Yes, it seems like almost everybody in Sweden uses cards to pay instead of banknotes. I noticed this when I arrived here which wasn’t a complete shock since I knew that Sweden is one of the leading countries in adopting new technologies.
You won’t be shocked to see people paying using cards in supermarkets, bookstores, clothing stores…etc, but what really amazed me is that even outside of the big cities, almost everybody uses cards!
The real surprise came when I went on a trip in the countryside (almost in the middle of nowhere) and took a walk towards the forest where I suddenly saw a man who sells ice-cream. I thought “Oh, that’s perfect” and began to search my pocket to find some money to be able to buy an ice-cream, but I didn’t find any. I hopelessly approached him and said “Do you take cards?”. He replied “Of course!”. He then got out his smartphone, plugged in something that looks like a card reader in the 3.5 mm socket and told me “20 Kronor”.
I gave him my card, he put in the card reader (that is now plugged to his mobile phone). He gave me back the phone to write down my pin code (I felt weird about that because I thought the phone might store the code and my card’s information) and gave him back the phone with a worried look on my face. He looked at me and told me “Oh, it’s a new way of payment that is created by a Swedish company”. He gave me back the phone, asked me to write down my email to receive a receipt. I took my ice-cream and directly Googled the company and it turned out to be safe.
I know that having a bank card is not important in many countries, but if you are planning to move here, make sure that you have a bank card (instead of bringing money) because there are even some places now which only accept cards for payment.