How to set up a bank account in Germany

Opening a German bank account can be a slightly daunting process. Sparkasse, Deutsche Bank, Deutsche Kredit Bank and Postbank are only some of the large banks that would like your custom.

Figuring out which bank is the right one for you can be tricky. So to make the selection process a little bit easier we have compiled some key facts to keep in mind when choosing a German bank.

Which bank?

When selecting a bank it is best to be clear about your needs and think about which services you consider to be essential. For example, banks such as DKB only operate online while others such as Sparkasse offer both online and personal assistance. Commerzbank has a deal offering €100 to those that open a new account.

If you plan on sending lots of letters and packages from Berlin, you can kill two birds with one stone by setting up a Postbank account, is both local post office and bank.

If you want to make sure your bank only uses your money for ethical and ecological purposes, you might want to consider an account with the GLS bank.

When you decide which bank to go with, simply go to their Privatkunden (private cusomer) centre and ask to speak to an assistant about opening an account. The process usually takes about 30 minutes, depending on how busy the bank is. For those that work 9-5, certain banks are even open on Saturdays.

Some banks charge a small monthly fee for an account. A basic Sparkasse account starts at approximately €2-4 which is paid monthly by direct debit, while the Postbank Giro account, for example, is free.

Beware of ATM charges

When deciding which bank to go with, keep in mind, that if you use another bank’s ATM you will be charged a fee per transaction. That means if you have an account with Postbank, you will be charged between €4-5 to use a Sparkasse ATM.

Sparkasse has the most ATMs in Germany, with a total of about 24,600 nationwide. Most banks have a map on their website where you can locate the nearest ATM to you.

ATMS in Germany are run by four networks;

  • Sparkasse
  • Volksbank (also GLS Bank)
  • Cashgroup (Deutsche Bank, Dresdner Bank, Commerzbank, Postbank and Hypovereinsbank)  
  • Cash Pool (SEB, Sparda and Citibanks).

If you have an account with Deutsche Bank you can use any ATM within Cashgroup’s network without being subject to an extra fee.

What do I need to set up an account?

  • You must be registered with your local Bürgeramt (town hall) and bring a copy of your ‘Anmeldungsbestätigung’.
  • You must have proof of address (rent contract, utility bills, etc.)
  • You will also be asked for identification

At this point you will be able to specify which types of insurance or savings plans you would like.

Once your application is complete, you will be sent a card and pin by post. If you need to withdraw money from the account before you receive your card, you can do so at a branch with your ID and IBAN number.

SEE ALSO: How to register in Berlin

Featured image: Man putting dollar into piggy rich bank national flag of germany in foreign currency because of inflation via Shutterstock. Copyright: Vepar5

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