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Thinking of moving to Germany? Whether you’re studying, working or setting up a business, it could be useful to open a German bank account.
But as a foreigner, it can be difficult to know which bank to choose. We’re here to help, as we’ve put together a list of banks in Germany along with information on how the German banking system works.
We’ll also give you some more details on accounts on offer with some of the largest and most popular German banks.
So, let’s get started.
The banking system in Germany is made up of private commercial banks, public savings banks (Sparkassen and Landesbanken) and cooperative banks known as Genossenschaftsbanken. There are also a number of international banks with a presence in the country.
There are around 144 retail banks¹ operating in Germany, along with large numbers of local cooperative banks and savings banks.
To open a bank account in Germany, you’ll need to have your ID and other documents ready. If you’re an expat, you’ll need a valid visa or residence permit, plus proof of address. You may also have to complete further steps to prove your identity.
Accounts with German banks aren’t always free, with some charging fees of around €5 a month to maintain the account. It’s usually free to use your bank’s ATM, but not if you use another operator’s ATM - or if you use your card abroad. Most major banks offer online banking, along with mobile banking.
And like banks in other countries, German banks tend to charge high fees for international transfers outside of Europe.
To avoid these expensive fees, consider using an alternative such as the Wise multi-currency account. It’s ideal for international transactions, and could save you a bundle.
Now, let’s take a look at some of your options when it comes to choosing a bank in Germany.
A number of the biggest banks are focused on providing corporate, development or specialist banking services, so here we’ll focus on the banks offering accounts for retail customers. This includes a mix of German-owned private banks, local savings banks (Sparkassen), and international banks.
|Bank name||Operational HQ|
|Volksbanken und Raiffeisenbanken||Berlin|
The largest bank in Germany, and one of the biggest in the world, Deutsche Bank offers a choice of current accounts (Girokonto).
These include its standard ActiveAccount (AktivKonto) and Best Account (BestKonto) premium account, which comes with a MasterCard Gold credit card among other perks. There’s also the Young Account (Junge Konto) for students. You can compare all accounts here.
Part of UniCredit Bank AG, HypoVereinsbank offers a range of girokonto accounts.
These include the HVB Plus Account, which is free for new customers for two years. There’s also the HVB active account and HVB Exclusive Account, both of which have a monthly fee. All accounts come with debit cards, and access to online and mobile banking.
The bank also offers a range of credit cards, savings and investment products.
Another of Germany’s leading retail banks, Commerzbank has a choice of current accounts to suit all kinds of customers.
These include its popular basic current account Kostenloses Girokonto, which is free of charge. There’s also the Klassik account for more flexibility and a Premium account. You can compare all accounts here.
Commerzbank is a great choice for non-German speakers, as it has a dedicated English website.
Owned by Deutsche Bank, Postbank serves millions of customers in Germany and has a wide network of branches countrywide.
It has a low-fee online-only current account, along with Postbank Giro Plus - both of which have a monthly fee. There’s also the Postbank Giro Extra Plus account, which is fee-free if you meet certain conditions.
If you’re under 22, you can open a Postbank Das junge Konto account for free – this is a good option for undergraduate students.
This is the name for the company which runs a number of the banking cooperatives and credit unions in Germany, which operate under the Volksbanken und Raiffeisenbanken umbrella. The group has around 15,500 ATMs around the country, and offers online and mobile banking via a dedicated app.
You can choose from a choice of current accounts, depending on your location and nearest branch within Germany. You can find out what’s on offer here.
The cooperative banking group also offers a range of credit cards, savings and investment products.
This is one of the most popular savings banks known as Sparkassen in Germany. They’re held by public shareholders, usually cities or communities.
If you’re banking in Berlin, BerlinerSparkasse could be a good place to open an account. It offers a range of checking accounts, including the online-only Giro Digital which comes with a monthly fee.
There’s also a dedicated free account for young people, the young account (or rather clumsily titled ‘Giro up to the 25th birthday’ account).
Another popular Sparkasse bank, this time based in Frankfurt, this bank offers a number of different everyday current accounts.
Frankfurter Sparkasse also has dedicated accounts for children and young people. Plus, a choice of credit cards, savings and investment products.
The last Sparkasse to be featured on our list, Stadtsparkasse Munich offers an online checking account, along with dedicated youth, student and child accounts.
There’s also a specialist Giro package for newcomers to Munich, which is a great option for expats looking to settle in the city.
Germany is also home to a number of international banks, including Santander - which also has a presence in the UK.
In Germany, Santander offers a free checking account which even comes with a welcome bonus and free credit card on request. There are also savings accounts and other credit cards available.
Another international bank operating in Germany, ING Bank offers a checking account with no monthly charge - providing you meet certain conditions. You’ll get a free debit card and access to both mobile and online banking.
ING Bank also offers savings and investment products, construction finance, insurance and many other financial services.
Along with traditional banks, Germany also has a number of digital banks to choose from. This includes:
- Bunq- a mobile bank with a feature-packed app and choice of monthly plans for both personal and business customers.
- DKB- Deutsche Kreditbank or DKB is a digital bank offering a popular current account, which comes with a debit card.
- N26- operating with a full German banking licence, N26 is a 100% mobile bank offering a choice of current account plans (including a free option).
If you want to send money internationally, or use your debit card when you travel, you could find it expensive with a traditional German bank.
You can even get an international debit card for spending in 175 countries, including Germany. It automatically converts your money to the local currency at the mid-market exchange rate, whenever you spend.
This makes it ideal for travellers, expats, overseas students and anyone else living an international life.
- TheBanks.eu - List of Banks in Germany
- Deutsche Bank - Open a current account
- HypoVereinsbank - Girokonten
- Commerzbank - Private Clients - Accounts
- Postbank - Girokonten
- Volksbanken und Raiffeisenbanken - Girokonto
- BerlinerSparkasse - Girokonto
- Santander - Private Customers
- ING - Girokonto
Sources last checked on date: 05-Apr-2023
This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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