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 must be cancelled 3 months before they expire.

Pay less for health insurance

Health insurance is often your second biggest expense, after rent. There are many ways to pay less for health insurance. My health insurance calculator shows you what options you have.

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.

This only works in certain cases. For example, if you are a student from another EU country, or if you are unemployed.

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 up to 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 Künstlersozialkasse (KSK)

  • Total savings: 90-450€ 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, and half of your public pension 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

You might be paying too much rent. The Mietpreisbremse limits how much your landlord can charge for rent. If your rent is above the legal limit, you can hire a lawyer and get it reduced.

Conny is a company that helps people reduce their rent. My review of Conny explains how it works. Your tenant's association can also help you with this.

How to check if your rent is too high ➞

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 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-Karte63€756€
10-Uhr-Karte, with monthly subscription45.48€547€
10-Uhr-Karte, with yearly subscription44.25€531€

Source: Ticket prices - July 2021

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. That's almost 5,000€ per year!

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€.

How to find an apartment in Berlin ➞

Combine your insurance policies

  • Total savings: varies
  • Effort required: varies

If you get all of your insurances from the same company, you usually pay less1, 2. Some companies offer combined insurance policies that include liability and household insurance1.

There is one exception: legal insurance (Rechtsschutzversicherung). Do not get your legal insurance from the same company as your other insurances. If you have a problem with your other insurances, you will sue the same company that sold you legal insurance. They might refuse to help you1.

How to choose legal insurance ➞

Pay yearly, not monthly

  • Total savings: 10-100€ per year
  • Effort required: none

Car insurance, liability insurance and most memberships are cheaper if you pay 1 year in advance, instead of every month1, 2. You get the same service, but you pay less.

Related guides: