Generally, international students come to Germany with blocked accounts (sperrkonto). Most of the blocked accounts are used only to get a visa but not provide additional services e.g debit cards, online payments, etc. So, international students always search for another bank account to get money from blocked accounts and to access additional services like online payments or credit cards, etc.

Because of only a few large banks present in Germany, students have only a few options to open student accounts. Most of the banks in Germany are smaller and exist regionally. Only a few banks have their network across the country e.g Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank, Post bank, and Sparkasse.

Types of banks in Germany:

There are three types of banks in Germany:

  1. Public savings banks
    • A public savings bank is the Sparkasse.
  2. Private commercial banks
    • Private banks are Deutsche Bank, Postbank, Commerzbank, Dresdner Bank, and Unicredit Bank AG (HypoVereinsbank). These four banks are the largest banks in Germany and called cash groups.
  3. Cooperative banks
    • Cooperative banks are Volksbanks and Raiffeisenbanks, Sparda-Bank, and PSD Bank.
  4. Virtual Banks (Direct banks)
    • Direct banks are bunq, N26, ComDirect, and DKB. These types of banks only exist virtually and offer only online banking without physical branches and ATMs. Direct banks also offer student accounts but their bank cards can only be used on selected ATMs.

Private banks are located mostly in big and small cities whereas cooperative and public savings banks are almost everywhere. For example, Sparkasse is present in the whole of Germany even in small villages.

Top-4 bank accounts for students offered by the public and private banks:

Top-4 most popular bank accounts for students and trainees in Germany are ‘startkonto‘ offered by Commerzbank, ‘das jungeskonto’ offered by Deutsche Bank, ‘giro plus‘ offered by Post bank, and ‘schülerkonto’ offered by Sparkasse.

Comparison of bank accounts for students

Here is the comparison of student bank accounts offered by public and private German banks.

Commerz BankDeutsche BankPost BankSparkasse
Account NameStartkontoDas Junges KontoGiro PlusSchülerkonto
Charges (Opening/Monthly/Annually)ZeroZeroZeroZero
Free Debit CardYesYesYesYes
Cash WithdrawalFree (Free withdrawal also on cash group ATMs)*Free (Free withdrawal also on cash group ATMs)*Free (Free withdrawal also on cash group ATMs)*Free only on Sparkasse ATMs. Charges on all other ATMs.
Credit CardFree Visa Credit Card if you receive 500 euros each month in this account.NoNoNo
ATM’s AvailabilityBranches all across Germany. Free withdrawal also on cash group ATMs.Branches all across Germany. Free withdrawal also on cash group ATMs.Branches all across Germany. Free withdrawal also on cash group ATMs.25,000 Sparkasse ATMs across Germany.
Services in EnglishATM/WebsiteWebsite/Customer Service/ATM/AppATMATM
Blocked Account FacilityYes**YesYes**Yes**
Mobile AppIn EnglishIn EnglishIn GermanIn English

*Cash Group is a cooperation of the four largest German private banks and their subsidiaries. **After arrival in Germany.

Top-4 student accounts offered by direct banks:

Popular bank accounts for students offered by direct banks are ‘girokonto student’ by ING, ‘girokonto‘ by Comdirect, ‘girokonto’ by N26, and ‘DKB cash‘ by DKB.

Comparison of bank accounts for students:

Here is the comparison of the best four student accounts offered by direct banks.

INGComdirectN26DKB
Account NameGirokonto StudentGirokontoGirokontoDKB Cash
Charges (Opening/Monthly/Annually)ZeroZeroZeroZero
Free Debit CardVisaVisa Free Master Card Visa
Cash WithdrawalFree cash withdrawal on all vending machines with VISA markFree on 9,000
ec-Maestro-Karte ATMs plus CashGroup and Shell Gas Station ATMs
Free withdrawal on ATMs with Mastercard signsFree withdrawal on ATMs with Visa signs
Credit CardFree credit card (VISA)Free credit card Master Card Free Visa credit card
ATM’s AvailabilityIn Eurozone 90% of all machines with Visa mark9,000
ec-Maestro-Karte ATMs plus CashGroup and Shell Gas Station ATMs
Withdrawal only on ATMs with Mastercard signs Free withdrawal on ATMs with Visa signs
BranchesAs a direct bank few branchesNoNoNo

How to open a German bank account?

You need the following documents to open a student account in any German bank:

  • City registration
  • Valid visa/Residence permit
  • Passport
  • Admission letter/student card

Visit a public or private bank personally to open a student account. Apply online to open a student account in a direct bank.

FAQ about bank accounts for students in Germany:

What is the difference between a normal bank and a direct bank?

A normal bank exists actually with branches and a Direct bank exists only online.

What is GiroKonto?

In Germany, the current account is called GiroKonto.

Which bank is the largest in Germany?

Deutsche Bank is the largest bank in Germany.

What does Cash Group mean?

Cash Group is a cooperation of the four largest German private banks and their subsidiaries.

How many banks are in Germany?

Germany has more than 1,800 banks but only a few banks offer student accounts.

What is TAN?

A TAN (transaction authentication number) is used for online-banking as a one-time password to approve financial transactions. The TAN functions as a second layer of security for online transactions. Nowadays photo TANs are necessary to use for online banking in Germany.

What is SEPA and how does it work?

The SEPA (Single Euro Payments Area) allows European customers to make cashless euro payments to any account located anywhere in Europe. Customers just need IBAN to receive and transfer money with SEPA.

Which credit card is best for students in Germany?

‘Gebuhrenfrei Mastercard Gold’ is very popular with international students in Germany.