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Compare and open a bank account in Germany

Girokonto
Optionen wählen
  • Kostenlose Kontoführung
  • Niedrige Dispozinsen
  • Kostenlose EC- und Kreditkarten

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Inhalt dieser Seite
  1. How to compare bank accounts
  2. What is a current account?
  3. How to find the best bank account for you
  4. How to open a bank account in Germany
  5. Frequently asked questions

Comparing and opening bank accounts in Germany

The simple Verivox comparison tool enables you to find the perfect current account that satisfies all the key criteria important to you:

  • No account management fee
  • Free debit card (Girokarte) and/or credit card
  • No fees for online transfers or standing orders
  • Free withdrawals from cash machines in Germany and abroad

Jetzt Girokonten vergleichen

Girokonto
Optionen wählen
  • Kostenlose Kontoführung
  • Niedrige Dispozinsen
  • Kostenlose EC- und Kreditkarten
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How to compare bank accounts

1. Select options

To compare accounts, first click on "Zum Vergleich”, then select to view only free accounts (Kostenfreies Girokonto: Ja) or accounts for which a management fee is payable as well (Kostenfreies Girokonto: Nein). Next you can select whether you want to only view accounts that offer a free credit card (Kostenfreie Kreditkarte: Ja). Now either click "Girokonto vergleichen” to run the search or "Filtereinstellungen” to set filters first.

2. Filter your criteria

For a more in-depth comparison, you can set filters under "Filtereinstellungen”. The options are:

  • Monthly incoming payments in euros: This amount is taken into account to calculate whether an account is
  • Account switching service: Any, yes, no
  • Current account with a credit card: Yes, no, any

Now click on "Girokonto vergleichen” to run the search. The search results give a summary of the products and providers that match your criteria. At the top of the list are the accounts with the lowest costs. If several accounts attract identical fees, those with the highest credit interest rate and lowest overdraft interest rate appear highest in the list.

3. Compare details

Under "Produktdetails” (product details) you can open a series of tabs showing charges and credit interest (Kosten und Ertrag), information relating to the banking card (Kreditkarte), details about using the account and security (Führung und Sicherheit), and other account particulars (Weitere Informationen). Once you have decided on an account that is right for you, simply click the orange button "zum Anbieter” to go to the provider’s website.

Compare now

What is a current account?

A current account (Girokonto) is a bank account that consumers use for their everyday financial transactions – to receive their wages and for bank transfers, direct debits, outgoing payments and cash withdrawals. Around 97% of German citizens have their own current account. Young people generally first need a bank account when they enter employment. People who are not currently employed also need an account in order to receive social security benefits or pension payments.

In addition to a debit card (Girokarte) for withdrawing cash and making cashless payments, some banks also offer a free credit card with their current accounts. Many accounts include an overdraft facility as well, which gives the account holder access to funds even when they have a debit balance. In such cases, interest is charged on the overdrawn amount.

Online banks versus high street banks

Unlike many online banks (Direktbanken), only a few high street banks (Filialbanken) offer free current accounts these days. In view of the shift towards mobile or online banking and cash machines, lots of consumers are asking themselves why they should be paying the account fees (Kontoführungsgebühr) charged by a high street bank. Switching banks can reduce the fees you pay by up to 100 euros a year.

How to find the best bank account for you

The best current account for you depends on your average account balance, the extent to which you use the overdraft facility, the account management fee (Kontoführungsgebühr), if any, and additional costs incurred for a debit and/or credit card. Whereas all banks charge interest on overdrafts (Dispozins), a few also pay interest on credit balances (Guthabenzins).

The offer of free sign-up cash or other rewards for new customers can reduce the cost of an account for a short period, but these benefits are eroded over time. They can prove beneficial, however, for those who are willing to switch accounts regularly.

Free current accounts sometimes have hidden charges

Many banks offer an account known as a "salary account” (Gehaltskonto) that is free to customers who undertake to make a minimum monthly deposit, typically of around 1,000 euros. Other providers offer free account management only until the account holder reaches a certain age. If, under the filter settings (Filtereinstellungen), you set the monthly incoming payment (Zahlungseingang / monatlich) to 0 euros, the Verivox comparison tool enables you to find a current account that is free without any such conditions.

In addition to account management fees, there are other cost factors to consider when comparing bank accounts in Germany. Both high street and online banks can charge fees for transfer instructions issued on paper, account statements, sending transaction authentication numbers (TANs) by text message, or other services. Some even charge a fee for issuing a debit card. After performing a search with the current account comparison tool, you can find an overview of these costs under "Produktdetails” (product details).

Free credit card

Some current account holders may also want a free credit card. Note that the conditions attached to credit cards vary enormously:

  • Are all payments and cash withdrawals free?
  • Do the conditions apply only in Germany or in other EU countries or worldwide as well?
  • In which currencies are cash withdrawals free of charge?

Some providers charge card holders for withdrawing cash in Germany, but not anywhere else worldwide. You can use the Verivox credit card comparison tool to find out in which countries individual credit cards allow you to make cashless payments and withdraw cash free of charge. You can even search specifically for contactless (near-field communication – NFC) cards.

Overdraft interest (Dispokredit)

Both high street and online banks can charge high interest rates on arranged overdrafts – often between 5 and 15 percent. Banks set the account fee and the interest rate on overdrafts separately, so prospective customers cannot assume that a free current account automatically offers low overdraft interest rates.

For customers who use the overdraft facility only for a few days, the amount of interest may not be significant, but those who wish or need to overdraw their account more often should select a bank that charges a low interest rate. When the Verivox comparison tool finds accounts with an identical annual fee and credit interest rate, it gives a higher ranking to those with the lowest overdraft interest rates, so that you can quickly identify the best offer for your needs.

If you are already using an overdraft facility with a high interest rate, you can reduce your costs by taking out a debt consolidation loan (Umschuldungskredit), which is an instalment loan that allows you to pay off different types of debt. Unlike a conventional loan, you can repay an overdraft in full at any time – paying off the overdraft immediately with a loan that charges a lower interest rate reduces the total amount you have to pay.

Withdrawing money from cash machines

For many customers, the convenience and cost of withdrawing money from cash machines is a key factor when comparing high street and online banks in Germany. Unlike in the UK, for example, where consumers can use any cash machine free of charge as a general rule, in Germany it can be expensive to use a machine belonging to a third-party banking group. Here, banks without cash machines of their own that belong to a network, such as Cash Group or Cashpool, allow their customers to withdraw cash free of charge from other banks in the network. Some online banks without a branch network offer credit cards that enable account holders to withdraw cash from any cash machine in Germany without paying a fee. The overview of results generated by the Verivox comparison tool also shows how many free cash machines are available ("Automaten für kostenloses Abheben”).

How to open a bank account in Germany

When you use the Verivox account comparison tool to select an offer, you are taken to the relevant provider’s website. Here you can apply to open an account by completing a form online. As a new customer, you will need to prove your identity by way of the PostIdent or VideoIdent procedure. Detailed information is provided in our guide to opening an account (German). After you submit the form, the bank will send you a contract by post or e-mail. To activate the account, you have to sign the contract and send it back to the provider. Customers without a German passport or ID card must submit other proof of residence in Germany. If you aren’t an EU national, you will also have to provide your work permit or visa.

Requirements: Who can open a bank account in Germany?

In Germany, everyone has the right to have a bank account. Customers who do not fulfil the requirements to open a regular checking account can open a basic account (Basiskonto) with any bank that offers current accounts.

The only condition for opening a basic account is that the account holder must be lawfully resident in Germany. There is no permanent residence, minimum age or credit score requirement. Consumers can refuse to undergo a credit check. The fees for basic accounts are usually higher than for regular accounts and there is no overdraft facility.

Arranging an overdraft

When bank customers open a current account in Germany, they are automatically granted an overdraft facility if they fulfil the conditions for receiving one. Without a line of credit, their spending cannot exceed the amount held in the account at the time. If an outgoing transaction exceeds the current balance, the payment cannot be made. To qualify for an overdraft, customers must meet the following requirements:

  • Age of majority
  • Permanent residence in Germany
  • Regular income
  • Good credit score

Qualifying for a free account

Young people and students can open a free account with many providers without satisfying any further requirements. Individuals who do not belong to this group are often able to open a free account only if they can deposit a certain minimum amount in the account for several months. As sources of these regular deposits, some banks recognise only employment income, pension payments or educational grants paid according to the Federal Training Assistance Act (BAföG).

Frequently asked questions

Once you have selected a bank account with the Verivox comparison tool, we take you directly to the relevant bank’s website. Opening a German bank account online is easy. Most banks allow you to start the process online by entering your details in a form. You will also need to verify your identity, either using the PostIdent procedure or with a webcam (VideoIdent). For this purpose you need your passport and proof of residence in Germany. You can then sign the necessary papers and post them to the bank. Once the information has been checked and verified, you will receive your bank account details and cards in the post.

In order to open a business bank account in Germany, you must be at least 18 years old and have a valid ID card or passport as well as proof of your residence in Germany. If there are to be several account holders, these rules apply to all of them. If the account is to be held in the name of a legal entity other than a natural person, the shareholder or partnership agreement must be presented together with the application. In almost every case, the registered office or a branch of the company must be situated in Germany. If the company has an entry in the commercial register, the applicant must provide the corresponding extract from the register as well.

If you’re a citizen of an EU member state, opening a German bank account is especially easy. Non-EU nationals, on the other hand, have to present proof of residence or a visa, as well as a German work permit in order to open a bank account in Germany. If you wish to open a student account, you will need to prove your status. Some banks may also need to obtain your credit score from the credit rating agency Schufa.

Some online banks (Direktbanken) allow you to open a bank account in Germany before you move here, but you may find it easier to wait until you arrive.

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Jetzt Girokonten vergleichen

Girokonto
Optionen wählen
  • Kostenlose Kontoführung
  • Niedrige Dispozinsen
  • Kostenlose EC- und Kreditkarten

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