Opening a German bank account

September 13, 2017

First look – what is important to you?

When deciding on a bank, there are many factors to consider. This is made more difficult when opening a bank account in another country. We’ve had a close look at a variety of German banks suitable for foreigners. The best of those are compared below. Before you look at the options in depth, there are 2 important questions to answer:

Do you understand German?

Unfortunately, German banks generally don’t support English. This means the selection is limited. However, there still exist a few great banks that fully support English.

Do you prefer a direct bank or a branch bank?

Direct banks are banks without any physical branches. They only offer their services online or by phone. As a result, they are generally free to use. Direct banks offer basically all the same services as branch banks. If you don’t have any special banking requirements, this is probably the type for you.

Branch banks are those with physical branches you can go to. Their main advantage over direct banks is in-person customer service. This is useful if you require personal advice or specialised services.

The facts at a glance – The best German bank account offers

Bank Comdirect N26 Deutsche Bank Postbank
Account name Girokonto standard account AktivKonto Giro direkt
Supports English?
+ French, Spanish & Italian
Bank type Direct bank Direct bank Branch bank
535 branches throughout Germany
Branch bank
1900 branches throughout Germany
Mobile app?
Online service?
Bank account yearly cost free free €59.88
free for students under 30 years
€23
free for all students
Bank account interest per annum 0.01% 0% 0.01% 0.01%
Credit card type* Visa MasterCard MasterCard Visa
Credit card yearly cost free free €39 €29
Credit card interest rate 6.5 % 8.9 % 9.5 % 10.55 %
Debit card type Maestro Mastercard and optional Maestro Maestro Maestro
Number of ATMs in Germany with free withdrawal 9000 58,000
up to 5 withdrawals a month, then €2 per withdrawal
9000 9000
Can open account online?
Can open account in branch?
Special offers Opening premium of up to €100** New customer special**
No account fees until 31.12.2017
Opening premium of up to €100 amazon voucher**
Signup link Comdirect Girokonto N26 Deutsche bank ActivKonto Postbank Giro direkt

* credit score required
** time-limited promotion, please check bank’s website for terms and conditions

Close-up – What else do these banks have to offer?

Comdirect Girokonto – Experienced full-service Bank

As a subsidiary company of Germany’s second largest bank, comdirect has developed a wide range of good value banking services. It has 20 years of market experience and describes itself as a “full-service bank with a complete range of services for private customers from under one roof”.

Advantages:

  • Wide range of additional services. Comdirect additionally provides online securities trading, fixed rate loans, construction financing, investment advice and more.

  • Competent and reliable customer support. All comdirect products come with outstanding customer support. Available 24 / 7 by phone, chat or video chat.

  • Up to €100 opening premium. You can receive €25 for minimum activity (any 5 transactions of €25 or more) in the first 3 months after opening, and another €75 if you close your previous bank account.

  • Traveler friendly. Unlimited free money withdrawals worldwide and free Visa Card payments within the Eurozone.

Disadvantages:

  • Mediocre mobile banking app. Customers complain of limited functionality and a delayed account balance updates.

N26 – Europe’s first mobile Bank

N26 is one of the youngest and arguably the most innovative German bank. It applies modern technology to international banking and allows you to “run your entire financial life from your phone”.

Advantages:

  • Great mobile banking app. The app offers:

    1. real time transferals to other N26 users via MoneyBeam
    2. real time transaction notifications
    3. In depth spending statistics.

  • Cheap international transfers. The N26 app provides the ability to directly transfer internationally, between 19 currencies. The transfer is performed via Transferwise.

  • Traveler friendly. Free purchases worldwide with Maestro card. Unlimited ATM withdrawals with MasterCard in every Eurozone country except Germany.

Disadvantages:

  • Mediocre customer service. N26 customers complain of busy phone lines, limited customer support hours and unanswered emails.

Deutsche Bank “AktivKonto” – The international Giant

Deutsche Bank is one of the most prestigious and influential credit institutes worldwide. It now aspires “to be the leading client-centric global universal bank”.

Advantages:

  • International branch network. Besides its major foreign branches in London, New York City and Sidney, Deutsche Bank is represented in more than 60 countries. This makes the account especially suitable for business travelers and commuters who always want to rely on personal advice.

  • Complete product range. As an universal bank Deutsche Bank covers any kind of banking activity for any kind of customer group.

Disadvantages:

  • Extra fees for card payments in foreign countries. Deutsche Bank has fees for Mastercard and girocard transactions in foreign countries, even within the Euro-Zone. Frequent travelers can fix this inconvenience with Deutsche Bank’s “MasterCard travel” (94,00€ / year), covering free international transactions as well as travel insurance.

Postbank “Giro direkt”

Postbank is a subsidiary of Deutsche Bank and comes with many of its bigger brother’s advantages. It puts an emphasis on customer service.

Advantages

  • Customer focused. The dense branch network and 24 hour service hotline provide a reliably high quality customer experience.

  • Wide range of products. In addition to the classic giro account, Postbank’s product range covers different fixed deposit options, brokerage, credits, money market accounts, fonds, insurances, pension provision and more.

  • €100 opening premium. Opening your account is rewarded with 50 €, your account activity (meaning at least 6 debits / month in at least 3 successive month within 1 year) with another 50 €. The premium is provided as a BestChoice Voucher. This is redeemable at e.g amazon or H&M.

Disadvantages

  • Poor mobile banking app. Customer complain of a complicated user interface and frequent crashes.

Extra fees for certain personal services. The product “Giro direkt” is focused on online and mobile banking. There are extra fees for withdrawals at the counter (€1.50) or account statement printouts (€0.50).

© 2017 | Privacy Policy