My travel guide says that the use of foreign bank cards in shops in Denmark (restaurants, etc.) is frequently subject to a +2% or +3% “extra charge” for use of foreign card. But the guide is not pretty clear whether it's all card, only debit cards, or only credit cards. And how common it is in Copenhagen, and in what types of shops (small or big)?

Edit: my card is French, and my French guide book says that's considered “foreign” even though it's EU-issued.

Can anyone help explain this extra charge?

  • 2
    Note that "foreign card" in this case means cards issued outside the EU/EEE. I don't think it makes a difference whether the card is credit or debit; that would be a matter between the customer and the card issuer. (In the US "credit" and "debit" name different protocols for processing a transaction between the merchant and card issuer; in Europe all transactions use the same protocol). Since locally-issued cards don't attract those fees, I can't say how common it is. I would guess "pretty common", since those fees are charged by the acquiring bank and the merchant simply passes them on. Aug 12, 2019 at 10:02
  • @HenningMakholm Note however that even if there are not "foreign transaction fees" for European cards, there will be foreign exchange, and the bank will likely apply a spread (usually 2-3%) on the "interbank rate".
    – jcaron
    Aug 12, 2019 at 11:54
  • @jcaron: That size of spread doesn't match the experience I get for my Danish-issued cards (which I believe is typical of banks here). Yes, there's a spread. No, it is not as high as 2-3%. Based on transactions I made in Germany a few weeks ago, the net fees/spread I paid was about 1.2% compared to the most favorable of ECB's published reference exchange rates during the days between the actual transactions and when it appeared on my online statement. Aug 12, 2019 at 12:27
  • @HenningMakholm each bank can apply whatever spread they want, though many will apply the "standard VISA rate" which I believe is 3% over (maybe 2%? Don't remember and too lazy to check). 1.2% is a pretty good rate IMHO.
    – jcaron
    Aug 12, 2019 at 15:23
  • @jcaron: Doesn't look all that unusual, from the list on påbeløbet.dk/prisliste Aug 12, 2019 at 15:32

1 Answer 1


Since your card is French, it will not incur these fees.

Merchants in Denmark often apply fees (or up to several percent of the sticker price) to payments with cards issued outside the EU, but they are forbidden from doing this for consumer cards covered by the Payment Services Directive II. These rules do not distinguish between Danish and other EU cards.

These rules were introduced in January 2018, so if your guidebook is older than that it might be speaking about the previous situation.

  • 1
    Yes I think it's a 2017 guidebook, so that looks very likely. Many thanks!
    – F'x
    Aug 12, 2019 at 19:29

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