Norway is a mostly cashless society that relies on debit and credit cards for over 99 % of all transactions. This makes it very easy for travelers who visit Norway to go about on their shopping spree, and virtually all shops, restaurants, cafés and other places will accept banking cards.
There are however a few things to keep in mind before leaving for Norway to make sure that your credit card will actually work properly when you are visiting Norway. So, let’s take a look at how you can be absolutely sure that your credit card works in Norway.
The short summary is that you should bring a Visa or Mastercard debit or credit card with a 4 digit PIN to make sure it works in Norway. This will allow you to pay at well over 99 % of all shops, restaurants and other places in Norway.
It’s very important to have a 4 digit PIN
Many credit cards come without a PIN number, especially if you live in the United States, but this is not something that happens in Norway. Like at all. So paying with a banking card without a PIN code is unheard of here, and there are no Norwegian cards that uses a signature instead of a PIN.
The only exception is with the brand new contactless transactions where the RFID chip wires data wireless to the banking terminal. This is only for smaller amounts, and will occasionally still require a PIN code as a safety measurement.
Coming to Norway with a credit card without a PIN can cause some issues. Firstly, many payment terminals simply won’t accept it, and just deny your card since it is hardwired to require a PIN code. Secondly, many store employees will be super confused if they suddenly get a receipt that you need to sign, since this is something that is really unheard of in Norway.
I recommend everyone to get a 4 digit PIN code before coming to Norway. PIN codes with 5 or 6 digits might work most places, but they won’t always work. So change the PIN code to a 4 digit one before you come for a visit. Most banks allow you to do this online, but some banks might actually require you to travel down to a bank in person. However, it’s well worth your time!
Read more: All about payment methods in Norway.
Make sure that your card is ready for Norway
Many operators will have regional locks on their credit cards. For example, some American cards might automatically be unable to transact in Europe or Asia, as a scam-prevention measurement. So make sure that there are no regional locks on your credit card before arriving. These can be opened by calling your local bank or card issuer, or even directly from their website interface.
Some banks even allow you to open the credit card when you are already in Norway if you phone them, since this is only an optional safety feature that you are free to turn off at any time.
Does American Express and other types of credit cards work in Norway?
Norwegian stores pretty much only has Visa and Mastercard as standard cards that they always accept, so you will often run into trouble if you have a Discover or American Express credit card. Many terminals simply won’t accept them.
You will find that stores that sell typical tourist stuff like souvenirs will have a higher chance of having a payment terminal that accept foreign cards like American Express, while regular stores that has Norwegians as its main target tend to not have these terminals.
So if you want to be sure that your credit card will be accepted in Norway, opt for getting a Visa or Mastercard, and leave your Discover Card or American Express at home.
In other words, get a Visa or Mastercard with a 4 digit PIN code and no region locks, and you’re good to go shopping in Norway.
Always pay in Norwegian kroner
The official currency in Norway is Norwegian krone, but some stores might actually allow you to pay in USD or Euro “to make it easier to know how much it cost”. This might seem nice at a first glance, but it will almost always end up being more expensive for you.
What this does it that it allows the store to choose the currency exchange rate, instead of just paying in NOK and letting your bank choose it. And most stores won’t give you a very favorable exchange rate. So if you get asked, choose to pay in Norwegian kroner.