11

I think 100 dollar bills are common both in US and outside but not sure about euro. Seems like no?

Asking because apparently having a 500 euro bill makes you look shady and cause hassle according to reports of some people which I find weird.

4
  • 10
    I think I've had a $100 bill in my hand/wallet once or twice in my life. They really are not commonly used in the US in ordinary transactions.
    – Jon Custer
    May 16, 2023 at 13:30
  • 11
    €500 were discontinued for basically being only used by organised crime, hence the association. €100 don't have the same link, but high-value notes are always treated somewhat skeptically because they are attractive to counterfitters.
    – CMaster
    May 16, 2023 at 14:38
  • Comments have been moved to chat; please do not continue the discussion here. Before posting a comment below this one, please review the purposes of comments. Comments that do not request clarification or suggest improvements usually belong as an answer, on Travel Meta, or in Travel Chat. Comments continuing discussion may be removed.
    – Willeke
    May 17, 2023 at 15:28
  • Not in the Eurozone, but worth noting that the 100 Swiss Franc note, which is of similar value, is common. May 31, 2023 at 23:05

9 Answers 9

18

Between uncommon and barely usable, depending on the country:

A €100 banknote is barely usable in ordinary supermarkets. Some will refuse to accept one altogether, in others you will see the cashier call a couple more colleagues to inspect your banknote before ultimately accepting it. (€200 and €500 banknotes are basically not accepted anywhere.)

Similarly to the Netherlands, bills of 100€ or above are uncommon, but some ATMs still deliver them. 200€ bills especially are so rare that a lot of French don't even know they exist at all, and most have never seen one. Bigger stores like supermarkets will check those bills more thoroughly but tend to accept them widely. A lot of smaller stores do try to refuse the bills and put up disclaimers. However, as long as you provide exact change it is illegal for a shopkeeper to refuse cash as payment (article R642-3 of the Penal Code), unless one tries to pay with more than 50 coins.

In the same vein, it is also illegal and considered discrimination for most sellers to refuse serving a paying customer (article R132-1 of the Consumer Protection Code and article 225-2 of the Penal Code) outside of very specific reasons. Notable exclusions to these laws include some services such as banking and insurance, as well as commerce between private companies.

16
  • 5
    I think one concern in France is the amount of change in your checkout. I assume paying a good restaurant meal with €100 could raise eyebrows but would ultimately be OK. Breaking it to pay for a €5 receipt, not so much.
    – Relaxed
    May 16, 2023 at 15:54
  • 4
    common in Germany, though, even for paying small amounts.
    – njzk2
    May 16, 2023 at 21:07
  • 3
    Is it even legal not to accept valid cash payment?
    – Zeus
    May 17, 2023 at 1:13
  • 4
    @Zeus it is legal for a private business to refuse your business for no reason, so consequently, they can just refuse your cash by refusing your business. You're probably thinking of a federally backed institution like a bank.
    – Nelson
    May 17, 2023 at 4:59
  • 2
    @Nelson In France, is is illegal for a company to refuse dealing with someone, (except for the banks, strangely...) May 17, 2023 at 6:37
21

Germany is still strong on using cash, both for small day-to-day purchases and large ones (cars or until recently even houses). The latter is seen as a serious money laundering concern, but reform is stuck in debate.

Using the €50 note is quite common, but it may lead to grumbling from shopkeepers when it is used for small purchases. "Haben Sie es nicht kleiner?" "Don't you have it smaller?"

Using the €100 and €200 note is less common but not unheard, and my perception is that it isn't seen as shady. Just unusual, most people who spend that kind of money use digital payment systems.

There are shops which have posted notice that they are refusing the €500 note out of forgery concerns. The occasional forged, undetected 50 is the cost of doing business, a forged 500 would seriously impact their earnings.

21
  • 17
    The ATM I usually use here where I live in Germany always gives me 100€ notes if I withdraw more than 100€. I have never had any problem actually using them. I often exchange cash when I am in eastern Europe and have also there never had problems using 100€ notes. May 16, 2023 at 19:30
  • 1
    In US shops, it's quite common to see signs saying "no bills over $20 accepted".
    – RonJohn
    May 17, 2023 at 2:55
  • @Tor-EinarJarnbjo, I very rarely encountered problems (first customer in the morning for a small shop ...) and frequently grumpiness.
    – o.m.
    May 17, 2023 at 5:27
  • 1
    Non-supermarket stores (bakeries, newspapers etc.) may not accept them even without an explicit note. Supermarkets usually do though. The legal side is somewhat interesting: It is legal tender, so is there not an obligation to accept it? There is; but there is no obligation to make change. So if you buy something for 101 Euros and pay with a bill and a coin, everybody should accept that (they still sometimes won't though). May 17, 2023 at 8:45
  • 1
    Buying a house with cash has become illegal in Germany since 2023-04-01.
    – gerrit
    May 17, 2023 at 8:56
17

In Austria, definitely yes. 100 euro bills come out of ATMs, so many people regularly have some of them and spend them.

200 and 500 euro bills, not so much.

7
  • Same with Germany. The only places which don't accept it are places where the average purchase is in the 1€–30€ range and that are small independent businesses for which keeping large amounts of change at hand would tie up a considerable amount of their money. For example, the bakery in my street displays prominent signs saying they don't take denominations larger than 50€. OTOH, when I was working as a musician, it was almost a cliché that at every wedding, the father of the bride would pay us in 500€ notes. May 16, 2023 at 22:16
  • 1
    Apparently, it is completely normal that the father of the bride gets a large envelope of 500€ notes from the bank and pays the band, the DJ, the catering company, the flower company, the venue, etc. that way. At least that is what I observed at every wedding I ever played at. (And it was always an annoyance, because you then had to break 500€ notes between the band members or employees.) May 16, 2023 at 22:18
  • Was just gonna comment on this. Absolutely agree
    – Ozzy
    May 17, 2023 at 11:03
  • @JörgWMittag I'd be suspicious if that still happens: no €500 notes have been printed since 2015, so they are unlikely to be still in normal circulation through banks. May 17, 2023 at 12:27
  • I’m Austrian. I would have agreed with your statement but recently I had trouble paying for a 8€ sandwich at Subway with a 50€ note at 11:20 because they simply didn’t have enough cash in the register. The nearby pizza store was also unable to exchange it for some smaller notes. Kind of ridiculous (and everyone I’ve told this agreed).
    – Michael
    May 17, 2023 at 12:43
10

Anything above €50 is extremely uncommon outside of a handful of cash-friendly countries (mostly Austria and Germany, which are the only countries to have produced any in recent years). Business owners might not be happy to break a €50 but that's hard to avoid when that's what some ATM give you. Some will have signs explicitly warning that they won't accept €100, €200, or €500 banknotes.

Beyond that, many countries in the eurozone have also moved away from cash generally, which also means businesses have less change on hand when they are not outright refusing cash. There are also limits on how much you are allowed to pay by cash in about half of all eurozone countries further contributing to a general lack of use for large denominations.

6

One possible reason for hassle with a €500 note, that should be rather independent of spending habits in a certain country: as of 2019, €500 notes are no longer being issued (source). The reason, as others have mentioned, was that €500 notes were often used in criminal activities.

I admit that I misunderstood those news, thinking that the €500 notes are no longer legal tender, and it's likely that the same happened some shopowners or cahiers that now won't accept them. But, according to the same source: "Existing €500 banknotes continue to be legal tender, so you can still use them as a means of payment and store of value (i.e. spend and save them). Similarly, banks, bureaux de change and other commercial parties can keep recirculating the existing €500 notes."

As only €500 notes were discontinued, you shouldn't run into the same trouble with a €100 note.

2
  • 2
    Note that the term "legal tender" only applies to debt payments (when you are tendered to the payment). Private businesses are free not to accept paper money at all. May 17, 2023 at 7:35
  • A taxi driver probably couldn't refuse to take a €100 bill for a €100 ride unless indicated before the ride started.
    – gerrit
    May 22, 2023 at 8:40
2

The image below comes from the statistics page of the Bank of Italy, and shows the amount of bills (thousands of units) emitted by the bank, divided by type ("taglio": 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 500 euro) and by year.

As you can see, the lion's share goes to 50 euro bills, but 100 aren't by any means uncommon.

There's a maximum amount for cash payments - currently it's 5.000 euros, with a low of 1.000 euros for the first months of 2022. These amounts are usually paid with larger denomination bills.

enter image description here

2

That depends where you are. The countries of Europe vary in wealth a lot.

I live in Germany and even within the country there are huge differences. Usually the 500€ bill is not accepted (and it is also not printed anymore).

But in my home town Frankfurt, we have an ATM in the inner city (Zeil, direction Goethe-Straße) which only gives out 500€-Bills. And shops in the area to go along with that.

You will also have no issue to pay with a 100€-Bill in any shop in the city. I have even used 200€-Bills in the Supermarket.

In more remote places smaller denominations will be preferred. But you will always be able to use a 100€.

In other country's of the Euro-Zone I have made different experiences.

Short answer: It very much depends on the country, city and kind of shop you want to spend it in.

7
  • I would also add that the countries of Europe vary wildly in how cash friendly they are. I was unable to pay my €50 hairdresser bill by card in Germany last week; I wouldn't be surprised to find a French hairdresser that would decline to accept cash. May 17, 2023 at 7:59
  • 1
    Huh. I live near Frankfurt am Main and I've never even seen a €100 bill, let alone anything larger than that. Is that some novelty ATMs for people making their living in Bahnhofsviertel and therefore keen on large cash transactions? :)
    – gerrit
    May 17, 2023 at 9:00
  • Germany and the Netherlands do not differ much, or any, in wealth, but I have never handled a €100 bill. Most ATM here give 10, 20 and 50 notes.
    – Willeke
    May 17, 2023 at 11:36
  • @Willeke I once got one abroad and getting rid of it was a major pain (in Amsterdam, perhaps it's better near the German border).
    – TooTea
    May 17, 2023 at 14:06
  • @gerrit it is a Sparkasse ATM near Goethe-Straße,
    – NDDT
    May 19, 2023 at 7:09
2

In Spain ATMs don't distribute 100€ notes or higher. Only 50, 20, 10 and 5€ notes. They can, however, be acquired at the bank's office.

It's common for stores, especially smaller ones, to have signs saying they don't accept notes above 50€.

So no, 100€ notes and higher are extremely rare in Spain. You just won't see them. If you do, make a wish.

0
1

100€ bill is uncommon but not seen as shady. The acceptance depends upon the availability of change and the possibility of fraud: do not even try to pay a newspaper with it, but 80€ at the supermarket is fine; moreover, if the shop has a some kind of autenticity check device, they more likely will accept it. Same goes for the 200€ bill.

As for 500€ bills, they are definitely uncommon and not used for everyday payments.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .