Opening a bank account in Germany - what's best?

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Hi there,

 

In two weeks I'll be moving permanently to Düsseldorf (or for a few years at least). Before I start my new job I need to sort a few things, one of the most import tasks I have is to open a German Bank account (in Euros as my new position is paying in Euros) in which I will pay my wages. Now I currently have an account here in the UK with HSBC, however they cannot offer me any assistance in moving my account to Germany as they have such low coverage (thanks very much “world’s local bank”). So what I need to do is walk into a branch, open an account and transfer some money from my UK account (I have my IBAN & SWIFT numbers). Naturally I don’t want to pay for an account and obviously I don’t want to incur fees or have to pay a fortune in exchange rates (I think I’ll transfer something like £2000 – if I have that in my account). Can anyone give advice on which banks would be best for me or does anyone have good/bad experience of doing this themselves?

 

Many thanks

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So what I need to do is walk into a branch, open an account ...

Non-exhaustive list of banks where you can walk in and open an account on the spot, i.e. bricks-and-mortar banks:

 

  • Sparkasse Düsseldorf
    map of branches, has largest net of branches and ATMsVorteilskonto: free account if at least 1,250€ salary enter your account every month

  • Post-Bank
    map of branches (generally, there's one in every post office)
    Giro Plus: free account if at least 1,000€ enter your account every month. Free Visa card during the 1st year, then 22€ a year for the Visa card.

  • HypoVereinsbank
    map of branches (very few branches in Düsseldorf)
    Konto Klassik: free if you keep at least an average of 1,500€ in the account.

  • Sparda Bank West (co-op style, it's owned by the customers so you have to buy a 52€ share, very fair bank)
    map of branches (very few branches)
    SpardaGiro: free account for employees

 

 

 

... transfer some money from my UK account (I have my IBAN & SWIFT numbers).

Transferring money doesn't work that way.

You first have to open the account in Germany, and then ask for that German account's IBAN and SWIFT.

Then you tell your UK bank to do a transfer to that German account's IBAN and SWIFT.

 

 

Naturally I don’t want to pay for an account and obviously I don’t want to incur fees or have to pay a fortune in exchange rates.

Can anyone give advice on which banks would be best for me or does anyone have good/bad experience of doing this themselves?

 

Don't get hung up about a 5€ a month fee.

 

You will have to deal with enough stress just from the move and everything being different here, so don't pile on extra stress by trying to find the best bank account now (which you won't find this way anyway, the best bank accounts are offered by online banks).

 

So, open a salary account at any bank near where you live/work and stay with them a year.

 

It would probably be best for you to walk into a Deutsche Bank branch and open an account with them (map of branches).

They are one of the few banks who offer an English online banking interface.

However, their accounts aren't free.

AktivKonto: 4.99€ a month

 

Then, when you have recovered from the stress of moving and have learnt some German, move to an online bank.

Please see here for a comparison.

Don't bother with these online banks now, they won't take you on as a customer before you've been in Germany at least a year and have built up a Schufa-score - except maybe DKB.

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Is there any update for 2017? New banks, new experience?

 

I'm now selecting between N26, DKB and Commerz and thinking about going with N26. Any suggestions?

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N26 is my favorite. I now do both my private and business banking with them.

 

If you travel a lot outside of the euro area I'd also recommend you get a revolut card, which allows you to spend money in foreign currencies without fees or loads.

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I was with Deutsche Bank. I left them (although I stil keep a free and almost empty account there) when one of their salesperson lied to most of my colleagues (he was canny enough to lie to all non-German colleagues, he did not lie to the German ones which are more familiar with the system and perhaps even bother to read the small prints).

 

I bank with Comdirect (owned by Commerzbank), online.

If you are happy with an online bank (I am , but of course not everybody is) then CD is very good.

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N26 works for me.

Private and business.

 

There was a bit of a delay in getting one of my other credit cards to accept them for Lastschrift (spelling?), because N26 recently became a bank on their own, rather than someone else's subsidiary. The IBAN database needed updating for my credit card account. Fixed in about a week.

 

And they do respond, though lately with the changeover, it's taken a few extra days.

 

Pretty card, too.  :D

 

 

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The N26 bank looks good. It is good that there is no extra charge when using the mastercard abroad (usually 1.5%). Not so happy the mastercard is not credit card as I normally have a delay before being reimbursed for business expenses.

 

How much do cash withdrawals cost within EU? and worldwide?

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17 minutes ago, Smaug said:

You can withdraw money for free in many shops in Germany using the N26 app in your smartphone.

From 20 euro purchase in REWE. Never used this feature: when I need cash, I do not need to buy anything at the store, when I have to buy stuff > 20 euro, I do not need cash.

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2 minutes ago, yourkeau said:

From 20 euro purchase in REWE. Never used this feature: when I need cash, I do not need to buy anything, when I have to buy staff > 20 euro, I do not need cash.

 

You are confusing cash-back when making a purchase with the feature I am discussing. You don't even need to make a purchase at REWE to withdraw cash. You tell the N26 app how much money you want to withdraw and it deducts that amount from your account as it generates a bar code in your phone. You then show that bar code to the cashier at REWE and he hands you the cash.

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36 minutes ago, Smaug said:

 

You are confusing cash-back when making a purchase with the feature I am discussing. You don't even need to make a purchase at REWE to withdraw cash. You tell the N26 app how much money you want to withdraw and it deducts that amount from your account as it generates a bar code in your phone. You then show that bar code to the cashier at REWE and he hands you the cash.

Hmm, good to know, I stand corrected. Didn't know about this feature.

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@yourkeau It's also neat in that you don't even need to have the card to get cash--just your phone--or not even that: theoretically, you could print the bar code and hand it to the cashier for cash in exchange, although I wonder whether in practice he might view that as unusual and therefore suspicious.

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this app for cash doesn't work for me either, as I don't have a data plan on my phone.  Getting the thing set up before I leave the house is...meh, not so appealing, and just won't work if I'm already out and about when I realize I need money.

 

I know, I know, this isn't a problem for most people

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6 hours ago, Smaug said:

@yourkeau It's also neat in that you don't even need to have the card to get cash--just your phone--or not even that: theoretically, you could print the bar code and hand it to the cashier for cash in exchange, although I wonder whether in practice he might view that as unusual and therefore suspicious.

Isn't there some small print in AGB that you need to show ID, even when nobody asks for it?

 

57 minutes ago, lisa13 said:

this app for cash doesn't work for me either, as I don't have a data plan on my phone.  Getting the thing set up before I leave the house is...meh, not so appealing, and just won't work if I'm already out and about when I realize I need money.

I did have an old phone for many years, reluctant to use a smartphone. Tried in  2015... it's amazing, the whole banking experience, for example, you can make a photo of the bill and bank data is automatically recognized, saves a lot of time with these long IBAN numbers!

 

I don't use N26, but it looks like a future.

 

1 hour ago, fraufruit said:

Alas, the Geldautomat is closer than my Rewe. Guess I won't be needing that app.

But to have a second option to withdraw money is always good in case of emergency (for example, in 2015 my credit card was compromised, I had to block it and wait for the new one).

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I'm with lisa13, no data - no need.

 

I can do all of that other stuff you mentioned comfortably at home or abroad with my laptop or PC.

 

I have an EC card and a couple of other credit/debit cards in case of "emergency". Luckily, I have never had one of these emergencies in my life.

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Well, I can also drive without GPS. But why? Technology is such thing that once you started using it, you cannot stop.

 

That being said, the older I get, the slower I adopt new technology, so will join your club in 15-20 years.

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I use my DKB Visa card to withdraw cash at any ATM of any bank that happens to be around. I prefer to use ATMs rather than get cash from supermarkets because the notes they put in most ATMs have previously been checked for counterfeits. In addition, I have more trust in the ATM counting my notes correctly than the supermarket cashier. No need to double-check.

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10 hours ago, donaby said:

The N26 bank looks good. It is good that there is no extra charge when using the mastercard abroad (usually 1.5%). Not so happy the mastercard is not credit card as I normally have a delay before being reimbursed for business expenses.

 

Didn't quite understand this. So it's a credit card, but not a credit card? :wacko: And 'using the card' means using it for a purchase or withdrawal at an ATM...Or both?

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Thanks, it became more clear now.

Just one more noobie's question - is that true, that in Germany Visa\MC are (completely) not common and not popular and everyone uses EC (Maestro) cards? Because I prefer to have usual international MC\Visa card as soon as I pretty often travel world-wide and so far I haven't seen Maestro signs on the shops as well as people using Maestro in the world (i.e. USA, Russia, Australia, Korea, Southeastern Asia countries).

When signing up for bank account in Germany, will bank give me both Maestro and Visa\MC card?

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