Can withdraw money from a debit card

Debit card

When paying, the money is immediately debited from the account

Josefine Lietzau
Expert for banking and credit as of May 22, 2019

Josefine Lietzau

Josefine Lietzau is an editor in the Bank & Investments team. During her studies in German and English, she worked for the editorial offices of the Green League, the Jüdische Zeitung and the Superillu. After completing her master's degree, Josefine Lietzau completed an internship at the online consumer portals Banktip and Posttip, where she then worked as an editor.

  • In the case of debit cards, the banks debit the sales promptly.
  • Probably the most famous debit card in Germany is the Girocard - the card for the bank account.
  • So that customers abroad do not need a second card, the banks use what is known as co-badging - a partnership with a second provider. Usually this is V-Pay or Maestro.
  • Mastercard and Visa are represented in Germany with different debit cards. Customers sometimes mistake them for credit cards.
  • When paying by bank card in Germany, you can in principle choose whether you want to pay via the girocard function or via your partner (Maestro or V-Pay).
  • If you withdraw or pay with the Girocard abroad, you should take a look at the price notice of your bank, the costs are listed there.
  • If your Visa card or Mastercard is a debit card, you should ask whether the providers accept these cards before booking a rental car or hotel.

What do the Girocard (formerly: EC card) of the German banks and the free credit card of the Consorsbank have in common? In both cases it is Debit cards. The English word debit stands for debit or debit. For consumers, that means the money spent with it immediately or at least promptly is debited from the current account.

With debit cards you can withdraw or pay money in Germany and abroad. However, there are differences between the cards.

How does the Girocard work?

The Girocard system is a purely German system; these debit cards only work in Germany. So that you don't need a second card abroad, the banks use what is known as co-badging - a partnership with a second provider. Usually the V-Pay (debit card system from Visa) or Maestro (debit card system from Mastercard).

In Germany, the cards work when paying via the Girocard system or the partner, abroad usually only via Maestro and V-Pay. Customers can choose between the two providers when paying in Germany, but they do not have to. Most retailers already have an application preset, usually the one that is cheaper for them. However, customers can always change this preselection.

Only Girocard is responsible for withdrawals from ATMs in Germany. Withdrawal fees are usually displayed at German machines (if they are incurred at all), as they are set by the machine operator for girocards. If they use Maestro or V-Pay when withdrawing abroad, consumers have to take a look at the price notice of their bank, where the conditions are stated.

When paying at the cash register with the PIN, the Girocard works both offline and online. The customer does not notice any of this. However, the offline process is faster because there is no need to establish an Internet connection to the bank; the PIN is checked via a connection to the chip on the card. In the case of offline transactions, the limit previously set on the card's chip must also be sufficient for payment. If this is not the case, the transaction takes place online.

This is interesting for accounts for minors: banks often do not set an offline limit on their girocards. This is to prevent the current account from being overdrawn. Rather, it is checked directly online whether the account is sufficiently covered.

Merchants can also debit via the electronic direct debit procedure (ELV), but they have no payment security. With ELV, the customer confirms payment with his signature instead of with a PIN. This also applies to the online direct debit procedure (OLV). This procedure is based on a list of consumers who have already received chargebacks due to an uncovered current account. Despite the lack of payment security, if the account is insufficiently funded, dealers will still receive their money later: They send reminders to defaulting customers or commission debt collection companies.

Consumers cannot use the Girocard for online shopping. However, the German banks are developing the cards further. Consumers can now use it to make contactless payments using NFC radio technology (Girocard contactless). At Sparkassen and Volksbanken, you can even pay with your smartphone to some extent with the Girocard.

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How do Maestro or V-Pay differ from the Girocard?

Maestro and V-Pay cards are debit cards from the credit card companies Mastercard and Visa. In most cases, banks in Germany only issue these cards in conjunction with girocards - then the girocard has a corresponding logo from one of the other two systems.

A few banks issue either a pure V-Pay card (Hypovereinsbank), a pure Maestro card (N26) or a combination of Mastercard and Maestro (Fidor Bank) or Visa and V-Pay (Ikano Bank). The special feature of the Ikano Bank card is that customers can choose between V-Pay and Visa when paying at the checkout. The Visa function is set as the first choice. If a retailer does not accept credit cards, the V-Pay function takes effect automatically.

In Germany, Maestro and V-Pay cards cannot usually be used for online shopping, although the systems actually provide this function. The N26 Maestro card, which can be used online, is an exception. With the Ikano Bank card, customers can pay online, but use the Visa function.

With pure Maestro cards, consumers can also make contactless payments via NFC. It is similar with V-Pay cards: The cards can theoretically be used both online and contactless, but consumers in Germany have not yet seen any of them. Even abroad, consumers cannot use these cards in this way.

Are Mastercard Debit and Visa Debit Credit Cards?

Mastercard and Visa also offer other debit cards, which German consumers often mistake for credit cards because they bear the credit card company's logos. In contrast to Maestro or V-Pay cards, consumers can use them to shop online and make contactless payments. This makes them more similar to classic credit cards. On some cards, consumers can tell that it is a debit card by the “Debit” printed on them. In contrast to Maestro and V-Pay, these cards cannot be issued in conjunction with Girocard.

Customers can confirm that they want to pay with one of the cards in different ways: with an online PIN, an offline PIN or a signature. Regardless of whether online or offline, the PIN is identical, the only difference is where and how the PIN is compared. If the card and cash register do not come together when paying, it is often because the card has not been activated for the method currently selected.

The cards usually master several procedures. However, the card-issuing bank determines which procedures are exactly and which of them is the preferred one.

The banks do not give their customers credit with these cards, they debit the money from the account immediately or promptly. Some banks wait a few days before debiting them; in technical jargon, such cards are referred to as deferred debit cards.

Debit cards are occasionally not accepted when booking or paying for a hotel room or car rental. Consumers should therefore ask the hotel or car rental company before booking whether the card will later be used as a means of payment on site. This problem is less likely to occur with deferred debit cards.

The most important questions summarized

With debit cards, the money spent is deducted from the account promptly. Girocards are debit cards, as are some Mastercard and Visa cards. If your Visa card or Mastercard is a debit card, you should ask before booking a rental car or hotel whether the providers accept these cards on site.

How to tell if you have a debit card

Are Mastercard Debit and Visa Debit credit cards?

Mastercard and Visa offer so-called debit cards, which are often mistaken for credit cards because they bear the logos of the credit card companies. They work in a similar way to "real" credit cards for online shopping and contactless payments, for example. However, there can be problems when booking rental cars and hotels.

More on this "

How do Maestro and V-Pay Girocards differ?

You will usually find the V-Pay or Maestro logo on your Girocard. This means that you can also withdraw money from the card and use it for payments abroad. V-Pay cards are accepted in fewer countries than girocards with the Maestro symbol.

More on this "

Josefine Lietzau

Josefine Lietzau

Josefine Lietzau is an editor in the Bank & Investments team. During her studies in German and English, she worked for the editorial offices of the Green League, the Jüdische Zeitung and the Superillu. After completing her master's degree, Josefine Lietzau completed an internship at the online consumer portals Banktip and Posttip, where she then worked as an editor.

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