Quickly after arriving in Germany, you realize the money difference between Germans and Americans. They use cash. They prefer cash. While some restaurants and stores take credit cards (and I say 'some' very lightly), the majority do not.
But the biggest difference? The Germans lack of VISA/Mastercard/Discover etc. (Even my landlord, my LOADED landlord, and his family DO NOT own ANY sort of Visa/Mastercard credit card).
While cash is their main choice of payment, you will see Germans using a credit card of their own - the Sparkasse Card. This is their sort of debit card, but no, it is not a Visa/Mastercard. Sparkasse is the main German bank and they issue this sort of debit card on their own. Local groceries, stores, and restaurants always accept the Sparkasse Card.
Well.. I've seen the light... or someone showed it to me..
As someone (ahem Allison Bhatta) recently pointed out (while reading her finance text book on my deck while sunbathing), the Germans use the very same word for both debt and guilt, and that word is "Schuld." Hmm... Coincidence that the Germans use the same word for debt AND guilt AND they don't own any credit cards? I think not.
Debt = Schuld. Guilt = Schuld. Maybe us Americans should take a note or two.