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German Bank Accounts

TOP 5 German Bank Accounts

We collected the Top 5 German bank accounts in the list below. Most of them have no monthly account fee, except for the Deutsche Bank checking account. However, if you do not need a personal contact in one of their branches, an account with one of the online banks is absolutely sufficient and probably even easier. N26 is the current frontrunner of digital banking and digital payment options, offering Google Pay in Germany and Apple Pay once it is introduced later this year.

Our recommendation for expats and exchange students

We recommend to choose a bank, which offers online banking and an English user interface. At the moment, only a few banks have (online) customer support in English, but most banks offer online banking and an app. However, only some apps and online banking portals are actually in English. Currently, N26 and Deutsche Bank offer English interfaces.

German bank accounts online
online banking Germany

Why should you open an account with a German bank?

If you are a citizen from the European Union (EU), you will be able to use your bank account from home to make transfers or withdraw money. However, when you start working in Germany or want to buy an insurance policy, it is often required to provide a German bank account. The same goes for renting a flat or a house in Germany, because the landlords often require a German bank account number and also private liability insurances, which in turn require a German bank account.

It can be challenging to find the right bank for your needs, because Germany has many different banks, which offer different perks and charge different fees.

Which are the most popular banks in Germany?

German bank accounts can roughly be categorised into payroll accounts (checking accounts) and saving accounts. Until a few years ago, the terms and interest rates for saving accounts played an important role when deciding on your bank, but in times of very low interest rates saving accounts are not relevant anymore.

For checking accounts (payroll accounts), the five most popular German banks in 2016 were:

  1. Sparkasse
  2. Volksbank / Raiffeisenbank
  3. Postbank
  4. Deutsche Bank
  5. Commerzbank (Dresdner Bank)

Source: Statista 2017.

german banking accounts

  • Account maintenance fee (Kontoführungsgebühr)
  • Debit / Credit card fee (Kartengebühr)
  • Cash withdrawal fees (from third party banks) (Bargeldabhebung)
  • Overdraft credit interest rate (DispoKredit Zinssatz)
  • Wire transfer / Bank giro transfer fee (Überweisungsgebühr)

What are possible fees with a German bank?

When choosing your German bank, you should pay attention to the various fees they may charge you. Banks can charge you fees of all sorts, for example a general handling fee, fees for your debit card, and sometimes even fees for receiving money. Most banks do not charge fees anymore, but there are still major differences in account maintenance, overdraft credit, and card fees. On the left hand side you can see an overview of fees you should look out for.