Why Don’t Some Restaurants Accept International Credit Cards?

You go into a restaurant in Europe, all is fine, dinner was excellent, wine was superb, and when it comes time to pay, you whip out your credit card and they waiter politely says “I’m sorry, but we don’t accept international credits cards – perhaps you have cash?”

What does this mean? Why won’t they accept your perfectly good credit card? The answer is very simple!


Hello my name is Faisal Khan, I’m a banking and a payments consultant.

And the question I’m going to answer today is Why do many restaurants or businesses in the EU especially (the question was specifically was put referred to Lisbon, Portugal) do not accept international credit cards?

Well the answer is very simple. It’s taxation. It’s taxation and saving money. So what does that mean. Well the restaurant or business is betting that you have cash if you’re a tourist and they will do this, they’ll take a gamble and they’ll come to you and say “Sir so sorry we don’t take cards, international cards!” and you say “What do you mean you don’t take international cards””

“I’m sorry we don’t take international cards.”

Most of the tourists will not be able to argue, they’ll feel embarrassed and they you know because it’s the end of the dinner etc. and they have to pay the bill and they want to opt out of it. So they’ll just take some cash out if they have it and they’ll pay for it.

If they do not have cash then the restaurant might even suggest that there’s an ATM around the corner, go get it from there which they may do. And if they see that the client really doesn’t have the cash, they will take the and accept the, make some excuse and accept the card as it is. The reason they do that is first of all the locally issued debit cards have a much lower transaction fee than let’s say internationally issued debit cards. They also don’t don’t like paying the transaction fee right. So it could be 2% or 1.5%, 1.8% whatever it is the MDR the merchant discount rate. The restaurant feels that they shouldn’t be able to pay it, if they can save it. Hey even better. So that’s one reason.

But at the end of the day it is also about taxation. Taking the transaction in cash to tourists that came in, they had dinner, they left. You know, out of every let’s say 10 dinners that took cash. Maybe they’ll report only six of them four of them they don’t. Now you may think that this doesn’t happen in places in Europe, in Denmark, in Sweden, in Finland, and Netherlands and Portugal. It happens everywhere. You’d be surprised that even the so called advanced nordic societies have restaurants, have been businesses that will save up on taxes and accept cash.

It’s just human nature in the end.

I hope I was able to answer the question if you anymore. Feel free to ask and I’ll be happy to answer one for you and make a video for it. They will then take care.

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