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Lost or stolen ATM or Credit Card

 

If your ATM card or credit card is lost or stolen, call 116 116 to put a stop on the bank card. This service is available 24/7 regardless of your German bank. If your German bank card is lost or stolen outside of Germany, call +49 30 4050 4050.

Banks, Banking and Money

 

Opening a bank account is quite straightforward — you'll need to take your passport and residence registration paperwork (which will show your address). It is recommended to arrange an appointment to avoid waiting time and to ask the bank of your choice if there is someone to help you in English (or another language).

Normal banking hours are Monday - Friday from 8:30 am until 4 pm. Some branches close during lunchtime and some close earlier on Fridays.

You can open a standard account (Girokonto) or a savings account (Sparkonto). Nothing is free — although some banks offer free standard accounts if your salary is directly deposited in this account each month. In this case you will also need to bring a letter or payroll statement from your employer.

Daily financial transactions in Germany are usually made in cash or by using an EC (electronic cash) card (EC Karte) which acts like a direct debit card on your bank account. You will receive your card by mail within a week of opening the account. Your PIN number will be sent separately. Many smaller stores will only accept EC cards for purchases above €10 - there is usually a sign at the check-out counter. Be sure to have cash on hand for smaller purchases - and for use in parking meters and toilets.

You can use your EC card to withdraw cash from ATMs (Geldautomat) or to print out bank statements (Kontoauszug) at your bank. Your EC card is also needed to take care of online banking.

Withdrawing cash with an EC card from your bank ATM is usually free. Withdrawal from other bank ATMs will cost money - often times both banks charge a fee. There are two main banking systems in Germany - CashPool and CashGroup. It is often possible to avoid fees if you keep within your system. Check with your bank.

Please be aware that credit cards are not always accepted nor are they always in common use. If in doubt, ask specifically if your credit card will be accepted — EC cards are often called credit cards. Most banks will expect you to have established and operated an account for a few months before applying for a credit card.

Checks are not in common use by private individuals.

Bill payment is most frequently taken care of through bank transfer (Überweisung). You fill in a transfer form (Überweisungsformular) and submit it either at your bank — there is often a mailbox specifically for this — or online. If you have recurring payments that vary in size, such as utility bills, you can give the recipient a direct debit authorization (Einzugsermächtigung) which allows them to withdraw the amount from your account (Lastschriftverfahren) each month. You can also set up a money transfer order (Dauerauftrag) so that regular payments of a set sum, such as rent and insurance premiums, are automatically deducted from your account.

Be sure to find out what the IBAN and SWIFT codes are for your account because you will need them for all international transactions. Be aware that there are sometimes fees associated with these transactions, depending on the recipient country,  which are not always easy to determine ahead of time. New EU regulations have reduced some of these fees within the Eurozone. As of February 2014, all transactions in Euros use IBAN numbers — in Germany they are 22 digits long and are noted on your EC card.

On-line banking is becoming more common in Germany — bank transfers can be easily organized from home. Ask your branch to give you some guidance about their on-line banking system — unsurprisingly it will be in German!


If all this seems a bit overwhelming you can contact Relocation Service move-in for assistance on a job-by-job basis.