Opening a bank account in Germany is one of the first things you must do after moving to the country. This is a fundamental step especially for those who will be spending a lot of time there, because having a local account is a basic requirement for renting an apartment, receiving a salary or even buying electronics. That is, sooner or later you will have to do this, so it is better not to leave it for later. Find out now everything you need to know about this issue.
- Countryaah: See population statistics by city and age about the country of Germany, including density, growth rates, pyramid, etc.
How does the banking system in Germany work?
In Germany there is a “three-pillar” banking system, consisting of private commercial banks, public savings banks (Sparkassen and Landesbanken) and cooperative banks (Genossenschaftsbanken). In addition, you can also find a variety of international banks and online banks, which are very easy to use and simplify banking services.
What are the types of German bank accounts?
The two main types of bank accounts in Germany are:
Girokonto: is a checking account, which is the standard type of bank account in Germany, used to receive, deposit and transfer money. German banks tend to offer general checking accounts and specialized accounts (for students and young people).
Sparkonto: is a savings account that can be opened at the same time that you open a Girokonto. As in Brazil, the main objective of this bank account in Germany is to save money and earn interest. This type of account can be opened by German residents and non-residents.
For national and foreign students up to 29 years old it is possible to opt for a student account exempt from paying fees.
What are the most used banking options?
Depending on your preferences and circumstances, you can choose from the following banking options:
The main banks belonging to this category are Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank, HypoVereinsBank and Postbank. What these banks have in common is that they are all part of the Cash Group. This means that withdrawals from these institutions’ ATMs are free of charge for transactions between them, including deposit and withdrawal operations.
In other words, this means that if you are a Deutsche Bank account holder, you can also make free withdrawals at Commerzbank ATMs and so on. In other banks that are not part of the network, up to 5 euros per withdrawal may be charged.
Online banking is also becoming quite common in Germany every day, such as DKB Cash, 1822direkt, N26, O2 Banking and Santander, among others. The main advantage of this option is the economy, since these banks are generally cheaper than traditional ones and more convenient with the terms of customer service.
To withdraw money, online banks generally join a traditional bank, thus allowing customers to use their ATMs. In addition, some online banks issue MasterCard or Visa cards, which in turn allow people to use any ATM that bears the logo of these flags.
A simpler alternative: TransferWise
Let’s start with one of the simplest (and cheapest) alternatives, TransferWise, through which it is possible to receive deposits, make payments and make transfers to any bank in the world and in different currency options.
How to open a bank account in Germany
While some banks are open to working with expatriates, there are others that tend not to, due to a lack of credit history. However, regardless of which bank you choose to open your account, you will need to provide a complete set of documents.
To open a bank account in Germany, you must provide the following documents:
- Application form duly completed
- Valid passport and current German residence permit.
- Proof of registration / address
- Initial deposit (the minimum depends on the bank of your choice)
- Proof of income / employment
- Proof of student bond (if opening a student account)
- SCHUFA credit rating (not required by all banks)
Requirements for opening an online bank account in Germany
To open an online bank account in Germany, you will also need to verify your identity. To do this you may need to use a webcam, an email verification code or even a PostIdent, which is an approved replacement used for identification, with the appropriate fee paid by the corresponding online bank.
To verify your identity with PostIdent, you will need to download a verification sheet from the bank’s website and send it to the post office, along with your passport. The documents are, in turn, signed and sent to the bank.
Factors to consider when opening a bank account in Germany
Before making your decision on the type of account you want to open or on which bank to do this, you should consider some factors in relation to services, branches, ATMs and fees.
- Banking services: before making your decision and opening an account with a specific bank, be sure to ask and research about the services that they offer. Although banks in Germany generally provide comprehensive services, it is important to gather a complete set of information in advance.
- Customer support: Customer support is an important aspect when it comes to banking services, especially in relation to the language issue. If you cannot speak German, you must register with a bank that has customer support in English.
- Maintenance and withdrawal fees: fees may increase and are therefore an important part to consider. Be sure to ask questions about this, as some ATMs can charge up to € 5 per transaction.
- Branch and ATM network: Most banks in Germany have a wide network of branches and ATMs spread across the country. Having access to your money, anytime and anywhere, is essential.
- Online services: if saving time is essential for your reality, be sure to check the online services offered by the bank of interest, even if it is a traditional bank.
Best banks in Germany
Below, we will list some of the banks in Germany that provide more comprehensive and better quality services:
One of the largest banks in the country, it has an extensive network of branches with national presence. Anyone who chooses to open an online account at this bank receives a debit card known as Girocard , in addition to the possibility of accessing premium accounts that entitle them to two debit cards and travel insurance. This bank is very well ranked mainly in relation to customer service, which is well above average, and also offers regular promotions for new customers.
Germany’s largest national bank is also one of the best known internationally. They offer a range of services, such as student-specific accounts and other professional categories, such as lawyers and accountants.
Online bank which is a subsidiary of Commerzbank. With a simplified registration process, it offers a Visa credit card that allows direct withdrawals from ATMs in Germany and also from other countries without paying fees. It is also the only German online bank that does not require a residence or postal address in the country.
Deutsche Kredit Bank (DKB)
DKB is ideal for anyone looking for a bank with no fees or low fees and has no problem doing all of their banking services online. It offers a free account, the possibility of withdrawing from an ATM and a Girocard. In recent years, however, this bank has become increasingly strict in its prerequisites and may require a certain level of income for new customers.
Another major bank in Germany, HypoVereinsbank is part of the Italian group Unicredit. There are a variety of accounts and services online with Konto Klassik, which is free for customers who make a minimum deposit of 1,500 euros every month. The website is only available in German.
The N26 is a relatively new online bank, based in Berlin, which is widely spread among foreign customers living in Germany, even with an interface entirely in English. The registration process is quick and easy and you can choose between a free or paid account.
Another well-established online bank in the country that allows its customers to use any ATM for free.
Formerly Germany’s largest retail bank, Postbank now belongs to Deutsche Bank. The Postbank Giro plus account offers a free Girocard card and access to the checking account free of charge for customers who maintain a minimum monthly deposit of 1000 euros. It also has a large network of ATMs.
Sparkassen banks are a non-profit public service, with many branches and ATMs throughout Germany. Every major city in the country has its own Sparkasse. For example, Berliner Sparkasse is the city’s largest retail / consumer bank. However, this type of bank charges dearly for operations at non-Sparkasse ATMs.
Even though it is possible to live in Germany with only English, it is always interesting to know at least some basic terms of the local language. That is why we have separated some of them related to the world of banking services that you should have at your fingertips. Check out:
|Das Bankkonto||Bank account|
|Kontoinhaber||Owner of the account|
|Der Kontostand||Bank balance|
|Das Girokonto||Checking account|
|Das Sparkonto||Savings account|
|Die Bankrate||Bank rate|
|Das Bankdarlehen||Bank loan|
|Der Bankauszug||Bank statement|
|Die Banküberweisung||Bank transfer|
|Das Guthaben||Credit balance|
|Die Kreditkarte||Credit card|
|Die Feste Rate||Flat rate|
|Der Zinssatz||Interest rate|
|Das Ausländerkonto||Non-resident account|
|Sperrkonto||Account blocked for visa requirements|
|Überweisung / Geldüberweisung||Money transfer|