Money and Banking
Opening a bank account
If you are staying in Germany for a longer period of time, regularly receive a salary or a scholarship payment and have to pay rent, it is expedient to open a checking account at a bank as soon as possible. You can open a checking account at any bank branch.
The banks hardly differ in their offers and services, but they do in their fees. Therefore, you should inform yourself beforehand. With your checking account you will usually receive a EuroCheque card (EC card = debit card), with which you can withdraw money at the ATMs of your own bank free of charge and at ATMs of other banks for a fee.
Transferring money to or from abroad can be expensive. You should check with your home bank beforehand about the relevant conditions and possibly choose a bank in Germany that cooperates with your home bank.
In addition to cash, many stores, restaurants and businesses accept debit cards and credit cards. Smaller amounts, for example in cafés, are usually paid in cash.
(Source: EURAXESS Germany)
How do I find the right bank?
On the page Das Örtliche you will find various banks with branches in Augsburg. For the opening hours of the banks, please refer to the website of the respective branch (usually the opening hours are between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. on weekdays).
In order to decide which bank to choose, the following questions may help you:
- What are the fees for a checking account?
- Is a debit card included in the fee or are there additional costs for it?
- Are transfers free of charge?
- How much money can you withdraw per day or month?
- How high is the overdraft facility?
- How many branches does the bank have and where can I withdraw money for free with my debit card?
- Does the bank offer online banking or banking apps?
- Do I need English-speaking staff and services?
How do I open a bank account at a bank branch?
It is recommended to call a bank branch in advance to make an appointment to open an account.
You will need the following documents to open an account:
- Your identity card or valid passport with photo
- Confirmation of registration from the Residents' Registration Office or the Aliens' Registration Office (can also be submitted later if necessary)
- Tax identification number
Attention: Please ask your bank for further documents that are necessary for opening an account. Please also note that not every bank advisor speaks English.
How do I open a bank account online?
Alternatively, with some banks, especially the so-called direct banks, you can also submit the account application online via the bank's respective website. After filling out a form on personal data and the desired bank account, identification is necessary. This can be done either by Video-Identification or by Post-Identification.
In the case of Video-Identification, one participates in a video telephone call with a bank advisor. During this process, an employee of the Video-Ident service provider checks your personal data and takes photos of you and your identification documents. This requires a webcam or smartphone camera, as well as your ID card or passport for identification.
For Post-Identification, on the other hand, you first print out a form and take it to the nearest post office. There, your identity will be checked by an employee using your passport/ID card, and the form will then be sent to the bank free of charge.
What happens after opening a bank account?
As a rule, you will receive a bank or debit card (also called a giro card) after opening an account. With the bank card, you can withdraw money from ATMs or at the bank and print account statements. The debit card also allows you to make cashless payments in many stores and restaurants. A little later, you will receive the PIN, i.e. the secret number of your card, by mail, which gives you access to your account. When you pay with your debit card in stores, you have to enter this number or sign the receipt, if necessary. In many places, it is now possible to make contactless payments as well.
What is an online bank account and is it suitable for me?
An online account is a checking account where all financial transactions (such as checking account balances, money transfers or standing orders) are handled via indirect communication channels, primarily the Internet. These are mostly offered by direct banks (i.e., banks and credit institutions without branch banks).
Direct banks offer the advantage that their products and services are often cheaper than branch banks because, for example, they do not have to rent branch premises or employ local staff. Customer contact is kept to a minimum and also takes place online via e-mail or telephone. The opening of an account is also mainly done via Video-Ident or Post-Ident (see above).
However, if you want to take advantage of the personal consulting services, an online account may not be the right choice. You should also find out how you can withdraw money from your online bank, as there are usually no ATMs of your own and you may be able to withdraw money (free of charge) via credit card from ATMs of other banks.
In any case, inform yourself carefully about the respective terms and conditions of the banks before you open a bank account.
Please remember to cancel your account before departure. The cancellation date can also be after your departure. Also, please return your bank/debit card to the bank before departure.
Common international credit cards are accepted in Germany. Please note, however, that payment by credit card is not possible in all stores and restaurants.
You can withdraw money with your credit card at ATMs and banks, but fees often apply. It is best to contact your bank or credit card provider to find out under which conditions you can use your foreign credit card in Germany.