The most important facts about credit cards in Germany explained on just one page!

Credit Cards in Germany

It is somewhat confusing that the word “credit card (Kreditkarte)” in Germany is used as a synonym for the Visa card or MasterCard. Whether the plastic card is combined with a revolving account on which the credit card debt is accumulated or not.

Credit card accounts and therefore credit card debt exist according to the US-American model in Germany, but they are only offered by a few suppliers and are used accordingly little. With this, German banks choose a consumer-friendlier way than many foreign competitors.

Following, you can find the different types of credit cards and their functioning, as well as the requirements for the successful application. With this information, you will have a good basis to make your decision when selecting your credit cards in Germany.

6 Main categories of credit cards

There are six main categories for distinguishing credit cards:

  1. at a bank with current account or at a credit card company
  2. prepaid, debit, automatic billing or revolving
  3. with or without insurance package
  4. type: Visa credit card, Mastercard or American Express
  5. colours: Gold, Platinum, Black
  6. free or annual fee

1a) Credit card at a bank with current account

In Germany, the credit card is used mostly in combination with a current account (Girokonto). This has different practical advantages:

  • The creditworthiness of the customer is known

    Through the current account, the bank knows the creditworthiness (Bonität) of the customer and provides a corresponding credit line.

  • Automatic billing on the current account

    The credit card transactions (Kartenumsätze) are automatically settled after the clearance of account (Rechnungsabschluss) with the current account. Until then, no credit interest applies. The loan is interest-free until the clearance of account.

    However, the accounting periods (Abrechnungsperioden) differ from bank to bank (DKB: 1 month, Comdirect: 1 month (until 2105 it was still 1 week), ING-DiBa: 1 day – just to mention the conditions of the market leading direct banks).

    Through the automatic billing, the customer saves the transfer of the credit card billing amount. This way, the customer can never become a victim of the extremely high credit card interest trap. If the current account should not have sufficient funds, then there will only apply the much more favourable overdraft interest.

  • Everything from a single source

    With a combination of current account and credit card, one has a partner and only one point of contact for both financial products. This bundling is appreciated by many German citizens.

Requirements for a successful credit card application:

Most banks require a place of residency within Germany and a regular salary payment. Some direct banks are less strict when the customer’s creditworthiness is rated as good to very good.

Recommended Providers:

One obtains the combination of current account and credit card at an Internet bank the easiest way, as it is part of their business model to make money out of the credit card transactions (interchange fees from trading).

Both banks offer their current account and credit cards for free. If the creditworthiness rating is still not good enough or there are only few creditworthiness entries (for example, if one moved recently to Germany), then one has the possibility to get the prepaid version at Comdirect.

Comdirect is ideal for new arrivals in Germany

All other features, such as withdrawing cash fee-free at the corresponding ATMs, apply to the prepaid version as well as to the “true” credit card.

Banks with branch offices often charge a yearly fee for the credit card. At some, this fee can be reimbursed through minimum transactions at the end of the year. Experience also shows that retail banks are reluctant when awarding credit cards. Sometimes, it is required to receive a regular income of a certain amount, which must be transferred to the current account.

credit cards on the beach

The Visa credit cards of the Internet banks Comdirect and DKB are often easier to get than at banks with branch offices. Moreover, the conditions are better.

1b) Credit card from a pure credit card company

On the other hand, there are people who prefer that not one single bank has a complete overview of the personal finances and out of this reason, they separate the current account and credit card account.

Separating expenses (credit card) and income (current account)

Pure credit card companies (Kredit­karten­gesell­schaften) are often foreign companies, who have a license in Germany. One applies almost always online for the credit card. Then a credit check by the provider takes place and one receives the credit card by mail and a letter with the initial credit line amount.

Often, foreign credit card companies operate according to the US-American model. This means that the credit line increases automatically, depending on how one exhausts the limit and how punctual one transfers the minimum rate of the monthly credit card statement or – recommended in order to not miss the payment date – transfer from the current account by direct debit (Lastschrift).

Credit card account with revolving feature

The cards work so that all credit card transactions on a credit card account go into the red. During the first time, the credit is interest-free, depending on the provider up to 2 months. If one settles the credit card account on time – so not only paying the minimum rate, but the full amount – then everything is free for the customer.

One has to know the consequences of the minimum amount …

If one only pays the minimum amount, which is sometimes only Euros 25, then one accumulates credit card debt on the credit card account. This is great business for the credit card company, because the credit interest will be charged from the date of the transfer. This interest of credit card companies is much higher than a bank loan.

Credit Card Debt

Such credit card debt can be postponed for years, as long as one pays the monthly interest on time. This pleases the credit card companies, because it is their business model.

Approximately 1/3 of the customers postpone a huge sum of credit card debt. The other 2/3 mainly uses the partly free service, at least the interest-free period up to the credit card statement and the date of payment.

With a credit card loan, one can bridge a financial drought well, as the credit line has already been approved and one can pay back a loan at any time – to save the quite expensive interest rates.

Cash withdrawals with the credit card

Some credit card companies offer to withdraw cash (Bargeld) from the ATM (Geldautomaten) free of charge. However, you should consider an important difference: Some providers start to calculate the expensive loan rate already on the day of the cash withdrawal and not like cashless card transactions that start after the interest-free weeks.

At the time of the creation of this page, the Barclaycards “New Visa” and “Gold” consider cash withdrawals as common card transactions, so that the cash withdrawal at the ATM is really free of charge and interest-free for several weeks.

Conditions for a successful application:

Place of residence in Germany, a regular income and a moderate to very good creditworthiness rating.

Recommended providers:

Withdraw cash at ATMs is free at Barclaycard

At some credit cards of Barclaycard, cash withdrawals from ATMs are free of charge and interest-free for weeks. Besides that, Barclaycard belongs to the best providers.

2) Credit card with and without credit line

2a) Prepaid credit cards

The term “prepaid credit cards” is a contradiction in itself, as a previous money deposit on the credit card account has nothing to do with a loan. However, the rechargeable Visa credit cards and MasterCards are colloquially called “prepaid credit card” in Germany.

ADAC Prepaid Card

The ADAC provides access to a qualitatively good prepaid credit card for its members.

Often, new providers come to Germany from abroad and offer different credit cards. Sometimes, the brands disappear after some time from the market. Therefore, it is difficult to give a permanently valid overview.

Well-known brands:

The service of prepaid credit card providers in Germany is at the international quality standard. The credit card service of German banks is generally better.

In combination with a current account, there is also a number of German banks that offer prepaid credit cards. Herein, the annual fees and the further conditions are favourable. However, you will become a customer of a bank that checks the customer more into detail as a prepaid provider:

New: PayCenter offers a full Online current account with MasterCard. Both are on a credit basis, and therefore no creditworthiness check applies. The success rate for the account and credit card application is more than 99%.

2b) Credit card as debit card

Again, this is no real credit card within the meaning of the name, but said colloquially. The Visa credit card and MasterCard as debit card are relatively rare in Germany, because the normal bank card (presented in “Current account and banking in Germany”) assumes this function more favourable.

Debit Visa card of the ING-DiBa

Debit Visa card of the ING-DiBa

The Visa card of the ING-DiBa in Germany is a debit card. Its transactions will be debited immediately from the current account.


2c) Credit cards with automatic billing

… is found mainly in combination of a credit card with a current account as presented in Point 1a).

DKB Visa card with contactless payment

DKB: offers since years the best conditions in Germany.

If one is a customer at a credit card company or would like to become a customer there, one can also order the automatic billing. One simply arranges with the credit card company that the credit card balance should be drawn at the date of payment by SEPA direct debit (SEPA-Lastschrift).

This way, one saves on expensive lending rates. However, one must ensure that the current account disposes of enough money or credit line. Credit card companies do not like the “bursting” of a direct debit at all, because the manual processing is expensive and they become worried about the repayment.

2d) Credit cards with credit debt collection

Barclaycard for free

Barclaycard New Visa is the best “solo” credit card.

This system is possible at the credit card companies, which are presented in Point 1b.

At Barclaycard, one can “train” the credit line from sixth month of customer relationship.

It works like this: Take advantage of the credit limit between 90 up to 95% and pay the amount back on time. The credit card company will automatically increase the limit. This process can be repeated several times. I was able to increase my limit this way up to a high four-figure amount.

3) Credit card with and without insurance package

Why should one combine a payment card with an insurance product? The motivation of the financial industry is to earn more money from the customer. Many customers are willing to pay a higher annual fee for the credit card, if they feel that they get help in an emergency or replacement for damage.

For some customers, who are e.g. travelling a lot, insurances as

  • Breakdown service for rental cars
  • Travel cancellation insurance
  • Abroad travel health insurance
  • there are further risks insurances, depending on the provider …

are useful.

However, the trade press has been warning for years that the insurance conditions (Versicherungs­bedingungen) are usually not ideal for the customer. Travel and health-related risk insurances should rather be concluded through a good insurance broker, because he/she selects the best for the customer out of several providers. This could be different insurance companies depending on the customers’ requirements.

Insurance is mainly externally

Additionally, credit card companies do not secure the risk for themselves, but mediate their credit card customers to an external group insurance. It case of the damage event, one does not contact the credit card company, but an external insurance company. Sometimes, these are even foreign companies.

They will check first – this is common for insurance companies – whether there is a reason that they do not have to pay. Due to the insurance conditions through credit card companies, this test often favours the financial sector. Bad for the customer.

Personal note: I myself made the experience at a Platinum credit card that included breakdown service, however, with a reason for exclusion: Within the 50-kilometer radius from the place of residence, there is no service, if the vehicle is defective. But where do most breakdowns occur? The answer: Nearby the place of residence, because one usually stays there. Even at my request to simply arrange the breakdown service and bearing the costs myself, no one felt capable of helping me.

Recommendation: Splitting the bank and insurance products

Amex Platin Card

The biggest insurance package is offered by the AMEX Platinum Card.

Insurance packages are often found in credit cards with the additions “Gold” or “Platinum” and, of course, also at special travel credit cards with annual fees. The insurance package is usually bought through a higher annual fee for the credit card.

Well-known providers:

Most credit cards are exempt from insurance in Germany. A free credit card provides no insurance.

4) Credit card brands

Most wide-spread are the credit cards of the companies Visa and MasterCard, as these are issued in cooperation with countless banks. Similarly, their acceptance is relatively high in Germany.

However, one cannot pay everywhere with a credit card and sometimes one can find signs stating “Card payment possible from Euro 10” in the stores. The background is that the fees for a credit card payment must be paid by the payee. These are usually between 1% and 3% at Visa and Mastercard.

American Express Germany

The German head office of AMEX in Frankfurt/M.

Visa and MasterCard are market leaders

American Express is partly still expensive. It is therefore accepted much less in stores. Additionally, American Express is only rarely offered by banks. Usually one must become a customer directly with a credit card account.

In Germany, the customer has to pay for almost all credit cards of American Express. And the service standard of American Express is at international average. German banks offer not always, but very often a better service.

Most favourable for the stores are payments using debit cards, which are most common in Germany too. Here, the fee is usually less than 1% (new: 0.2%) of the card transaction.

5) Credit cards: Gold, Platinum or Black Card?

In contrast to the USA, one does not have to “work for” or “earn” the credit card “colours” through years of payments.

Whoever is willing to pay an overpriced annual fee for a platinum card, will get it. Even at American Express that officially requires income amounts for specific credit cards, check this so laxly that one can specify almost any amount.

When presenting a gold or platinum card, no special status is granted. The card reader and the cashier do not pay attention to the colour of the card.

Colour of the card has no particular importance

Often, it is one’s own feeling that one deserves to have a gold or platinum card. Marketing departments of card companies spend millions for this … apparently it pays.

A black credit card does not have the same meaning in Germany as in some other countries. There are several providers of prepaid credit cards that have an elegant black design. However, paying a high annual fee for this is a waste of money, unless the personal feeling of the customer improves as a result.

Well-known providers:

Viabuy Gold and Black Card

Nowadays, even the prepaid credit cards are available in the supposedly coveted colours for a relatively small fee. Here: Viabuy.

6) Free credit card or with an annual fee?

Strangely, the most retail banks charge their customers an annual fee (Jahresgebühr) for providing a credit card. At direct banks, the credit card is provided in almost all cases free of charge in addition to the current account.

As previously described, banks earn money through the use of the credit card, even if the cardholder does not know about it and it does not appear on the card statement.

Whoever wants to have a credit card with credit line for cashless payments and can waive on extras, such as an insurance package, will find enough offers without having to pay for the credit card.

There are plenty of offers without credit card fees.

DKB Card

More than 3 million people have already decided on using the DKB Card entschieden.

After the establishment of free credit cards at direct banks (Direktbanken), the major credit card companies have followed this example and offer now a credit card without annual fee too.

At Barclaycard, this is the “New Visa” and at American Express the “Payback Card”. On the website, the Luxembourg Advanzia Bank does provide a free credit card for customers in Germany. Make sure to read especially the fine print.

Particularly good are the free Visa Cards of DKB and Comdirect.

Prospects for the credit card market in Germany

The contactless payment using credit cards will increase in the next years in Germany. The industry is currently investing in the corresponding infrastructure.

Whether virtual credit cards that are mainly compatible for Internet payments will play a significant role in Germany, remains to be seen.

It seems that the future for scaled-down current accounts on a credit basis is more successful, as their use is possible simply or solely through the smartphone. In combination with a free prepaid credit card that entitles you to a free cash supply, these offers will have a high demand especially among the younger clientele. One of the first providers is number26.

Summary: Credit cards in Germany

Tanja and her cards

I am passionate about testing credit cards and services!

In Germany, the term “credit card” is not always meant for a card with real credit line. The best known brands are Visa card and MasterCard. Payments with these credit cards increase year by year, however, they are still not universally accepted.

Through some Visa credit cards and MasterCard, one can withdraw cash free of charge from an ATM. Similarly, free (without annual fee) credit cards could establish in Germany.

You can live in Germany without a credit card, but you do not have to!

American Express only plays a minor role in Germany. The most popular is the common debit card, which is also known as bank card or Girocard.

Are you aware of how much you have learned about credit cards in Germany today? Perhaps you want to recommend the link of this page to friends. Thank you! This motivates us to create even more useful sites for interested readers!
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Who writes here?

Someone who has helped more than 100,000 people to obtain a new bank account in the past 7 years. My name is Tanja and if you continue reading, you will find out why I and this page exist ⇒ read more.

67 Responses to “Credit Cards in Germany”

  1. Subhadip says:

    Dear Tanja,
    I am currently a resident of Munich, Germany. I came from India and am here on a long term employment. After arrival, I opened a Girokonto with Commerzbank. Now I need a Credit card mostly to help with my Online purchases or covering expenses while travelling to USA/UK on business. I read this article and tried with DKB first and then Barclays. But both of them denied my application. Need your expert advise on how should I get a legitimate Credit card, preferably with some credit line. Many thanks.

    • Tanja says:

      It would probably be easiest to take a credit card of the Commerzbank, as this bank already knows your creditworthiness and your income. I guess that the credit card offering by the Commerzbank is good, but probably not the best (we focus on the best German offerings here 😉 )

      Without income and creditworthiness check, you can open the MasterCard with a Smartphone-current account. However, the credit limit is only as high as the credit paid in advance. Otherwise, I think that this credit card is really great: Number26. Would that be something for you?

    • Raghavendran says:

      gebuhrenfrei is a good option as they don’t charge extra if you pay with your card in non-Eurozone countries.

      • Tanja says:

        That right. Thank you for your value tip 🙂 Here is the link to apply

        • Raghavendran says:

          Hello Tanja,

          I had applied for a credit card more than a month back with gebuhrenfrei and I got one. But then I realized recently that the bahncard credit card by commerzbank would be a better option for me as I travel a lot by train. I applied for a credit card from then and got rejected. Though I live in Germany since the last three months, my salary account is in Belgium. Do you think that the my recent shifting to Germany and salary account in Belgium are reasons for rejection? Thanks in advance!

          • Tanja says:

            Sorry, there are more than 2,000 different credit card models in Germany. We only focus here on some of the very best (from our subjective point of view). This is the reason, why we can answer detailed questions.

            Regarding the acceptance and rejection politics of offers that we do not actually know, we cannot give you any reliable information.

  2. Göttingerin says:

    Hi Tanja, I have a creditcard from Sparkasse. I have 300 euro debt, but this month I cannot pay it. I am going to skip it only this month. What kind of extra money do I have to pay? It is just extra money, right?

    • Tanja says:

      There are more than 2,000 banks and even more card models in Germany. We cannot and do not want to support all of them. We have decided to describe the best offers in our point of view and answer the questions on their optimal use. These banks are:

      Please ask your Sparkasse directly.

  3. Fredrick says:

    How common is it for consumers in Germany to purchase products online with credit cards versus paying by another method like direct bank transfer or Klarna? What is the general preference?

  4. Ameen says:

    Hi Tanja,

    I have been living in Germany for three years now, first as a student and now with a stable job. I have had a deutsche bank account throughout this time. I haven’t owned a credit card before and was thinking of finally applying for one. I checked the one offered by Deutsche Bank and they charge 39 euros per year for it. Do you have any tips or opinion on how the DB credit card is?

    I am looking for something which I can also use to make transactions online in Germany and in person while travelling abroad. Will the credit card from gebuhrenfrei be a better option in this case?

    Kind Regards,

  5. Sam says:

    In the USA, most credit cards often give you bonuses for signing up, such as 200-600 dollars cash or points after initial purchases. Also, you usually get free doubled warranty, price protection on all purchases, theft protection, free car rental insurance, etc. Is it the same way in Germany? Thank you.

  6. Jay says:

    Hi Tanja,

    I have been living in Germany for a little over two years. I have been a credit card since 1 year but I am not happy with their service at all. It is very difficult to find a solution if I have a problem even with the Customer Service. I am thinking of cancelling this card and applying for another one. I have been paying the complete bill monthly.
    Is there any disadvantage in Germany of cancelling a card or having multiple credit cards?

  7. Jack says:

    Dear Tanja,

    I received an invoice in regard of my credit card. The due date for the payment was a Monday and on the previous Friday I went to the bank asking them to correct the amount to be debited from my account. She said that she would call me back or that she would send me an email, as I preferred. She did not call me and I paid the full amount. What are my rights in that regard ? I´m really upset given that this situation was poorly handled by the bank´s employee.

    Kind Regards

    • Editorial Team says:

      Dear Jack,

      Sometimes we can assist with challenges regarding the cards and accounts that we monitor – but we can’t and don’t want to render legal advice.

      Maybe you could simply talk again to another employee of your bank? Good luck!

  8. lucia says:


    Maybe you can give me a recommendation…

    I am looking for a credit card with no annual fees, without charges… and that allows me to make payments abroad for free..(by abroad I mean anywhere in the world, not just Europe) I think I prefer to have a visa.. as it it the most accepted card online and in stores generally, at least in germany..
    Did I understand you well, and the best options for these requirements is DKB or comdirect?

    Thank you very much! I appreciate your advice!

  9. Noura says:

    Hi Tanja,
    I have a brother who lives in Lebanon and I want to hbrp him and send him a card that I’ll be able to recharge from Germany (preferably not at a bank) and he will be able to use it for ATM cash withdrawl.
    Can you recommend any?

    • Editorial Team says:

      There is no way we can recommend that. We do not know any German card provider – regardless of bank or not-bank – that would allow to open an account in your own name and then give the card to somebody else. Such a provider will probably not exist, because such a practice goes against several German and European regulations.

      The only legal possibility would be to find a provider who would be willing to provide you with a partner card with the name of your brother on it.

      Such topics are not within our purview, so probably other websites might be able to help you better. Good luck!

  10. Björn Granberg says:


    I am interested in getting a contact less credit card in Germany. Do you know which banks offer them? And is it usual for people to use them? Do stores accept contact less cards?


    • Editorial Team says:


      Most credit cards on this site provide this integrated feature: Barclaycard, Comdirect, DKB, ING-DiBa, Fidor SmartCard.

      The following cards don’t have this feature yet: Viabuy and PayCenter.

      More and more card readers in the retail business are being changed accordingly. With some it works, with others not yet. Where the change has already been implemented, payment by touching the terminal with the card is totally normal and works.

  11. Saulius says:

    Hi Tanja,
    I’m trying to solve one small issue:) I just need to order some goods from German eshop, but it only sells internally in Germany. I resist in Lithuania, but shipping is not an issue, because there are some service providers who gives you an address in Germany, so I can use it for shipping my purchased goods. Later they will deliver my goods from DE to LT. But the problem is that particular eshop detects my cards origin and rejects the payment and says that it is not the German one. I’ve tried several LT cards, UK card, also paypal.. the same problem.
    Could you recommend me the cheapest DE prepaid card, which non-German citizens/residents can get. It can be virtual, without credit line for sure. The only requirements are: can be ordered online, possibility to transfer funds via SEPA transfer or topup with other card (like Revolut offers). Minimal card fees are welcome. I’ve tried to order N26 or DKB without luck.

    • Editorial Team says:

      Hi! That is an interesting challenge! The only possibility that I see is this card here: (delivery will be to Lithuania). The issuing price at first glance is a little high, but for the next three years you won’t have to pay any annual fees … and much more important: It solves your problem! Good luck for your business!

      • Saulius says:

        thank you for prompt response. Is it really German card?
        Because in footer of viabuy website it is mentioned “The VIABUY Prepaid MasterCard is issued by PPRO Financial Ltd”, and this company resist in UK..

        • Gregor says:

          Hi! That is a very good question, many thanks! Viabuy has been founded by very smart people, who cleverly used the laws and regulations within the European Union, Germany and Great Britain. The registered office of the company actually is in Great Britain. The account number under which you can receive money, is with a German bank and starts with “DE”. You can find this account number on the backside of the MasterCard (at least when you order it via the German language site, like I have done). Outgoing transfers will be sent from a German bank account as well.

          For deposits you have your own virtual account number. Outpayments are done via a collective account number.

          There are a few variations, e.g. with the Polish PLN-Viabuy Card. On our special portal for clever banking in Germany we always refer to the Viabuy MasterCard that you order in Germany!

          PPRO Financial Ltd and with that Viabuy have bases in several European states. One of the biggest is Germany!

          Whether the card is the right one for you, depends on what you want to do with it.

  12. Sarah says:

    Hi Tanja, really helpful page which is the first to help me in my problem so far! but I wanted to double check:
    I am English but will travel to Germany for 3 weeks for work – my company will give me euros before I leave for my expenses (around 2500 euros) in cash or they can transfer it somewhere from their German bank account. I am looking for a card that I can either load the euros onto or transfer euros onto from the German account, as I don’t like to carry that much cash.
    From your article I guess the only options are viabuy, payangoCard or Is that right?
    In england we have many travel cards but they will only let us put pounds sterling on the card and convert it to euros (that’s how they make their money I guess).
    Thanks so much!

    • Editorial Team says:

      Hi Sarah! There are of course more credit cards in Germany than the ones we mention here. For example, you can buy prepaid card at the gas station. But that is not the subject for our special portal. For our readers we concentrate on the best German accounts and cards (from our subjective point of view) and on niche products that – in special cases – suit our audience of “smart banking customers”.

      With a setup fee of 89.70 Euro, Viabuy seems expensive at first glance, especially if you only want to use it for three weeks. But for the next three years, one does not need to pay and card fees anymore. So maybe it is worthwhile? Anyway, it is the cards that you can order the easiest way (online identity check) and is also mailed to England.

      I wish you good decisions and a good time in Germany!

  13. Sarah says:

    Thanks so much. Viabuy looks good in principle and the fees are fine, I’m just worried as some people are reporting issues with their account being blocked etc. Of course there are always positive and negative experiences. Thanks a lot for your help and glad to know I haven’t missed something!

    • Gregor says:

      Yes, that is true. The complaints regarding the blocking of amounts are in part due to the fact that some people overlook (or have forgotten) that deposits from own or known accounts are credited immediately, but payments from “strange” accounts (i.e. not known yet, because there had not been a transfer from that account before) are credited immediately as well but only become available after ten days (blocked payment).

      This is due to the security structure Viabuy uses. The average private Viabuy customer will in 99.9 percent of the cases not be confronted with this and can use account and card comfortably and reliably.

  14. Tony says:

    Hello dear forum of Deutscheskonto, I have a question about the credit card portfolio of the DKB. I read in the price-performance-list of the DKB that there is also a DKB-MasterCard Platinum. It seems that this card is not actively promoted and I have not yet found detailed information about this card on your DKB-page. Have you already tested this card or can you say something about it?


    • Gregor says:

      Yes, this is a very interesting question – many thanks!

      It is true that this card is not really promoted by the DKB – furthermore, one cannot even apply for it online. From my point of view, it is not particularly attractive, because it only includes insurance services for the annual fee of currently Euros 250.

      In particular, these services are:
      – cancellation insurance for journeys
      – financial protection at the deductibles of rental car insurances
      – abroad travel health insurance
      – motor vehicle insurance within Germany and abroad

      Strangely, one cannot withdraw cash free of charge at ATMs with the DKB Platinum MasterCard and even the foreign transaction fee applies! Both is free of charge with the free DKB Visa Card.

      Who absolutely wants to have a Platinum-card anyway, can query the PDF-application through the customer service. However, I do not recommend it.

  15. Stephanie says:

    Hi, my name is Stephanie and I am an exchange student from Australia. I moved to Berlin around 6 months ago and I found your page very helpful with settling into Germany (opening an account and payment methods). It was so helpful in fact that it helped me write my project about attitudes towards consumer credit in Germany and credit card acceptance.

    I was wondering if I could ask you a few questions in regards to this topic or if someone would be willing to help me. Any help would be deeply appreciated and credited.

    Thank you for your time and consideration!

    • Gregor says:

      Hi Stephanie,

      thank you for your nice posting! What do you need first?

      With best wishes

      • Stephanie says:

        I have questions like:

        1. Germany still remains as one of the most cash-intensive advanced economies on earth. Why do you think that is?
        2. A considerable number of businesses in Germany do not accept credit cards. Why is this?
        3. Do you believe that German consumers are generally debt averse?

        I have more questions that lead to other areas, is there a possibility I could contact someone about more of these?

        • Editorial Team says:

          Germany has already been having its own EC card system for many years, which in comparison to credit cards was decidedly lower priced for retailers. In addition, the prevalence of credit cards is not that high, because local banks often issue them only hesitantly and with too high fees.

          There have only been changes in the recent years, since modern direct banks issued credit cards free-of-charge to their customers as a standard. Also, since December 2015 there has been a EU directive that limits the credit card fee for retailers (interchange fee) to max. 0.3.% of sales. That is a fee reduction of up to 90%!

          Since then, the credit card acceptance in Germany has been rising month by month. To-day, you can even pay with a credit at discounters like ALDI.

          German banking customers are very different. But in contrast to some other countries, one can still say about us, that we still have a middle class worth mentioning, with assets worth mentioning and therefore might need fewer loans. Statistically, every 80th German is a Euro millionaire – which means, has assets of at least 1 million Euro (assets minus debts).

  16. MAAR says:

    I am trying to find the answer to this question but there isn’t any definite answer I have found yet. I want a credit card like gebuhrenfrei but is it possible that I can set the limit/overdraft to zero? Meaning If I do not put any money in that card, I should not be able to do any transaction but at the same time the charges of that should be like gebuhrenfrei or DKB. Is it possible to make credit limit/overdraft limit to zero in gebuhrenfrei or DKB?

    Second question, I have applied for DKB and gebuhrenfrei and got rejected although I have been living in munich since 3 years. My wife who doesn’t have any credit history (but she is a european) immediately got accepted for gebuhrenfrei. Doesn’t it sound very wrong that they are giving it on the basis of nationality?

    • Ragha says:

      For your first question, check out

      For your second question, I don’t think nationality is a problem. I am Indian and I got a credit card from Gebührenfrei within a month or two after coming to Germany. Probably you should check your schufa score…

      • Muhammad Ahad Rafiq says:

        Thanks for the reply.

        The problem with N26 is that it is not as useful for frequent use as gebuhrenfrei could be because of limited cash withdrawals on EC karte as well as visa card.

  17. Francesco says:

    Hello Everyone,
    first of all, thanks for this very interesting article, full of useful information.
    I leave in Germany and I have a permanent job contract.
    I am considering to request an american express platinum for the following reasons:
    1) full insurance coverage (rentals cars, trips cancellation, medical accidents, etc). I understood it is one of the best and more comprehensive on the market and since I am travelling quite often for my job or for personal reason with my family, I would like to be insured and protected in case of cancellation, reschedule, damage/loss of bags, etc;
    2) access to many airport launges: very useful when I am with my family,
    3) miles account

    I am already client of amex, but in my original country, where I have an amex corporate, for free but with limited additional services/benefits.

    Having said that, do you think the amex platinum is really convenient considering the price (600€ per year)?
    Can I find on the market something similar, with the same benefits, at lower price?
    Thanks a lot

    • Gregor says:

      Yes, that is a very interesting question!

      I was Platinum Business customer in 2012-2013 … as a summary I’d like to say, what American Express Germany does best, is marketing. 😉

      The actual service? Well … so many things happened, that should not have happened, so that I even was invited to the headquarter in Frankfurt to personally meet the board member responsible for service. That did not change any of the problems, though. Difficulties came up again and again. Then I cancelled, and even that turned out to be problematic and took a while.

      I did hear that other Germen customers with other Amex cards (especially the Gold Card) are content. But is it really worth the money?

      Anyway, Amex does not belong to the top cards in Germany.

      I look forward to your feedback, in case you’ll give it a try. Good luck!

  18. Francesco says:

    Hello Gregor, thanks for you feedback.
    In Italy, among the miles/points collectors, american express is considered one of the best, or maybe the best.

    Personally speaking, I had few occasions to get in contact with their customer service (and mainly because my credit card was cloned), so I cannot really judge them.

    Could you please tell me what are considered the top cards in Germany? thanks

  19. Shaun says:

    Good day

    I and my partner have linked gold credit cards from Hypovereinsbank. Whenever we travel to another country outside of the EU eg. South Africa, our cards are blocked. Do we have to inform the bank in person every time we travel or can we do this online ourselves? It really is a pain. Is it better to use another CC like N26?

    Thank you

    • Editorial Team says:


      We cannot say anything regarding HypoVereinsbank, since we are not customers there.

      We know, that some people are fond of N26, and we formerly used to write about this start-up. Due to own experiences, we do not recommend them anymore.

      In our community of smart banking customers, many are dissatisfied with the bad services and the frequent product decline as well. More than half have already cancelled their account. Still, the provider gains new customers every day and is growing. They are an average provider with average conditions.

      For our smart readers we do not recommend going to an average bank, but to one of the three best banks. This recommendation is aimed at people who live here and therefore have an address and credit assessment in Germany.

  20. yamen says:

    Hi Tanja,

    Thank you for the nice info. I am looking for a Girokonto together with Debit Master card or Debit visa. Not credit, not prepaid. There are two options Deutsche Bank Activ konto or Commerzbank Aktiv konto. Commerzbank is 7,9 Euro pro Monat and Deutsche Bank is around 6,5 euro, what do you recommend? Thank you sssoooooo much

    • Editorial Team says:


      In this case Tanja prefers ING-DiBa. This Girokonto offers the cards you prefer and is free of charge. Sorry we are a specialized web portal regarding the best German direct banks, so we hardly ever write about local bank branches.

  21. Mohsen says:

    I’ve applied for comdirect and got my account. This is very good for many things, however, I’ve now noticed that for cashless payments outside EU, 1,75% surcharge will apply, meaning, when I’m outside EU, I should either get cash money from ATM via Visa Card and pay by cash all the time, or willing to pay that 1.75%. Also, this is not ideal for booking Hotels outside EU.

    What do you recommend in this situation? live with it, or better Credit Card options with other banks?


    • Editorial Team says:


      Gregor uses the DKB credit card, especially for payments in foreign currencies, because thee 1.75% foreign transaction fee are automatically reimbursed onto the Giro account at the end of the month.

      • Mohsen says:

        Thanks for your reply,

        Is this also a case in Comdirect or only DKB?

        I couldn’t find this on their policy since they’ve only mentioned it on their ATM withdrawal and not online purchases in foreign currencies!!

  22. Mike Lawerce says:

    Hi, it is possible to use an US debit card in Germany?

    • Editorial Team says:

      Yes, of course. Everywhere in Germany where you see you card symbol Visa or Mastercard, you can pay with the card. That means about 80% of the stores. Some smaller businesses only accept cash or electronic payment via our European/national system.

  23. fito says:

    Hello, relocated to Germany and travel around the world a lot. I would like to have a credit card with no foreign currency fees like chase sapphire I have in the US. Can you recommend which bank in Germany offer that? Thank you!

    • Editorial Team says:

      The Sapphire Card of Chase Bank costs 95 Dollar from the 2. year on. Our specialty por-tal mainly focuses on cards that are permanently free of charge. The best option from our point of view is the DKB Visa Card. Without annual fee, and without international service fee.

      From the 2. year on a monthly incoming amount of 700 Euro would be necessary for the account (the money can be used for something else right away), in order for the interna-tional service fee to remain at 0%. Even without incoming money, the account and card still remain permanently without monthly or annual fee.

      A bit tricky: For a successful account opening you will need a bit of “credit history” in Germany. But this is something you are already familiar with from the U.S., anyway. Best of luck!

  24. Ann says:

    My husband is in Germany right now and he can’t use his credit card anywhere its a U.S. credit card..What can he do? He’s stuck there because he can’t touch his funds..Please can someone help me so i can tell my husband what to do..


    • Adolfo Alves says:

      Which part of Germany? He should be able to use Visa card in most of the stores but he has to make sure he sees the visa banner on the door. Visa is not widely accepted as there is another local card system (EC) that are the first choice.

    • Editorial Team says:

      He should call his bank. Maybe his US Credit Card has not yet been activated for the use abroad? Our US cards work rather well in Germany.

  25. Oleksandr Krugliak says:

    Hi Tanja, I have worked in Germany in 2008 -2011, and opened in DB Gold Master Card. Since 2012 I stay in Ukraine, my account is still valid but I’d like to change Gold card with standard card due to high charges and fees. Can I do it? Or I can’t because I am recently not resident of Germany?

    • Editorial Team says:

      Hey, hey. We are not the Deutsche Bank. If you would like any changes regarding existing cards, please contact your bank directly. Best of luck!

  26. Samir Schwimmer says:


    can you tell me which company will offer very high credit limit? i have a very good salary which comes directly to my Deutsche Bank. apart from Deutsche Bank, of course i have two credit cards with Deutsche Bank.

  27. yoram says:

    The Miles & More Credit Card Blue World of Lufthansa. Any recommendation??
    Thank you

  28. Robert says:


    I live in Germany for 1 year and needed to buy furniture. This furniture will be delivered at my house and a guy from the store will process the payment in the delivery day with my credit card (Amex), which is coming by mail. The payment should be the same as a normal shopping.

    I heard that is not possible to choose how many instalments I want to pay with this ‘delivery guy’. Someone said that I should “check the instalments with my bank”, because the guy should receive all the amount (of course) and the instalments should be decided between me and my bank, which for me are breaking news.

    I always used to pay stores with credit cards and splitted in the number of instalments I wanted. Usually for me is: the seller asks for how many instalments I want, then he configure the credit card machine with the total amount and the instalments I choose, and that’s it, he receives all the money at once from the credit company, I pay in the number of instalments that I choose in that moment.

    So now I’m confused. How does it work in Germany for Amex? Because I only configure a direct debit for Amex, there’s no bank to talk. So, I will pay the full price for the furniture, and the total amount will be directly debited from my account? In this case, there’s no purpose to have a credit card. I have it to make instalments!

    Could someone please clarify (in case I misunderstood) how a credit card in Germany could help me in this situation? Or should I choose another option, like loans?


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