The best credit cards offer you Expats in Germany a lot of services and cost nothing
When Expats move to Germany, the first things they notice with regards to finances in Germany is how relactant people are to use credit cards.
At the moment, Expats can also get free credit cards. They are perfect because you don’t pay any annual fees for these cards. Additionally, the fees for withdrawing and paying are limited.
What is a credit card?
Since their introduction in New York in the 1950s, credit cards have become a widely accepted means of payment worldwide – now even as a prepaid card. In Germany, they are mostly used to pay for hotels, flights and rental cars, for withdrawing cash abroad or to pay online. In the USA, on the other hand, you can use your credit card to make cashless payments for almost all purchases, even very small amounts.
Cardholders can make cashless payments or withdraw money at the points of acceptance that display the logo of their credit card company (Visa, Mastercard or American Express).
Visually, credit cards are very similar to girocards (EC cards) , but the credit card number is clearly noticeable on the card. Only prepaid cards are not issued by all providers with embossing. In addition to the cardholder’s name and signature, the credit card number is required for payment and is supplemented by the verification number, which is particularly requested when making purchases on the Internet.
Credit cards with an NFC function are optically marked with a radio wave symbol. They enable customers to make contactless payments.
How do credit cards work?
When customers pay with a classic credit card, the money does not come directly from their checking account, but from the credit card company. The outstanding amount is only debited from the account with the monthly credit card statement – with a charge card at once, with cards with partial payment function in installments. When paying with a debit or prepaid card, however, the money is immediately deducted from the linked current account or from the credit that has been loaded.
When is the credit card billing done?
Typical credit cards are billed on a monthly basis on a fixed date. Depending on the provider, the outstanding amount can be paid off in one sum (charge card) or in installments (card with partial payment function). Especially for this purpose, credit cards usually have their own card account, which is linked to the current account.
Top providers in a credit card comparison
Most banks make a credit card expensive. Fees of 40 or 50 euros a year are not uncommon. Withdrawing money and paying abroad usually costs extra. It doesn’t have to be. With our credit card comparison, you can find a credit card for which you do not pay anything with just a few clicks of the mouse.
The top 5 credit cards in Germany (2020):
In addition to the winners Visa and Mastercard, American Express credit cards are particularly popular in Germany. Visa and Mastercard are issued by banks – mostly as Classic or Gold cards with a current account. American Express and the lesser-known card company Diners Club, however, issue their cards directly.
Find cheap credit cards in comparison
Annual fees are often charged for using the card. How high these turn out differs depending on the provider and the status of the credit card – Classic, Gold or Platinum. Gold and platinum cards usually have a higher annual fee and offer more free additional services than Classic cards.
Instead of a uniform annual fee, some issuers charge a one-off fee for card issuance, while others charge sales-related costs. Some publishers waive the annual fee – either for the first year or permanently – or even offer credit cards with prepaid interest. However, many free credit cards have fees for withdrawing cash or using them abroad. A possible annual fee can be put into perspective by advantages such as international health insurance or a fuel discount, especially for frequent users.
In the credit card comparison of the independent consumer portal Verivox, you can discover the costs and additional services of various cards and find the right offer for your needs. You can choose exactly what your credit card should offer: for example waiver of the basic fee , free withdrawals of cash worldwide, bonus programs such as cashback , fuel discount or travel discount, various insurance policies and more.
Additional costs in Germany
Pay attention to the following so as not to overlook any costs:
- Some providers do not automatically deduct the loan amount from the current account, but the cardholder has to transfer it every time – fees are charged if the payment deadline is missed.
- For cards with a partial payment function, banks can charge an effective annual interest rate that is many times higher than, for example, current installment loan rates . It can be worthwhile for cardholders to adjust the card settings so that the entire outstanding amount is paid at the end of the month and not just a partial amount.
- With some credit cards, the basic fee is only waived if certain minimum sales have been reached.
The comparison shows which cards allow free payments and free cash withdrawals only domestically, only in the euro zone or worldwide also in foreign currency. In addition, machine operators abroad can charge additional fees. Caution: Some cards allow you to withdraw cash free of charge worldwide in a foreign currency, but not in Germany. Cardholders should use their Girocard at German ATMs.
The credit card provider in Germany
Credit cards are offered by credit card companies, for example Mastercard, Visa Card, American Express, Diners Club or JCB. Mastercard, Visa and JCB sell their cards through partners ( credit card issuers or issuers ). American Express and Diners Club issue them directly and are therefore both provider and issuer.
Diners Club was the world’s first credit card company, soon followed by American Express. Both quickly expanded into Europe. The currently leading providers Visa and Mastercard were added later. The first European bank to issue its own card was Barclays with the Barclaycard in 1966. In the meantime, not only banks but also other companies have issued their own Mastercard and Visa cards. These are often combined with special bonus systems from the respective provider, for example Miles and More from Lufthansa. Anyone with a Miles and More credit card collects miles for the amount spent with every purchase.
Visa is the world’s largest credit card company and the Visa card is one of the most popular credit cards. Whether withdrawing cash, paying at the petrol station or shopping online with payment terms, the various Visa products satisfy every target group. The Visa card is available as a Classic, Gold, Platinum and Infinite card and is mostly issued by banks. Business customers can also use the Commercial or Corporate Card.
With the Mastercard , cash withdrawals can be made relatively cheaply anywhere in Germany and abroad. It is also one of the most frequently used credit cards in Germany. The offer of the company, which was founded in 1966, includes Classic cards, Mastercard Gold and the premium offers Mastercard Platinum and Mastercard Word Elite.
The Mastercard Professional is aimed at corporate customers; Mastercard Prepaid offers cards for young people and consumers who appreciate full payment control. In addition, a large number of additional services are available in connection with purchasing on payment terms – if you are specifically looking for a bonus program or international health insurance, you will find it here.
3. American Express
The company American Express in 1850 first established as express delivery service in the United States. It wasn’t until 40 years later that it became a financial services provider. Special features of the American Express credit cards are the Membership Rewards bonus program, which collects points that can be redeemed for rewards, and the elimination of a spending limit.
Like Visa and Mastercard, American Express offers standard and premium cards. However, there are considerably higher annual fees for these. The fees for the Centurion card are even in the 4-digit range and it can only be received by invitation. In return, however, it comes with a wide range of additional services.
Diners Club was the first credit card. It was developed by Frank McNamara in New York in the early 1950s and is considered a pioneer of American Express and Visa. In addition, this was the first provider to develop bonus programs with international health insurance and the use of airport lounges – this makes them particularly popular with business customers. As with American Express, there is no spending limit – unlimited cash withdrawals or purchases with payment terms are child’s play. In return, however, an annual fee and debit interest must be paid.
Credit card types in comparison
Different types of credit cards differ primarily according to the type of billing. Some banks also offer the double card , consisting of Visa and Mastercard, which offers advantages when making payments abroad and for the self-employed.
|Credit card type||Description|
|Charge card||Commonly known as a credit card is the charge card . Billing is usually on a monthly basis, the owner receives an invoice for the expenses incurred.|
|Debit card||The most common in Germany is the debit card . The girocard (bank card or EC card) is part of practically every giro account. But Visa Debit and Mastercard Debit also exist as separate cards. With a debit card, loans are only granted for a short time because the money is debited from the linked checking account immediately after payment.|
|Prepaid card||The prepaid credit card is also available to people with poor credit ratings and negative Schufa entries, because no credit line is granted here. Like a prepaid mobile phone card, it must first be topped up with a credit balance before it can be used for cash withdrawals or purchases made for payment. So, strictly speaking, it is not a credit card. This product can also be compared in the Verivox credit card calculator.|
|Daily Charge Card||The daily charge card is a combination of prepaid and classic credit cards, which is not yet very common in Germany. On the one hand, it can be topped up with a credit, but it also offers a credit line when the credit is used up.|
|Virtual credit card||A more recent model is the virtual credit card . It is suitable for use online. As the name suggests, the user does not receive a physical card model, but only the necessary data (card number, check digit, validity). This enables him to make payments on the Internet that do not require a credit card to be presented.|
|Revolving Card||With the Revolving Card, credit card transactions are not automatically booked to the current account. The customer can choose between repayment of the invoice amount in one sum or in installments. If the customer prefers to pay in installments, interest is due. The amount of the partial payments is contractually regulated and usually amounts to five to ten percent of the liability. In addition, a monthly minimum repayment amount is agreed. As soon as the customer pays the outstanding invoice amount in full, no more interest accrues.|