Living in Germany but your German is not yet on C2 level? No worries, a few bank accounts speak English (or even more languages), have not basic fees, come with a Visa & Mastercard and offer free ATM withdrawals. Don’t believe it? Then read on.
First things first: All of them are online banks. But in a pandemic you can’t go to a branch bank anyway. And I – being with an online bank (DKB) now for 11 years – can simply say: It’s much better customer service when I can call or email them from home, instead of going to their branch, take a number and wait.
Still here? Then let’s take a look at each bank first, and below you will find a neat comparison table summing up the main things.
1. Vivid: Cashback + €20 welcome gift
Vivid is the newest bank account on the German market, and it’s not only free – it even pays you: With Cashback, you for example get money back when you pay with their free metal Visa debit card:
- 10% at Lidl & Aldi supermarkets
- 10% at Tier & Voi electric scooters
- 10% at Netflix & Spotify
- and many more
(€20 maximum earnings per month.)
Besides, you have a regular German IBAN account number for free SEPA transfers, an app allowing you to create balances in other currencies and exchange money based on the Visa exchange rate.
Free cash withdrawal at any ATM is also available but limited to €200 per month.
Google Pay is available but Apple Pay is not yet (but planned).
And: For this account, we have got a referral link that will pay you a welcome gift of €20 (once you have spent your first €20 with it).
Update: I’ve made a review of Vivid, including screenshots & videos of the app:
2. Bitwala: Unlimited free withdrawals + Bitcoin wallet
I could not really believe the offer – it is by far the cheapest, plus perfect if you are also intro cryptocurrencies (or want to be).
Basically everything at Bitwala is free: Opening the account, running the account, a Mastercard, withdrawing money (as often as you want, worldwide), paying with the card.
And on top, you get a Bitcoin and Ethereum wallet, and access to a trading area where you can buy or sell these cryptocurrencies (finally something with fees: 1%)
A little minus: No Google or Apple Pay is working yet.
3. Tomorrow: Climate-friendly / offset CO2 emissions
Care for our world and our climate? Then Tomorrow allows you to do that even with your bank account: With their revenues they finance climate-friendly projects in renewable energy, organic agriculture, microcredits.
And they also have a free plan: With the basic account, you have no monthly fees, a Visa card (incl. feeless payments worldwide) and 3 free cash withdrawals per month.
Google Pay is available but Apple Pay is not.
4. N26: English, Spanish, French, Italian
The most multilingual account, and by now a “classic” one too: N26 was the first app-only account in Germany, starting in 2014. And none of the other speaks more languages: N26 offers support in 5!
Besides, they are the only one offering both Google and Apple Pay.
Remaining features are solid: free account keeping, a Mastercard (with no payment fees) – and cash withdrawals are also unlimited in Germany via Cash26: Instead to an ATM you go to one of their partner shops (e.g. Rewe + Penny supermarkets), show a barcode from your N26 app and get paid.
For details, check my long-term review of N26 here.
(Note: This is not necessarily a complete list of German bank accounts with English support. More might have appeared since this article was written.)
|Language support||English, German||English, German||English, German||English, French, Spanish, Italian, German|
|Cards||Visa + virtual Visa||Mastercard||Visa||Mastercard, maestro|
|Features||Cashback, multiple currencies||Bitcoin+ETH wallet, trading||Climate-friendly: offset CO2 emissions||Support in many languages|
|Paying with card||free||free||free||free|
|Cash withdrawals at ATMs||€200/month free||free||3/month in €: free,|
more/other currencies: 1.5%
|3/month in DE: free,|
with Cash26: free
|Top up||SEPA transfer: free||SEPA transfer: free, send+sell BTC/ETH: 1%||SEPA transfer: free||SEPA transfer: free,|
|Post ident||❌||❌||as an exception||✅|
|Welcome gift||€20 when spent €20 with card||–||–||€15 when spent €15 with card|
New: Free advice & help
How to open an account?
Click on the account you are interested in – if the page is in German, find the language switch to English somewhere above. For most banks, you can enter your mobile phone number and then get sent a download link to your phone to get their app.
The banks are required to identify you – and since they are online banks and have no branches, they will do this with a video chat on your phone. Have your documents (e.g. ID or passport prepared).
And a proof of your residence. It
- must not be older than 3 months
- contain your full name and address
- can be a bill for water, electricity, internet, gas etc.
- or an Anmeldung / Meldebestätigung
Feel free to ask in the comments. 🙂
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