What is the best German bank for you?

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

Cash coins cards german banks

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 and in stores

Your bank must allow 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 transfers.1

You don’t need a German bank. You can open a bank account in any European country, including the United Kingdom.

German banks for expats

If you are new in Germany, it’s harder to open a bank account. Banks often ask for a registered address, a job, a residence permit or credit history. Banks often refuse passports from certain countries.2

An expat-friendly bank makes it easier to open an account.

Expat-friendly banks

  • bunq – They speak 7 languages.3 They accept many passport types. They don’t need an Anmeldung. You get a German IBAN.4 When you open an account, their app uses GPS to check if you are in Germany.5 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 types.6 You must have a residence permit, and it must be valid for at least 6 months.7
  • Deutsche Bank – Online banking, customer service and some documents are in English.8 The rest is in German. If you open an account in person, they accept most passport types.9 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 languages.10 They accept many passport types. You need a plastic residence permit that is valid for at least 1 year.11 They don’t ask for an Anmeldung. If you open an account from Germany, you get a German IBAN.12 You need a German address to receive your bank card, but you don’t need a registered address.
  • 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
  • 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 fees.16 They don’t let recent immigrants open an account.
  • N26 – No monthly fees.

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 month.18
  • comdirect – 4.90€ monthly fee if your deposit less than 700€ per month.19 No fees if you use Google Pay or Apple Pay at least 3 times per month.20
  • Commerzbank – 9.90€ monthly fee if your deposit less than 700€ per month.21 A credit card costs 39.90€ per year.
  • ING – 4.90€ monthly fee if you deposit less than 700€ per month.22

Banks with no monthly fee for students

  • 1822direkt – No monthly fee for all people under 27 years old.23
  • Berliner Sparkasse – No monthly fee for students under 26 years old.24 8.50€ per year for a debit card. Some branches offer a Sperrkonto.
  • comdirect – No monthly fee for students under 28 years old.20
  • Commerzbank – No monthly fee for students under 27 years old (StartKonto).21 The credit card is free if you deposit over 300€ per month.
  • Deutsche Bank – No monthly fee for EU students.25 6.90€ for non-EU students.26 They offer a Sperrkonto for the German student visa.
  • ING – No monthly fee for students. 1€ per month fee for a debit card.
  • Volksbank – No monthly fee for students.27

Banks with monthly fees

  • Berliner Sparkasse – 3€ monthly fee,28 or 1€ + 0.30€ per debit card transaction.29 2.50€ per month for a credit card.24
  • bunq – Minimum 3€ per month for the card. No other monthly fee.
  • Deutsche Bank – 6.90€ monthly fee.30
  • Volksbank: 6€ monthly fee + 0.50€ for debit card.31

Some banks charge a fee for their credit cards. For example, Commerzbank’s cheapest credit card is 39.90€ per year.32

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 month.33 You can only withdraw 250€ per day in the first 3 months, and 500€ per day after 3 months.34
  • 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 ATM.35
  • ING – Free withdrawals from any ATM.36 Minimum withdrawal is 50€.
  • 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 ATMs. 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 ATMs37 (45% of ATMs).38 Otherwise, 2€ per withdrawal.37
  • Berliner Sparkasse – Free withdrawals from Sparkasse ATMs (45% of ATMs).38 Fee of 2% (minimum 7.50€) per withdrawal from other ATMs.24
  • Commerzbank – Free withdrawals from Cash Group ATMs (15% of ATMs). Fee of 1.95% (minimum 5.98€) of withdrawal amount for other ATMs.21
  • Deutsche Bank – Free withdrawals from Cash Group ATMs (15% of ATMs).38 Fee of 6€ or 1% of withdrawal amount for other ATMs.
  • Volksbank – Free withdrawals from BVR ATMs (32% of ATMs).52 Fee of 7.50€ or 1% of withdrawal amount for other ATMs.39

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)40 as a proof of financial resources (Finanzierungsnachweis). If you need a blocked account, a few Sparkasse branches offer them.41 Some lesser-known banks such as Fintiba and Expatrio also offer this service. Deutsche Bank stopped offering blocked accounts.42

If you are Indian, you can open a blocking account with Kotak Mahindra Bank, and use it to get a German student visa.43

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.
  • 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 government.44 You 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 happens.45 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 Germany.46 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 residence in Germany. For example, DKB often rejects foreigners.47 Some online banks only support certain passports,48 or ask for a residence permit.

If you are American, you need extra forms to open a German bank account, because of FATCA.49 Some banks don’t let Americans open an account.50

Open a bank account online

Some banks like N26,bunq, DKB, ING, Comdirect 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 countries.51 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 and Wise also accept more passport types.

Sources and footnotes
  1. ecb.europa.eu 

  2. reddit.com 

  3. together.bunq.com 

  4. together.bunq.com 

  5. together.bunq.com 

  6. Screenshot, Screenshot 

  7. Screenshot 

  8. reddit.com 

  9. reddit.com/r/Finanzen, Screenshot, reddit.com/r/germany 

  10. Twitter 

  11. docs.n26.com 

  12. support.n26.com 

  13. Twitter, Screenshot 

  14. reddit.com, community.finanztip.de, wer-weiss-was.de, kontofinder.de, reddit.com 

  15. reddit.com, Twitter 

  16. dok.dkb.de 

  17. docs.n26.com 

  18. 1822direkt.de 

  19. nordbayern.de 

  20. comdirect.de 

  21. commerzbank.de 

  22. ing.de 

  23. allaboutberlin.com, 1822direkt.de 

  24. berliner-sparkasse.de 

  25. deutsche-bank.de 

  26. deutsche-bank.de 

  27. berliner-volksbank.de 

  28. berliner-sparkasse.de 

  29. berliner-sparkasse.de 

  30. deutsche-bank.de 

  31. berliner-volksbank.de 

  32. commerzbank.de 

  33. bunq.com 

  34. together.bunq.com 

  35. dkb.de 

  36. ing-diba.de 

  37. 1822direkt.de 

  38. Wikipedia 

  39. berliner-volksbank.de 

  40. study-in.de, studying-in-germany.org 

  41. reddit.com/r/germany, sparkasse.de 

  42. Twitter 

  43. Quora, msingermany.co.in 

  44. Finanztip 

  45. acceptmyiban.org, together.bunq.com 

  46. Wikipedia 

  47. reddit.com/r/berlin 

  48. support.n26.com 

  49. Twitter, reddit.com/r/germany 

  50. americansoverseas.org, reddit.com/r/germany 

  51. docs.n26.com 

  52. Wikipedia