Credit Cards In Germany For Expats (2024 Guide)

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Even though cash payments are still the most popular form of payment in Germany, having a credit card can be advantageous and even necessary in some circumstances. As an expat, to avoid getting tricked into an expensive credit card from your German bank or ending up with unnecessary foreign exchange fees, we are here to guide you to the best credit cards in Germany.

  1. Deposits and Large Payments: Car rental companies will request a deposit to cover potential damages whether you are renting a vehicle in Germany or overseas. Car rental companies do not always accept debit cards. Unexpectedly high medical bills following an accident, particularly when they occur overseas, frequently necessitate a credit card with a higher credit limit. In New York City, I tore a ligament in my ankle while studying. I had to pay roughly US$2,000 for the x-ray, ultrasound, and doctor’s visit. I was glad I carried a credit card to pay for those expenses.
  2. International Payments: Whether travelling for work or vacation, using your German girocard to make purchases overseas will cost you a lot of money or possibly not be accepted at all. Internationally, credit cards are widely accepted. 
  3. Money Withdrawal Abroad: When travelling abroad, it is always convenient to have at least some cash on hand. You can make cash withdrawals from any ATM in the world using a credit card.

Quick Comparison of The Best Free Credit Cards In Germany

In this complete 2024 guide, we will compare the best credit cards in Germany for expats; here is a quick summary: Advanzia Gebührenfrei Mastercard – easy to get and worldwide free usage, however with some hidden interest rates on some cash withdrawals.
Advanzia Mastercard Gold
PAYBACK American Express Card – the only free Amex card with great benefits to collect PAYBACK points; however, with chargeable for cash withdrawals and foreign payments.
American Express Payback Card

Benefits of PAYBACK American Express card

  • The advantages of the PAYBACK American Express card:Get PAYBACK extra points at the start 1
  • Permanently free of contributions
  • Receive 1 point for every 2 euros spent with every card payment, even outside of PAYBACK Partner 2
  • Additionally receive regular points from all PAYBACK partners
  • 1 additional card free of charge
  • No expiration of points 3
  • Extended return policy for your purchases – even online
  • Personal telephone service 24/7
 

Requirements For A Payback American Express Card and Advanzia Mastercard Gold:

  • you are 18 years or older
  • you are registered in Germany
  • you receive a regular monthly income
  • you have a German mobile phone number
  • you have a German bank account
  • you have a valid passport
  • for non-EU nationals: valid residence permit
  • you have a good SCHUFA score (credit history)

Credit Card Comparison Table for Expats:

 AdvanziaPAYBACK American Express Card
 Type Of Credit CardRevolvingCharge
 English Website & SupportYesYes
Banking App in EnglishYesNo
No Annual FeeYesYes
Not Tied to A Specific Bank AccountYesYes
Apple & Google PayYesYes
No Cash Withdrawal FeeYes (but 24,69% interest fee after cash withdrawal) 4% (min. €5)
No Foreign Currency Feethere is a hidden fee in the exchange rate2%
Annual Interest Rate24,69%5% on top of the basic rate of interest set by the ECB on late payments

After reading this complete guide, you will have a better understanding of why getting one or even two credit cards is crucial and you will be able to pick the right free credit card in Germany as per your needs.

Now, you can easily compare the credit cards. Click here to calculate and compare the credit cards. COMPARISON CALCULATOR

For frequent travellers and people searching for lounge access across the globe , Amex has a few different options
 
The American Express Card

The classic from American Express – worry-free travel with travel comfort insurance

  • Only 5 euros per month including 1 additional card
  • permanently free of charge if you use the card regularly
  • 90-day return policy, online and offline
  • Bonus program Membership Rewards® points (1 euro = 1 point)
  • personal 24 hour telephone service

American Express Multi Card Page

The Gold Card

The right card for frequent travellers – Bring gold into your life.

  • 72 euros starting credit
  • Alternatively, 20,000 Membership Rewards points can be redeemed as a welcome gift with card sales of 3,000 euros or more within the first 6 months, e.g. in Amazon.de vouchers worth 75 euros
  • Travel comfort package including travel cancellation costs, international health insurance, luggage and travel accident insurance
  • Selected special conditions at Sixt, for the Golf Fee Card and the Priority Pass for more than 850 Airport VIP Lounges
  • Membership Rewards® bonus program included (1 euro = 1 point)

American Express Gold Card - Startguthaben

The Platinum Card

The card for the highest demands

  • Personal Platinum Card travel & lifestyle service
  • 100 euros starting credit or 30,000 Membership Rewards points as a welcome gift, with card sales of at least 6,000 euros within the first 6 months
  • Comprehensive travel insurance package for the whole family
  • Access to over 850 Airport VIP Lounges worldwide with the Priority PassTM for the cardholder and the Platinum additional cardholder
  • Exclusive tickets and events from the areas of gourmet, entertainment & culture, sports and fashion
  • Platinum Card additional card, e.g. B. for partners

American Express Platinum Card - Startguthaben

Types of Credit Cards in Germany

When purchasing in Germany, it is common to hear someone inquire, “Kann ich mit Karte zahlen?” This usually refers to using a debit or Girocard instead of a credit card. In Germany, the word “credit card” (Kreditkarte) is frequently used to refer to a variety of services. These four types of credit cards are available in Germany.

      1. Charge Credit Card: In Germany, charge credit cards are the most popular kind of credit card. It collects all your payments in 30 days. You will receive a credit card statement at the end of those 30 days, and your linked bank account will be debited for the full amount. If there are insufficient funds in your bank account, you will experience an overdraft on your balance. Overdraft interest rates are lower than those of revolving credit cards. The process may appear strange to you because it does not give you credit. Charge credit cards are typically issued by conventional banks like Deutsche Bank or Commerzbank.
      2. Revolving Credit Card: Most likely, the revolving credit card better suits your definition of a credit card, as it allows you actual credit, let us say of 2.500 euros. Every purchase you make is reduced from that allowance. At the end of the month, you will receive your credit card bill which will include all amounts of purchases. You will not be charged interest if you choose to wire transfer the entire amount from your bank account at that point. Despite this, most revolving credit card issuers allow you to pay in instalments in return for high interest rates on the outstanding balance.
      3. Debit Card: Even though we are aware that a debit card is not the same as a credit card, we still want to bring it up because, in Germany, debit cards are the most widely used kind of banking card. Mobile banks such as N26 only provide debit cards; they do not offer credit cards. Every purchase made with a debit card will automatically come out of your bank account. This can happen instantly or over a day, depending on your bank. As a result, you do not have a “true” credit.

    1. Prepaid Credit Card: A prepaid credit card is only valid if you transfer money from your checking account before use. This is great for controlling your spending or setting yourself a budget; however, you do not have a ‘true’ credit. A prepaid credit card is also a great option in case you do not have a SCHUFA score yet or your score is bad. For more information, read our guide below.

Here are a few good reasons to have a prepaid credit card in Germany: The reasons to have a prepaid credit card are not any different from why it is good to have a regular credit card. 

International Payments

You can make purchases outside of the Eurozone with a credit card. If you have a regular German bank account, the old-fashioned German giro card you receive will either not be accepted or cost you a lot of money.

Money Withdrawal Abroad

Depending on what country you are travelling to, you should carry some cash with you. With a credit card, you can withdraw cash at any ATM worldwide.

Online Payments

You may need to use a debit or credit card when shopping online, depending on the product and online retailer you choose.

Consumer Protection

If a payment was made with a false or fraudulent amount, you have up to eight weeks to request that your credit card company reverse it. There are fewer opportunities for you to remember to make the payment when you pay by direct debit.

Theft Protection

While it feels bad, when you get robbed or lose your credit card, a prepaid credit card has the benefit that the balance and possible fraudulent use are capped to the balance on the card. Depending on the credit limit on your card, potential misuse of a regular credit card could result in more significant financial harm.

Deposits and Large Payments

Suppose you would like to rent a car in Germany or overseas. Only in cases where you can provide a credit card for the deposit is it feasible. You must first wire sufficient funds onto your prepaid credit card to use it for these kinds of transactions. When there was enough money on the card, I was able to use it to rent a car. However, you should check with the rental company beforehand because sometimes the cards are rejected.

How to Increase Your Credit Card Limit?

When you get a credit card, you get a set limit. This limit is usually based on an algorithm that takes all your personal information, income, Schufa score, and other factors into notice. Sometimes this limit can be relatively low.

Frequent use of the card is the best way to raise your limit. After a few months, if your salary exceeds your limit, you can contact customer service and submit your last three payslips as proof that you can manage a higher limit. In our experience, using this method allowed for a limit increase.

Conclusion

The Advanzia Mastercard Gold, also known as Gebührenfrei Mastercard, has been playing a big role in the market, and it is the best credit card for expats in Germany. If one needs a credit card with a rewards program, the PAYBACK American Express Card is a great option. Every card in this comparison has advantages  and disadvantages; the best choice for you will rely on your expected usage (frequency, duration, balance, etc.).

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Disclaimer

This article might contain some affiliated links, where we earn anywhere from a few cents to a few Euros,and don’t cost you an extra cent. Our recommendations remain unbiased although, and are based on a combination of market research and own experience.

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