The most popular payment methods in Europe

The most popular payment methods in Europe

Do you want to start selling online in Europe? Or maybe you are already in the middle of doing so and want to improve? Well, you need to ensure a couple of things, among which are the security of your website and a reliable financial provider. 

But to attract more customers, you must also look into payment methods and implement the ones that are most popular in the countries you cater to. Let’s explore this topic in more detail in this Maxpay article. 

Popular online payment methods in Europe

Let’s take a look at the general picture first: which payment methods are the most common among Europeans? 

According to the survey carried out by FTI Consulting, as of September 2019, the most preferable way of paying online in Europe were debit and prepaid cards. 33% of the respondents claimed they choose these payment methods while e-shopping.  

The second most popular payment method (20%) turned out to be the one performed via Fintech mobile apps. And it is no wonder, as the Fintech industry grows each year and encapsulates more and more spheres of people’s routines. Find out what developments are expected to happen in the Fintech sphere next year in this article

Credit card payments were almost as popular among people, as 19% of participants surveyed had chosen it. As for other payment methods, mobile/online banking applications accounted for 16%, cash – for 7%, and Apple Pay and Google pay – for 3% of the survey.

While we are at it, let’s take a quick look at the statistics of payment methods used in retail from the same research. 

The top position is similar to the e-commerce statistics – 36% of respondents picked debit and/or prepaid cards. Meanwhile, 23% preferred cash, and another 19% – credit cards. 

Other payment methods like banking apps (11%), Fintech solutions (7%), Apple Pay, Google Pay (3%) weren’t in demand as much. Keep in mind that these statistics describe the pre-Covid-19 situation in payments. The multiple lockdowns occurring in 2020 and 2021 shifted many customers’ preferences to online shopping. They also promoted a heavier use of contactless payments. In fact, some reports, like the ones from Deloitte and Dentsu point out that the recent events are pushing us into the state of a contactless economy. In a nutshell, it is expected that people will be getting more options when it comes to in-home contactless approaches (e-commerce, virtual classes, food delivery, virtual entertainment, etc.). Meanwhile, brick-and-mortar stores, banking branches, and other institutions will be providing more contactless technological solutions for customers to interact with. 

Deloitte suggests that in the contactless economy scenario, consumer products, financial services, and health sectors will experience the biggest growth. Also, consumer products, leisure/recreation, and education will become the sectors with the largest market size. Definitely keep that in mind for the future. 

Before the pandemic, Denmark was the leading European country by the penetration of proximity mobile payment apps (40,9%), and Sweden was a close second (36,2%). The mobile payment apps penetration in Norway, Switzerland, and Italy remained on the more or less same level – 25,8%, 22,3%, 21,1% accordingly. 

But let’s get back to nowadays and see the situation with electronic payment methods. The European Central Bank recently revealed the statistics for non-cash payments in 2020. Compared to 2019, this transaction type in the eurozone increased to 101,6 billion (3,7%), their total value grew to 167 trillion euro (by 8,7%). And again, the card payment method was the most common, as it accounted for 47% of all non-cash payments. Falling far behind, credit transfers (23%) and direct debits (22%) placed second and third.

You can find out how each of the popular payment methods works in this Maxpay article

According to the aforementioned FTI Consulting research, most merchants believe that card payments hold the most value among other payment methods. They explained that card payments allow them to increase sales, broaden the customer demographic and that the payment itself is guaranteed. Speaking of which, let’s explore the topic of cards further in the next section of the article! 

The popularity of card payments in Western Europe

Lots of Europeans see debit and credit cards as the payment method of their choice. And no wonder, as cards have been around for decades, are regulated extensively, easy to use online and in physical stores. 

Although card payments are very common in Europe overall, they are utilized more by citizens of Western Europe: France, Netherlands, Belgium, etc., while some easterners find cash-on-delivery more practical, but more on that later. 

When choosing a PSP/payment gateway, you need to look into which card types does it allow clients to use. 

You see, while some countries use more traditional card brands, others benefit from the domestic payment card schemes. 

As the Worldpay’ Global Payments report 2021 suggests, Visa cards’ market share is greater in Ireland (89%), the UK (82%), Spain (73%), Finland (55%), Poland (51%), and Turkey (50%). Mastercard is preferred in the Netherlands (95%) and Sweden (59%). Meanwhile, France (82%), Belgium (79%), Germany (74%), Denmark (72%), and Norway (60%) enjoy their domestic solutions.  

Cash-on-delivery popularity in Eastern Europe

While some countries strive to go completely cashless, some Europeans prefer the cash-on-delivery payment method. This payment option was worth pointing out separately, as it is completely opposite to electronic payments. If you didn’t know, cash-on-delivery works like that: the customer finds something they want to buy from the merchant website. But rather than making a purchase online, they choose a cash-on-delivery payment method. Thus, the company delivers the purchase to the customer’s house/post office, and the person pays with cash to receive the purchase. 

People may find cash-on-delivery convenient if they:

  • Worry about sharing their card details;
  • Want to make sure that the product they buy is real;
  • Don’t have enough funds on their cards at the time of the purchase;
  • Prefer cash or dislike using debit and credit cards, as well as other online payment methods.

Cash-on-delivery is commonly used in eastern-European countries, such as Romania, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Ukraine, etc.

Most popular payment method per country

In the table below, we presented some of the more common payment methods for some of the European countries. As you can see, lots of them include a couple of options, thus we advise that you provide multiple payment methods to your customers to grow the revenue and client base.  Besides, you might even want to go international!  

BelgiumDebit cards, Bancontact specifically;
CroatiaE-wallets, cash-on-delivery;
DenmarkCard payment methods, digital wallets;
SwedenDebit and credit cards, mobile apps;
NorwayMobile payments, cards;
ItalyPayPal and similar solutions, debit and credit cards;
NetherlandsiDeal, cards payment method;
The United KingdomDebit and credit cards, digital wallets;
FinlandLocal online banking solutions;
RussiaMastercard, Visa, local cards;
SpainDebit or credit cards, e-wallets;
FranceDebit, credit cards;
GermanyPayPal, invoice for online payments;
AlbaniaCard payments (over 3 mln debit and 1,9 mln credit card payments in 2018. Still, in 2019, Albania had the highest share of cash in total POS payment transactions (87,7%) among 38 European countries;
AustriaPayPal, Amazon, invoice and credit cards for online payments;
PortugalCard payments, invoices;
IrelandCard payments, digital wallets;
PolandDebit cards;
TurkeyCredit cards;

Maxpay advantages 

No matter which European countries you want to sell goods online to, Maxpay is here to help! We are a payment gateway service provider that offers merchants not only traditional card payments but 140 alternative local payment methods! You will be able to track all the information on your revenue, customers, and all the other crucial metrics from one portal with all the necessary features.

Our team helps companies when it comes to merchant account opening and getting their website and documentation in check before sending them to the acquirers.  

If you use Shopify, PrestaShop, WooCommerce, or other e-commerce platforms, you can easily integrate them with Maxpay, as we developed a free plugin for it. 

Maxpay also provides merchants with services of the Covery anti-fraud platform, as well as solutions for chargeback prevention – VMPI and Ethoca Alerts. VMPI allows companies to prove that the transaction in question was valid to avoid chargebacks. And Ethoca Alerts notify merchants of confirmed fraud cases so that they can refund the customer and cancel shopping.

For more information contact us at, or write us a message via the live chat in the lower right corner of Maxpay’s website.