Which are the best banks for foreigners in Germany?

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Moving to another country and opening a bank account should be a fairly straightforward process. But often that’s tricky – and there’s a lot to consider such as what type of account, if you’re eligible, and what best suits your situation.

In Germany there is the additional problem of navigating bank charges. Additionally, Americans face another hurdle with the FOreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or FATCA for short. This legislation, which requires foreign banks to report to the US tax authorities any assets held in these accounts by US taxpayers, has resulted in some German banks close accounts or turn away customers with US passports.

READ ALSO: Why are Americans turning away from German banks?

So if you’re thinking of moving banks – or just want to know what else is there – here’s what The Local readers are giving with their thumbs up and thumbs down.

Which German bank came out on top?

The bank that received the most votes in our survey was N26. The attraction of this Berlin bank is that everything is online and that it offers services in different languages.

Blessan, 34, in Berlin said: “They have a nice mobile app in English. You can make instant transactions with other N26 users for free. Most of my expat friends use it. so it is easier to borrow money.

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The bank offers a selection of services ranging from the free “Standard” account to the more expensive “Metal” account.

“It’s so easy to open an account with N26,” said Christine Mae Sarito, 33, of Bonn, who says Premium account is working fine.

READ ALSO: Why bank customers in Germany face higher fees

“Everything is online, so it’s easy to reach out to customer support if there’s a problem,” Sarito said. “I particularly like the N26 installments where I can pay for qualifying purchases from € 50 in installments of up to six months with very low interest rates.”

J. Rosenbaum in Gauting said that N26 offers a “fully online remote account opening service in English”.

Melvin Chelli, 29, from Saarbrücken added: “Free account and easy verification thanks to video identification using a residence permit.

JM in Potsdam said N26 was “digital, easy, in English “and offered” global withdrawals and transfers “.

N26 was recommended by many people in our survey. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Christophe Gateau

Dorka, 27, from Baden-Württemberg, said: “It was the only one that really suited my lifestyle and my needs.”

“This bank encouraged me to be its client with excellent customer focus, clear terms and conditions, well-chosen areas in which to invest their efforts, direct costs on logical extras. It is simply the management of things without bullshit of the 21st century.

What other banks do readers recommend?

Commerzbank has received the green light from a few readers.

Gondal, 37, from Böblingen, said Commerzbank is a good option as it has many branches and ATMs as well as “no account maintenance fees with at least € 700”.

Gondal also said TransferWise was a good option for foreigners to use if they sent money home: “It also has the highest conversion rate and lowest transfer fees.

Mohamed Abouseif, 25, who is in Munich, said that Stadtsparkasse allows “everyone to open an account with them and the account maintenance fees are minimal ”.

Alison, 29, from Hamburg, said ING was a good option for a checking (Giro) and savings account.

She said both have “low fees, a practical mobile-centric design and accept foreigners – even US citizens affected by FATCA, no fees for ATM withdrawals over € 50 at many ATMs. , including those of Sparkasse “.

Sunil Kulkarni, 33, in Reutlingen, said ING had “bThere is by far the best online service and a stable mobile banking app. A downside would be the telephone banking, which unfortunately is only in German and the app is also in German.

Blessan, who recommended N26, also says Deutsche Bank is a good option to get an EC (giro) card, which is required for some services in Germany.

Another reader recommended Deutsche Bank because it is “free for students and has an online banking portal in English and an English customer service response email.”

A person who pays for their purchases with a card.
A person who pays for their purchases with a card. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Karl-Josef Hildenbrand

Consors Bank is the bank of choice for Maciek, 41, in Frankfurt. “I am a national of an EU and US country living in Germany. So far (touching wood) Consors has not limited its services offered due to my US citizenship, ”said Maciek.

Here are some other banks that have been recommended:

  • Hamburger Sparkasse
  • Nuri.com
  • DKB (DKB Cash account)
  • Berliner Sparkasse
  • Sparda Bank Hesse
  • Revolution

Which banks should you possibly avoid?

As is often the case, the experience people have can depend on the customer service they receive.

Although N26 came out on top in our survey, some readers said they would not recommend it.

“Tterrible customer service, they just blocked and terminated my account without notice, ”one reader said.

“N26 is entirely in English, but some of my friends mentioned that the customer support was bad (I couldn’t verify it personally),” said another reader. “They require certain nationalities to hold a residence permit in Germany before they can open an account, so it’s not good for newcomers.”

Meanwhile, others said they would avoid the bigger ones banks “which have many hidden charges and high user fees.”

Another reader said: “I was refused an account with DKB despite a secure job and an excellent SCHUFA. They refused to give a specific reason despite repeated requests from me. I suspect maybe it’s because I’m a foreigner? Also avoid Deutsche Bank due to its involvement in major global financial scandals and Sparkasse for high fees.

Others said the Germans should avoid Postbank because of “bad service”.

Another reader in Berlin said he couldn’t get an account with Commerzbank or Deutsche Bank “because I didn’t have a job at the time”.

The Berliner Sparkasse was the only cool one with that, ”the reader said.

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Thanks to everyone who shared their experience with us. While we were unable to include all of the submissions, we have read each one. Stay tuned for our story on how readers think banks in Germany should be improved.


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