Money, banking and Currency Exchange in Germany

Germany is one of the most prosperous economies of the world. It was the biggest net contributor to the European Union budget in year 2011. You will not go far in Germany if you do not have your own bank account. Anyone who intends to stay in Germany to stay in Germany in the longer term will need a bank account. In Germany, bank account is known as Girokonto. For example, you will need your account to transfer your semester fees, to rent a flat or to let your employer the wages you have earned in your job directly into your account. Moreover, you will also need an account in any of the banks in Germany to obtain an Electronic Cash (EC) Card. It is very popular in Germany. Although many Germans have a credit card yet the EC Card or debit card is much in vogue and is meanwhile recognized almost everywhere as a means of payment. In this section you are described the entire process of opening in account in any bank of Germany.

How to open an account?

  • Your passport
  • Your certificate of residence
  • A pay statement from your employer (depending on the account type)
  • Your work permit (required by few banks)
With these documents you can apply for a current account and an EC Card with the bank of your choice. You can either go straight to the local bank or branch or to a savings bank known as Sparkasse in German. Alternatively, you can open an account via the website of your chosen bank. Current accounts with some banks do not allow overdrafts. This means that such banks do not permit you to borrow money through your account. Some banks also require that a minimum amount be deposited each month. Make your to clarify these and other similar doubts before opening an account.

Germany has a vital banking tradition that dates back to the great Fugger money-lending empire in the 15th and the 16th centuries. The first commercial bank of this country was established in Hamburg in 1619. The rankings of Germany’s largest banks have improved dramatically in the last few years. Germany’s Bundesbank also known as Buba is one of the most influential banks of Europe. It continues to wield considerable power over the economic machinations of Europe. It is due to these reasons that Germany is considered as the financial centre of the European continent.

You can easily exchange your dollars, pounds or other currencies for euros at almost any full-service bank in Germany. You will also usually get the most favourable exchange rate at a bank, compared to a hotel, shop or money exchange. Germans have a checking account system which is absolutely different from that of Americans. Unlike the Americans, Germans do not use personal cheques. They rather use a Geldüberweisung or money transfer made out to an account number and the name of the account holder. For instance, if you have to pay for a magazine subscription, you make out a transfer cheque payable not to the magazine but to a BLZ and Girokonto number. BLZ stands for Bankleitzahl or bank code number which is similar to the bank numbers printed on the US bank cheques. A Girokonto is a specific transfer account for an organization, firm or person. Today an electronic Geldüberweisung (EFT) via online banking is much more common.