When you move to Germany, you need a European bank account to get paid, to pay your rent and to buy things online. It doesn't have to be a German bank account, but it must support SEPA transfers.

In this guide, I compare these banks: 1822direkt, Berliner Sparkasse, bunq, comdirect, Commerzbank, Deutsche Bank, DKB, ING, Monese, N26, Revolut, Volksbank and Wise.

German banks for expats

If you are new in Germany, it's harder to open an account. You have no address, no job, no residence permit and no credit history. Some banks don't accept your foreign passport1. This is why you need an expat-friendly bank.

An expat-friendly bank lets you open an account...

Expat-friendly banks

  • bunq - They speak 7 languages1. They accept many passport types. They don't need an Anmeldung. You get a German IBAN1. When you create the account, the app uses GPS to check if you are in Germany.
  • Berliner Sparkasse - They have basic online banking in English. The rest is in German. If you open an account in person, they accept most passport types.
  • Commerzbank - They have basic online banking in English. The rest is in German. If you open an account in person, they accept most passport types1, 2.
  • Deutsche Bank - Online banking, customer service and some documents are in English1. The rest is in German. If you open an account in person, they accept most passport types1, 2, 3.
  • Monese - They speak 14 languages. They don't ask for an Anmeldung. You get a Belgian IBAN.
  • N26 - They speak 5 languages1. They accept many passport types, but they sometimes ask for a German residence permit1. They don't ask for an Anmeldung. Bank accounts have German IBANs1. You need a German address to receive your bank card, but it doesn't have to be registered.
  • Revolut - They speak 24 languages1. They don't ask for an Anmeldung.
  • Wise - They speak 14 languages. They accept most passport types. They don't ask for an Anmeldung.

If those banks do not support your passport, you can go in person at Berliner Sparkasse, Commerzbank and Deutsche Bank. They are usually more flexible. Berliner Sparkasse accepts almost everyone.

Banks that are not expat-friendly

  • comdirect - If you don't have a registered address, you must follow extra steps to open an account. They only speak German.
  • DKB - Recent immigrants can rarely open an account1, 2, 3, 4, 5. They only speak German.
  • ING - You must have German permanent residency to open an account1. They only speak German.

German banks with English support

Banks with full English support

  • bunq - English and 6 other languages
  • Monese - English and 13 other languages
  • N26 - English and 4 other languages
  • Revolut - English and 23 other languages
  • Wise - English and 13 other languages

Banks with some English support

These banks let you do some things in English, but you will sometimes need to understand German.

  • Berliner Sparkasse - Basic online banking in English. Everything else is in German.
  • Deutsche Bank - Customer service and online banking in English. Some documents are only in German. They're the best option if you want a blocking account or a bank with branches, but don't speak German.
  • Commerzbank - Basic online banking in English. Everything else is in German.

If you go to your local branch, you can usually find someone who speaks English.

German banks with no monthly fees

Some banks charge monthly fees just to have a bank account. Other banks don't have monthly fees.

Banks with no monthly fees

  • DKB - No monthly fees1. They don't let recent immigrants open an account.
  • N26 - No monthly fees if your balance is below 50,000€1

Banks with no monthly fees if you deposit money every month

  • 1822direkt - 3.90€ monthly fee if you deposit less than 700€ per month1.
  • comdirect - 4.90€ monthly fee if your deposit less than 700€ per month1. No fees if you use Google Pay or Apple Pay at least 3 times per month1.
  • Commerzbank - 9.90€ monthly fee if your deposit less than 700€ per month1. A credit card costs 40€ per year.
  • ING - 3.90€ monthly fee if you deposit less than 700€ per month1.

Banks with no monthly fee for students

Banks with monthly fees

  • Berliner Sparkasse - 3€ monthly fee1, or 1€ + 0.30€ per debit card transaction2. 2.50€ per month for the credit card1.
  • bunq - Minimum 3€ per month for the card. No other monthly fee.
  • Deutsche Bank - 6.90€ monthly fee1.
  • Volksbank: 6€ monthly fee + 0.50€ for debit card1.

Some banks charge a fee for their credit cards. For example, Commerzbank's cheapest credit card is 40€ per year1.

    German banks with no ATM fees

    Some banks charge you to withdraw cash at an ATM. This can get really expensive.

    Banks with free ATM withdrawals

    • bunq - 4 to 5 free withdrawals per month1
    • comdirect - 3 free withdrawals per month. Free withdrawals from Cash Group ATMs (15% of ATMs). 9.90€ per withdrawal outside the Eurozone.
    • DKB -Free withdrawals from any ATM1.
    • ING - Free withdrawals from any ATM1.
    • N26 - 3 free withdrawals per month. After that, you pay 2€ per withdrawal.

    Bank with free withdrawals on their ATM network

    Some banks let you withdraw money for free, but only if you use their cash machines.

    • 1822direkt - 4 free withdrawals per month from Sparkasse ATMs1 (45% of ATMs)1. Otherwise, 2€ per withdrawal1.
    • Berliner Sparkasse - Free withdrawals from Sparkasse ATMs (45% of ATMs)1. Fee of 2% (minimum 7.50€) per withdrawal from other ATMs1.
    • Commerzbank - Free withdrawals from Cash Group ATMs (15% of ATMs). Fee of 1.95% (minimum 5.90€) of withdrawal amount for other ATMs1.
    • Deutsche Bank - Free withdrawals from Cash Group ATMs (15% of ATMs)1. Fee of 6€ or 1% of withdrawal amount for other ATMs.
    • Volksbank - Free withdrawals from BVR ATMs (32% of ATMs)1. Fee of 7.50€ or 1% of withdrawal amount for other ATMs1.

      German banks for students

      Go to German banks with no monthly fees

      Blocked account (Sperrkonto) for the student visa

      If you want to apply for a student visa, you usually need a blocked account (Sperrkonto)1, 2 as a proof of financial resources (Finanzierungsnachweis). If you need a blocked account, Deutsche Bank is often the only option1, 2, but a few Sparkasse branches also have blocked accounts1, 2. Some lesser known banks such as Fintiba and X-patrio also offer this service.

      If you are Indian, you can open a blocking account with Kotak Mahindra Bank, and use it to get a German student visa1, 2, 3.

      A blocked account is not always required for a student visa. A scholarship, a proof of parental income or a guarantee can also work. If you need help with your student visa, ask your German embassy or consulate, or a relocation consultant.

      Banks in other EU countries

      These banks are based in other EU countries. They let you open an account from Germany.

      • bunq - Licenced in Belgium. Accounts can have a German IBANs.
      • Monese - Licenced in Belgium. Accounts have Belgian IBANs.
      • Revolut - Licenced in Belgium. Accounts have Belgian IBANs.
      • Wise - Licenced in Belgium. Accounts have Belgian IBANs.

      There are a few problems with non-German banks:

      • Your money is insured differently
        When your money is in a German bank, it's insured up to 100,000€ by the German government1. You will get that money back even if the bank goes bankrupt. The rules can be different in other EU countries.
      • You might get a non-German IBAN
        This is rarely a big problem, but sometimes, you need a German IBAN. IBAN discrimination is illegal, but it happens1, 2. For example, people had problems when paying the vehicle tax at the Hauptzollamt.
      • You can't get a Girocard
        This type of debit card only exists in Germany1. You almost never need a Girocard. I don't have one since 2016. The last places that required a Girocard were the Bürgeramt and Ausländerbehörde. They now accept cash and credit cards1, 2.

      How to open a bank account in Germany

      Minimum requirements

      The requirements to open a bank account are the same for most banks:

      Some banks require a minimum income or financial history in Germany. Other banks require permanent residency in Germany. For example, DKB often rejects foreigners1. Some online banks only support certain passports1, or ask for a residence permit.

      If you are American, you need extra forms to open a German bank account, because of FATCA1, 2. Some banks don't let Americans open an account1, 2.

      Open a bank account online

      Some banks like bunq, Comdirect, DKB, ING, Monese, N26, Revolut and Wise let you open an account with their app. You can do it at home. They start a video call, and they ask you to show both sides of your ID or passport. This only works with passports from certain countries1. If they don't accept your passport, you must use Postident to verify your documents. This takes longer, and it doesn't always work.

      With online banks, you can sometimes open your account from another country, before you arrive in Germany. They still need to send your bank card to a German address. Some people sent the bank card to their office, or to a friend's address.

      Open a bank account in person

      Some banks like Commerzbank, Sparkasse, Deutsche Bank and Volksbank let you open an account in person at their branches. The employees there sometimes speak English.

      These banks are often more flexible. They accept most passport types, and they let you open a bank account without a residence permit or a registered address.

      Transfer money from another country

      After you open a German bank account, use Wise or XE.com to transfer money from another country. They have better exchange rates and lower fees than banks. I used Wise when I moved to Germany. I still use it when I need to send money abroad. You can use Wise directly in the N26 app.

      Which bank should I pick?

      I recommend you to choose:

      • A bank that speaks your language
      • A bank with no monthly fees
      • A bank with no ATM fees
      • A bank with a free Visa or MasterCard

      This is why I'm happy with N26. It's my main bank since 2016. You can read my review of N26. If you speak German, DKB and ING are also really good options.

      If you come from another country, some banks won't accept your passport. If that's a problem, Deutsche Bank is a good option. You can also use one of the EU online banks: bunq, Monese, Revolut and Wise. They usually accept more passport types.

      If you need a blocking account (Sperrkonto), then Deutsche Bank is the only good option.

      If you want to trade stocks, I recommend Degiro. This is the online broker I use.