Find the Best German Bank Account for English Speakers – Comparison
Last update: 5 April 2021
You just arrived in Germany and need to open a bank account? This comparison will help you to find the best German bank account. Most of them are completely free of charge. For some of them you need a minimum incoming payment of a certain amount per month. And the best thing is that most of the bank accounts presented in this article come with online banking also in English which makes them ideal for expats or students who have just arrived to Germany.
Below you can find a summary of Top 3 German bank accounts, followed by a detailed overview of the best bank accounts with English online banking and bank accounts with online banking in German only. If you need help opening a bank account just leave a comment or send us a message via the contact form.
Vivid Money is the new rising star on the German banking market. They started to operate in Germany recently. And simply speaking… their product offering is just phenomenal! The bank account is completely free of charge, comes with a free metal Visa debit card and cash withdrawals of up to 200 EUR/month are also free of charge (above 200 EUR a 3% fee applies). For payments in foreign currencies there are no fees. With the Vivid bank account you can open up to 15 sub-accounts with an own IBAN. These sub-accounts can even be in foreign currencies and you can exchange up to 40 currencies at live exchange rates. On top of that you can earn up to 10% cashback (max. 20 EUR/month), simply by using Vivid for your everyday shopping (e.g. at Aldi, Starbucks, etc.). Needless to say, that they of course offer their online banking in English, German and French. That’s definitely one of the best bank accounts in Germany for foreigners. Here are the details in a nutshell:
Online banking in English, German & French Completely free of charge (no monthly/annual fees) Free metal Visa debit card No foreign transaction fees & free cash withdrawals Earn up to 20 EUR cashback per month Up to 15 sub-accounts with exchange at live exchange rates for 40 currencies Apple Pay & Google Pay supported Free cash withdrawals limited to 200 EUR/month
Unlike Vivid or N26, Commerzbank is a traditional bank with a lot of branch offices throughout Germany. The Commerzbank “Girokonto” is free of charge if you receive monthly incoming payments of at least 700 EUR, otherwise a monthly fee of 9.90 EUR applies. The Commerzbank account comes wiht a debit card with which you can withdraw money free of charge at CashGroup ATMs (Commerzbank, Deutsche Bank, HypoVereinsbank & Postbank). For cash withdrawals at non-CashGroup ATMs and ATMs outside of Germany a fee applies. A free Mastercard credit card is also part of the Commerzbank bank account package and the online banking portal is available in English. A big advantage compared to the N26 account is the fact that they have branch offices with staff that often speaks English. The main features:
Online banking portal in English & German Free of charge if you receive at least 700 EUR/month Free debit card (Girocard) and free credit card (Mastercard) Branch offices with personal advice (often in English) Open your account easily from your smartphone via VideoChat Apple Pay & Google Pay supported Free cash withdrawals only at CashGroup ATMs
N26 is a modern bank targeted at the tech-addicts amongst us. It offers an app-based bank account that comes with a lot of nice features. The N26 Standard bank account is completely free of charge and comes with a Mastercard debit card. You can withdraw cash at any ATM in the Eurozone free of charge up to five times per month if you receive payments of at least 1,000 EUR/month (e.g. salary, pension, student allowance or government benefits) for two consecutive months. If you do not qualify for this you still have three free cash withdrawals per month (any further withdrawals cost 2 EUR/withdrawal). Cash withdrawals outside of the Eurozone cost 1.7%.
The highlight is definitely the app that is available in German, English, Spanish, French & Italian and has very useful features. For example you get push notifications on your smartphone for all transactions on your bank account. Furthermore the app automatically categorizes your transactions so that you can easily keep track of your financials and you can set up sub-accounts (so-called “Spaces”) to put for example money aside. So definitely in our Top 3 of the best German bank accounts!
Banking app and support in English, German, Spanish, French & Italian Completely free of charge (no monthly fees) Free Mastercard debit card with contactless payment Up to five free cash withdrawals per month within the Eurozone Open your account easily from your smartphone via VideoChat Apple Pay & Google Pay supported Cash withdrawals outside of the Eurozone cost 1.7%
Tomorrow Bank is a new player on the market with a business model that is quite different to the one of traditional banks, as sustainability is their core value. Tomorrow Bank uses customer deposits to finance sustainable projects (e.g. microcredits) and every time you use your Tomorrow credit card, a portion of the so-called merchant fee (the fee that the merchant pays to the bank) is put into international climate protection projects by Tomorrow Bank. What makes this bank account in Germany even more attractive: It’s completely free of charge! There are no monthly/annual fees and the bank account comes with a free Visa debit card. You can withdraw cash from ATMs free of charge three times per month and there are no foreign exchange fees (e.g. if you pay in USD). Another great aspect of one of the best German bank account is the simple and intuitive banking app that is available in both German and English. Here is a short summary:
Completely free of charge – no monthly or annual fees Banking app available in German and English No foreign transaction fees – pay in any currency without paying fees Up to three free cash withdrawals per month Easy ID verification via VideoChat Cash withdrawals in foreign currencies cost 1.5%
Like Commerzbank, Deutsche Bank is also a traditional bank with a large network of branch offices in Germany. The Deutsche Bank “Das Junge Konto” is a bank account specifically for younger people as it is completely free of charge if you are a student and 30 years or younger. If you are not a student or older than 30 years the bank account costs 6.90 EUR/month (this account is called “AktivKonto”). The bank account comes with a free debit card and you can withdraw cash free of charge at CashGroup ATMs (Commerzbank, Deutsche Bank, HypoVereinsbank & Postbank). Furthermore Deutsche Bank has partner banks in more than 60 countries worldwide where you can also withdraw cash free of charge, which makes it one of the best bank accounts in Germany. Their online banking is also available in English and they often have English-speaking staff in their branch offices (especially in bigger cities). Here is a quick summary for the Deutsche Bank account:
Online banking portal in English Free of charge if you are a student and 30 or younger (otherwise 6.90 EUR/month) Free debit card with cash withdrawals free of charge at CashGroup ATMs Branch offices with personal advice (often in English) Open your account easily from your smartphone via VideoChat Apple Pay supported No credit card included (can be requested separately) Free cash withdrawals only at CashGroup ATMs
The ING bank account used to be completely free of charge. Unfortunately this has changed in May 2020… However the good news is that the bank account is still free of charge if you are younger than 28 years or if you receive a monthly payment of at least 700 EUR (for example your salary). Otherwise a monthly fee of 4,90 EUR applies. The bank account comes with a girocard debit card and a Visa debit card. You can withdraw cash free of charge from any ATM within the eurozone (minimum withdrawal 50 EUR). The “Girokonto” from ING comes with a very functional and clear online banking portal. In addition to that they have a very good banking app so that you can easily manage your account on your smartphone. Here are the main features of this best German bank account:
Free of charge if you are younger than 28 years or if you receive at least 700 EUR/month Free debit card and free credit card with contactless payment (Visa) Free cash withdrawal in the eurozone Easy-to-use banking portal and app Open your account easily from your smartphone via VideoChat Apple Pay & Google Pay supported Foreign transaction fee and cash withdrawals outside of the Eurozone: 1.75% Online banking only in German
The “DKB-Cash“ bank account is one of the best German bank accounts in terms of the conditions offered. You get a debit card (girocard) and a credit card (Visa) completely free of charge. Furthermore you can withdraw cash from any ATM worldwide free of charge if you are a so-called “active customer”. Active customers are customers that receive payments of at least 700 EUR per month onto their account. Active customers also do not pay a foreign transaction fee if you pay with the credit card in a currency other than Euro (e.g. if you pay in dollars).
If you are not an “active customer”, i.e. you do not receive payments of at least 700 EUR/month, the conditions of “DKB-Cash” are still very good. The only difference is that you can withdraw cash for free only in the eurozone (outside you pay a fee of 1.75%) and for payments in a currency other than Euro you pay a foreign transaction fee of 1.75%. And the good news is, that all customers are classified as “active customers” in the first year after account opening.
So as you can see, the “DKB-Cash” bank account is probably one of the best German bank accounts as it is completely free of charge and you’re very flexible due to the possibility to withdraw cash free of charge at any ATM. You can find the main features of this best bank in Germany for expats in a nutshell below:
Completely free of charge (no monthly fees) Free debit card and free credit card with contactless payment (Visa) Free cash withdrawal worldwide (for “passive customers” only within the eurozone) No foreign transaction fee (for “passive customers” 1.75%) Open your account easily from your smartphone via VideoChat Apple Pay & Google Pay supported Online banking only in German
As many banks, comdirect has also changed their pricing model recently. One of the best German bank accounts is now free of charge if you are younger than 28 years or if you receive a monthly payment of at least 700 EUR. Furthermore there are no monthly fees if you have at least three monthly transactions via Apple Pay or Google Pay or if you are using the comdirect broker account for at least one trade per month (this includes savings plans). If you do not fulfill at least one of these conditions you’ll have to pay a monthly fee of 4.90 EUR. The comdirect bank account comes with a girocard debit card and a Visa debit card. Cash withdrawals are worldwide free of charge, but it’s a bit trickier: With your girocard you can withdraw cash free of charge at Cash Group ATMs (Commerzbank, Deutsche Bank, HypoVereinsbank & Postbank). With your Visa debit card you can withdraw cash free of charge up to three times per month at any ATM worldwide (including Germany). For any further withdrawal with your Visa debit card, a transaction fee of 4.90 EUR/withdrawal applies. Optionally you can order a “real” Visa credit card for 1.90 EUR/month. A very useful feature is the so-called “Finanzmanager”. This tool within the online banking portal automatically categorizes your transactions so that you can easily keep track of your financials. Here’s a summary:
Free of charge if you are younger than 28 years or if you receive at least 700 EUR/month Free debit cards included (girocard & Visa card) Free cash withdrawals worldwide (3x per month) Personal Finance manager – automatically categorizes your transactions Open your account easily from your smartphone via VideoChat Apple Pay & Google Pay supported Foreign transaction fee of 1.75% applies for payments in foreign currencies Online banking only in German
Everyone’s needs are different, but expats generally need a banking experience that is quick, easy, and doesn’t require too much paperwork. Based on this assumption, a digital bank is probably best for expats who are new to Germany.
This is because digital banks are app-based and almost always offer a free rate tier. Also, some digital banks, such as Berlin-based N26, allow you to open an account with just a passport before you arrive in Germany – no registration is required! They also usually offer support in multiple languages, both within the app and for customer service. If you need to open a business account in Germany, there are some other banks we recommend.
How can I open a German bank account?
As a private individual, you need the documents required by law, which the account holder must use to prove his or her identity to the bank holding the account. At the house bank, the presentation of an identity card is therefore sufficient. Persons with a foreign passport also need a residence permit.
Business customers, on the other hand, must present more extensive documents. The type and scope of these documents vary depending on the legal form of the company. The banks also require one or more current salary statements.
To open an online Giro account, with your preferred best German bank account, the printed Giro account application documents and the identity card or passport with registration certificate are required. Together with these documents, applicants must identify themselves at a post office using the PostIdent procedure or carry out the paperless VideoIdent procedure on a smartphone or computer, which almost all banks now offer.
You need these documents to open your chosen best German bank account:
The application form (filled in with full accuracy).
Valid passport, current German residence permit or visa.
Proof of registration / registration certificate.
Proof of status (whether you are employed or a student).
Initial deposit (depending on the minimum amount required by the bank).
SCHUFA credit rating (optional depending on the chosen bank).
Most popular bank accounts in Germany
According to survey results, Sparkasse remains the most popular bank among Germans. Nevertheless, in recent years, it has lost considerable ground in terms of customer numbers for salary and current accounts.
The statistics portal Statista surveyed the most popular banks in Germany. Here are the results. The survey specifically referred to the most popular banks for maintaining a checking account or salary account in the years 2014 to 2018. But for expats or foreigners, the best German bank accounts we listed above are much more preferable.
Sparkasse: 32,62 million customers
Volksbank/Raiffeisenbank: 13,85 million customers
ING-DiBa: 8,75 million customers
Postbank: 7,07 million customers
Deutsche Bank: 4,77 million customers
Commerzbank: 4,46 million customers
DKB: 4,07 million customers
comdirect: 2,41 million customers
Why do you need a German bank account?
Here are 10 benefits of the best bank accounts in Germany:
1. Efficient banks
Germany is the economic core of Europe. Diligence, efficiency, and constant development characterize the German economy. This is especially true of the financial economy, as online bank accounts are often free of charge (see point 2).
2. Free bank account
One of the best things is, a German bank account (as we recommend) is free of charge for the customer! The online branches of German banks are so efficient that there are usually no account maintenance or transfer fees. Also, many other fees that exist in other countries have already been abolished in Germany.
3. Service around the clock
You can access a German bank account at any time via internet banking, telephone or mail. The top recommendations on this portal can be reached by phone 24 hours a day from Monday to Sunday – free of charge, apart from the normal telephone charges of your telephone provider. If you wish, the German bank will also call you back. Many banks are available around the clock!
4. Interest on your balance and still available at any time (no notice periods)
You can dispose of deposits on your current account or savings account (Comdirect: Tagesgeld; DKB Visa Sparen) at any time. You start a transfer back to your bank account or withdraw your money at an ATM, no matter where you are (see points 5. and 6.)
5. Free Visa Card or Mastercard
With your best German bank account, you will receive a Visa Card or Mastercard. This is free of charge in any case. There is neither an issuing fee nor an annual fee.
6. Withdraw cash worldwide free of charge
With the Visa Card or Mastercard you can withdraw cash free of charge at any ATM worldwide (Comdirect: within Germany please use Girocard).
If the ATM charges a local fee, which is a regular occurrence in the USA, Canada, Mexico and Thailand, this will be reimbursed by some German banks upon request. Cash withdrawals in countries with a currency other than Euro are no problem, the exchange rates of the German banks are first class and fair worldwide!
7. Transfers in other currencies possible, fair exchange rates
The bank account is kept in Euro. Money receipts with other currencies are converted at very fair exchange rates. Foreign transfers are possible in other currencies, such as US dollars or Swiss francs. Here, too, the exchange rates are very fair.
8. Super fast transfers
Transfers in the SEPA area are posted from one account to the other on the same day, at the latest the next day. A transfer from Berlin to Madrid is just as fast as a transfer from Barcelona to Madrid. At the German bank, the execution costs nothing.
9. Use as a house bank in the Eurozone possible thanks to IBAN
Thanks to the Single European Payments Area, all citizens in the Eurozone can use their best German bank account as a house bank account or salary account. Since 2014, all SEPA countries work with the IBAN. Depending on the country of origin, you can save over 200 euros in bank fees if you use a German account.
10. Account balance is safe in Germany
Money in German banks is safe. In Germany, there is a statutory deposit guarantee of 100,000 euros per person per account.
Some banks we reported on here have an additional voluntary deposit guarantee that protects sums in the hundreds of millions (Comdirect Bank) or even unlimited amounts (DKB).
DKB is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bayerische Landesbank and thus belongs to the German state of Bavaria. Bavaria is the most financially successful state in Germany and this Bavarian state stands behind the bank and its customer deposits.
What are possible fees with a German bank account?
Your checking account fees can become real cost traps. It’s not easy to keep track of all the different costs that come with account usage. We show you the most common account management fees.
Cost trap 1 – Hidden account fees in the fine print: The small print often contains the annual account fees, e.g. the amount of the overdraft interest as well as the costs for an overdraft facility.
Cost trap 2 – Overdraft interest and overdraft facility: Overdraft interest is what bank customers pay when they overdraw their checking accounts.
Cost trap 3 – Fees for cash deposits or withdrawals: Cash deposits, as well as withdrawals to one’s account, may be subject to an account fee.
Cost trap 4 – Account fees for account statements: A bank is required by law to inform the account holder once a month about the payment transactions on his account. But with our listed best German bank accounts, these traps are unlikely to occur.
Summary – Best German Bank Account
We hope that this summary will help you to find the best German bank account. As mentioned above, please feel free to post a comment to this post or send a message via the contact form if you need further help. Please note that most of the above banks are charging a deposit fee of 0.5% p.a. for balances exceeding 50,000 EUR or 100,000 EUR (check the conditions of the respective banks).
If you are having trouble opening a regular bank account in Germany, check out this article on how to open a basic payment account. Everyone legally residing in the European Union is entitled to have such an account.