Can we open an online bank account?

How to open a bank account in Germany

Opening a bank account is one of the essential steps that you must go through in order to fully settle in Germany. Although moving to a new country may seem challenging at first, everything just gets easier over time. The German banking sector, which may seem complex at first, is fairly comprehensive and efficient.

Opening a bank account in Germany is therefore not a problem if you have the necessary documents. In this article you will learn how to open a bank account in Germany and how the banking business works here. We hope that this will make it easier for you to make decisions about financial institutions in Germany.

Do I need a bank account in Germany?

If you want to settle in Germany, you will also need a bank account that you can use to send and receive payments. This means that you can use a bank account to pay your rent, receive a salary or pay electricity bills and insurance (you need a checking account for this). You don't necessarily have to open a German bank account. This means that you can also use an international bank account or an online or mobile bank. If none of these options are suitable for you, you will need to open a German bank account on arrival in Germany.

Although German banks offer their customers different types of accounts, there are two main types of bank accounts in Germany that you should be aware of: the checking accountused to generate income or pay bills and the savings account, with which you can save money and earn interest, can be opened by anyone, regardless of whether you are resident in Germany or not.

What is a checking account?

The current account (also called current payment account) is used for everyday expenses and payments such as For example: rent, various bills as well as receiving (wages) or transferring money to other accounts. You can use an EC card to make purchases and other payments. It is basically the standard and most common type of bank account in Germany that is used to process most financial transactions.

Can I use my bank account from my home country?

This is done via so-called international banks in Germany. So since there are international banks, you can actually use your bank account from your home country. However, you can only do this if your existing bank is also present in Germany. All you have to do is take care of the documents in your home country and transfer your account to the German branch before you travel to Germany.

Using an international bank in Germany is particularly useful if you want to use the services offered by the bank from your home country. Alternatively, you can also choose to open an account with a German bank.

One of the options we always recommend when it comes to convenient and comprehensive bank accounts for foreigners is the TransferWise Borderless account. This is a banking alternative that is available to you regardless of where you live. One of the many advantages of TransferWise is its low cost. Basically, your money is always converted at the mean exchange rate (if you manage more than one currency) at a price that is eight times cheaper than at conventional banks. Oh, and you can create a free account online in minutes! Remotely transferring and managing money has never been easier. Find out more about TransferWise below!

Which German bank should I open an account with?

Banking in Germany, as in most countries, may be difficult to keep track of, especially for someone who has just been introduced to banking. If you want to open a bank account in Germany, it is important that you get the basic information about the types of banks in Germany and their services before deciding to submit your application to any of these banks.

In Germany you will find a large number of banks, including private banks, savings banks, cooperative banks, international banks and online / mobile banks. Since we understand that this information will not be enough to help you make a choice, we'll go through some details on each of these options so you can find the one that's right for you.

Private banks in Germany

Around 200 private banks operate in Germany, with Deutsche Bank is one of the leading financial institutions in this category. Private banks are that first stage of the banks operating in Germany from a banking system that consists of consists of three levels. If you are looking to choose a bank that has experience working with foreigners, you should look for those that are more popular as they are usually accessible even when you travel abroad, and you are more likely to do so too Can offer your services.

The most important private banks in Germany are; the Deutsche Bank, the Commerzbank and the HypoVereinsbank which as Cash Group act. This means that ATM withdrawals are free if you have an account with one of these banks. Basically, they allow free withdrawals from each other's ATMs. This would be pretty handy if you opened an account with one of these banks as there are banks that charge up to € 5 for withdrawals.

Savings banks in Germany

Savings banks are the 2nd stage and are managed by public shareholders (cities / municipalities). There are more than 400 public savings banks in Germany that are very popular with Germans. Some of the savings banks you may have heard of include the Berliner Sparkasse, the Stadtsparkasse Munich and the Frankfurter Sparkasse. However, in order to open an account with one of these banks, you must be a resident (resident) in Germany.

Volksbanken / Raiffeisenbanken in Germany

Member-owned credit unions or credit unions the 3rd (and last) Step. There are more than 1,100 cooperative banks operating in Germany, many of them under Volksbanken and Raiffeisenbanken are active. The general idea of ​​these banks is that both investors and borrowers have a say in the bank, which means they do were created for the people. However, you need to be a German resident to open an account with one of these banks.

International banks in Germany

If you prefer to choose the option of international banks in Germany, this option is available to you. There are numerous international banks with branches in Germany. So if you find that your home bank is also available in Germany, you can transfer your account here. Some of these banks are Citibank, ING Bank, BNP Paribas as Barclays Bank.

Online and mobile banking in Germany

There is also the option of mobile banks in Germany that do not have physical branches but work online. Their services are friendly and comprehensive, and they are often cheaper than other banks. A famous online bank that you may have heard of is N26which does not charge a fee for opening an account and does not require a certificate of registration.

Another online alternative would be London-based TransferWise, which allows you to open your bank account in minutes and use that account anywhere in the world.

How do I open a bank account in Germany?

When opening a bank account in Germany, you need to collect the necessary documents and go to the nearest branch of the bank you have chosen.

You will need these documents to open a bank account in Germany:

  • The application form (filled in with full accuracy).
  • Valid passport, current German residence permit or visa.
  • Proof of registration / registration certificate.
  • Proof of status (regardless of whether you are employed or a student).
  • First deposit (depending on the bank's minimum amount)
  • SCHUFA creditworthiness (optional depending on the selected bank).

You probably heard of the term "PostIdent" or the identity check belongs. Well, you don't need to verify your identity when applying to a branch. However, if you apply online or for an online bank account, you will need to go through identity verification.

While there are several ways you can verify your identity, such as: B. through a video call or a photo. Many online banks have partnerships with post offices for verification purposes. You have to visit a post office in Germany and the postal worker will check your identity card and fill out one PostIdent card that you have to sign. This card will then be mailed to the bank and your identity will be verified within 1 or 2 days. This process is free of charge.

Can I also open a German bank account online?

With some banks it is possible to open your bank account online (without having to appear in the branch). There are downsides, however. If you want to open your German bank account from abroad and set it up when you arrive in Germany, you can submit the data online and verify your identity through a video call or photo.

However, the accounts that can be opened online may not provide all of the services that you need. Therefore, this option is generally not highly recommended. So better wait until you settle in Germany, as you will not be able to get some of the above required documents until you arrive in Germany.

If you're already in Germany and don't want to go to the hassle of making an appointment and showing up at the branch, the process can be exhausting. Although some banks may have online application options, it is still better to apply in a branch to avoid certain problems or misunderstandings that may arise from applying online (e.g. language, account type, Services).

Here comes you TransferWise to help…

As a migrant in Germany, you also have the option to open a TransferWise Borderless account and benefit from its affordable banking services. So if you want to open an account online while you are at home and use it at the same time when you come to Germany, you can do so with TransferWise. When you open a TransferWise account, you can transfer and manage your money in multiple currencies. The exchange rate always corresponds to the middle rate. TransferWise exchanges currencies around eight times cheaper than conventional banks.

You also have the option to apply for a debit mastercard linked to your multi-currency limitless account (TransferWise). This card allows you to spend money anywhere in the world at the real exchange rate (which you see in Google). This card also allows you to withdraw ATMs in the currency of your choice, which is free up to £ 200 (€ 229) per month. In general, you can use this card anywhere that Mastercard is accepted. So look out for the Mastercard logo.

How high are the account management fees in Germany?

Maintaining a bank account in Germany may not always be free. Therefore, it is important that you check with the bank of your choice for full information on fees and charges before opening an account. A current account in Germany can, however, between € 0.0 and € 5 per month lie. Although debit cards are usually free, credit cards can cost up to € 100 a year.

The cost of using ATMs depends on the bank that your account belongs to. As a rule, using an ATM is free of charge. However, if you use another bank's ATM, you may up to € 10 calculated. Some banks have agreements to use ATMs free of charge. For example, Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank and HypoVereinsbank function as a cash group and offer free withdrawals from each other's ATMs. They aren't the only banks that have agreements. It is therefore important that you check with your bank carefully about all costs and fees.

Student account fees

Banks in Germany usually exempt students from payment and account management fees if the student provides evidence of student status. Different banks have different criteria when it comes to who qualifies as a student by setting an age limit.

Typically, student accounts are not available for students under the age of 18 or over the age of 28. However, the age limit depends entirely on the bank. Therefore, make sure that when you visit the branch you provide proof that you are a student in order to benefit from your status and submit all the necessary documents.