Updated on: 29 Aug 2018

Credit card features in Belgium

1.After you've made a payment your money doesn't leave your card account immediately, it has a waiting payment until the bill is settled by the issuer of your credit card, Mastercard or Visa. Once your payments are processed you can choose to repay the full amount of your purchases in one go each month when your bank settlement day comes, or you can spread the amount over several months. Some of the Belgian backs don't allow the payment in installments.

2.You can withdraw money and make payments all over the world. Most banks block the use of credit cards in the United States, so before heading there make sure you go to your bank and ask them to activate the card for the United States. The process is quite fast, and they usually unblock your card only for the duration of your visit, so you'll need to do the whole process every time you plan to visit the United States Online payments to US merchants are still allowed without needing any activation from the bank.

3.Withdrawing money from your credit card& costs money - even in Belgium. Only when you make large withdrawals outside Europe it is cheaper to use your credit card than your bank card.

4.You agree with your bank how much you can spend on your credit card each month. The monthly limit depends on your financial capacity, usually they take into account your income and the history of your employment. You can easily get a credit card, provided that you have a bank account at the bank where you request the card. Initially, the amount will be minimum but when you start to build a history with your bank the limit will increase to fit your needs.

5.Depending on the credit card you choose, you may receive extra benefits and free insurances. For example, you might be insured against your purchases being damaged or stolen, or you may receive travel cancellation insurance.

Debit card features in Belgium

1.After you've made a payment your money leaves your account instantly.

2.Your debit card needs to be linked to one of your accounts and every payment made will be deducted from that account.

3.You can normally only make payments and withdraw money in Europe. Look out for the Bancontact or Maestro logos for the places where you can use your debit card.

4. It's free to withdraw money from an ATM in Belgium or elsewhere in Europe with a Belgian debit card, as opposed to withdrawing money from your credit card which will have a cost. It's also better to use your debit card for small withdrawals in countries outside Europe.

Credit or debit card?

One useful tip for when you are abroad is that credit card companies often also issue payment cards, or debit cards. Because there are such things as Visa and Mastercard debit cards, however, in some countries (such as the US) you will be asked "Debit or credit?" when you use your credit card to make a purchase. When people ask that question, they are really asking if you want to pay using a credit card or a bank card. You should always answer "credit".

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