My family recently returned from our home exchange in the Netherlands for most of July, and even though we saved a lot of money by not having many hotel bills to pay, we still needed cash each day on our vacation.
Cash is just a lot easier to deal with, especially with small merchants, and businesses seem to appreciate using cash instead of a credit card. The good news was that our travel savings account was pretty full before we left for Europe, so paying for our food, a few hotel nights and incidentals was easy. It was easy, however, until we had to find an ATM to withdraw money.
I’ll get to that mess in another post, but first I want to go over the good things I discovered about how Europe deals with money. Here are five things I found to be smart in France, Belgium and the Netherlands in how they deal with money:
Tax and tip included in the price
This was one of my favorite things about buying anything during our vacation: The price you see is the price you pay.
If the price says €7, you pay 7 Euros. Not €7.63 or some other odd amount because tax is added later. The price includes tax. At restaurants, it includes tax and tip.
You don’t have to do any math at a restaurant table to figure out a tip because it’s included in the price of everything in the menu.
The effect may be more psychological than anything, but it made reading a menu or seeing the price for anything — such as a €75 two-hour boat rental on a Dutch canal — easier to accept than seeing €60 and then adding €15 in taxes. At €60, I’d have my mind set on that price and would be unpleasantly surprised when it was upped to €75 after taxes.
No digging for pennies
There were a few exceptions to the above rule, and I never did figure out why. A few times I bought a bottle of water at a convenience store and the €1 price would become €1.09 at the cash register. I’d have to dig for pennies in my pocket when this happened.
But this rarely happened because most businesses didn’t add taxes at the cash register. Almost everything I bought didn’t require change because it was priced at the nearest Euro. Instead of €2.20 for a soda — orange Fanta was popular — it was €2 even. Continue reading