People in Vienna always carry cash. Lots of it. Notes and coins are needed to pay in a lot of establishments as they don’t take cards, and if they do take them they’re sometimes a bit moody about it. People (particularly elderly people) here seem to simply trust cash more, and want to be able to hold it. The largest banknote in the UK is £50 (between €60 and €70), so to see someone pay for their shopping with a €500 note was quite shocking to me. However, it didn’t even elicit a “Have you got anything smaller?” from the cashier.

London has gotten used to cards. “CASH ONLY” is a sign which I sometimes see in other parts of the UK, but in London you can go days just using a card.  While living there I came to see cash as a nuisance, and got annoyed at the change I would receive when paying with it. It weighed my pockets down and I never knew what to do with it.

Moving to Vienna only exacerbated this problem. Coins piled up from every coffee, every loaf of bread, every beer. As a partial solution, I now sometimes go shopping taking only my pile of coins with me. I force myself to buy produce totaling the €8.57 I have amassed in 1¢ – 50¢ pieces.

A few more mundane observations about payments:

  • Credit cards are very commonly used in London, whereas not so many people seem to use them in Vienna.
  • Of the credit cards used here, most are Mastercard, Visa is not so common.
  • A lot of cash machines in Vienna only accept Maestro debit cards, not Visa debit.