This guide helps you choose your first bank account in Germany.

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Why you need a bank account

You need a bank account to…

  • get paid by your employer
  • pay your rent
  • pay all kinds of taxes
  • buy things online
  • buy things in stores

You need a bank that allows SEPA transfers. This is how your employer pays you, and how you pay your rent and your taxes.

All EU banks and most European banks allow SEPA transfers1. This is why you need a European bank account. You don't need a German bank; just a bank in a European country.

German banks for expats

If you are new in Germany, it's harder to open a bank account. You have no registered address, no job, no residence permit and no credit history. Some banks don't accept your foreign passport1.

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

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 open an account, their app uses GPS to check if you are in Germany1. You can bypass this if you contact customer support.
  • 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. You must have a residence permit, and it must be valid for at least 6 months1.
  • 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. They offer blocking accounts for foreign students.
  • 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 residence permit1. They don't ask for an Anmeldung. If you open an account from Germany, you get a German IBAN1. You need a German address to receive your bank card, but you don't need a registered address.
  • 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. You might get a Belgian IBAN.

Banks that are not expat-friendly

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 you 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, but all the documents and contracts will be in German.

German banks with no monthly fees

Some banks charge monthly fees just to have a bank account. Other banks don't have monthly fees. Tarifcheck lets you compare banks with no 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

These banks remove the monthly fees if you deposit money in your account every month. In other words, if you receive your paycheck there, you don't pay monthly fees.

  • 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 39.90€ per year.
  • ING — 4.90€ monthly fee if you deposit less than 700€ per month1.

Banks with no monthly fee for students

  • 1822direkt — No monthly fee for all people under 27 years old1, 2.
  • Berliner Sparkasse — No monthly fee for students under 26 years old1. 8.50€ per year for a debit card. Some branches offer a Sperrkonto.
  • comdirect — No monthly fee for students under 28 years old1.
  • Commerzbank — No monthly fee for students under 27 years old (StartKonto)1. The credit card is free if you deposit over 300€ per month.
  • Deutsche Bank — No monthly fee for EU students1. 6.90€ for non-EU students1. They offer a Sperrkonto for the German student visa.
  • Volksbank — No monthly fee for students1.

Banks with monthly fees

  • Berliner Sparkasse — 3€ monthly fee1, or 1€ + 0.30€ per debit card transaction2. 2.50€ per month for a 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 39.90€ per year1.

    German banks with no ATM fees

    Some banks charge you to withdraw cash at an ATM. This can get really expensive. You should choose a bank with no ATM fees.

    Tarifcheck lets you find banks with no ATM fees. It also lets you filter banks by ATM network.

    Banks with free ATM withdrawals

    These banks let you withdraw money from any ATM without paying fees. This is very convenient.

    • bunq — 4 to 5 free withdrawals per month1. You can only withdraw 250€ per day in the first 3 months, and 500€ per day after 3 months1.
    • 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. I don't recommend those banks. You sometimes need to walk an extra 10 minutes to find a free ATM. This is why I closed my Commerzbank account.

    • 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 5.98€) 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, a few Sparkasse branches offer them1, 2. Some lesser-known banks such as Fintiba and X-patrio also offer this service. Deutsche Bank stopped offering blocked accounts1.

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

      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 bank card only exists in Germany1. Many small businesses only accept cash and Girocards, not Visa or MasterCard. It's not a big problem, because you can always pay in cash. I have no Girocard since 2016, and I am fine.

      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?

      Choose a bank…

      • that speaks your language
      • that accepts your passport
      • without monthly fees
      • without ATM fees
      • with a free Visa or MasterCard

      I am with N26 since 2016. My review of N26 explains why. I also use Kontist for my business account, and Degiro to trade stocks.

      If you speak German, look at DKB and ING. People often recommend them.

      If no banks accept your passport, try Deutsche Bank. Online banks like bunq, Monese, Revolut and Wise also accept more passport types.