Credit cards in Germany

Last Updated on March 27, 2023

Credit cards in Germany are the second vital issue after Girokonto. Everyone wants to effortlessly buy online or book. But before we plunge into the world of credit cards, let’s see if we can do without them.

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How to buy online without credit cards in Germany

Buying online without a credit card may be necessary for both those who have recently arrived, and those who are not allowed to get a credit card.

You can buy online without a credit card:

  • with a Girokonto, but not with the inconvenient pre-paid transfer Vorkasse (you are sent an invoice, you pay, then the goods are sent to you), but through an intermediary that gives more security (it is almost impossible to return Vorkasse payments) and speeds up the process.
    The most well-known such intermediary is Paypal. In addition to a credit card, it also connects a Girokonto. Less popular, but still quite common Sofortüberweisung (Klarna) and Paydirekt (Giropay). Paydirekt can be enabled in your Girokonto.
    The disadvantage of this method is that it is not available in all stores.
  • using Gutshein cards. The vast majority of stores have Gutscheinkarte in one form or another. The direct purpose of these cards is to make cash gifts, but not in the form of money, but in the form of an advance payment to a certain store. No one is stopping you from making this cash gift to yourself. Gutshein cards can be bought both on the websites of stores in digital form and in supermarkets at the checkout. You can find Amazon Gutshein cards in almost any store.
  • On Amazon, you can make a prepaid account, which is replenished with Gutshein or in partner stores (on the screen) at the checkout.
    Amazon website page footer – so you can find a refill of accout.
credit cards in Germany - how to pay online without credit card

Partner stores for account replenishment

  • Disposable credit cards – Einmalkreditkarte. They are bought, like Gutshein cards, in supermarkets. The action is similar, only the shops are not limited.

Credit cards in Germany – types and costs

There are several types of credit cards

1. Credit cards tied to Girokonto (Charge Kreditkarte). You buy with a credit card, this is taken into account immediately, but the calculation for all purchases is carried out once a month, when the total amount is withdrawn from your Giro account. Such cards are most often offered by banks.

2. If you have Revolving Kreditkarten, you can pay the amount for the purchase gradually.

These two types of credit cards involve real credit – you buy first and pay later. Therefore, they want to check your creditworthiness as well. To do this, the bank sends a request to Schufa, where records of your financial behavior are accumulated.

Problems with loan repayments in the past lead to a refusal to issue a credit card, which is logical. But even if you had no problems with payments, but only recently arrived in Germany, you may be denied a credit card, because Schufa still does not know at all how good a payer you are, which means you do not have a positive rating.

Don’t try to order multiple credit cards from different institutions at the same time – every credit card request ruins your ranking. The record of the request is erased only after one year.

3. Prepaid cards with credit option. These cards do not take the purchase amount from your account, you put the money yourself. But you can go into the negative – you will agree on the amount of the minus with the bank. As soon as you have crossed zero, the bank deducts the first loan payment from your Giro (for example, 25 euros).

The credit on these cards is not profitable, so you should not miss the 25 euro call. Such a card, for example, the Postbank Shopping Card. Now this rather profitable card (10 euros per year) cannot be found on the website, although it is in the comparative lists of cards for 2022.

4. Prepaid cards without credit (Prepaid Kreditkarte). How much you contributed, how much you spent. Prepaid credit cards are available, including Mastercard and Visa. The cost is an average of 29 euros per year.

5. Debit cards. Purchases with this card immediately withdraw money from the Girokonto. In fact, everyone has such a Giropay card attached to the Girokonto. If in your tariff its use is paid (each transaction costs a few cents), then you should not use it too often – a enorm sum accumulates.

Do you have any more questions? Use comments ⇓ or private communication form

How much does it cost to service a credit cards in Germany

Maintenance of a classic credit card in a home bank usually costs at least 30 euros per year, but now I see prices of 40-50-60 euros, which is incredibly expensive. What are the alternatives? Almost none.

Credit cards offered by various stores or services

For example, Amazon offers a Visa from Barclay Bank or Hanseatic Bank with a zero annual fee linked to a Girokonto. Such credit cards may have problems with the service (which is expected). The Amazon personalized card (with the inscription Amazon and points) has temporarily rested and is no longer offered.

Payback offers cards for €29 per year (Visa) or free (American Express). The benefit of these cards is the points for each payment. Today the free American Express card seems to be the only adequate option for a free card without complicated conditions.
Even a simple (non-intensive) use of a Payback card in DM gives me back about 30-50 euros per year. The credit card will increase the return. First, get a Payback card (you can take it at the checkout in partner stores).

For ADAC members, the ADAC credit card is free and has additional discounts.

Credit cards of online banks

For example, a free debit Visa from Ing. Unfortunately, it is tied to the Girokonto in the same bank, as are several other similar online banking offers.

Online credit cards (cards that exist only as a number, no card)

Targobank Online-Classic-Karte – free card.

What to look for when choosing a credit cards in Germany

Any credit card requires careful checking of the fine print. There are usually some extra charges involved. As a rule, cheap credit cards only work well for purchases in Germany without going out on credit. Withdrawing cash, using abroad, and going out on credit can charge you unexpectedly a lot. Not surprisingly, only 20 percent of Germans prefer credit card payments. Paypal Forever!

Pay attention to the following conditions

Abhebegebühr – cash withdrawals fee. To this amount, you will also have to add Automatengebühr – a fee that the machine itself charges from this credit card. You look at the prices indicated on each machine.

Fremd­wäh­rungs­ge­bühr – foreign currency fee

Auslandseinsatzentgelt – fee for purchases made through a non-European company. It can be also an online purchase in euros, but from a non-European seller

Kreditzinsen – fee for credit if there are not enough funds on the card

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