Opening a German online bank account from abroad

How to open one when you don't live in Germany

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gmtl
DKB is an online bank (subsidiary of BayernLB) which also accepts clients with foreign addresses.

You can open an account by mail without even having to set foot in Germany. To prove your identity you can use this form (in lieu of the usual "PostIdent' that you do in Germany). The form needs to be signed by a local lawyer or local bank manager, who certifies that you presented the right documents to him (basically, your passport).

The standard DKB package includes:
  • a free bank account (regardless of what your balance is, or whether you have your salary deposited into their account every month)
  • a free EC card
  • a free Visa card, which you can also use to withdraw cash for free at any ATM worldwide (no cash-advance fee applies).
LandyPie
An EC card (legacy name from "EuroCheque") is indeed a debit card. Mostly Maestro based in Germany (as traditionally many banks are in bed with Mastercard) but can also be Visa Debit or V-Pay. You can use this card for payment in-store or at selected ATMs worldwide. Because some transactions are not able to check your balance online, the bank has a risk-factor in issuing them, which is why they are more careful as to who they issue them to.

A "cash-point" card is simply an ATM card issued by your bank for withdrawing cash, but only from your own bank, or banks in the same network. These rarely have a low limit (but one can be set) as they only allow cash withdrawals from ATMs that can check your available balance (or credit line).
Ah I see, thank you

Forget Deutsche Bank
Try this http://www.comdirect.de/

They offer free checking accounts because they are mostly an online bank. When you need to deposit money you just go to Commerzbank as they are working together. I've been with them for more than 3 years and completely happy with them.
They look to be quite good, I'll do a comparison when the Commerzbank site is up fully so I can get full details of their offering too

DKB is an online bank (subsidiary of BayernLB) which also accepts clients with foreign addresses.

You can open an account by mail without even having to set foot in Germany. To prove your identity you can use this form (in lieu of the usual "PostIdent' that you do in Germany). The form needs to be signed by a local lawyer or local bank manager, who certifies that you presented the right documents to him (basically, your passport).

The standard DKB package includes:
  • a free bank account (regardless of what your balance is, or whether you have your salary deposited into their account every month)
  • a free EC card
  • a free Visa card, which you can also use to withdraw cash for free at any ATM worldwide (no cash-advance fee applies).

I originally looked into DKB however I was declined for some reason (the decline letter wasn't clear as to why). I will say I don't mind setting foot in Germany to open an account as I'm more than likely going to be there anyway
too far too east
I notice that in all opinions expressed on the subject of non residents opening bank accounts in Germany, no-one ever mentions opening an account with Postbank.

I enquired of Postbank on a visit to Munich a couple of years ago as to whether I as a resident of an East Asian country could open an account with them, and they were ready to open one there and then. I did not need an account at that time (as there was a monthly fee unless deposits exceeded Euro 1,000 per month), but will do so later this year, when I start to receive a monthly pension from a German insurance company.

I plan to visit Munich again end of September or early October, and to open an account with Postbank then.

Does anyone have any idea as to why no-one is using this bank's attractive services, or why it is never mentioned in email discussions on this subject? (It seems that their forms and information are all auf deutsch, but I think I can still manage those forms!).
gmtl
Postbank accounts come with the usual caveats of any traditional German bank: the account is free only if you're younger than 22 or if you have your monthly salary/pension deposited into that account, etc (see comparison of their various accounts here).

In my opinion, an account with an online bank such as comdirect or DKB is a much better option for someone living abroad, for the following reasons:
  • these online bank accounts do not require a minimum balance or regular monthly deposits to stay free.
  • the online bank accounts allow you to withdraw cash at ATMs abroad for free. Obviously useful if you live abroad.
  • these online banks are set up so that people can do everything online, without having to visit a bricks-and-mortar branch. With traditional banks like Postbank, even if they do have online banking for the most common services, for other services they may need the client to visit one of their branches. That's not a problem if you live in Germany, but a big problem if you live abroad.
LandyPie
In regards to online banks, mainly Comdirect (DKB rejected me), can you open it up online from abroad? I quite like the look of it as it appears to do the job (comes with debit card which is a must) so if I can do it from abroad then I can have it set up before my next visit in two months time.

I did stumble upon CIM Banque in Switzerland that offer current accounts, credit cards and AMEX in both CHF and EUR which is incredibly appealing to me due to my visits to Switzerland however I'm unsure if they're worth it, I'm thinking I should stick to a German bank unless someone else says differently?
kato
Postbank is pretty much the only bank that seems to entirely overhaul names and conditions of their bank accounts pretty much every few years. The bank account type I have with them once again isn't in that portfolio range anymore. Wonder when they'll announce they just switched me over to another package without asking me. Again. Like they've already done twice (or thrice?) in the last fifteen years.
LandyPie
I've decided to go with Comdirect, I was wondering in regards to AMEX, does anyone know the incomes required because they aren't stated on the German site.
aries6
When you open the online application form for the AMEX Gold card at comdirect.com, it tells you what income is required. You must have an annual gross salary of atleast €40,000.

"Ihr persönliches Brutto-Jahreseinkommen in Euro*(min. EUR 40.000)"

To be considered for an AMEX Gold card with Commerzbank, you must have an annual gross salary of atleast €40,000. For the AMEX Platinum, it's €60,000.
too far too east
Many thanks for all the comments to my message of 5 August.

It seems that it is not possible for a non-resident to open a Girokonto with com direct: ("Die Eröffnung eines Girokontos ist jedoch nicht möglich, da für im Ausland lebende Kunden die Datenbasis nicht ausreichend ist, um eine solide Entscheidung zu treffen").

However it appears to be possible to open a Tagesgeld Plus Konto (which I take to be a general current account).

If anyone could advise on the difference between these two accounts, I would be most grateful (though I am trying to get this information myself through the internet).

Many thanks.
PandaMunich
Nope, Girokonto would be a current account.

Tagesgeld is just a savings account, i.e. you do not get a card with it to take money out of it, and you can only get money out of it through a bank transfer if the destination of that bank transfer is your current account (at your other bank) that you specified when you opened the Tagesgeld.
IvoMV
Postbank accounts come with the usual caveats of any traditional German bank: the account is free only if you're younger than 22 or if you have your monthly salary/pension deposited into that account, etc (see comparison of their various accounts here).
I just want to add that in my case they told me that as long as more than 1000 Eur were going in monthly into the account it would remain free. The money going in not a salary or pension, but I don't think they check or care particularly.
LandyPie
When you open the online application form for the AMEX Gold card at comdirect.com, it tells you what income is required. You must have an annual gross salary of atleast €40,000.

"Ihr persönliches Brutto-Jahreseinkommen in Euro*(min. EUR 40.000)"

To be considered for an AMEX Gold card with Commerzbank, you must have an annual gross salary of atleast €40,000. For the AMEX Platinum, it's €60,000.
Oh sorry I meant the normal AMEX charge card that you apply for from AMEX, not one of the co-branded cards.

Many thanks for all the comments to my message of 5 August.

It seems that it is not possible for a non-resident to open a Girokonto with com direct: ("Die Eröffnung eines Girokontos ist jedoch nicht möglich, da für im Ausland lebende Kunden die Datenbasis nicht ausreichend ist, um eine solide Entscheidung zu treffen").

However it appears to be possible to open a Tagesgeld Plus Konto (which I take to be a general current account).

If anyone could advise on the difference between these two accounts, I would be most grateful (though I am trying to get this information myself through the internet).

Many thanks.
The application appears to allow you to apply from abroad, I was given the option of selecting UK when going through all the details although I've changed my mind and will be going to Commerzbank as I'd like face to face while opening the account
aries6
Is there a difference between getting a card directly from AMEX or through Commerzbank/Comdirect?
aries6
Double post.
LandyPie
Is there a difference between getting a card directly from AMEX or through Commerzbank/Comdirect?
The Comdirect one looks to be a credit card rather than a charge card
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