Have you tried the Girogo Contactless payment with the EC card? You should!


Share post:

Using the Girogo function, you can use your bank card to make contactless payments of up to 20€ when shopping. All you have to do is hold your card in front of the reader and your prepaid credit will be debited. The payment method is quick and easy, but some consumers also have security concerns.

Girogo is a function for cashless payment with the bank card to the current account , also called Girocard. The German credit industry, representing the interests of the credit institutions in Germany, introduced the system in 2012.

Contactless payments are made with Girogo, i.e. the card is held up to a payment terminal and the amount to be paid is debited. This is not done directly from the current account, as is the case with conventional card payments.


Distribution and characteristics

Instead, the Girogo chip works via a prepaid model, so credit has to be topped up first. There is a similarity to the cash card, however Girogo differs from it in the contactless payment via NFC technology. Since NFC technology (short for: Near Field Communication ) is integrated in many current smartphones, Girogo is often seen as a bridging technology for payment by smartphone. It is available for small amounts up to 20 euros and is intended to make payment processes faster and easier .

Provider of Girogo

The function is available with many giro cards (known as EC cards until 2003) from banks and savings banks. You can tell whether your card is one of them, either by the Girogo logo, the contactless logo or the money card symbol. If you are not sure, you can also check with your bank. Older cards cannot be activated for Girogo because they require a special chip that is not included on the card. In this case, however, you can also inquire at your bank about the options available if you want to use Girogo.

In addition to the bank card with an integrated Girogo function, there are also cards that are not tied to an account. These are known as white cards and can be topped up for cash, online or at a loading terminal. They are an alternative for people whose bank does not offer Girogo or who have security concerns about a Girogo card, which is also the card for the current account.

Paying with Girogo

There are currently around 13,000 Girogo acceptance points in Germany (as of January 2016). These include, for example, dm drugstores, Esso petrol stations, the grocery stores Edeka, Netto, HIT, Norma and Tengelmann, Douglas perfumeries, as well as branches of the Thalia, Christ, AppelrathCüpper and Hussel chains. 

You can tell whether a retailer offers payment with Girogo by the Girogo logo in the checkout area. You can also search for acceptance points in your area on the Girogo website.


Which functionality offer Girogo?

Contactless payments are made using NFC technology. This is a wireless technology that is characterized by the fact that the two sides have to be very close to each other for data exchange, i.e. a few centimeters. The connection is established very quickly and does not have to be activated separately, as is the case, for example, when connecting to a WLAN network.

The payment process with Girogo is very quick and easy. You can use this function whenever the total of your purchase is 20€ or less. Then simply indicate that you want to pay by card and hold your card in front of the card reader. The distance should be about two centimeters. The amount is debited in less than a second, without you having to enter your PIN or authorize the payment by signature. The successful payment process is indicated by an optical or acoustic signal.

Accidental multiple charges are very unlikely

If you accidentally hold your card several times in front of the card reader, you do not have to worry that the amount will be deducted from your balance several times. The merchant has to reactivate the terminal for each transaction.

Top up the Girogo card

The Girogo card is intended for paying smaller amounts of up to 20€. Accordingly, a maximum of 200€ can be loaded onto the card as credit. Since this is a prepaid model, only the credit on the card can be spent; overdrawing is not possible. An exception is the subscription loading function, which automatically reloads the credit. You have these options when you want to top up Girogo:

At the ATMYou can top up at around 58,000 ATMs across Germany by transferring money from your account to the Girogo chip. All you have to do is insert your card into the machine and select the menu item “Geldkarte / girogo”. Then enter your PIN and choose the amount you want to be transferred to the chip.
At the loading terminalThere are special loading terminals that you can find in canteens and in some football stadiums, for example. It is also possible to top up for cash there.
When paying at the cash registerIf the credit is not sufficient when paying, you can top it up directly at the checkout. If you have activated the subscription loading function, this is done automatically for the amount you have specified, which is between 20€ and 50€. Otherwise you can top up your credit by entering your PIN. The amount is set at 35€. Charging with a card reader is generally only possible in connection with a purchase.
On the PCIf you want to top up your Girogo chip from home, you need a suitable chip card reader that you connect to your PC. Then you can top up the card online.
Via the smartphoneIf you have an NFC-enabled smartphone, you may be able to top up your credit using an app from your bank. Find out more from your bank or savings bank.

Check credit

There are several ways to find out how high your Girogo balance is. Each time you load or pay, you will see the amount that is still available. You can also use a TAN generator or chip card reader for checking.

Alternatively, it is also possible to read the current Girogo status with an NFC-enabled smartphone and a corresponding app.


Security and data protection

Contactless payment raises concerns for many consumers: is my data safe? Can payments be made by mistake? Can the card be read or used improperly by third parties? The German banking industry at least promises the highest security and data protection standards.

At Girogo, security is always called into question. On the one hand, there is the question of whether the card can be misused for payments. On the other hand, privacy advocates fear that the unencrypted data transmission via NFC could make it possible for unauthorized persons to read out data and, for example, to create movement profiles of the users.

According to the banks, unauthorized debiting from the Girogo card is not possible because the small distance required for the transfer would be difficult to achieve. In addition, it can be ruled out that multiple payments are accidentally made at the same terminal because these are not triggered automatically. A payment process can also only be initiated from a terminal with a registered dealer card. Since the debit is made via the Girogo chip, no connection is made to the customer’s account when paying. That only happens during the charging process.

In principle, it is possible to read out the customer’s purchase data and thus also to create a movement profile. It is difficult to say to what extent this is realistic in practice. In any case, the stored data is not information such as name, date of birth or address, so no conclusions can be drawn about your person or your financial circumstances. The card is identified by an identification number from which no information about your name or your bank account details can be derived.

What do I do if I lose my card?

Since the Girogo card is usually also the card for your current account (unless you are using a white card), you have an interest in having the card blocked as soon as possible. This is possible via the central blocking number 116 116.

Blocking also deletes the subscription charging order, if you have issued one. This is important, as it would otherwise be possible for a thief or finder to make virtually unlimited purchases at your expense because the credit is automatically topped up again. However, the remaining amount that is still on the chip can neither be blocked nor reimbursed.

Advantages and disadvantages of Girogo


  • The payment process becomes faster and easier
  • No PIN entry or signature required
  • There is no need to search for change
  • When paying by card, it is no longer possible to spy out the PIN


  • The card must be topped up before shopping
  • If the card is lost, the credit is also lost
  • Subscription loading makes the card prone to abuse if it is not blocked quickly
  • The security of the payment system can be called into question
  • The current balance is not directly visible
Expaturm aims to help educate Expats in Germany on key issues that they will have to deal with while living in Germany by providing everything you need to know about Banking, Healthcare, Lifestyle, and Housing in Germany


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related articles

Guide To Banking in Germany for Expats, Students and Immigrants: How does it work? What do you need to know?

Guide to make sure you understand how banks in Germany work: From Lastschrift (Direct Debit) to Zinsen (interest...

10 tips for finding an internship in Germany

To be sure of getting an internship in Germany, plan ahead, make sure that your application file is complete (diplomas , correspondence...

Best German current account for students and foreign academics in Germany

International students and foreign academics staying in Germany require good organization, including all financial matters. A German current...

This is how ELStAM, the electronic wage tax deduction features work

In Germany, income tax is the most important tax for business and workers. For one calendar year, you...