Do you need a bank account in Germany?
No matter for what reason you move to Germany, you will not be able to avoid opening a bank account sooner or later. You are not required by law, but it is almost impossible to get a foothold in Germany without a German bank account. Why? Many institutions want to see your German bank account number. You need a German bank account to:
- Get an apartment and pay your rent
- Receive your paycheck without delay and problems
- Do business in Germany
- Transfer money faster within Germany
- And much more
In this article we have prepared general information for you on the subject of “opening an online account in Germany”. This article is interesting for you if you plan to come to Germany as a private person, as a student, as an employee or self-employed person.
In further articles, we will discuss what entrepreneurs and students should additionally consider if they want to open an account in Germany. Enjoy reading!
Where to open bank account in Germany?
You can choose between two possibilities to open a bank account in Germany. Either go to a bank branch near you and ask for the application form, fill in all required information and verify your identity or make the application online. If you choose to make the application online, you can verify your identity via video chat or PostIdentity. When you do it online, you save time, and you can choose an English-speaking bank.
What types of accounts are available at banks in Germany?
In Germany, a distinction is made between four different account types:
- Girokonto – also known as a current or giro account, depending on where you are from.
- Tagesgeldkonto – fast, available around the clock, and convenient.
- Sparkonto – restricted savings account
- Depot – securities account
You are probably looking for a current account to get an international IBAN to deposit and withdraw money to and from your account—contacts to pay or to withdraw money.
What types of cards are available at banks in Germany?
here are four different types of bank cards used in Germany, which we would like to introduce to you here:
- Electronic Cash Card (EC card) or Girocard: This is a Debit Card and can be used to make direct payments or withdraw cash, but it may not have the 16-digit number that is required for certain online purchases.
- Credit card like Visa or Mastercard: It’s also a Debit Card with a 16-digit number which you can use for all payments and withdrawals.
- Credit card: This is a credit card with a monthly automatic SEPA debit so that you will pay off all of your account balance at the end of every month.
- Maestro card: It’s similar to Mastercard and Visa. You can use it to spend money online or at stores. It usually has a 16-digit number on it that you can use to make transactions.
How to open a German bank account online?
Germany is a country with a rich history and culture, shaped by the many people who have come to live here. It is also one of the most popular countries in Europe for expats. In this article, you will learn how to open a bank account in Germany online.
The first step is to find a suitable bank for opening an account. The second step is to fill out an online application form and complete all the required fields. And the third step is to verify your identity via video chat, PostIdent, or you go to a branch. Step for ist to wait for your new bank account number and PIN code from your chosen German bank.
Which is the best bank account to open?
So what is the best bank account in Germany for expats? Of course, there are only subjective answers to this question. It highly depends on what you’re looking for. Here are three factors that our customers considered most important about having a bank account:
1. Monthly charges: It definitely plays an important role in how much the bank account costs. In Germany, monthly bank fees for German bank accounts are very common. Only online banks are for free. Every ‘proper’ bank with branches charges its customers a few Euros each month. In return, you have supportive customer service.
2. Language of communication: Another factor is which language the service is in. This is particularly important for newcomers in Germany. Finances are a delicate and highly personal issue. It’s important that the correspondence and online banking are in a language you can understand.
3. Support: Generally, you get extensive financial support when you pay a monthly fee and have a branch you can go to. If you want to talk about credit and mortgage options, you should definitely go for a proper account at an established bank like Commerzbank.
In the next section, we would like to show them what great offers there are for expats. We present German banks that offer free bank accounts, that offer the opening process and all additional services also in English and banks that offer a good personal service.
Best bank in Germany for expats?
Over the years, we have had many positive experiences with the banks we present to you here. For us, these five following banks provide the best bank accounts in Germany for expats! Many of them do not charge monthly fees and offer customer service in English. The bank account can be opened in a few minutes and has good online banking!
#1 – N26 – Free bank account Germany
N26 open bank accounts Germany – It supports expats and foreigners!
With N26, you can open a free bank account in about 8 minutes. The advantage of N26: You can manage your money directly from your smartphone. Online banking includes smart features that give you more control over your finances. You will receive a virtual Mastercard directly after opening the account. You can connect this to Apple Pay or Google Pay to make contactless payments anywhere. There is no deposit fee up to a balance of €50,000. However, if you prefer a real bank card, that’s also possible. Order this card and pay a one-time delivery fee.
- Customer service in the English language
- Online banking in the English language
- Mobile app in the English language
English service is thus the main argument for why it is the best free bank account for expats in Germany. After all, handling your finances is a very important matter. So most expats in Germany prefer to do their banking in English.
With Number26, you can open your account on the same day. Just fill out the online application and pop into a local branch with your application forms. Alternatively, go to a post office and get your personal ID verified by PostIdent.
N26 – German bank for expats
N26 is the only bank where you can open a bank account with a German IBAN without being registered in Germany. That’s innovative!
#2 Commerzbank – free basic account & English speaking support
To open a bank account with Commerzbank, you must be registered in Germany and be at least 18 years old. Opening a bank account with Commerzbank has many advantages, which we would like to introduce to you:
- English-speaking customer service in about 750 branches across Germany
- Access to an English online and mobile banking 24/7, with an excellent banking app
- Free Basic account with a minimum monthly deposit of 700 €
- Easy payment with your smartphone or smartwatch because (Google Pay/ Apple Pay are supported)
- Free cash at over 9000 cash machines in Germany
- Open account online in a few minutes
There are no fees for the Commerzbank Basic account. Your starting credit of €50 is also included, and you will receive €100 per successful customer referral. To be eligible for these bonuses, you must meet these conditions:
- Private use
- Monthly cash receipts of at least 700 € (otherwise you pay 9,90€ per month)
- Digital (paperless) account management
- Use of Commerzbank or Cash Group ATMs, provided no deposit fee is charged
Commerzbank – German bank for expats
To apply at Commerzbank, you have to fill in a German form. Don’t you speak German? That’s no problem. We have translated the form for you. Use it as a guide when registering your bank account.
#3 Wise – the alternative for different currencies
Consider a German (and European) banking alternative that you can use regardless of your nationality or location. Wise is a convenient and affordable banking alternative for expats before they become expats! You can create a free account online in minutes, giving you a personal or business bank account to send and receive euros and other currencies at much lower fees than regular banks.
Wise is a good choice if you need to manage more than one currency (USD, EUR, GBP, AUD, etc.). With a Wise account, your funds will always be converted at an average exchange rate that is eight times cheaper than traditional banks. You can also hold different currencies for free until you need to use them.
Wise advantages – German bank for expats:
- Create a free account
- Transfer money cheaper and easier than with a traditional bank
- Easy international banking
- Pay abroad without hidden fees
- Get a bank card for 8 euros
- Add the card to Apple and Google Pay
- Receive deposits in 10 currencies
- Get your own German account number and IBAN
- Hold up to 54 currencies in your account and exchange between them
- GET FIRST TRANSFER FOR FREE
#4 Onlinekonto.de – German online bank account without Schufa
Do you need a German bank account immediately? If you are in this situation, this online bank will help you. With Onlinekonto.de, you can get your German IBAN and BIC number within 10 minutes. But be careful! This bank is not suitable for permanent use. Why?
If you make a lot of cash withdrawals and transfers, it can be very expensive! I recommend this bank account if you need an account here and now. Later you can always switch to a free German bank account. Note that you cannot have more than 15,000 euros in this account.
Onlinekonto.de – German bank for expats:
- Online account without Schufa with Debit Mastercard
- You need to open a German bank account quickly
- You have been rejected by other German banks
- You can show a German address
- The account can be used privately
- The account can be used commercially by freelancers, German companies, and businesses
How much does the account cost at onlinekonto.de?
- The fee for opening an account is 39.00 euros.
- An additional activation fee of 99.00 euros is charged for commercial users.
- The monthly account fee is 9.90 euros.
- The first monthly withdrawal via MasterCard is free of charge. After that, the fee is 5.95 euros per cash withdrawal.
- You will receive a prepaid MasterCard with your account. The replacement for the MasterCard is free of charge.
At the moment, all communication is in German only. I recommend you install the Google automatic website translation tool or Deepl if you don’t speak German. It will automatically translate the website into English and help you fill out the application form. All are online. There is a customer hotline but no support in a branch.
Get SCHUFA in Germany
To check your solvency, the SCHUFA self-disclosure is required in Germany under certain circumstances. For example, if you want to rent an apartment in Germany or take out a loan. Rarely, banks also ask for this certificate. You can easily make the SCHUFA online. it takes about 3 minutes and costs 29.95 €.
SCHUFA Holding Ag is the largest bank in Germany. It collects data on the creditworthiness of people who are registered in Germany.
#5 DKB – free bank account Germany
DKB – German bank for expats
DKB is short for Deutsche Kreditbank, i.e. German Credit Bank. It is the online bank that is affiliated with Sparkasse. It offers you a Girokonto for free. It comes with an automatic 500 Euro overdraft. You also get an EC-Karte (debit card) and a VISA card. I would recommend this account for students, au pairs, and those with little income in Germany. If you do not want to spend money on a bank account, go for DKB.
Lots of Germans use this account as a second free account, with which they can get free cash withdrawals. They usually do not use it for things like mortgages, loans, and investments, though. Note that you must live in Germany to open this account. You must provide a German registration confirmation to open an account at DKB.
You can open this account online. It takes about five days until all your documents arrive.
At the moment, most of the DKB communication takes place in German. The video verification process can also take place in English, though. And you can find English-speakers on their phone hotline. There is no in-branch support.
FAQ – How to open a German bank account online
Can I open a bank account online without going to the bank?
Yes, this is possible with some German banks. At many banks, you can verify your identity online during the registration process. One example is Wise or Commerzbank. Wise offers its services only online, and at Commerzbank, the verification can be done via video chat.
How do I open a bank account online in Germany?
If you want to open a bank account in Germany online, you have to verify your identity. This is possible in three different ways:
- By video chat
- By email verification code
- By PostIdent
PostIdent is a proven alternative to traditional identity verification via video or email and is paid for by the respective online bank. To verify your identity with PostIdent, please download and fill in a form online which is provided by your chosen bank. Once you submit it to the Post Office, together with your passport, they’ll sign your document and send it to the bank.
What ist Schufa in Germany?
In Germany, creditworthiness data is collected and stored by Schufa Holding AG. They are the largest credit institution in Germany and collect data from all persons that are registered in Germany. Schufa is short for “Schutzgemeinschaft Allgemeine Kreditsicherung” (Translation: Protection Association for General Loan Assurance). When someone talks about Schufa information, they mean your creditworthiness or credit rating. It shows your reliability in meeting your financial obligations, such as utility bills and credit card payments, and the likelihood that you will continue to fulfill those obligations with due diligence.
Documents to open bank account in Germany online
What do you need to open a German bank account?
If you plan to open a German bank account, you have to provide the following documents:
- Completed application form.
- Your valid passport
- Your registration confirmation (Meldebescheinigung)
- Student ID if you want to open a student account
Some banks also ask for these documents:
- Potentially a pay statement from your employer or proof of income (depending on the account type)
- Potentially your work permit, if you have one
- SCHUFA credit rating
Sending Money in Germany – how long does it take?
If you transfer money between accounts belonging to the same bank, then your money will arrive on the other account on the same day you’ve sent it. However, it takes between one and three working days if you transfer money to a different bank. This is one of the longest durations within Europe. It can be quite annoying. But there is no way around it. Sorry!
How do I send money abroad, and how long does it take?
If you send money with your German bank account within the Eurozone, it usually doesn’t take longer than 1-3 working days. If you want to send money abroad, a quick way of doing it is TransferWise. I recommend Wise, if you want to transfer money between EU and non-EU countries.
You save up to 90% in comparison to common bank transfers and other money transfer services. With Wise, you just use your debit card or a normal bank transfer. What they do is they match you with people sending their money in the other direction. As such, in theory, your money never leaves the country. The money arrives in 1-2 days.
Online banking in Germany – How does it work?
Depending on the bank you choose, you will usually receive in separate letters: a debit card and a PIN number, as well as a login number and pin for online banking.
Most banks now offer mobile banking with a so-called Photo Tan or Push Tan. To use this feature, you need to download your bank’s app from the Appstore / Google Play. If you are with DKB, for example, download “DKB online banking” and “DKB push tan.” Usually, it is enough to enter the name of your bank in the AppStore. This is the easiest and fastest way to transfer money online.
How does the PhotoTan or PushTan app work?
You open the online banking app. You enter the details of the transfer. A box appears asking you for a TAN number. Click a button that says “Use photo TAN” or “Push TAN.” Then the other app should open automatically. You will need to enter a password. Then a unique TAN will be generated. It is automatically transferred to the other app. Now confirm all the data. And your online transfer is ready. Completely paperless.
Open bank accounts in Germany without “Anmeldung.”
Normally you need to register in Germany first in order to be able to open a German bank account. And in order to register in Germany, you must have a rental contract/agreement. Once you register in Germany, you get a registration confirmation (Meldebescheinigung). To open a bank account, you must provide this confirmation.
In order to open a bank account in Germany without registering, you typically have to use either a direct bank or an online bank-like service. N26 or Wise is particularly recommended:
N26 – open account Germany
If you are an EU citizen, you can still open a bank account with Number26 in Germany. This is the first “European bank” of its kind where you can have a German IBAN (bank account number) even though you are not registered in Germany. This is also ideal for those who are not registered in Germany but need a German account number!
Wise – open account Germany
Wise is a very handy online service that allows you to take advantage of a dedicated EU bank account, a multi-currency account, and a debit Mastercard.
German bank account for foreigners?
Opening German bank account from abroad? Is this possible?
Yes! Foreigners can open bank accounts in Germany. If you are from outside the EU, we recommend Wise’s multi-currency account. It gives you the benefits of a dedicated EU bank account, a multi-currency account, and a debit Mastercard. Another good option is N26 Bank, and you don’t need to register in Germany to open a bank account with this provider.