Which German bank is the best for you?

Which German bank is the best for you?

An in-depth comparison of Germany's most popular banks for expats and foreigners.

Opening your first German bank account can be a daunting task. You have to consider the various fees, the ATM network the bank is part of, the quality of the support and more. To complicate things, most bank reviews are sponsored and biased towards whoever paid for the article.

In this article, we compare the following banks: 1822direkt, comdirect, Commerzbank, Deutsche Bank, DKB, ING DiBa, N26, Berliner Sparkasse and Volksbank.

German banks with English support

Only one German bank officially offers a 100% English experience: N26. Deutsche Bank offers online banking and most of its documents in English, but still sends some of its correspondence in German. Commerzbank also offers online banking in English. Other banks only offer their services in German.

👎1822direkt: Service in German only.

👎comdirect: Service in German only.

👍Commerzbank: Commerzbank also offers online banking and parts of its website in English, but their contracts, correspondence and documentation are still in German. I can personally confirm that you need to understand German to be a Commerzbank customer.

👍Deutsche Bank: While the Deutsche Bank website is only available in German, users have confirmed that online banking and documents are available in English. However, not all correspondence is in English, so you may sometimes need to understand German.

👎DKB: Service in German only.

👎ING DiBa: Service in German only.

👍N26: The N26 website, documentation, correspondence and customer service are all available in English. I can personally confirm that N26 can be used 100% in English without problems.

👎Berliner Sparkasse: Service in German only. Some filial employees may speak English.

👎Volksbank: Service in German only. Some filial employees may speak English.

German banks with no monthly fees

Some German banks charge you a monthly fee for having an account with them. This fee is usually waived if you make a certain amount of money per year, or if you keep a minimum balance in your account.

👍1822direkt: No monthly fees if you are under 27 years old, or if you deposit money in your account at least once per month. 3.90€ otherwise1, 2.

👍comdirect: No monthly fees1.

👎Commerzbank: 9.90€ monthly fee if account balance is below 1200€, free otherwise1.

👎Deutsche Bank: 5.90€ monthly fee1. No fee for students1.

👍DKB: No monthly fees1.

👍ING DiBa: No monthly fees.

👍N26: No monthly fees.

👎Berliner Sparkasse: 3€ monthly fee1, or 1€ + 0.30€ per debit card transaction2. 8.50€ per year for the debit card1. No fee for students.

👎Volksbank: 3.95€ monthly fee + 0.50€ for debit card1.

German banks with no ATM fees

Withdrawal fees are the most annoying problem with German banks. Most banks charge 5 to 7 euros to withdraw money from an ATM that's not part of their network. These fees will become a nuisance really fast, so I recommend to pick a bank that does not charge ATM fees.

👍1822direkt: 0€ to 0.30€ per withdrawal from Sparkasse ATMs (45% of ATMs)1. Fee of 6€ or 1% of withdrawal amount for other ATMs1.

👎comdirect: Free withdrawals from any ATM1, 2. Fee of 10€ for ATMs outside the Eurozone. You are not allowed to withdraw less than 50€ from ATMs1.

👎Commerzbank: Free withdrawals from Cash Group ATMs (only 15% of ATMs)1. Fee of 6€ or 1% of withdrawal amount for other ATMs1.

👎Deutsche Bank: Free withdrawals from Cash Group ATMs (only 15% of ATMs)1. Fee of 6€ or 1% of withdrawal amount for other ATMs.

👍DKB: Free withdrawals from any ATM1.

👍ING DiBa: Free withdrawals from any ATM1.

👍N26: 5 free withdrawals per month from any ATM. After that, you pay 2€ per withdrawal.

👍Berliner Sparkasse: 0€ to 0.30€ per withdrawal from Sparkasse ATMs (45% of ATMs)1 depending on account type. 4.95€ per withdrawal from other ATMs1.

👎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

Some banks offer special low fees for students and begin charging fees after they graduate. Most online banks are already free, so it's not such an impressive deal, especially when you consider ATM withdrawal fees.

👍1822direkt: No monthly fee for people under 27 years old1, 2.

👎comdirect: 4.90€ monthly fee if income is below 1250€ per month, free otherwise1.

👍Commerzbank: No monthly fee for students under 30 years old (StartKonto)1.

👍Deutsche Bank: No monthly fee for students (Das Junge Konto)1. Offers a Sperrkonto.

👍DKB: No monthly fee for anyone1.

👍ING DiBa: No monthly fee for anyone.

👍N26: No monthly fee for anyone.

👍Berliner Sparkasse: No monthly fee for students up to 25 years old1. 8.50€ per year for a debit card. Some branches offer a Sperrkonto.

👎Volksbank: No rebate for students.

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.

Indian citizens also reported that you can open a blocking account with Kotak Mahindra Bank, and use it to obtain a German student visa1, 2, 3.

A blocked account is not necessarily required as proof of financial resources. A scholarship, proof of parental income or a guarantee could also be sufficient. If you need help with your student visa, ask your German embassy or consulate, or ask one of our relocation consultants.

How to open a bank account in Germany

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

Some banks also require a minimum income or some financial history in Germany, and will sometimes refuse business to foreigners and candidates with bad credit. For example, DKB does not accept people without credit history.

Some banks let you register online using their app and your cellphone's camera. The process only takes a few minutes1. Opening an account through the app is only possible if you have an ID from one of the supported countries. If they don't accept your passport, you must use Postident to validate your document, but Postident supports even fewer documents. This is an issue we mention in our review of N26.

Other banks usually require you to go in person to one of their branches to open an account. This takes a few minutes, but you might need an appointment. Traditional banks are more flexible with the identification documents they accept. They often let you create an account before you have an address in Germany. This is the best way to open a bank account before your Anmeldung.

Once you have a German bank account, use TransferWise or XE.com to transfer money from another country. They have better exchange rates and lower fees than banks or wire transfers.

So which bank should I pick?

Your best pick is a bank with no monthly free, free withdrawals and a free credit card.

N26 is by far the most recommended bank among English-speaking foreigners. Although it's far from perfect, it's a good bank to get started with. It has no monthly fees, free withdrawals and English support, and it doesn't require an Anmeldung.

Deutsche Bank is the most recommended English-speaking traditional bank, especially for students. It's the only real bank that offers the Sperrkonto required by the German student visa. They charge more fees than N26, ING DiBa or DKB, but they offer a free account for students.

If you speak German, ING DiBa and DKB are also free, highly rated online banks, and are especially popular among German-speaking people.

Personally, I do my day to day banking with N26, which I have reviewed earlier. I closed my Commerzbank account after 3 years due to the high fees. I also use Degiro to manage my stock portfolio, again due to low fees, but it's not that great. I used TransferWise to transfer money from my bank account in Canada.

Useful links

This article uses affiliate links. When you click these links and open a bank account, we make a little money. We use that money to pay our hosting bill, expand the website and donate to charity. We don't sell recommendations or write reviews for money.

Comments

  • Maria

    Hello Nicolas, I am new in the country, thus your article has been very useful for me, so thanks very much.

    According to your article, I think N26 will be the best option for me to start banking. Additionally, I expect to move a considerable amount of money to Germany. So, I am wondering what could be the best way for me to save money and to get the best value of the money exchange. I appreciate if you have any suggestions that you can share with me.

    Thank you,
    Maria.

    Reply

    • Reply to Maria

    • Nicolas Bouliane

      Hi Maria,

      Try TransferWise. It's integrated into N26, but you can use it with any other German bank. This is how I transfer money between Germany and Canada.

      Reply

      • Reply to Nicolas Bouliane

      • Maria

        Thank you!!

        Reply

        • Reply to Maria

      • WIllem

        Hi Nicolas - you say TransferWise is integrated into N26 - can you explain how to reach this functionality? I have an account with N26, but I can't seem to find this functionality either in the app or their online banking site.

        Reply

        • Reply to WIllem

  • Rene

    Hello, congrats for your nice written article!
    I am coming soon to Germany and I am really leaning towards N26. I am just having one thought ; If something happens, who could quarantee for my money? I am pretty sure I am gonna leave in my bank account approximately 500E per month, that means 6.000 in a year. Are these online banks safe?
    Should you have any free time, please give me an answer.

    Reply

    • Reply to Rene

    • Nicolas Bouliane

      N26 offers you the same protection as other banks in Germany. If the company is bankrupt, your money is insured up to a much greater amount than 6000€.

      Reply

      • Reply to Nicolas Bouliane

      • Priiya Rao

        However nice this bank is I do understand that this bank doesnt accept Indian passport as a valid document! Surprising indeed

        Reply

        • Reply to Priiya Rao

  • Attaullah

    Sir very good information of all people search who is the best bank in Germany but Sir I have one problem I am refugee mean auslander my question is I have no open bank account in n26 because n26 required German residence so I question which the best Bank for me

    Reply

    • Reply to Attaullah

  • Camille

    Hi
    I would like to know if you have any idea of a good bank in Germany which have an easy way of transfering money to a Canadian account ?

    Reply

    • Reply to Camille

    • Nicolas Bouliane

      You can use TransferWise to send money to Canada. That's what I did during my internship in Germany, before I moved here permanently. N26 has a partnership with TransferWise, but any German bank should work.

      Reply

      • Reply to Nicolas Bouliane

      • Angela

        Hello Nicolas,

        Since N26 has a partnership with TransferWise, does that mean we can directly transfer money from N26 to a Canadian bank? Do you know what the fees are?

        Thanks!

        Reply

        • Reply to Angela

  • Pushkar Kumar

    Very nice article. Really loved it.
    I have also written an article on the topic:
    How To Open A Block Account In Kotak Mahindra Bank For German Visa
    https://www.studyingerman.com/2018/11/how-to-open-block-account-in-kotak.html

    You can mention it, if u want it.

    Reply

    • Reply to Pushkar Kumar

  • Ben

    Hello, thanks for the great summary! Do you happen to have a list of German banks that support Apple Pay? And also, which banks offer an English online banking or at least customer support in English?

    Reply

    • Reply to Ben

  • Leave a comment