This guide shows you different ways to save money in Germany. Most of those tricks do not require you to change your lifestyle.

Change electricity and gas providers every year

  • Total savings: 100-200€ per year
  • Effort required: 30 minutes every year

Most electricity and gas providers offer a bonus for new customers. In the first year, their service is cheaper. After one year, the price goes up. If you don't cancel your contract, it will be renewed automatically for 1 more year.

If you switch to a new electricity provider every year, you always get a new customer bonus. If you do this, you will save over 100€ per year. This is not a secret; many Germans do it1, 2. It takes less than 30 minutes to switch. Use Verivox to find a cheaper electricity provider. Verivox will automatically transfer your contract to the new electricity provider. I tried it, and it works really well. Check24 has a similar service.

Each electricity provider has a different cancellation period (Kündigungsfrist). For example, Vattenfall has a Kündigungsfrist of 6 weeks. You must cancel your contract at least 6 weeks before it ends. If you don't, the contract is renewed automatically for 1 year. Put a reminder in your calendar every year.

You can also do this with car insurance. Most car insurance contracts expire on December 31, and must be cancelled before November 301.

Use your EHIC card

If you come from another EU country, you can use your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) in Germany. If you get healthcare in Germany, your health insurance in your home country pays for it.

If health insurance is cheaper in your home country, using your EHIC is cheaper than getting German health insurance. You can save a lot of money every month with the EHIC.

German health insurance Insurance from other EU countries

Consider private health insurance

  • Total savings: 100-500€ per month
  • Effort required: fill a few forms, take a medical exam, wait 3 months

Public health insurance is usually the best option, but in some specific cases, private health insurance makes more sense. For example, if you are a freelancer with a high income, you can save up to 500€ per month with private health insurance, and you get better coverage. This happened to me. My health insurance broker (Feather) helped me find private health insurance. I save over 400€ per month.

This is not a simple decision. Private health insurance is not always a better option. This decision has serious long term consequences. Talk to a health insurance broker first. Their help is free.

Public health insurance has a 3 month Kündigungsfrist. If you decide to switch to private health insurance, you must stay another 3 months on public health insurance.

German health insurance ➞ Private health insurance

Join the KSK

  • Total savings: 90-400€ per month
  • Effort required: 3-6 months of waiting and a lot of paperwork

If you are a freelance artist or publicist, the Künstlersozialkasse (KSK) can pay half of your health insurance contributions. You keep the same health insurance, and the same coverage, but you pay half the price.

It's not easy to get accepted. It takes a lot of time, and a lot of paperwork, but if you are accepted, you will save hundreds of euros per month.

German health insurance ➞ The Künstlersozialkasse (KSK)

Lower your rent

  • Total savings: 0-300€ per month
  • Effort required: fill an online form, sign a Vollmacht, and wait a few months

You might be paying too much rent. Many apartments in Germany are priced above the legal rent limit (Mietpreisbremse). If this is the case, you can hire lawyers to get it reduced.

Conny (also called Wenigermiete) is a company that helps people get their rent reduced. Our review of Conny explains how it works. Your tenant's association can also help you with this.

Related guide: Should you trust Conny/Wenigermiete?

Choose a bank with low fees

  • Total savings: 10-30€ per month
  • Effort required: 1 day

Some banks charge a monthly fee to keep your money. It's usually around 10€ per month. Some banks also charge you a fee when you use another bank's ATM. There are many banks with no monthly fees, and no ATM fees. N26, ING and DKB are the most popular ones, but there are many other options.

How to choose a German bank ➞ Banks with no monthly fees

Get a yearly public transit pass

  • Total savings: 247-477€ per year
  • Effort required: 1 hour

There are 3 ways to save money on public transit passes:

  • Get a subscription
    The pass is renewed automatically, and the money is taken from your bank account. You must cancel the subscription in advance.
  • Buy a yearly pass
    It's cheaper if you pay once per year, instead of every month.
  • Get a 10-Uhr-Karte
    The 10-Uhr-Karte is cheaper, but it does not work between 3AM and 10AM on weekdays.

Price comparison

TypeCost per monthCost per year
Monthly pass86€1032€
Yearly pass75.25€903€
Monthly pass, with subscription63.41€761€
Yearly pass, with subscription60.67€728€
10-Uhr-Karte, with monthly subscription45.48€547€
10-Uhr-Karte, with yearly subscription44.25€531€

Source: Ticket prices - July 2021

Related guide: The BVG's 10-Uhr-Karte

Move to a cheaper area

  • Total savings: 100-400€ per month
  • Effort required: a few weeks

You do not need to live in the centre of Berlin. There are many great neighbourhoods just outside the Ringbahn. I moved from Mitte to Pankow, and I save 400€ per month on rent.

Moving can cost a lot of money. You might need to repaint the old apartment, rent a moving truck, buy boxes, and buy new appliances. My last move cost me around 500€.

Related guides: