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Whether you’re travelling to Germany from the UK for business or pleasure, one thing’s for sure: you needn’t worry about finding an ATM.
The International Monetary Fund has estimated there are around 130 ATMs per 100,000 adults in Germany.¹ With a population of more than 83 million people², that’s over 100,000 ATMs across the country.
But before you rush to the first one you see, read on to find out more about using an ATM in Germany.
And, if you want to avoid exchange rate markups and sneaky transaction fees while shopping in Germany, then check out the Wise card. You can also use it to spend in 175 countries, and your transactions abroad are automatically converted into British pounds using the fair mid-market exchange rate.
In Germany, ATMs are called Geldautomat. They’re normally located inside or just outside bank branches. You’ll also find them at most major airports. They’re less common in places such as shopping malls and petrol stations.
Germany’s four major banks have many ATMs, and they’ve made them easy to find with online locators:
German ATMs accept foreign bank cards, as long as they belong to a compatible card service. You can confirm whether your card will work by asking your bank back in the UK. You should also let your bank know when you’ll be abroad. Otherwise, it might consider your German transactions suspicious and block your card.
Your card doesn’t need to be the chip-and-pin type to work in a German ATM - a standard card with a magnetic stripe works too. However, ATM keypads only have numbers, so you’ll need to know your PIN (personal identification number). German ATMs don’t accept PINs longer than four digits, either.
Most ATMs in Germany accept Cirrus, Maestro (both run by MasterCard) and Visa (Plus) cards. You can confirm if an ATM is compatible by checking whether your card network’s logo is on the machine. Alternatively, use:
There are three types of fees you need to consider when using a German ATM:
- exchange rate fees
- local charges
- your home bank’s charges
And, if you’re looking for a transparent and safe alternative to manage your money in the UK or when travelling abroad, consider signing up with Wise. You can get a Wise card, a multi-currency card that automatically converts your pounds into local currency in 175 countries at the fair mid-market exchange rate.
However, it’s best to stay alert. Some ATMs will ask if you’d like to be charged in British pounds. Transactions in pounds are done using something called Dynamic Currency Conversion, which essentially means the ATM will make up an exchange rate for you which is not favourable. Avoid this rip-off by always choosing to perform the transaction in Euros.
Germany’s major banks don’t charge ATM fees to foreigners.³ Privately operated ATMs, however, may charge high fees.
You can distinguish private machines from bank ATMs because they don’t have a bank’s name and branding. Instead, they’ll have names such as Cashpoint, Cashzone, Euronet or Travelex. The good news is that the machine should warn you that you’ll be charged a fee (and the amount) before you complete the transaction.
Many banks charge fees for using an ATM abroad. Fees and charges will vary from bank to bank, so it’s best to ask your bank about this. Also, you can expect to be charged a withdrawal fee and a foreign currency transaction fee.
There are various ways you can avoid ATM fees, or at least reduce them. Here are a few ideas.
German banking giant Deutsche Bank is part of the Global ATM Alliance⁴, a partnership between several well-known banks, including Barclays and Bank of America. If you’re a customer of an alliance bank, you can use other alliance banks’ ATMs worldwide without paying a withdrawal fee.
If your bank isn’t part of the alliance, it’s still worth asking if it has a relationship with a German bank that would allow you to make withdrawals for free.
Some banks have cards that don’t incur foreign transaction fees. These include Charles Schwab⁵ in the US and Metro Bank⁶ in the UK. If you travel often, they might be worth looking into.
Credit card withdrawals are considered cash advances; and they attract expensive charges. These include a fee (3% of the amount, or even higher) and interest if you don’t make repayments on time. Whenever possible, use your debit card at ATMs.
If your bank charges a flat fee per transaction, you can reduce ATM fees considerably by making one large withdrawal instead of two smaller ones. You may need to increase your daily withdrawal limit for this to be worthwhile.
And that’s it. Most likely, you won’t have trouble finding an ATM in Germany and you now know what to look for. ATMs belonging to large banks won’t charge you for a withdrawal, but look out for privately owned ATMs that have high fees.
Here is a list of the European countries that charge the highest ATM fees.
- World Bank – ATM in Germany
- Data Commons – Germany
- All About Germany – First bank account in Germany
- Wikipedia – Global ATM Alliance
- Schwab – Bank
- Metro Bank – Using my card abroad
Sources last checked on date: 11-Dec-2022
This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.
We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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