Banking In Germany For Foreigners - If you decide to shoot in Germany, make sure the first thing you do is open a bank account. You have money and you are an upstanding citizen, this should be simple, right? Not so fast.
Whether a bank account without a place of residence can be opened in Germany depends on the bank's conditions. Typical branches such as Sparkasse, Volksbank, Postbank, etc. will reject such account openings in most cases. Branches are generally limited to customers within their business scope. Correspondence is still usually done by post, which is of course problematic if you live abroad. The situation is different for direct banks (banks without a branch network), there are several providers offering free accounts (often including a free credit card) even without residence in Germany. Direct banking has the distinct advantage that account management (e.g. transfers, communication with bank staff) is done online and account statements are available via email or download. Therefore, direct banks are more elastic in terms of residence.
Banking In Germany For Foreigners
Most financial transactions are processed using Girokonto (via bank card or money transfer, Überweisung). Unlike France and the United States, Germans do not write personal checks. Girokonto usually comes with a card that accepts giro cards, the German version of financial cards. Most banks charge a monthly fee for this service, but the fee is waived if you maintain a minimum account balance.
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Non-residents are not always able to open a bank account in a German bank. The rejection rate is high and could be due to a variety of reasons that (unfortunately) are not communicated publicly by the bank. New immigrants to Germany often find it difficult to set up a traditional bank account. But even non-residents, newcomers, and other non-Germans have a good option they often don't know about. Even in Germany, the banking industry is changing and you may need to think outside the box.
Most European countries are members of SEPA (Single European Payments Area), and euro payments have been harmonized between SEPA countries since 2014. Cross-border Euro bank transfers within the SEPA area are just as fast and cheap as transfers within a country. German employers also cannot insist that you open a German bank account to make Euro transfers. Under SEPA regulations (Article 9) they are obliged to accept IBANs (International Bank Account Numbers) from other SEPA countries.
Consider banking in Germany, which is available regardless of your nationality or place of residence. Jeton Wallet is a convenient and cheap banking option for expats, even before they become expats! One can choose a personal account or a business account with a personalized IBAN that fits your company. Jeton offers you much lower transaction costs than traditional banking methods. This page highlights the best banks in Germany for expats. From the sign-up process and bank fees to features and customer support, we compare how German banks work together and detail the various pros and cons of the different options.
When you move to Germany, it's important to have access to funding (preferably free!). Nothing is more frustrating than expensive bank transaction fees, ATM fees, and money transfer delays.
Guide To Opening A Bank Account In Germany For Foreigners
Additionally, having a German bank account is often an important requirement for renting an apartment, signing up for a phone/internet plan, and getting paid by your employer. That’s why setting up a German bank account as soon as possible is an absolute priority when moving to Germany!
There are many traditional banking options in Germany, as well as a range of modern online banks. Below we've profiled some of them and highlighted the pros and cons of each so you can get a clear idea of which bank in Germany is best for your situation.
Since this page is aimed at newcomers to Germany, we only focus on banks that offer some level of support and service in English.
For other banking options that are primarily available in German and therefore less suitable for the expat market, see "
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If you're short on time and just need a quick overview of which bank to choose as an expat in Germany, here's our assessment.
Before registering for a German bank account, you will need a German address. However, when you first arrive in Germany you may not have an address initially, but you may still need to withdraw your funds immediately at the right exchange rate.
For this reason, we really like Wise’s Borderless Account (formerly TransferWise). If you register a Wise account and card before arriving in Germany, you can enjoy extremely low fees when you transfer funds to euros, withdraw cash, or pay with your Wise debit card after arriving in Germany.
This is a good temporary measure before getting a German bank account and is much cheaper than using a domestic bank card in Germany initially.
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When determining the best banks in Germany, we weigh the pros and cons of different options based on a number of factors. These options include:
As with every country, there is no perfect bank, but we have tried to provide a transparent overview of the most important factors for expats looking for the right bank in Germany.
And what better place to do it than at our favorite German bank? N26. N26 has grown in recent years, growing from a disruptive startup to an established player in the German banking industry.
N26 is Europe's first mobile bank that lets you manage your entire financial life on your phone. Free Mastercard debit, free cash withdrawals, intuitive apps and English-speaking customer service are unrivaled in Berlin. Plus there are no hidden fees and you can sign up online in minutes, and it's our favorite banking option in Germany.
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Vivid is the latest challenger bank on the market and will become a contender among the more established disruptors in the German banking industry.
While N26 is the clear leader among German challenger banks, we are excited about Vivid Money's entry into the German banking sector.
With strong financial support, reliable products and a three-pronged approach including banking, savings and investments, it promises to become an increasingly attractive option for newcomers to Germany.
Following N26 and Vivid Money is Bunq, another online bank disrupting the European banking industry and a great option for expats moving to Germany. See below to find out why we rate Bunq as one of the best banks in Germany.
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Bunq is one of the new online banks making waves in the German banking industry. While it’s equivalent to N26 in most departments, the monthly rate is slightly less attractive to expats on a budget.
If you need more comprehensive banking services and branch support, Commerzbank is a good traditional German bank option.
For most expats, Commerzbank's wider services only make sense if they stay in Germany for an extended period of time. That’s why we recommend you start with N26, bunq or Vivid and then join them once you can take advantage of Commerzbank’s traditional banking services.
Deutsche Bank is last on our list of the best German banks with English-speaking services. Similar to what Commerzbank offers, Deutsche Bank is another good option if you're looking for more traditional banking services in Germany than those offered by online banks like N26, Vivid and Bunq.
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Although Deutsche Bank is comparable to Commerzbank in terms of service delivery, it arguably has slightly less focus on expatriate clients. After looking through their profile extensively, we concluded that they are the most "German" of the five best banks in Germany.
For everyday use, monthly account fees and access to a limited number of ATMs are significant disadvantages to Deutsche Bank.
As a newcomer to Germany, we recommend that you choose one of the five options above, as you will have extensive English customer support (N26, Vivid or Bunq) or at least partial English customer support (Commerzbank and Deutsche Bank).
I can tell you from experience that not being able to properly communicate your financial situation can be very frustrating, especially when you are unable to withdraw funds or your card is stolen. Don't underestimate English customer support when it comes to your money!
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However, if you're interested in some more "German" banking options, here are some popular choices:
However, some German visas require you to deposit funds into a special type of account to obtain visa approval. The account is called
(account frozen), is usually only relevant if you are applying for a student visa or a German language visa and need to prove that you have sufficient resources to live in Germany.
When it comes to accounts being frozen in Germany,
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