The Ultimate Guide to Picking the Right German Bank Account for Expats 2024

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In this article, we will explore the different banking options available to newcomers in Germany, with the goal of helping you find the right german bank account for expats to suit your needs. Our recommendations are based on real-life experiences and comprehensive reviews of the banks mentioned and are unbiased.

Best German Bank Accounts Overview  

Here is a list of the best bank accounts in Germany that offer service in English, no ATM fees, no monthly fees (unless specified), free payment cards, and a fully digital sign-up process: 

  1. N26*: N26 remains the top choice for most newcomers to Germany. It offers excellent value for money and a user-friendly interface. The only drawbacks are occasional issues with customer support and eligibility restrictions for certain nationalities. 
  2. Tomorrow*: If you prioritize eco-consciousness, Tomorrow is an excellent option. It provides similar features to N26, along with a focus on funding climate-friendly projects. However, it may have fewer features compared to other banks. 
  3. Deutsche Bank*: For those who prefer traditional brick-and-mortar banking, Deutsche Bank is the best option. While it does come with fees starting at 6.90€ per month, it is the only traditional bank that offers English service and allows you to open an account from abroad. 
  4. DKB*: Considered by many as the best bank account in Germany, DKB offers a wide range of features, low fees, and the only truly free credit card on the market. The main drawbacks are the lack of English support and an outdated app. 
  5. C24*: The new kid on the block trying to shake up the banking landscape in Germany. Being market leader in the comparison sites, this bank will give you bang for the buck , especially while parking your money there.
  6. Commerzbank*: Commerzbank is another established option for banking in Germany. With a wide network of branches and English support, Commerzbank offers traditional banking services with a personal touch. It provides various account options tailored to different needs, making it a reliable choice for those seeking a more conventional banking experience.

The Best German Bank Account for Most People 

N26

N26* still holds the top position as the best bank account for most newcomers to Germany. Despite some initial challenges, N26* continues to provide a seamless banking experience at a competitive price. While customer support may occasionally fall short, the overall value delivered by N26* remains strong. 

Personally, I have been using and a satisfied N26 customer for several years now, both in Germany and abroad. Many people in Facebook groups and forums also recommend N26 when seeking banking recommendations.  

A few pros of N26* are listed below: 

  • Super low fees, including a free standard account, free Mastercard, and free use of ATMs worldwide. 
  • User-friendly interface and support available in multiple languages, including English, French, Italian, and Spanish. 
  • No requirement for a registered address in Germany (Anmeldung) in most cases. 
  • Easy account closure process. 
  • Quick delivery of cards within 2-3 days. 

Reasons why N26* might not be suitable for you: 

  • Your passport or ID card may not be supported for identity verification. N26 relies on a service provider for identity verification, and some countries’ passports may not be recognized. o/j
  • Certain nationalities may face eligibility restrictions due to regulatory requirements. 
  • Limited customer support availability and occasional delays in response times. 

An Eco-Friendly Option: Tomorrow 

If sustainability is a top priority for you, Tomorrow* is an excellent choice. It offers a modern banking experience while focusing on funding environmentally friendly projects. Here are some key features of Tomorrow: 

  • Carbon-neutral banking: Tomorrow* calculates and offsets its CO2 emissions to support climate projects. 
  • Ethical investments: Tomorrow* invests in projects that align with its sustainable values, promoting a positive impact on the environment and society. 
  • Transparent impact reporting: Tomorrow provides regular updates on the positive effects of its customers’ banking activities. 

Although Tomorrow* provides a solid banking experience, it’s important to note that it may not offer as many features as other banks on this list. However, if sustainability is a core value for you, Tomorrow’s commitment to environmental causes makes it a compelling option. 

Traditional Banking with English Service: Deutsche Bank 

For individuals who prefer the familiarity of traditional banking and value the option of in-person support, Deutsche Bank* is the best choice. While it does come with monthly fees starting at 6.90€, it is the only traditional bank in Germany that offers English service and allows you to open an account from abroad. Key features of Deutsche Bank* include: 

  • Physical branch presence: Deutsche Bank* has numerous branches throughout Germany, providing the convenience of in-person banking services. 
  • English-speaking customer service: Deutsche Bank* offers English support, making it easier for non-German speakers to communicate their banking needs. 
  • Account opening from abroad: You can initiate the account opening process with Deutsche Bank before arriving in Germany, simplifying the transition. 

It’s important to consider the associated fees when choosing Deutsche Bank*, as it may not be the most cost-effective option for everyone. However, if you prioritize traditional banking services and the assurance of in-person support, Deutsche Bank is worth considering. 

DKB: A Popular Choice for Many 

DKB* is highly regarded among expats and German residents alike, offering a wide range of features and benefits. While it may not have English support and its app interface is considered outdated by some, DKB* is still a strong contender for the best bank account in Germany. Here’s what makes DKB* stand out: 

  • Extensive features: DKB provides various banking services, including a free credit card with no foreign transaction fees, free cash withdrawals worldwide, and a mobile banking app. 
  • No account management fees: DKB offers its bank account for free, allowing you to save on monthly fees. 
  • Attractive interest rates: DKB provides an attractive interest rate on its credit card balance and a modest interest rate on its current account. 

It’s worth noting that DKB primarily focuses on the German market, so you may encounter some limitations if you require extensive English support or if you frequently conduct international transactions. However, DKB’s overall package of features and benefits makes it a popular choice among many residents in Germany. 

C24: The new kid on the block

With Check24* going into the banking, they have shaken up the banking world a bit. They are predominantly know as a comparison site, e.g. for gas,* electricity* and internet* and recently came up with their own banking solution as well. C24* doesn’t do anything different – but still do:

  • Cashback: For all card transactions you receive a percentage cashback of between 0.05 – 2.5%. The cashback can generate up to €100 per month. (as of 06.10.2024)
  • Apple Pay and Google Pay: The C24 Mastercard can be used with both mobile payment services for smartphones.
  • Virtual credit card: A virtual credit card is available free of charge with active account use (at least 2 direct debits per month, e.g. gym). Each additional virtual credit card costs €1.90 once for the fee-free account model “C24 Smart”.
  • 4 free sub-accounts: The 4 pockets, which are sub-accounts that function like a digital piggy bank, are particularly suitable for saving.

C24*, as a banking partner is focussed on the German market, hence there are fees for using the ATM outside of the EU zone. 

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Commerzbank: A Reliable Choice for Conventional Banking

Commerzbank stands out as a reliable choice for those seeking traditional banking services in Germany. With a strong presence and a history of providing comprehensive financial solutions, Commerzbank offers various account options tailored to different needs. Some key features of Commerzbank include:

  • Extensive branch network: Commerzbank has a wide network of branches across Germany, providing convenient access to in-person banking services.
  • English support: Commerzbank offers support in English, catering to the needs of non-German speakers.
  • Diverse account options: Commerzbank provides a range of account choices, allowing customers to select the one that best suits their requirements.
  • Young adults upto the age of 27 also have a possibility of opening a bank account with Commerzbank
While Commerzbank may not offer the same level of digital innovation as some newer banks, its commitment to personalized service and established reputation make it a solid option for individuals seeking a more traditional banking experience in Germany.
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Choosing the Right Bank Account for You

Selecting the best bank account in Germany depends on your specific needs, priorities, and preferences. Consider factors such as account fees, customer support availability, language support, sustainability initiatives, and the convenience of physical branches.  To make an informed decision, research each bank thoroughly, explore their websites, and compare their features, benefits, and potential drawbacks. Additionally, reading customer reviews and seeking advice from other expats or residents can provide valuable insights into their experiences with different banks.  Remember that everyone’s banking needs differ, so it’s essential to prioritize the features that matter most to you. By choosing the right bank account, you can enhance your financial management experience and simplify your banking transactions in Germany. 

Comparison of the Best Bank Accounts in Germany 

To help you make an informed decision, here’s a brief comparison of the best bank accounts mentioned above: 
BankKey FeaturesConsiderations
N26*Digital banking experience, ease of use English Support Limited customer support, ID verification restrictions
Tomorrow*Focus on sustainability, ethical investments Limited features compared to other banks
Deutsche Bank*Traditional banking, English service Monthly fees, may not be cost-effective for everyone
DKB*Extensive features, no account management fees Limited English support, primarily focused on Germany
C24*0€ annual fee for Mastercard and account; 100% online applicationWithdrawals outside the Eurozone cost €2 + 1.75%
Each bank offers unique features and benefits, catering to different needs and preferences. Consider the factors that matter most to you, such as digital convenience, sustainability, language support, and international usability. 

Process of Opening a Bank Account in Germany: 

  1. Research and Choose a Bank: Start by researching different banks in Germany and comparing their account options, fees, and services. Consider whether you prefer a traditional brick-and-mortar bank or an online bank. (Read on for a comparison of the pros and cons of both.) 
  2. Gather the Required Documents: The following documents are typically required to open a bank account in Germany: 
  • Valid passport or national ID card 
  • Proof of residency in Germany (e.g., rental agreement or utility bill) 
  • Proof of income or employment (e.g., employment contract or pay slips) 
  • Anmeldung certificate (proof of registration with the local authorities) depending on the bank, additional documents may be required. 
  • Schedule an Appointment: Contact your chosen bank and schedule an appointment to open an account. This can usually be done over the phone, through the bank’s website, or by visiting a branch in person.
3. Attend the Appointment: Visit the bank at the scheduled time with all the required documents. A bank representative will guide you through the account opening process, explain the terms and conditions, and help you choose the appropriate account type. 4. Complete the Application: Fill out the necessary application forms provided by the bank. You may need to provide personal information, such as your full name, date of birth, address, and contact details.  5. Provide the Required Documents: Submit the required documents to the bank representative for verification. They may make photocopies or scans for their records.  6. Initial Deposit: Some banks may require an initial deposit to activate your account. The minimum deposit amount varies depending on the bank and the type of account you choose.  7. Account Activation: Once all the necessary steps are completed, your bank account will be activated, and you will receive your account details, including your IBAN (International Bank Account Number) and BIC (Bank Identifier Code). 

Brick-and-Mortar Traditional Banks vs. Online Banks: Pros and Cons 

Brick-and-Mortar Traditional Banks: 

Pros

  • Physical Branches: Traditional banks have physical branches, allowing for in-person customer service and assistance. 
  • Face-to-Face Interaction: You can discuss complex financial matters and receive personalized advice from bank staff. 
  • Wide ATM Network: Traditional banks usually have a vast network of ATMs, making cash withdrawals convenient. 

Cons: 

  • Limited Operating Hours: Branches have specific opening hours, which may not always align with your schedule. 
  • Higher Fees: Traditional banks often charge higher fees for services and transactions compared to online banks. 
  • Paperwork and Documentation: Opening an account or performing transactions may require more paperwork and documentation. 

Online Banks: 

Pros: 

  • Convenience: Online banks offer 24/7 access to your accounts and transactions, allowing you to manage your finances at any time. 
  • Lower Fees: Online banks generally have lower fees or even offer free accounts with no monthly maintenance charges. 
  • Easy Account Setup: Opening an account with an online bank is usually quick and straightforward, often requiring minimal documentation. 

Cons: 

  • Lack of Physical Presence: Online banks do not have physical branches, which means limited or no in-person customer support. 
  • Limited Cash Services: Online banks may have a smaller ATM network or require you to use partner ATMs for cash withdrawals. 
  • Tech Dependence: Accessing and managing your account requires a stable internet connection and familiarity with online banking platforms. 

How to Transfer Money to your New Account 

Initially, when you reach here, you might have certain significant payments to be made like a security deposit for your accommodation or fees to your university or showing sufficient balance for your visa application etc. In such cases, you might be looking for ways to transfer some of your savings from your home country to the new German account you have now opened. But do keep in mind, that most Banks charge high international transfer/conversion fees! For example, if you are looking to transfer around say 4000 Euros, you might end up paying almost 200 Euros as a conversion fee!!!   In such cases, We recommend the services of remittance providers such as Wise, Remitly or Xe. Each one has their pros and cons, so chose the one that suits you best, which help you to make international money transfers with much lower fees, transparency and ease of use, unlike traditional banks which might have hidden fees etc applicable. Read more

FAQs

Yes, many banks in Germany allow non-residents and expats to open bank accounts. However, the requirements and documentation may vary, so it’s best to check with the specific bank you’re interested in.

Yes, most banks in Germany require a German address for account registration. However, some online banks like N26 may offer alternatives for address verification.

Some banks charge monthly fees for their bank accounts, while others offer free accounts. It’s important to check the fee structure and consider whether the features and benefits justify the cost. Most of them offer a free account if your monthly deposits are over 700 Euros

Many banks in Germany offer credit cards as part of their account packages. However, the availability and conditions for obtaining a credit card may vary among banks. Some could be included in the package and one has to pay extra for the others.

Yes, most banks in Germany provide online banking services, allowing you to manage your account, transfer funds, pay bills, and perform other transactions conveniently from your computer or mobile device.

Yes, you can provide your German bank account details to your employer to receive your salary through direct deposit. This is a common and convenient practice in Germany.

A Girokonto is a current account that offers day-to-day banking services like payments, transfers, and ATM withdrawals. A Sparkonto, on the other hand, is a savings account that allows you to earn interest on your deposits while keeping the funds separate from your regular spending.

Yes, in Germany, bank deposits up to €100,000 per person and per bank are protected by the statutory deposit insurance scheme provided by Entschädigungseinrichtung deutscher Banken (EdB).

Yes, switching banks in Germany is possible and regulated by the German Payment Services Oversight Act. You can initiate a bank account transfer process to move your accounts, direct debits, and standing orders to the new bank.

Generally, there are no age restrictions for opening a bank account in Germany. However, minors may require additional documentation and parental consent.

Yes, you can use your German bank account for international transactions. Most banks offer SEPA transfers for Eurozone countries, and some banks provide additional services like international wire transfers and multi-currency accounts.

In case of a lost or stolen bank card, it’s essential to contact your bank immediately to block the card and prevent unauthorized access. Most banks have 24/7 helplines for such situations.

Yes, most banks mentioned in this article will accept you as a client even if you don’t have a SCHUFA record in Germany. However, there may be a few exceptions, so it’s advisable to check with the specific bank you intend to open an account with.

PostIdent is an identification verification service offered by the German postal services. It allows you to verify your identity at a local post branch on behalf of the bank that requires verification. To utilize this service, you will need to provide the reference number or code given to you by your bank, along with your identification document. PostIdent supports almost all forms of identification and serves as a convenient alternative if you are unable to undergo verification through an app or webcam. Best of all, this service is free for you to use.

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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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