An evaluation of the consumer portal “biallo.de” shows that hundreds of Volksbanken and Sparkassen charge a fee for the payment by checking or credit card.
Customers often do not know that this fee of up to 70 cents is charged.
Consumer advocates criticize the actions of the financial institutions.
In the corona crisis, many consumers use contactless payment options. This reduces the contact between buyer and seller and a possible risk of infection with Covid-19. Even small shops, bakeries or butchers now offer card payments. A rarity before the crisis.
Banks also advertise contactless payments with cards or smartphones. However, they are not only concerned about the health of their customers – they are also thinking about their own money. This is shown by an evaluation of the consumer portal “biallo.de”. Accordingly, banks and savings banks have increased fees in recent months and are charging up to 70 cents for a contactless payment process with a checking or credit card.
Free and cheap account models subject to fees
“Biallo.de” examined a total of 440 Volks- und Raiffeisenbanken, as well as 380 Sparkassen and found out that every second institute collects fees for the cashless payment. The Niederrheinische Sparkasse Rhein-Lippe charges the maximum price of 70 cents per transaction for the “Giro Nispa Klassik” account model. “Biallo.de” has calculated that with an average of two card payments per day by the end of the year, customers will be charged an additional 504 euros.
With Haspa, Germany’s largest savings bank is also charging a fee for customers who use the “Classic” account model – 50 cents per card transaction.
But not all customers are equally affected by the fees. What is striking during the investigation: You meet the majority of customers who have closed an inexpensive “classic account”, online accounts or basic account. With expensive premium accounts that cost at least ten euros per month, no fees for card payments would be charged.
Fees are often not shown
Of the total of 820 financial institutions examined, 401 banks and savings banks charge fees for card transactions. On average, they amount to 34 cents per transaction, but fluctuate between 2 and 70 cents depending on the institution.
The consumer portal is particularly critical that the fees are often not shown at all. Customers would only be informed about this by asking directly. Consumers should be on the lookout for the note “paperless bookings” in the price-performance list of a bank or savings bank.
“Instead of specifically and honestly naming the fees for card payments, they are usually hidden in the price list under booking items,” quotes “biallo.de” Niels Nauhauser, banking expert at the Baden-Württemberg consumer center.
Sparkasse, Deutsche Bank, N26: Which bank best suits your needs
Sparkasse, Deutsche Bank, N26: Which bank best suits your needs
Personal customer care versus processing only via telephone and internet
Savings banks or cooperative banks such as Volksbank or Sparda-Bank are suitable for everyone who considers personal advice and a permanent contact person important. If you want to finance a house, conclude a savings contract or open an account, employees are at your side. The respective Sparkasse or Volksbank in your region is independent. Therefore, you cannot do all business regardless of the city you are in. However, if you only want to withdraw money domestically, the conditions of your parent bank apply.
In contrast to branch banks, you can only do everything directly and digitally at direct banks – or withdraw money from ATMs of partner banks. They usually offer the same things as branch banks, standardized and therefore cheaper. This is also due to the fact that they manage with fewer staff and rents.
Direct banks include Postbank, Deutsche Kreditbank (DKB), ING, Norisbank and the Commerzbank subsidiary Comdirect.
Banks that pay premiums to new customers
Some banks advertise opening accounts for new customers. Comdirekt pays 75 euros to new customers, Norisbank and the subsidiary of Frankfurter Sparkasse 1822 Direkt even 100 euros. The premium is usually tied to conditions: for some banks it is a minimum number of transactions (often three to five), sometimes you may not have been a customer of the bank for a while or you may have to deposit a minimum amount into the account.
Some branch banks also promise you bonuses. Commerzbank, for example, gives 100 euros when opening an account and another 100 when you recruit a new customer. PSD-Bank – a mixture of branch and direct bank – only offers bonuses in some branches, for example in Nuremberg or Munich. They are 50 euros.
These banks have the most ATMs
With around 24,000, the Sparkasse provides the most ATMs in Germany. This is followed by the banks of the Bankcard service network with 18,000: Volksbanken, Raiffeisenbanken, Sparda-Banken and the Ethik Bank. The Cash Group with Unicredit, Commerzbank, Deutsche Bank, Postbank and the subsidiaries of these banks provide 9,000 machines; There are also around 1,300 Shell petrol stations where you can withdraw cash. In addition to some smaller private banks, the cash pool with 3,200 ATMs includes the Santander Bank, Sparda banks, Südwestbank, Targobank, Wüstenrot Bank and the Oldenburgische Landesbank.
You can also withdraw money free of charge from Netto, Aldi Süd, Rewe, Penny, Edeka, Norma and Tegut from a purchase value of ten euros.
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Banks with no account fees
Whether you pay account fees depends on the performance of the bank, the account model, and how the bank is doing financially. So it can happen that a cooperative bank or savings bank does not charge fees in one place, but in another place it does.
An account with Deutsche Bank costs 5.90 euros per month for an active account, 11.90 euros for a best account. An account with Hypovereinsbank costs EUR 2.90 per month. Accounts at many other banks such as Norisbank, DKB, ING, N26, Santander Bank and also Commerzbank are free of charge.
But be careful if the account is shown as free. You may face other costs, such as submitting transfer orders in writing or certain transactions.
Credit card costs
Deutsche Bank charges a credit card. The more services the card has, the more it costs. The standard card costs 39.00 euros a year, the Mastercard Gold 82.00 euros and the Mastercard Travel 94 euros. Similar prices are incurred at Commerzbank: 39.90 euros for the classic variant with a cash limit of 4,000 euros, 99.90 euros for the gold card with a limit of 6,000 euros annually. With the Comdirect you get the card for free, but only in connection with a checking account.
At Volksbank, the prices for a credit card fluctuate between two and four euros a month. However, you will receive money as soon as you have paid a certain amount with the card. From a certain amount, the card is free for you – however, this only applies to a five-digit amount.
N26 does not charge any fees for checking or credit cards; but you have to pay 2.00 euros each time you withdraw with your credit card. The situation at the DKB is different: both credit cards and ATM withdrawals are free of charge worldwide. The same applies to the Santander Bank.
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Banks with foreign cooperations
Deutsche Bank cooperates with BNP Paribas from France with an international network. That is why Deutsche Bank customers can withdraw money free of charge from many banks worldwide. Thanks to the partnership with Scotiabank, this also applies to the Caribbean, for example. This could be particularly worthwhile if you travel a lot. But keep in mind that you pay 39 euros per year for a credit card – and 1.75 percent of the amount will be charged for each payment abroad.
Commerzbank has locations in 50 countries, and you can withdraw money worldwide free of charge with the Santander Bank Visa card.
For an account of N26, this applies to the euro area. Here, the monthly number of withdrawals is limited to three to five. The account is free of charge – in contrast to N26 You, the premium version for 9.90 euros per month. Compensation for flight delays, travel cancellation insurance and theft protection for your cell phone are included; you can also withdraw money worldwide free of charge. However, you should keep in mind that digital banking is considered vulnerable to hackers.
GettyImages / BI
Interest can be very high if you overdraw your account and end up in the overdraft facility. You pay 6.5 percent for the Commerzbank subsidiary Comdirect, 6.9 percent for the DKB and 6.99 percent for the ING – and that’s just a little. The Norisbank is 10.58 percent, N26 is 8.90 percent and Commerzbank is 10.25 percent. However, the fees for Deutsche Bank’s overdraft facility are unchallenged: you have to pay 14.90 percent there.
The savings banks’ overdraft rates are also high. At 9.24 percent, they were the lowest on average in Berlin / Brandenburg in 2018, and the highest in Bremen at 11.71 percent. The Volksbank / Raiffeisenbanken charge up to 13.75 percent.
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Banks for savers
In order to put some money aside and earn money in spite of low interest rates, you can set up a call money account: what the savings book used to stand for. You can access it here at any time.
At ING you get up to 50,000 euros in interest per year on your money up to an amount of 50,000 euros, as does Advanzia Bank for between 5,000 and one million euros. Renault Bank Direct pays 0.70 percent up to an amount of EUR 500,000. However, interest rates can change daily. Usually a guarantee is only valid for a limited period of time.
Banks with favorable conditions for students
Some banks only waive account fees when a monthly salary is paid. Others will reimburse you for the fees under certain conditions: At Deutsche Bank, for example, the monthly fees of EUR 5.90 do not apply if you do federal voluntary service or if you are a school student, trainee or student.
With the student card of the DKB you can withdraw money free of charge at over one million ATMs worldwide. You will receive a new credit card if you lose it, another card that identifies you internationally as a student and a free overdraft facility of 1,000 euros.
Similar to a credit card from Barclays: It also grants an overdraft facility of 1,000 euros, which is free for two months. Cash withdrawals and card payments are free within the EEA.
At ING, as a student under 30, you do not have to pay any overdraft fees up to an amount of EUR 500. The condition for this is that you have received a payment of at least 300 euros in two consecutive months.
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Fintechs are digital – established banks are catching up
Since fintechs have been entering the market, established banks have also followed suit with online payment services. Deutsche Bank has integrated Paypal and Paydirect into their app; Customers can also view their accounts and deposits at other banks. With the Commerzbank app, it is possible to create an account alarm if more than 50 euros are transferred and with the Sparkassen app, users can send money via mobile phone – similar to Paypal.
ING, Hypo Vereinsbank and Sparda-Bank abolish tan input: instead, a mobile pin is used or your own fingerprint. At ING, it is also possible to set push messages if an entry or exit has been booked. With the DKB app you can withdraw money in shops – including Real, Penny and Rewe – from 50 to 300 euros. For this purpose, she introduced a kind of banking, with which you can photograph and read your invoices.
These banks are environmentally friendly
You can also choose a bank that makes environmentally friendly or politically correct investments. For example, you don’t finance nuclear power or weapons through the bank, but maybe an organic farmer who would otherwise find it more difficult to obtain credit.
The GLS bank is the leader in this field. According to them, 33 percent of their financing goes into renewable energy; the rest in nutrition projects, sustainable economy, housing, education and culture as well as social and health.
The environmental bank already has one of its main goals in its name. According to her, the projects funded by the bank have 557,635 tons of CO2nd saved. There the money flows into environmental funds or programs that set financial incentives for ecological building: the more sustainable your property, the less you have to pay for the financing.
Pro Credit Bank has been certified as a climate-neutral company since January 2019 – which means that the emissions it causes are offset by a climate protection project. In addition, no business relationships should be maintained with institutions that violate human rights or that support the arms and nuclear industries.
Consumer advocates recommend this
Stay flexible about your bank, consumer advocates say at the request of NewsABC.net. Life always poses new challenges – be it studying, family or house plans. If you want to invest money in the long term, ETFs are suitable – but you should really be aware that you will not need the money in the next few years. In the long term, the investment mostly proves to be lucrative; losses may arise in the short term. However, ETFs are particularly popular in low-interest periods.
You can open an ETF account at various direct banks. With Comdirect, for example, the opening is free of charge; the fees depend on the volume of your deposits. With S Broker, the Sparkasse also offers a program for ETFs – but with 2.5 percent of the savings plan rate it is considered quite expensive.
You should stay away from so-called small and short-term loans, consumer advocates say. This usually involves 100 euro loans that are distributed over the Internet, but prove to be extremely expensive.