurants. Some smaller stores and restaurants may refuse them.

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    This matches my experience (as a native). ATMs are wont to deliver 200 kr bills even when you withdraw amounts 500 kr or over. I sometimes do get 500 kr bills, but have never had any trouble using them for purchases over a few hundred kr. The 1000 kr bill is very rare. – hmakholm left over Monica Nov 22 '18 at 16:49
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    500 kr (or 1.000 kr for that matter) bills are not always welcome in shops as they are the most counterfeited. Some shops have scanners to verify the bills (though that seems to be quite rare lately), some accept them, others may hand them back to you. – Bent Nov 22 '18 at 20:10
  • I had no trouble spending either 500 or 1000 bills in Copenhagen. – Jack Aidley Nov 23 '18 at 18:01

The other answers already mention that breaking bigger notes in Denmark is not really a problem. But you can likely avoid getting big notes in the first place.

If you exchange the money in the country where it is the currency you can ask and should be given smaller notes. If not all, at least enough that you are not immediately stuck.
When you exchange money in your home country you will have less options when you ask for a certain kind of notes. You will then have to take what they have or leave without exchanging.

But check the cost of exchanging against using a card in the ATM and against using your card in shops and restaurants.
Using your card is often cheaper than traveling with cash and it has much less risk of losing all to pick pockets.

There are tricks to get money out of the ATM without getting too big notes.
Like going to a machine where you can select the notes they deliver. And asking for an amount which is smaller than the big note you want to avoid. Or at least select an amount which means that you do not only get big notes, like 1900 instead of 2000, so you can be sure not to get just 500 or 1000 notes. (Adjust numbers to what you actually need.) And most ATM do not give notes that will be too big.

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    I haven't seen a ATM where you cannot decide the size of the notes in a long time. If it is low on 100,- kr notes it might not give you a choice but this is a rare occurence. – Bent Nov 22 '18 at 20:13
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    @Bent I've never seen an ATM give a choice of what notes I'll receive, in any country that I've lived in or visited, so even mentioning that such things exist is news to me. – David Richerby Nov 22 '18 at 21:23
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    @DavidRicherby: In my unscientific experience Danish ATMs offer this choice roughly half of the time. Some will give you the choice only if you type in the amount you want on the keypad instead of selecting one of the standard amounts earlier in the dialogue. – hmakholm left over Monica Nov 22 '18 at 23:55
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    "Using your card is often cheaper than traveling with cash and it has much less risk of losing all to pick pockets." > That is the answer for me – usr-local-ΕΨΗΕΛΩΝ Nov 23 '18 at 11:00
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    If you can tolerate a few large notes (e.g. for restaurant meals, supermarket shops) then getting our something like €280 or €290 instead of €300 works quite well (the former is better if the machines are mainly stocked with €20 and €50 notes). It's harder to avoid DKK200 notes without lots of little withdrawals as they're quite low value, but getting DKK1900 would at least mean you couldn;t get it all in 500/1000 notes – Chris H Nov 23 '18 at 12:01

It is getting less and less common to pay cash at all in all Scandinavian countries, so you may be given a strange glance no matter which bill you choose to pay with. Except for that, I wouldn't expect any problems paying with larger bills.

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    Actually in Denmark you can get into a situation where they refuse 500 kr or 1.000 kr notes. – Bent Nov 22 '18 at 20:14
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    To reinforce what this answer says (but from a "visitor" point of view), last time I was in Denmark (some two years ago) I didn't bring any cash nor did I need it at any time. – Martin Argerami Nov 23 '18 at 7:08
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    To expand on this, it is extremely rare to encounter a shop in Denmark that doesn't accept card (Visa is the safer bet, but other cards are also almost universally accepted). I have a hard time imagining that you'll encounter anywhere that doesn't - especially in Copenhagen. It's still a good idea to carry around a bit of cash on the off-chance that your bank thinks sudden payments in Denmark are suspicious and lock your account. – Birjolaxew Nov 23 '18 at 7:31
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    I did not meet shops that did not accept cards but I have had to pay two B&B places that only accept cash, which was the biggest expense for the days in those places. So be not sure you can pay all with cards. – Willeke Nov 23 '18 at 9:13
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    Exacty. Why cash at all? Use your debit / credit cards. I did a whole ferry ride, car journey, hotel stop and holiday in LegoLand without using cash once. – vikingsteve Nov 23 '18 at 9:26

I moved to Denmark 7 years ago. As many people comment, cash is not all that common here anymore. Many are suggesting to skip cash all together, and just use a credit card. There are two reasons why that might not be the best idea. Danish establishments normally charge a percentage fee for foreign cards. Expect this to be up to 3%. Many smaller shops also do not accept standard foreign card types at all, only the danish standard DanKort. This made my life hard from time to time, as I could not get one until I had lived here for 2-3 years.

I have never been refused to pay cash any place in Denmark. Admittedly, I do not do it often anymore. If you bring 200kr bills, you will most likely not be refused anywhere. And 500 will work in absolutely the majority of cases as well.

So do not blindly rely on using foreign cards. At least some cash is a good idea.

  • Did you have trouble using foreign cards to get money out of the machines or only to pay in shops? – Willeke Nov 23 '18 at 12:43
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    @Willeke Nearly all ATMs accept most international cards. All terminals sold/leased in Denmark now have the possibility of accepting all major cards as well; whether they actually do depends on which contract the owner has with the provider (NETS, Teller, etc.). It used to be disproportionately more expensive to accept non-DanKort payments, but prices have evened out, so it’s much less common now. Certainly all supermarkets and chain stores will accept at least Visa, MasterCard, AmEx, and UnionPay these days. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Nov 23 '18 at 18:17

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