In Germany, everyday payments are still commonly made in cash. However, monthly rent payments as well as utilities and insurance payments (among others) are generally made via/by bank transfer. Your earnings/salary/wages or scholarship funds are also normally paid directly to a bank account. Opening a giro account for the duration of your stay is therefore advisable.
With a giro account, you can:
- withdraw money with the use of an EC/Maestro card. Approximately three weeks after opening an account, you will receive your card and PIN. Transactions made at cashpoints belonging to your bank are generally free of charge, and fees often apply to transactions made using other banks’ machines.
- use money transfer forms to transfer money to other accounts in order to pay bills.
- set up standing orders for regular payments of a fixed amount (e.g. monthly rent, etc.)
- authorise direct debiting of regularly recurrent charges (of varying amounts).
Most banks charge account fees which are generally deducted quarterly. These fees are normally relatively low and vary from bank to bank.
The following documents are needed to open an account:
- an identification card or passport
- verification that you possess a residence permit
As banks’ conditions vary, we recommend that you consider several options.
In addition to the common EC/Maestro card, the Eurocard/Mastercard is also available: this credit card is affiliated with the Master-Charge-System and is accepted worldwide. The credit card can also be used to withdraw money from cashpoints, but such withdrawals are subject to high processing fees. The credit cards most common in Germany are the Eurocard/Mastercard and the Visa card.
Cashless payments in German businesses are usually made with the EC card; credit cards are not accepted in all establishments.
Online banking can be used to make any transaction from your computer. Your bank supplies you with a list of transaction authentication numbers (TANs) that must be used for every online process. In some cases, banks send TANs to a TAN generator or your mobile telephone.
German banks are usually open Monday through Thursday, from approximately 8:30am to 4:30pm, and they often close at about 1:00pm on Fridays. Afternoon business hours tend to vary, but banks are often open longer on Thursdays (usually until 6:00pm).
If you have questions about topics pertaining to banking, or should you require assistance, the Welcome Center would be pleased to help.