GIROMATCH Logo

Best Credit Cards in Germany

Helping you find the right credit card in Germany
Presse und Auszeichnungen
Reading Time: 8 mins

Credit cards in Germany: Tips and recommendations

Credit cards in Germany have become more and more popular over the last years and having a good credit card is important for anyone coming to Germany, whether it’s for travel, for business or to live here. But getting your own card is not as easy as it looks. Picking the right type of credit card (credit, debit, charge, virtual?), navigating the over 2.500 German banks and figuring out what they really cost can be tough.

To find the best credit card that suits your needs, we will show you what you need to pay attention to, which type of credit card makes sense for you and we’ll show you quite some facts about credit card usage in Germany. We also have several choices depending on what you need and have in-depth reviews of the providers.

We’ve put together this guide to help you answer the following questions:

  • What are the requirements for a credit card in Germany?
  • How do I apply for one?
  • Which bank should I choose?
  • What are the different types of cards and how much do they cost?
  • Which credit card is best for me?

Best credit card in Germany: DKB-VISA

DKB-Cash
Das kann Bank
Type: 
Debit Credit Card
Provider:  
VISA
Yearly Fee: 
€ 0,-
APR: 
0% APR
Google Pay LogoApple Pay LogoVISA Logo
Result
4.3
09/2021
  • No account management fees
  • Free debit card and DKB VISA card
  • Withdraw money abroad free of charge
  • Modern app, online banking, contactless payment, Apple Pay, Google Pay

We picked the DKB-VISA as the best credit card in Germany because it is free and comes with a free bank account. You get an overdraft of up to 500,- Euro automatically and can increase the overdraft to 3x your net income. It comes with all features needed for online shopping, travel and insurance, has Google and Apple Pay and you have unlimited free cash withdrawals in Germany, the EU and abroad.

The only downside is that the account and cash withdrawals are only free for “active customers” (Aktivkunden), which requires a monthly income of € 700 on the account.

German credit cards: Understand who to choose from

Before you choose a credit card or a bank account, you should know how the market works, so you can better understand what features to expect – and what not to expect. The German banking market can be structure into three types.

Traditional BanksOnline BanksNeobanks
Traditional BanksOnline BanksNeobanks
Deutsche Bank
Commerzbank
Sparkasse
Volksbanken
DKB
ING
comdirect
Hanseatic
N26
bunq
revolut
Vivid Money
The 3 types of banks in Germany: Old, New and Future

Traditional banks: Deutsche Bank, Sparkasse, Volksbanken

“Traditional banks” which can be public or private banks like Sparkasse (Savings Banks), Volksbanken but also large houses like Commerzbank and Deutsche Bank. These offer all the services a bank can offer, will have a large, albeit decreasing number of physical branches and are usually not the cheapest options.

Direct banks and credit card banks: ING, DKB, comdirect

The second branch are Direct Banks or Online Banks (“Direktbanken”) which have no physical branches but operate only online. They have a large variety of services and have changed the German banking market between the years 2000 to 2020 heavily. You will find speciality providers for credit cards like Advanzia Bank or Hanseatic Bank, providers that have everything like ING or DKB, or loan and financing banks like SWK Bank.

Neobanks and smartphone banks: N26, bunq, revolut, Vivid

The third type are so called Neobanks or Smartphone banks, sometimes also called “fintechs” for financial technology. These are smart, lightweight banks that offer “boutique” services through their app or online. Most offer “freemium” models, where all the basic financial and credit card services are free, but for small monthly fees you can increase the power of your credit card and account. Another advantage: These banks are usually international, have English-speaking support and services and are operational not just in Germany, but many countries in the EU.

How we choose our offers:

We will be focusing on Direct Banks and Neobanks for this article as we believe these banks offer the better services in regards to the costs they entail. Traditional banks like Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank are the most well-known brands, but they’re not necessarily the best product.

Best credit card in Germany: These are (some of) your options

Best credit card with credit limit: Advanzia Bank

Advanzia
The no-fee Mastercard Gold
Type: 
Revolving Credit Card
Provider:  
Mastercard
Yearly Fee: 
€ 0,-
APR: 
19,44% APR
Google Pay LogoApple Pay LogoMastercard Logo
Result
3.9
09/2021
  • No annual fee, no fees for cash withdrawals
  • No charge for use abroad
  • Credit limit starting from 100,- Euro up to 20.000,- Euro
  • Interest-free payment term for purchases
  • Free and personal customer service, 24/7

We’ve chosen Advanzia bank as your best option because we know from our own experience that Advanzia is a revolving credit card that you can get even if you have no credit history in Germany (“SCHUFA”). Many banks will decline to give you credit if your credit history is empty. This is particularly an issue if you have no banking history in Germany. The expected credit limit for an initial application should be around 500,- to 1000,- Euro, but is dependent on your income and can be expanded later.

Best free credit card: DKB-VISA

DKB-Cash
Das kann Bank
Type: 
Debit Credit Card
Provider:  
VISA
Yearly Fee: 
€ 0,-
APR: 
0% APR
Google Pay LogoApple Pay LogoVISA Logo
Result
4.3
09/2021
  • No account management fees
  • Free debit card and DKB VISA card
  • Withdraw money abroad free of charge
  • Modern app, online banking, contactless payment, Apple Pay, Google Pay

Technically, you have to have an income of at least 700,- Euro per month for the card and the bank account and the credit card to be free – but we believe this to be a valid requirement for the services that you can get with the free DKB-VISA card and the DKB-Cash account.

Best prepaid credit card: bunq

bunq
bank of The Free
Type: 
Debit Credit Card
Provider:  
Mastercard
Yearly Fee: 
Starting at € 35,88
APR: 
0,00% APR
Google Pay LogoApple Pay LogoMastercard Logo
Result
4.3
09/2021
  • Bank account with Mastercard debit card
  • 5 minute application with no SCHUFA or credit check
  • 3 cards (1x Maestro, 2x Mastercard), 5 virtual cards, 25 (!) IBAN accounts included
  • Mobile bank with a great app, Google Pay, Apple Pay and good support
  • Sustainable and environmentally friendly banking (carbon offsetting, equal opportunity and more)

Once again, we went with a bank account that offers you several types of credit cards, including a debit credit card that functions as a prepaid card. bunq is not a free account as the “Easy Bank”-Model will set you back 2,99 Euro per month with one card. If you opt for the “Easy Money” model, you’ll pay 8,99 Euro per month but you will have 3 credit card: The Maestro card, the Mastercard debit card and, if you want, the Mastercard Metal Credit Card. What makes the bunq an ideal prepaid credit card is the ease and speed with which you can open your account.

You can find our in-depth review of bunq here.

Best virtual credit card: kredu

kredu
Sofort weltweit online bezahlen
Type: 
Virtual Credit Card
Provider:  
Mastercard
Yearly Fee: 
€ 99,-
APR: 
Not available
Mastercard Logo
Result
3.7
09/2021
  • Instantly available virtual credit card with credit limit
  • Up to 2.000 € credit limit
  • Online registration, receive credit card number via email within minutes
  • 24/7, weekend support included
  • Including buy now, pay later-feature (45 days)

Kredu offers you a virtual Mastercard credit card with a credit limit of up to 2.000,- Euro. Since you have a credit limit, you will need to have an income of at least 500,- Euros. The card comes with a fixed price of 99,- Euros per year, so it is not the cheapest choice. It also does not have English-speaking support as of August 2021. Nevertheless it is the only proper virtual credit card in Germany that will give you an instant credit limit to shop.

Credit card usage in Germany: What you need to know

Germans love their cash. When not using cash, they still have their own card-payment-system that has historically dominated non-cash payments. But things have changed in the last years. VISA and Mastercard are more and more common. Cashless and contactless payments using cards or NFC (near-field-communication) have been on the rise and increased year-on-year during Covid.

Most Popular Credit Cards issued in Germany
Most popular credit cards in Germany issued by credit card provider (Source: Statista)

From the traditional banks like Sparkasse, large credit institutions like Deutsche Bank or Commerzbank and especially the up-and-coming smartphone banks hitting the German market, everyone is offering a credit card from VISA or Mastercard when opening an account. Those credit cards are oftentimes debit cards or charge cards using the payment networks of the large credit card providers.

GIROMATCH tips
Did you know?

Which type of credit cards is the best for you?

Debit credit cards are linked to a checking account which means that your bank account will be immediately charged when you pay by card.

Charge credit cards grant you a credit line. When paying by card you are using your credit. Your checking account will be charged at the end of the billing period with the total amount of your purchases.

Revolving credit cards grant you a credit line. By applying for a revolving credit card you can choose to pay your credit card expenses in installments. Pay attention to the interest rates!

Prepaid credit cards have their own account. You will top your credit card account up with the amount of money that you plan to spend. 

Credit card usage: Numbers and where you can pay

Currently, there are around 40 million credit cards and 115 million debit cards in circulation in Germany (Bundesbank). VISA and Mastercard are by far the largest, with around 18 million cards each (Statista) and are well accepted in stores and the supermarket, online as well as on all ATM networks in Germany. If you have an American Express, Diners Club or JCB credit card, you will find that the acceptance rate is quite a bit lower.

With the introduction of contactless payments through NFC, many shops and stores have updated their payment infrastructure, so you can now usually pay with a credit card just by holding it against the terminal. In some more rural areas you should probably carry some cash as a fallback, and when you get a taxi ride in Germany, ask if the driver accepts credit cards.

Contactless Payment Icon Look for the NFC sign at stores and supermarkets to know whether you can use your contactless credit card

How you can get a credit card in Germany

There are three basic steps to get a credit card in Germany. The good news is: you don’t have to walk into a bank to get one. You can do it online as well. The three steps are:

  • Application
  • Identification
  • Issuing

1. Applying for a credit card

For application, all financial services providers are required to collect basic information from you. These will generally include:

  • First and last name
  • Your current address
  • Birth date and birth place
  • Nationality
  • Email
  • Mobile phone number

If you are applying for a credit card with a credit limit, you will almost certainly need to add information on your job, your net income as well as existing credit expenses. All traditional banks and online banks will also ask you for a “SCHUFA allowance”, which means they will check your credit history. SCHUFA is by far the largest credit agency in Germany that is used by almost all the banks. If you would not like to have your credit history checked, you should apply with a neobank like bunq or Vivid Money.

2. Identification process

It is legally required to identify every person that applies for a bank account or a credit card. This is usually a quick video call with a customer service agent who verifies your person and data. You will need a valid identification document for this process, such as a passport or your national identification document. This identification is also free for you.

3. Issuing and dispatch of your credit card

The final step is issuing, which basically means the time between finalizing your identification and the bank providing you with your card. For neobanks or virtual credit cards, this should only take a few minutes and you will have access to your virtual credit card with your IBAN right away. If you have Google Pay or Apple Pay, you can also use the card in stores with contactless payments and won’t have to wait for the card to arrive.

The physical card will be sent to your address in a matter of days. If you’re in the EU, it might take a bit more time for the card to arrive and it will also work with banks who have the same product in different countries.

What are the requirements to get a German credit card?

  • You have to be 18 years or older
  • Your permanent residence has to be either in Germany or the EU. If not, you will need a registration document for Germany (Meldebescheinigung or Anmeldebestätigung)
  • You need a valid identification document (passport, national identification document for EU citizens)
  • For online banks, you will need a mobile phone number and a valid Email

Fees, costs and interest rates for German credit cards

Generally, the fee structure and costs will vary differently, depending on the type of credit card you choose. For real credit cards with a credit limit, such as the Advanzia, the Hanseatic or the Awa7, you will mostly pay high interest on your credit limit (usually around 16 – 20% APR). Debit credit cards or charge chards come with a bank account that might incur fees, or there could be some limits to the amount of free cash withdrawals, after which you will pay. For prepaid credit cards, there could be an activation fee, a yearly fee or a charge-up fee when you pay money onto the account. This is similar for virtual credit cards.

Type of credit cardType of fee to look out forExamples of providers and banks
Revolving credit card (Credit card with credit limit)Interest Rate, cash withdrawalsAdvanzia, Hanseatic, Awa7, Barclaycard
Debit card or charge card (no limit)Fees of bank account that’s entailed, cash withdrawals,DKB, ING, comdirect
Prepaid credit cardYearly fee, top-up feeVIABUY, Black&White
Virtual credit cardYearly fee, top-up fee, interest rateskredu, bunq
GIROMATCH tips
Did you know?

Good to know

Germany is heavily focused on consumer protection. That means every bank has to show you all fees clearly, concisely and in an understandable manner. They also have to prove that they’ve showed you all fees and they will need to send you a pricing table by email (or mail) before you sign up for a credit card. Look for keywords such as “Preis- und Leistungsverzeichnis”, “Preisübersicht”, “Kostenübersicht“ or variations to see the pricing. Here is an example of DKB’s pricing table (excerpt from August 2021):

DKB Pricing Table German
DKB-Banks pricing table for their bank and credit card products. All costs and services have to be made clear to you before you sign up for a product.

Frequently asked questions regarding credit cards in Germany

What credit cards can I use in Germany?

Generally, VISA and Mastercard have the highest acceptance rate at stores and make up around 80% to 90% of all credit cards issued in Germany. American Express and JCB networks will be a bit more difficult, but are accepted at large restaurants and hotels.

Which credit card is best in Germany?

In our opinion, you should go for an online bank’s credit card such as the DKB-VISA. Other options include a bank account from a neobank such as Vivid and bunq. The reason is that you will not just receive a credit card with a proper bank account, but the setup is a lot easier for foreigners than it is with traditional banks.

Which is the best free credit card in Germany?

The best free credit card that allows you to do everything you need, from payments to transactions, is either the DKB-VISA or the free account of Tomorrow Bank or Vivid Money. For the DKB account, you will need a monthly income of 700,- Euro, whereas Vivid Money and Tomorrow Bank are free bank accounts with a free credit card from VISA.

Do taxis in Germany take credit cards?

In large cities, generally yes. But you should always ask the driver first for two reasons: 1) Some don’t accept credit cards (only debit) and 2) even if they accept credit cards on their payment terminal, some might not want to due to the fees a credit card transactions incurs. It is easier to carry some cash or use services as Uber or FreeNow to book and pay a taxi online in advance.

Do credit cards in Germany have insurance or purchase protection?

Travel insurance is not always included and is generally subject to the cards or the issuer you have chosen. Purchase protection is generally available and service quality - also for emergencies - is at a high standard in Germany. When it comes to speciality services like hotel discounts or auto rentals, you have to go with specific premium credit cards such as an American Express or a Miles & More Gold.

How do I cancel my credit card?

If you have a credit card with an online bank or smartphone bank, you can generally cancel your credit card by sending an email from your account to the customer service of the bank.

Some providers might require you to send a letter or fax with your name, credit card number (or IBAN) for identification and your signature.

How can I find out the interest rate on my credit card?

First of all, only a few amount of credit cards will charge you an interest rate, because only revolving credit cards and credit cards with a limit grant you actual credit. Most cards are just debit, prepaid or virtual cards with no limit.

If you want to find out your interest rate, you can check the pricing table from your bank. This can be found under "Preis- und Leistungsverzeichnis", or maybe "Preisübersicht", "Preistabelle", "Kostenübersicht" or similar keywords. Banks cannot hide the interest rate from you.

You should expect an interest rate (APR) at around 13% to 20% per year.

Is it safe to use your credit card online?

Yes, using your credit card is safe for online purchases.

For larger purchases, VISA and Mastercard have also implemented security measures such as Verified by VISA as well as Mastercard Securecode. With banks such as bunq or DKB, you can also set payment alerts or block transactions unless explicitly granted on our smartphone to make sure your payments are secure.

Visit us on Social Media
About Us

GIROMATCH.com is an online loan platform. We cooperate with banks, investors and other creditors to offer you the best possible loan.

© 2021 GIROMATCH GmbH, Ludwigstraße 33, 60327 Frankfurt am Main
HRB 99869 Amtsgericht Frankfurt, USt-IDNr. DE296850171

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram