Last updated: 9th of June 2016
Banking in Germany generally isn’t free – some banks even go as far as charging you the 0,70€ for a stamp if they need to post you a letter or statement. You can reduce the amount you have to pay by fulfilling certain conditions, like paying your salary into the bank account every month, and always printing out your statements rather than leaving it to them to post to you, but with some banks, there are no ways to avoid charges completely.
Other banks are free of fees, but they are mostly online, so you have no way of going to see someone if something goes wrong, and may have no easy way to pay money in if you need to. So think carefully about which option is easiest (probably based on how good your German is, and how happy you’d be to talk to someone on the phone or via email if there’s a problem).
Remember that you can always open an fee paying account for a short time and change later – you’re not stuck with anyone for ever!
Most people will want a Girokonto (a checking account or current account in English), which will come with a bank card. You could also get a savings account (Tagesgeldkonto), but rates at most banks are very poor, and you would be better off checking https://www.check24.de/tagesgeld/ to find the best savings rates at present.
Transfers between German banks usually arrive on the next working day.
Sparkasse: monthly account fee of 2€, plus 8€ a year for the bank cards; however, their banking website and cash machines can both show in English. Some branches (including Alexanderplatz…) have English speaking staff. Withdraw at Sparkasse machines, otherwise you have to pay a fee. You can change the card PIN number to one of your choice at a machine. Only recommended because they have lots of branches, making it easy for non German speakers.
Number26: was highly recommended by group members, but since then, a large number of customers have had their accounts terminated with no explanation given. Since cancelling customers accounts, their review rating has plummeted. This online-only bank account has a great English or German app. You can take money out at any cash machine in the euro area without them charging you a fee. Pay money in via transfer or (for a fee) at Rewe supermarkets. No fees for operating the account.
DKB they have no branches, though small amounts of cash can be paid in at DKB offices in Mitte. They offer an EC card and Visa card, and offer fee-free withdrawals worldwide (though if the machine charges its own fee, you still have to pay that). No fees for operating the account. You can not change the card PIN number to one of your choice
Comdirect: no branches, though cash can be paid in at Commerzbank branches. Withdraw at Cash Group machines, otherwise you have to pay a fee. They pay a 100€ bonus to open the account if you’re happy, and 150€ if you’re not. No fees for operating the account. You can change the card PIN number to one of your choice at a machine.
Holvi: offers online business banking platform and app, a MasterCard, paperless bookkeeping and billing services. Pilot pricing is no fees except when selling through their online shop.
Deutsches Konto is a great website in lots of languages, with information about different bank accounts, and can guide you through the process of opening accounts.
We have a separate page for information about money transfer and currency exchange.