This article is directed at exchange students from EU countries, both out of the ERASMUS programme and other exchange programmes, who will spend their term abroad in Germany.
We have another guide for “credit and debit cards during a term abroad for Germans” and for exchange students from non-EU countries. Students from Austria can simply use our current account comparison for Austria.
A current account is necessary in Germany
If you come to Germany under the ERASMUS programme or as a regular exchange student, you should definitely open a current account. Everyone in Germany has got one and you pay your monthly rent as well as energy, internet and other bills through this account. Besides, if you plan to work in Germany, your employer will transfer your salary to this account. You can open and manage your account online (see our overview of providers). Here we will inform you about everything you need to know.
Important: Most of the time, a current account is free of charge in Germany. Therefore, we recommend it even if you already have a current account in your country of origin. Withdrawing money from your account is trouble-free (and free of charge at many ATMs).
Opening a current account and proof of identity
Before you can open an account, you need to verify yourself (exception: VIABUY). Currently, there are three ways to do that:
- At the branch: You can go to a branch of the respective bank with your passport. The bank will collect and validate the relevant information. (inwieweit? ob die daten stimmen? oder ob er ein Konto eröffnen kann/darf (àand check whether you are eligible statt validate))
- PostIdent: This is only possible within Germany. After you have opened an account online, you will receive a code. With this code and your passport, you then have to go to a branch of the Deutsche Post where your personal information will be collected and sent to the bank. The bank will validate your information and then confirm the account opening to you.
- VideoIdent: This is the best and easiest method for you. Not all banks are offering VideoIdent at the moment, however. During the VideoIdent you start a video chat over your webcam or smartphone and hold your passport in front of the camera. Within only a couple of minutes your information is verified. This method is especially convenient if you want to open an account from outside Germany, since VideoIdent is possible worldwide.
After you have opened your current account
After you have opened your account it takes up to 10 days until you receive access to your online banking account, your credit card, and your debit card which will all be sent to you by mail. Your debit card looks just like a credit card, but is used much more frequently in Germany.
As soon as you have logged in to your online account, you can make transfers and give the account information to your employer if you want to have your salary transferred to this account.
Unfortunately, there are only a few banks in Germany which offer their products/services (Produkte wie Konten oder Dienstleistungen generell?) in English or other languages. The only provider currently offering a current account in English, Spanish, Italian, French, and other languages is VIABUY (see our overview of account providers). Furthermore, VIABUY does not use any of the abovementioned complicated methods of verification and thus fits your needs as an exchange student perfectly. The offer includes a credit card as well, but the opening is not free-of-charge.
Many banks offer free accounts but often not in languages other than German. Hence, if your German is on a reasonably high level, you should turn to one of these providers. If not, VIABUY is probably the best option for you to avoid misunderstandings. Their credit card offers the same functions as those of the other providers.
In our overview you will see which bank offers products in which languages.
Overview of current account providers for your ERASMUS term:
|Monatliche Grundgebühr||0 € in den ersten 6 Monaten, dann 9,90 €||24,90 €||14,90 € in den ersten zwei Jahren, dann 24,90 €|
|Kosten EC-Karte||0 €||0 €||wie Premium|
|Kosten Kreditkarte||79,90 € jährlich||Eine inklusive||wie Premium|
|Beleglose Buchungen||10 Buchungen monatlich frei, danach 0,15 €||75 Buchungen monatlich frei, danach 0,10 €||wie Premium|
|Beleghafte Buchungen||1,50 €||1,50 €||wie Premium|
|Bareinzahlungen||1,00 € pro Vorgang||10 monatl. frei, dann je 1,00 €||wie Premium|
|Barauszahlungen||1,00 € / Abhebung bei Automaten der Cashgroup||10 monatl. frei, dann 1,00 € / Abhebung bei Automaten der Cashgroup||wie Premium|
|COINFO (für Datev Verbindung)||10 € / Mon||0 €||wie Premium|
|Weitere Details||zum Konto »||zum Konto »||zum Konto »|