Our blog posts may include affiliate links. These affiliate links don't cost you anything, but we might earn a few Euros if you decide to purchase something from one of our recommended website partners. Thank you for your support to help keep this platform up and running!

Without a German bank account, while living in Germany, you’re not going to get very far. However, the good news is that nowadays, it’s actually pretty simple to open up a bank account even without speaking German AND without even living in Germany yet. In fact, there are banks like N26 and tomorrow that run completely in the English language.

You’re going to need a German bank account before you’re able to pay your rent, register for a phone plan (although sometimes you can pay with a credit card), or register for an electricity or internet contract. You’re also going to need to find a way to get paid if you’ve moved to Germany for work. So, let’s get to it, shall we? 

 

First, learn the lingo

When the Germans talk about a debit card/standard bank account, they often call it a Girokonto, EC-Karte, or Maestro (old terminology – Mastro no longer works in the EU).

Nonetheless, these are all bank accounts – they are not credit cards in any way, shape or form.

 

The Best Expat-Recommended Banks

You might already be well aware that you certainly aren’t limited by the number of choices you have when it comes to picking a banking provider here in Germany. There are thousands of different options, but only a few of those stand as smart options for expats and English speakers.

After asking our local and expat community on Facebook what they thought was the best bank for expats, we’ve put together a list of the best banks for you.

N26

N26 takes pride in the fact that it will literally only take you 8 minutes in total to open up a bank account with them online. It is one of the most popular mobile banks for expats in Europe and it is extremely easy to navigate via the app. The entire site is run in English and once you’re registered, all of your banking can be done straight from your phone or laptop.

  • Save

Cost: FREE 
Includes: FREE Maestro card and FREE Mastercard credit card 
Withdrawing Money: You can withdraw money from any ATM up to 5 times/month for free and at more than 9,000 retail locations in Germany including shops like Penny, Real- and REWE. 

Open an account now!

 

wise bank

Can you recall the brand TransferWise? Yep. It’s one of the world’s largest money transfer sites out there that recently rebranded and is now “Wise”. Conveniently, they also now offers a free multi-currency bank card which is also open to Americans (and many other nationalities, of course).

If you already have a money transfer account with Wise (likely so), it’ll be as simple as ordering your debit card. If not, you’ll need to fill in a few details, send over proof of identification and you’re finished!

NOTE FOR AMERICANS: Due to FACTA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act), it may be the case that you will need to contact a number of these different banks first to see if you qualify. Wise Bank is one that DOES accept American users. FACTA allows the American government to track your tax activity as a foreigner living abroad in order to avoid tax fraud. This could impact whether or not you are accepted by a European bank. For more information, check out MyExpatTaxes blog post “The FACTA for Americans Abroad“.

With the wise debit card, you can hold, receive (get paid), send, and spend money in more than 50 different currencies.

Cost: FREE
Includes: An electronic money account & debit card

Open an account now!

 

Kontist

Kontist makes things super simple for freelancers in Germany. Their app is available in German and English actually allows you the opportunity to eliminate the need to hire an accountant, which can save you tons of money each year. Kontist offers free business consultations for their members and is partnered with lexoffice to help you file your monthly and annual taxes online. 

  • Kontist calculates your income tax and VAT automatically so you’ll never lose track
  • They offer bookkeeping on the go
  • They make submitting taxes easier than you could ever imagine

Cost: FREE (premium memberships start at 9 Euros/month)
Includes:
FREE Maestro Card and FREE Visa credit card
Withdrawing Money: You can withdraw money from any ATM and up to 10,000 Euros per month. There is a monthly limit of 50 cash withdrawals per month. 

Open an account now!

 

DKB – Deutsche Kredit Bank

Similar to N26, DKB is a completely online bank, but if you’re comfortable doing all of your banking completely online, DKB offers some of the cheapest rates and one of the best services for expats. While they do not offer their signup process in English, it is a relatively easy process to apply and a highly rated bank for locals and expats alike.

Cost: FREE
Includes: 
FREE EC-Card and FREE Visa credit card
Withdrawing Money: 
You can withdraw money from any ATM machine for FREE worldwide (great for expats looking for travel outside of Germany)

Open an account now!

 

Comdirect

Almost exactly the same as DKB and N26, Comdirect is a completely online banking system which means there are no branches to actually visit in person. If you do not mind managing your account completely online, Comdirect is a great banking choice. They are well known for their easy application process which doesn’t demand many pre-requirements before registering, making it a much easier bank to apply to for expats. The application process is run in German, but with a little Google translate, you’ll be able to easily guide yourself through the application.

Cost: FREE
Includes: FREE Girocard and FREE Visa credit card + Signup bonus of up to 150 Euros
Withdrawing Money: You can withdraw money from over 9,000 bank machines across Germany at the following partner banks: Commerzbank, Deutsche Bank, HypoVereinsbank and Postbank, as well as at any Shell gas station or with 13,000 other partner shops around Germany

Open an account now!

 

Commerzbank

Commerzbank was the only bank that made our list of top expat favorites that offers physical branches in Germany! That’s probably because it has constantly won numerous awards for being one of the best banks in Germany. So, if having a local branch is important to you, Commerzbank is a great choice.

Cost: FREE
Includes: FREE EC-Card + Signup bonus of 100 Euro (though this sale could end)
Withdrawing Money: 
You can withdraw money from any of the partner banks that are a part of the CashGroup: Commerzbank, Deutsche Bank, HypoVereinsbank, and Postbank

Open an account now!

 

Other German Banks to Consider:

TIP: If you’re looking to transfer money to your new bank account, we have a list of the best options here >> The Best Options for International Money Transfers to/from Germany.

New to Germany? Join our Welcome Program! Want to join our author team? Send us an emailJoin our Life in Düsseldorf | Expats & Locals Community group and register for our newsletter (packed with the hottest events, seasonal activities, upcoming job opportunities and more)!