Yesterday was a very successful day. We registered with the city where we are currently “living,” opened a German bank account and scheduled a time to go look at cars.
The process of opening a German bank account was surprisingly simple, like way more simple than in the States. I thought I’d share what we went through to open our bank account because it does show the cultural differences and is really interesting!
Step 1 to opening your German bank account: schedule an appointment!
I found this to be so surreal. You need a reservation for pretty much everything here in Germany. It is not a requirement, but rather a strong recommendation to have an appointment. That way, you know the person who will set up your account will be available and ready with all of your paperwork.
Our relocation agent was nice enough to accompany us on this adventure to serve as a translator, which was immensely helpful. Also, be prepared for the process to take about an hour.
Step 2: prepare all your paperwork
You will need your passport, your work contract or some document that says you are employed with your salary, marriage certificate (if applicable) and registration papers to show you the city where you are living.
Step 3: take a rest day from working out your arms because they will get a work out
You will have to sign a ton of different documents!! One document to open the account, one document for a credit card, one document to do online banking and a German W-9 form for tax purposes. Thank goodness we brought a lot of ink!
This is what our bank looks like. It was seriously one of the nicest banks I’ve ever been to. There wasn’t a single bank teller like in the States; everyone had a desk.
Step 4: be prepared for the easiest credit card application of your life
We opened a German credit card, as well, at the bank. It was so easy! There were 2 choices: one with a monthly fee and one with an annual fee per user. The monthly fee card gave you a free bank account, free withdrawals from any bank up to 25 times per year and insurance on the card. The annual fee was a little less per year but didn’t give you the free withdrawals or insurance.
We went with the monthly fee option since we plan on traveling quite a bit for the next 3 years.
And then the easy part happened. The computer recommended a certain credit limit based on Hubby’s income. And it was more than our US credit limit. Okay, cool. AND THEN…the woman asks us if we want to have that limit total or per card? We looked at her a little funny and asked if there was a fee to do that or anything. When she said no, we agreed to having the limit per card! When would that have ever happened in the US? Uh, never!
Oh, and we had yet to give any information like a social security number or the Germany equivalent number. Your credit limit literally does not matter! It’s not based on your history, on a credit score, nothing! It was amazing.
Step 5: walk out happy!
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