Cash, credit and debit: payment methods in Belgium


Find out about the payment methods Belgians use to shop and pay their bills, both in person and online.


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If you move to Brussels, you will find that residents use a wide range of payment options when it comes to shopping, paying bills and transferring money. Belgium has adopted the culture of online and mobile payments, and these coexist with more traditional methods.

Cash is still widely used in Belgium

Several banks offer specialized services and advice to expatriates. These include the ability to open an account from abroad – an extremely useful service for people wishing to relocate. Expatica, provides an overview of the payment culture in Belgium as well as details on popular payment methods.

Payment methods in Belgium

Belgium’s payment culture, like the nation itself, is diverse. If you are moving from abroad, you will find a plethora of options when it comes to transactions. Credit and debit cards remain the most common form of payment overall. The national Bancontact card is used for a large percentage of purchases. However, new forms of electronic payment and mobile payment are developing year by year. Cash purchases are still common, especially for small transactions. A 2017 study by the European Central Bank found that the number of cash transactions in Belgium is lower than the euro area average.

The growth of e-commerce and m-commerce in Belgium

There has been an increase in online shopping in Belgium in recent years. The country has one of the highest percentages of regular internet users in Europe; this is evident in the retail statistics. Online shopping in Belgium increased from 4.7 billion euros in 2012 to 9.6 billion euros in 2016 and is expected to exceed 10 billion euros in 2017. Currently, around 17% of all spending in the country are carried out online.

Belgium, especially in Brussels, has been one of the forerunners in terms of the transition to e-commerce. Retailers have adapted their services to target this market. It also means that banks and payment providers need to make sure they keep pace with the changes.

Foreign retailers such as Amazon and the Dutch company Coolblue are popular sites for Belgian consumers. Belgian online sales sites such as Vente-Exclusive and Bel & Bo are also popular. But it is the leisure services that currently do the most business online. Tickets, accommodation and holidays are frequently purchased by Belgian consumers on the Internet.

It’s not just internet shopping that has proven to be popular. M-commerce – shopping using a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet – is also on the rise, especially among the younger generation.

A woman shopping online

Mobile purchases and mobile payments are expected to experience strong growth in the coming years. Most banks and payment service providers now offer smartphone apps to make their customers’ lives easier.

The most common payment methods in Belgium


Traditionalists and those new to the concept of virtual money will be happy to learn that good ol ‘cash is still popular. It still makes up the majority of offline retail point-of-sale transactions. However, its popularity is declining and 80% of young Belgians hardly use cash today.

Credit card

Credit cards such as Visa and Mastercard are a preferred method of payment with Belgians. They account for 35% of online purchases, the largest share for all methods. Credit cards are common in retail stores and restaurants. You can usually get a credit card from your local bank.

Debit cards

The most popular debit card in Belgium is the Bancontact card. It is the national debit card and it is the preferred method of payment for 64% of Belgians. It’s accepted pretty much across the country and is now also available as a mobile app. Its popularity will likely continue to increase in the age of smartphones.

Bank transfers and online banking

Internet banking is the most common form of payment for regular bill payments and money transfers. Most Belgian banks offer online banking services, where you can manage a range of payments and transfers.

One service that you can use if you have online banking services is Zoomit. It is a free service where you can manage all your invoices in one place.

International money transfers across the euro area are generally made via SEPA (Single Euro Payments Area), available from banks. Transfers represent 13% of online payments.

For international transfers, there are alternatives to banks that could be cheaper and more convenient, such as:

You can also use Monito’s online comparison tool to save on fees, get the best exchange rates, and find the cheapest option for your international money transfers.

Learn more about money transfers in our guide to international money transfers.

Pay Pal

PayPal is one of the main players in online payments in Belgium. It represents 12% of the market share, making it the third most popular online payment method (after credit cards and Bancontact).

Mobile payments

Smartphone apps accounted for around 11% of online payments in 2017. The popularity of apps will undoubtedly increase as more and more people engage and the concept of using apps to pay via free methods. contact will become more common in stores.

Contactless payment

Several banks now offer mobile banking services, as do most credit card providers and PayPal. There are also specialist mobile payment providers such as PingPing and Mobiamo.

Prepaid cards

These are cards that can be purchased from retailers, usually protected by a PIN code, which allow those who do not have a bank account / debit card or who do not wish to use their bank details on the Internet to shop online. line. This is another payment option favored by those who shop online in Belgium. Popular providers include Neosurf and MINT.

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