Without a German bank account, while living in Germany, you’re not going to get very far. However, the good news is that nowadays, it’s actually pretty simple to open up a bank account even without speaking German. In fact, there are actually banks like N26 who run completely in the English language.
You’re going to need a German bank account before you’re able to pay your rent, register for a phone plan (although sometimes you can pay with credit card), or register for an electricity or internet contract. You’re also going to need to find a way to get paid if you’ve moved to Germany for work. So, let’s get to it, shall we?
First, learn the lingo
When the German’s talk about a debit card/standard bank account, they often call it a Girokonto, EC-Karte or Maestro. While an EC-Karte and Maestro card are different systems, there is one thing that you should know.
These are all bank accounts – they are not credit cards in any way, shape or form.
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The Best Expat Recommended Banks
You might already be well aware that you certainly aren’t limited by the number of choices you have when it comes to picking a banking provider. There are thousands of different options, but only a few of those stand as smart options for expats and English speakers.
After asking our local and expat community on Facebook what they thought was the best bank for expats, we’ve put together a list of the 5 best banks for you.
N26 prides themselves on the fact that it will literally only take you 8 minutes in total to open up a bank account with them online. The entire site is run in English and once you’re registered, all of your banking can be done straight from your phone or laptop.
Includes: FREE Maestro card and FREE Mastercard credit card
Withdrawing Money: You can withdraw money from any ATM up to 5 times/month for free and at more than 9,000 retail locations in Germany including shops like Penny, Real- and REWE.
Similar to N26, DKB is a completely online bank, but if you’re comfortable doing all of your banking completely online, DKB offers some of the cheapest rates and one of the best services for expats. While they do not offer their signup process in English, it is a relatively easy process to apply and a highly rated bank for locals and expats alike.
Includes: FREE EC-Card and FREE Visa credit card
Withdrawing Money: You can withdraw money from any ATM machine for FREE worldwide (great for expats looking for travel outside of Germany)
Almost exactly the same as DKB and N26, Comdirect is a completely online banking system which means there are no branches to actually visit in person. If you do not mind managing your account completely online, Comdirect is a great banking choice. They are well known for their easy application process which doesn’t demand many pre-requirements before registering, making it a much easier bank to apply to for expats. The application process is run in German, but with a little Google translate, you’ll be able to easily guide yourself through the application.
Includes: FREE Girocard and FREE Visa credit card + Signup bonus of up to 150 Euros
Withdrawing Money: You can withdraw money from over 9,000 bank machines across Germany at the following partner banks: Commerzbank, Deutsche Bank, HypoVereinsbank and Postbank, as well as at any Shell gas station or with 13,000 other partner shops around Germany
ING-Diba is another online bank – can you see the expat favorite trend? There aren’t many people nowadays who require a branch, especially when you don’t speak German. The application is done completely online, you will confirm your identity using their webcam confirmation service or via post. While ING-Diba might not have as many benefits as comdirect or DKB, they are still a great bank with great services.
Includes: FREE Girocard and FREE Visa credit card
Withdrawing Money: You can withdraw money at any of their partner retail locations (from 20 Euros and up) including DM, Netto, ALDI Süd, REWE, Penny and toom Baumarkt
Commerzbank was the only bank who made our list of top expat favorites that offers physical branches in Germany! That’s probably because it has constantly won numerous awards for being one of the best banks in Germany. So, if having a local branch is important to you, Commerzbank is a great choice.
Includes: FREE EC-Card + Signup bonus of 100 Euro (though this sale could end)
Withdrawing Money: You can withdraw money from any of the partner banks who are a part of the CashGroup: Commerzbank, Deutsche Bank, HypoVereinsbank, and Postbank
Other German Banks to Consider
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