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Opening a Bank Account

Once you have secured a job, found a home, and completed many of the other tasks that are necessary for completing a move, you will probably want to open an account with a German bank.

Opening a bank account in Germany is fairly easy. The websites of the major banks allow you to apply online or remotely. However, it is far easier and faster to apply at a brank bank office than to apply online. This is especially true for those migrating to Germany as some of the necessary documents can only be obtained in Germany.

Documentation Needed

Generally you only need your passport or national identity card (for EU citizens) and your proof of registration. The proof of registration is called Meldebescheinigung. (All German residents are required to register their address.)  Some banks will ask for a copy of your pay slip, or a statement from your employer.

Types of Banks

German banks fall into three basic categories; private, cooperative, and public access.  All provide basically the same services such as basic personal accounts and business banking services.

Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank, Hypovereinsbank, and Postbank are the four largest banks in Germany. These banks cooperated to form The Cash Group for some services.  Deutsche Bank is by far the largest and one of the more important business banks in the world.

Types of Services and Fees

All of the Cash Group banks as well as the other banks offer a variety of services based on the client’s needs. This includes accounts with debit cards, credit cards, online bill pay, travel insurance or a number of other perks.

A basic account that includes a debit card and online banking is typically offered free of charge at most German banks.  For additional services, such as travel insurance or other perks, it is necessary to open a premium account which carries a monthly fee.  The fee can be from €5 to €10 per month.

The members of the Cash Group offer free ATM withdrawals if you bank at any one of the four and use Cash Group  ATM machines. The fees for using  non-Cash Group ATMs can be as high as €5 per withdrawal.

The banks also offer other services including money transfers and sometimes “free” foreign ATM transactions.  Here is one area where it really pays to do some research. For decades banks have over charged customers who were sending money back home to family, to pay bills, or to pay for business expenses.  Often customers pay even more due to the banks using unfavourable foreign exchange rates.

Now that they are facing stiff competition from companies such as TransferGo, banks are attempting to mislead customers. For example banks offering “commission free” international transfers typically have some of the worst foreign exchange rates around, the same can be said for “no fee” foreign ATM transactions.

The best advice is to find a bank that is convenient and which offers all of the amenities you want either at no or reasonable fee. For your international money transfers depend on TransferGo for low cost, fixed exchange rate transfer.

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