Best Bank Accounts for International Students in Germany

Apr 9, 2020Banking and Finance

Everyone who is living in Germany needs a bank account, international students aren’t exception. However, if you have a European banking card you can survive, but having a German current account will be always an advantage. If you aren’t from the EU you will have to open an account in a local bank.

Best banking accounts for international students in Germany:

  • DKB
  • Sparkasse
  • 1822direkt
  • Bunq
  • ING
  • Deutsche Bank
  • Commerzbank

Overall opening a student account in any German bank is a relatively easy process. But as in any other country, there are many different banks and people get spoiled for choice.

From classic credit institutions to the fully online operating banks. Almost each of them offers a student account which is most of the time free for local as well as international students.

Below we review some major banks in Germany which are offering special offers for international students.

1. DKB

DKB or Deutsche Kreditbank is a solid classical German bank with very attractive options for international students. In various German ratings for bank accounts, DKB was granted a first position.

By signing for DKB you will receive two cards: a European debit card and an international Visa card.

Unfortunately, they don’t offer a website in English, hope you speak some German or ask the friend to help you. They have a free student account called DKB Cash checking account, where you will also receive a debit Visa card for international purchases.

DKB Cash Student account has:

  • Completely free bank account
  • Free online banking
  • Free VISA credit card
  • Free Visa card combined with ISIC* as addiction to the EU Maestro card
  • V PAY card ( Visa powered Cash Card)
  • Interest paid on credit card balance (for active users)
  • Free worldwide cash withdrawals (for active users)
  • Zero Foreign transaction costs (for active users)
  • Free securities account
  • Monthly credit card and bank statements online
  • Discount on membership in very popular gym McFit 15,00 EUR instead of 19,90 EUR
  • Free cash withdraw and payments with Visa card in Germany, Europe, and worldwide
  • Numerous other discounts, e.g. shopping, entrance fees
  • No yearly fee

*The ISIC is an international student card and guarantees you student discounts worldwide. You can even choose between a normal Visa card and the combination of Visa and ISIC.

With the DKB VISA card, you can withdraw money in all cash machines with a VISA Logo worldwide free of charge, regardless of the host bank of ATM.

The conditions for the DKB Cash are to have German residence (your student visa) and the age of at least 18 years old.

You can also apply for a Visa card with an integrated international student card ISIC you will also need your matriculation certificate from the university.

Even after finishing your studies, DKB Cash Account will be continued at no cost.

Sounds like DKB is a perfect deal but be aware that it doesn’t have any branches, this way they save money to offer the best conditions for students.

If you need advice, you can contact customer support via email or phone. As at many other banks you can open an account online, submit all documents, and receive your card via post.

Depositing cash can be a bit difficult, they have few deposit ATM machines. However, it can be done at banks like Reisebank or Postbank or in many partner supermarkets. At supermarkets, you will need to generate a special code in online banking beforehand and pay 1,5% of the sum you want to deposit.

In shops, you can withdraw 50 EUR to 300 EUR daily and also deposit 50 EUR to 999 EUR daily.

As a new customer, you need to have at least 700 EUR per month on your account in movement in order to use all free features of the DKB. It is especially important in the first year of use.

Also read whether a foreigner can open a bank account in Germany and how to do it.

2. Sparkasse

Bank Sparkasse was founded in 18 century and belongs to the oldest, well-known, and trustworthy banks in Germany.

They have a free student account with an online banking app that allows you to complete some basic tasks such as transfers, tracking expenses & income, and some others.

Sparkasse student card provides:

  • Free cash* withdrawal at around 23,600 ATMs in Germany
  • Transfers and standing orders
  • Mobile and Online Banking
  • Cashless payment with card
  • A full overview of your finances
  • Competent financial advice in your branch

*However, each Sparkasse in each region operates independently, therefore, you often need to pay a fee for withdrawal money in another region or even city. The last time I had this situation ATM charged a 5 EUR commission for the transaction.

They offer a free Maestro account which will be accepted only in the European Union. The advantage of Sparkasse is that they have physical offices in each city in Germany, even in a small one.

You can always go there if you need help, or any problem appears. Sparkasse even says “You are always welcome in one of our branches. If you need advice or a tip.”

Furthermore, Sparkasse offers a special credit for students, however, some nationalities might not be able to receive it, mostly non-EU citizens. Consult a professional in one of their offices for more information.

Compare providers and rates for various sim cards, insurances, credits & loans, tariffs for internet, electricity, much more to find a perfect deal for your situation. You can do it all on the platform Verivox.de which will also allow you to buy from a selected provider. 

We made the selection of health insurance in Germany easier for students. As an international student, you have a wide range of insurance providers to pick from, but we compared the best of them in this article.

International students, exchange students, interns, trainees, or researchers will find the best coverages at affordable rates.

3. 1822direkt

Bank 1822direkt is a part of the well-known Sparkasse bank in Germany. At 1822direkt students can select between three different options:

In addition to the debit card, you can apply for a credit card. Moreover, the application and setup are made online, so you don’t have to spend time going to the branch. 1822direkt has minimal requirements for students, you just need to have an address in the country.

The bank account is free for everyone under 27 years old.

Free online bank account

  1. Free account management when with monthly deposit over 0,01 EUR, otherwise affordable 1,90 EUR per month
  2. Including 4 free withdrawals from all Sparkasse ATMs in Germany (there are over 25,000 of them), plus 2,00 EUR per aditional withdrawal. You can use free cash service in many supermarkets (e.g. Aldi Süd, Lidl, REWE, dm-drogerie, etc.)
  3. Free debit card
  4. Optional overdraft facility (creditworthiness required)

Classic free bank account

  1. Free account management when with monthly deposit over 700 EUR, otherwise affordable 3,90 EUR per month
  2. Including 6 free withdrawals from all Sparkasse ATMs in Germany (there are over 25,000 of them), plus 2,00 EUR per aditional withdrawal. You can use free cash service in many supermarkets (e.g. Aldi Süd, Lidl, REWE, dm-drogerie, etc.)
  3. Free debit and credit cards
  4. Overdraft facility: you will immediately receive a credit of 1,000 EUR at your disposal (creditworthiness required)

Premium bank account

  1. Account management for 9,90 EUR per month
  2. Free debit and credit cards (Visa gold)
  3. Including free withdrawals from all Sparkasse ATMs in Germany (there are over 25,000 of them)
  4. Overdraft facility with 1% interest (creditworthiness required)

All accounts are manageable via online banking.

What does 1822direkt bank account offer for students?

  1. Free bank account for people under 27 years old
  2. Free cash withdraw in over 25,000 ATM across the country
  3. Free cash withdraw abroad in the EUR zone
  4. You can an choose between Visa or MasterCard
  5. You can get a credit card
  6. Transfers, standing orders, direct debits, payments with the card, are free of charge
  7. Google pay – pay with your phone
  8. You can use the current account payments within Europe and for for transfers beyond
  9. If you move abroad, you can keep the account and continue to use it
  10. To keep your account free of charge (for people over 27 years old) you just need need to do a one single incoming transfer per month

Open free bank acount online

The application is simple and made within minutes online. After that you will confirm your identity via PostIdent-procedure and your card will be on a way!

4. Bunq

Bunq is a relatively new banking concept founded in the Netherlands. It’s offering new generation banking, everything is online, simple, and fast. They operate in 5 languages, so there is no problem if you don’t speak German.

If you reside in the EU, Bunq is a great option. It will allow you to use banking not only in Germany but also in other countries at no cost.

However, Bunq doesn’t offer free accounts, but the fees are very reasonable and definitely worth the money.

They also have great account security, instant SEPA transfers (within the EU), low-cost international transfers, as well as incredible flexibility with sub-accounts and card options.

Bunq is one of the best online banks so far, the app has an amazing user interface and is simple to navigate.

Bunq banking account and card provide:

  • Instant transfers/payments – Bunq is a part of the SEPA network, your transfer will be delivered imminently if sending money within the EU, and within 24 hours during the holidays/weekends
  • Easy payment requests – send requests to friends. Receiving payments in Euros is free
  • Easy and low-cost international transfers/payments with Transferwise (Wise)
  • You can have 25 sub-accounts, 3 spending cards, 5 virtual cards, and contactless payments for more flexibility
  • Free ATM withdrawals
  • Contactless payments
  • Advanced budgeting features and instant payment notifications
  • Excellent user experience online and in the app
  • Bill splitting features
  • Set up direct deposits for your salary
  • Pay your bills easily
  • Block or enable your card from the app
  • Shop safely with disposable virtual cards
  • If you are a freelancer – special account for you with simple payouts, taxes, and invoice management

The Personal Premium account costs 7.99 EUR per month, with that you will get 25 sub-accounts, multiple debit cards including MasterCard and Maestro, and a travel card at no extra cost, all will be shipped to you. They offer a 1-month free trial, during which you can test the product.

Free Bunq Travel Card

How can you study in Germany and don’t experience places around you? Surely you will travel to at least neighboring countries like the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Austria and much more.

Bunq got you covered for this too, your package includes a special travel card at no extra cost. It will let you pay for goods and services while traveling abroad (great MasterCard exchange rate applicable for foreign transactions).

How to sign up for Bunq?

Signing up for Bunq is typically quick and easy. It takes 5 minutes and only a phone is required, forget about going to the office. To sign you need:

After your account is verified, you can top up your account with a bank transfer, credit card, debit card, or Sofort (Germany). Cash top-ups are supported in Germany, Austria, and Italy.

Finally, your debit cards will be shipped to your address at no extra cost.

Are you a student in Germany and looking for the best credit card? Check out this article – we made the choice easier for you.

5. ING

If you are looking for a free Visa card ING is the way to go. ING is a Dutch multinational banking and financial services corporation headquartered in Amsterdam. 

It is one of the 10 largest on revenue companies in Europe. Currently, it serves customers in 40 countries and Germany is one of the biggest markets.

Those who choose the ING student account benefit from all kinds of advantages: no account management fees – even after their studies, free cash throughout Europe, as well as free EU (Girocard) + VISA card. In addition, students receive a 500 EUR credit on request.

The offer is valid for students or individuals younger than 28 years old. Since you will receive 2 cards for free, a debit Visa card and a normal European card, you can withdraw money without commission in any ATMs in Germany and Europe.

Additionally, the bank can grand an overdraft up to 500 EUR without proof of further documents. Like any other solid bank, they offer online banking where you can do any transactions and transfers.

ING current student account offers:

  • 0,00 EUR account management for students
  • Girocard + VISA credit card included
  • Cash withdraw in EU without fees
  • Optional 500 EUR credit at 6.99% p. a.
  • A 75 EUR bonus for a student account with at least a 300 EUR monthly scholarship, salary, or stipend
  • Free mobile banking

Students receive cash free of charge with the Girocard at around 1,200 ATMs which belong to ING as well as Degussa Bank.

In addition, cash withdrawals are possible free of charge at all visa supporting ATMs. With that said, you can withdraw money from over 90% of all German cash machines (58,000) without paying any fees.

Sweet bonus, with ING bank account you receive a free ePaper subscription to the newspaper ” Die ZEIT ” for 6 months. The student newspaper CAMPUS und ZEIT Audio is also provided for two months. That way ING even helps you to improve your German for free!

A disadvantage of ING is the lack of their physical presence in Germany, the company has very few offices and only in the following cities: Frankfurt, Hamburg, Hannover, Nürnberg, and Berlin.

They explain it that through minimizing branches in Germany they save costs, so the bank can offer free accounts, credit interest rates, cheap loans, and free service.

Also read whether a foreigner can open a bank account in Germany and how to do it.

6. Deutsche Bank

Deutsche Bank won’t offer you a free Master or Visa card, instead, you will need to pay 18 EUR for this. However, you will receive a standard European Maestro card with Euro on balance.

The student’s account called “Junges Konto” is free of charge for all up to 30-year-old students, trainees, students, and volunteers. There is no monthly basic fee.

The Deutsche Bank Card, which can be used to withdraw money from over 38,000 machines in around 31 countries, is included free of charge. Transfers via online banking, banking terminal are included free of charge.

Deutsche Bank Young Account offers:

  • Free account management for students younger than 30
  • Free Girocard (EU card)
  • Free cash withdraw in Germany at Cash Group banks also abroad
  • Free cash withdraw worldwide at 38,000 ATM’s
  • Free online banking
  • Fully English Customer Service
  • Additional blocked account can be opened

Also, you can apply for Visa or Mastercard credit card for 39,00 EUR per year. The overdraft facility can be only applied to a credit card and from the age of 18, however, a good credit ranking is required.

Note that the interest rate is 10.90% P.A. if you decide to take an overdraft.

Apart from Deutsche Bank ATMs, cash withdrawal is possible at the partner’s banks in Germany such as Berliner Bank, Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank, Hypovereinsbank, Postbank. As well as internationally: Bank of America, Barclays, BNP Paribas, Scotiabank, TEB, and Westpac.

Disadvantages:

  • No free debit Visa or Mastercard
  • Charge of 1,5 EUR for money transactions at the counter

To sign up you will need your passport, university ID, and a document from your local Bürgeramt showing that you have a registered German address.  

Are you a student in Germany and looking for the best credit card? Check out this article – we made the choice easier for you.

Blocked account

Most of the embassies will require the student to open a blocked account (Sperrkonto), so they can be sure you have enough funds throughout the year. Students can open such an account at Deutsche Bank, this is the most popular and easy way.

But a blocked account isn’t a free feature, you will be paying an initial fee of 150 EUR and a monthly fee of 5.90 EUR.

My recommendation is to open the blocked account at DR.WALTER – the biggest insurance provider in Germany for international students. It will cost you less than at classic Deutsche Bank and the process is much easier. DR. WALTERS’s initial fee is 49 EUR plus 5 EUR per month.

Although, a blocked account allows you to spend only a limited amount of money per month. For more, you will need a regular current account, which you can then open in a Deutsche Bank or any other online or traditional bank.

Looking for the cheapest health insurance in Germany? Yes, I know how tight the budget of the student can be! That’s why I made a full in-depth article about the most affordable insurance in Germany!

7. Commerzbank

Last on our list but by far not the least – Commerzbank offers free basic accounts for international students. It is one of Germany’s largest banks, which has an extensive network of branches all across Germany which you can visit for a consultation.

Additionally, Commerzbank is among the few German banks to provide an English version of its website, making it very easy to use for many international students.

Commerzbank offers:

  • Completely free student account with no monthly or hidden fees
  • Free of charge cash withdraw* at all CashGroup banks such as Postbank, Deutsche Bank, Hypovereinsbank
  • Free cash deposits at all Commerzbank ATMs
  • One of the few German Banks with a website in English
  • Branches all across Germany
  • A student who deposits at least 500 EUR also receives a free Visa debit card with their account *

* If money is withdrawn with the credit card, further costs may arise

*If you can prove your monthly income Commerzbank will also provide a Visa credit card with a regular minimum allowance of 300 EUR per month. Also, prepaid credit cards are available.

If you are able to deposit these 500 EUR Visa card will be definitely an advantage, despite that you can pay anywhere in Europe with a standard EU card.

Yet sometimes you really need this Visa or Mastercard, especially if you purchase something on the international website or travel outside the EU.

Only students with the age younger than 30 can take advantage of a free debit card in Commerzbank. Moreover, trainees and social year participants can use their financial services too.

Moreover, Commerzbank has a so-called satisfaction guarantee, where all customers receive 50 EUR as a transfer after a period of at least one year of use.

Blocked bank account

Most of the embassies will require the student to open a blocked account (Sperrkonto), so they can be sure you have enough funds throughout the year. Students can open such an account at Deutsche Bank, this is the most popular and easy way.

But a blocked account isn’t a free feature, you will be paying an initial fee of 150 EUR and a monthly fee of 5.90 EUR.

However, there are better options for a blocked account such as DR.WALTER and Fintiba. DR.WALTER is the biggest insurance and also bank account provider for international students in Germany.

It will cost you less than at classic Deutsche Bank and the process is much easier. DR. WALTERS’s initial fee is 49 EUR plus 5 EUR per month.

Fintiba offers blocked account as well as health insurance. They provide services exceptionally for international students in Germany. You either can open only blocked bank account there or two in one account and health insurance for your stay in Germany.

Moreover, with Fintiba you can also purchase comprehensive public health insurance from the established insurance provider DAK Gesundheit. Fintiba offers excellent prices for students and personal assistance, so you can be sure they support you in financial and health questions.

Open a blocked account easier and faster with Fintiba than with any other bank, on average it takes just 10 minutes when in Deutsche Bank the same procedure will take up to several weeks. What is related to costs an initial fee for a blocked account lies at 89,00 EUR and a monthly fee at 4,90 EUR.

Health insurance which goes together with blocked account costs 33 EUR per month, and classic public health insurance starts at 109,89 EUR.

What do you need to consider before opening a bank account in Germany?

Your Age

Some banks provide a bank account for students only under a certain age, most of them won’t register a person over 30 years old. Therefore, make sure you qualify as a student for the bank.

Also note that if you are doing an internship or under training but still registered with a university, you will be considered as a trainee student and most banks provide the same benefits as for students.

If you are looking just for an option to pay online in Germany, we recommend having a look at virtual cards that everyone can get.

Benefits

Some Banks provided added benefits for students, such as special conditions for credit of a credit card, or joining bonuses such as cash benefits. Keep a lookout for joining bonus offers.

Cost

Although most of the banks provide a free bank account for students and trainees, there may be some banks that have hidden costs such as transaction charges or withdrawal fees.

Always read the fine print or look out for such charges and ask just ask. Additionally, some banks will charge you account fees once you are no longer a student.

Therefore, make sure you cancel the bank account once you finish your studies or see if they have other conditions for a free account (e.g. deposit a regular monthly salary).

Cards

Which card do you actually get with the registration of the student account? All the banks provide an EC/Maestro Card which is valid only within the EU.

Sometimes you can’t even purchase stuff online on international websites, because they don’t have the option to pay with SEPA (Single Euro Payments Area) what the EU does.

Therefore I would recommend a bank that offers an international debit Visa or Mastercard in addition to the standard Maestro. It is also helpful for international travel.

We made the selection of health insurance in Germany easier for students. As an international student, you have a wide range of insurance providers to pick from, but we compared the best of them in this article.

Also read: Best virtual cards for online payments in Germany and best credit cards for students in Germany.

Recommended products and services in Germany:

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