- 1 Jul 2010 5:00 AM
While using MasterCard branded cards is a very similar experience in over 30 million shops worldwide, every country has its own payment landscape and, at times, its unique characteristics of card usage. MasterCard gathered some practical information to help Hungarian tourists to make the most of their holidays.
Sources agree that top five beach holiday destinations for Hungarians are Croatia, Italy and Greece while all-year-around trips are popular to neighboring Austria and Romania. It stands for all of these countries that for hotel deposits, car rentals cards are almost always necessary.
In Croatia where most Hungarians escape from the summer heat card acceptance is very broad. Cards can be used to get motorway stickers, train and coach tickets just as in small, privately owned shops or restaurants. Street vendors, news or refreshment stands and taxis maybe the few exceptions where possibilities are best checked up-front.
In Croatia the smallest available coins are 1 or 2 lipa (0,01 or 0,02 kuna) but almost no merchants bothers to return you this small coins, so if paying with cards you are actually paying the exact amounts, especially taking into account that shop keepers love to set prices to end with ,99 (e.g. 9,99 kn). In some shops there may be discounts for Maestro payments versus other card brands.
Greece and Italy are the second most popular destinations for Hungarians. In Greece tourist areas such as mainland beaches, the capital, Athens and Aegean islands offer virtually 100% acceptance. Shopkeepers, restaurant staff are well trained and experienced with working with cards due to decades of practice with foreign tourists. In small inland shops, however, it is worth double checking card acceptance. In Greece you will need cash for paying road tolls and transportation tickets, while in Italy where acceptance is almost universal cards can be used on all motorways.
Some Italian merchants do not place POS terminals on the counter. Do not let this discourage you! Cards are welcome in most of these shops as well. The reason for hiding the terminals is merely that owners think these technical devices will ruin the look and feel of their carefully designed shop interiors. Those with contactless PayPass cards can enjoy quick payment in Italy’s shopping capital, Milan, where most popular shops accept these new generation cards.
While Austria is mainly a winter holiday destination, bicycling, mountain climbing or one-day shopping trips in Vienna attract many Hungarians in the summer. Cards can be used across all industries and acceptance is extremely developed, however, some retail chains only accept Maestro branded cards. Nevertheless, in tourist areas acceptance should not be an issue so traveling without a wallet full of euro notes is a safe bet in this country. In Austria most vending machines accept cards as a payment method. Parking meters in buildings, and ticketing machines for public transport most of the cases take cards. Some of the machines even check the cardholders age e.g. when selling cigarettes.
Currently, in Romania card acceptance is concentrated in larger towns so travelers will need some cash in rural areas visited most frequently by Hungarians as well as paying for road tolls on the motorways. Good news for PayPass cardholders that in Bucharest contactless technology is available in several locations such as fast-food restaurants (KFC and Pizza Hut), two central subway stations in Bucharest Piata Romana and Piata Universitatii at newspaper kiosks, flower shops and clothing stores."
More info from Zoltán Zádori - Localtime PR & Consultancy