Current accounts are like smartphones: it is hard to imagine life without them. Fast transfers, flexible access and individual models characterize the offers of many banks. But which current account is the best?
Thanks to FinanceScout24, you can find the right current account in no time at all! We present different types of accounts and show you what is important when comparing current accounts. You are well prepared for opening and switching accounts with our tips.
The most important facts in brief
- Free current account – Is there still such a thing??
With some banks it is still possible to open free current accounts without fees for account management. A close look at the details will help you not to overlook any hidden costs.
- What costs do you have to pay attention to?
Costs can arise, for example, for transfers, cash withdrawals at ATMs, overdraft interest and for the provision of the Girocard. Below you will find a detailed overview for your personal current account comparison.
- How you can benefit from a checking account with a bonus?
For new customers and for referrals, some banks offer a lucrative bonus. How high this turns out, is different. You can also find out from us which conditions the current account bonus is tied to.
What is a current account and who needs it??
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You can think of a checking account as a personal safe deposit box for your money transactions at a bank. With your current account you handle cashless payment transactions, receive payments and make transfers.
And sometimes quite quickly: As a rule, there are only about two working days between the transfer and the receipt of funds on the checking account. With accounts from the same bank, the money is often already at the recipient's on the same day.
Advantages of a current account in brief
- Safekeeping of the money at a bank
- Take care of money matters without being tied to a specific location thanks to online banking
- Pay with the Girocard without cash
- International cashless payments with a credit card
- Access to cash via ATMs or special services
- Survive lean periods thanks to overdraft facility
By online comparison to the perfect checking account: How it works
Enter monthly payment and credit card request
Depending on the amount of your monthly income, different offer options open up to you. Some banks offer special conditions only after a certain amount of money is received. For the current account – comparison also important is the question of whether you want a combination of current account and credit card.
Before you get angry later about expensive account maintenance fees or too high overdraft interest, first weigh the offers of the banks in the current account comparison against each other. Our handy overview makes this step easier.
Account change what to look out for?
If you want to change your current account, you should check the conditions in the bank comparison. Important questions here are: Can I save money by switching? Do I receive additional benefits (e.g., a discount)?.B. more ATMs in the vicinity)? If there are bonuses: Are these linked to conditions? Make absolutely sure that there are no hidden costs when switching to a new checking account. This can happen, for example, if you have to pay for TAN-SMS. It is also important that the bank account change is free of charge. According to a ruling by the Thuringian Higher Regional Court (Az. 1 U 541/14) not be associated with fees.
Fill out online application
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With both direct banks and branch banks, you have the option to apply for the account opening online after the current account comparison. To do this, fill out the relevant online application, then print it out and sign it.
Of course, this also works analogously: To do this, you request the application for the current account at the bank and receive it by mail. The money is sent back by post.
Compile required documents
Some banks require additional documents from future customers to open an account. This usually involves a Schufa report, account statements and salary statements. It is best to send these documents directly to the bank with the completed application.
Postident procedure or. Videoident procedure
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Open the best account for you after the current account comparison via the Internet, you must identify yourself. Today, modern alternatives to visiting a branch are available for this purpose: The Postident and Videoident procedures.
- For Post-Ident you need the coupon from the application for the account opening as well as your identity card or passport. This allows you to perform the Postident procedure in a post office branch.
- For Video-Ident, meet with a bank employee via video call through the camera of your PC or smartphone. You show him your valid ID and your identity for the current account is already confirmed.
Receive account data
As soon as all the steps for opening an account have been completed, the bank will send you your account details. Usually this is done by mail. For security reasons, you will receive the PIN numbers and the EC card separately. Depending on the respective bank, you will also receive a list for the TAN procedure as well as the credit card.
If you are switching accounts, there are two more steps you need to take:
Inform payment partners
Be sure to inform all payment partners about the change in your bank details.
Payment partners are all those to whom you have regular debts, which are collected by direct debit from your current account. This applies, for example, to mobile phone providers or energy suppliers . If these partners do not know about your account change, you may have to pay reminder fees.
Also inform your employer and parties that regularly transfer money to you. This is especially important if you use your checking account as a salary account or business account.
It is best if you keep the old and the new current account running in parallel for about two to three months.
Cancel your old current account
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If all payment partners are informed and the regular payments are reliably debited from the new current account, you can cancel the a lte current account
Account change after move may be advisable
If you have an account with a regional credit institution such as Volksbanken, Raiffeisenbanken or Sparkassen, it may be advisable to switch accounts when you move. Finally, various services such as printing account statements and free deposits are often only available regionally. It is best to check before you move which services are available to you with your current account in your new place of residence. It is also important to look at the handling of credit cards, because some banks do not allow cash withdrawals at ATMs with noninstitutional credit cards.
How to find the best current account for you
It is annoying if the decision for a current account turns out to be not optimal in the end, too high fees for account management or additional conditions cause costs. You should therefore pay particular attention to these points when comparing current accounts:
What you should look for when comparing current accounts?
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Your new checking account should suit you: even the type of bank can be decisive. But also the possibility to withdraw cash free of charge or to be able to carry out banking transactions with a clear conscience may be important in the individual case.
In the following, you will learn which details are important when comparing current accounts.
Direct, neo and branch bank
When opening a current account, you can choose between direct, neo and branch banks. One of the most important differences between direct and branch banks : with a direct bank you can only do all your banking online, with a branch bank with online banking you can do all your banking online as well as in the branch office.
Direct banks usually have a contact form and hotline, while branch banks usually assign you a contact person.
In both cases, the service quality is decisive. Use comparison portals, test reports and customer opinions to check which services the respective bank or savings bank offers and how well they are rated.
In addition, there are the so-called neobanks. Like direct banks, these do not have a branch network, but are often somewhat less established. Also, the service portfolio of neobanks is usually particularly lean. There is sometimes nothing more than current accounts here, although special services can serve as a balance and differentiator.
Branch or direct bank?
Whether you should open an online account at a direct bank or rather a classic current account at a branch bank depends entirely on your personal habits and needs.
If you do everything online anyway and can easily do without a personal contact on site, the current account at the direct bank is an attractive option. If you would rather be able to clarify matters in direct contact at the branch, the branch bank remains the better choice for your current account.
Cash or. ATM network
A good ATM network allows you to withdraw cash from your checking account for free without complicated planning. Therefore, when comparing current accounts, check the extent to which the respective bank offers ATMs in your area.
Alternatively, the selected bank may be a member of a banking association such as Cash Group and Cashpool
its. Then you can also withdraw cash for free from non-bank ATMs. Some institutions also allow fee-free withdrawals via credit card and from various retail providers.
In addition, your current account should also allow you to withdraw cash abroad smoothly and at favorable conditions.
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With many institutions, you also receive a credit card in addition to the current account. Conditions and costs depend on the bank. When looking for a credit card, it is often a good idea to compare credit cards in advance.
You will receive a card from your bank after opening a current account. Some banks are now replacing it with the so-called debit card, which is similar to a credit card.
A current account can be equipped with an overdraft facility: This gives you the possibility to overdraw your current account every month within a certain limit. If you know that you will make use of this, you should always look for a favorable provider and compare the overdraft interest rates.
Premiums and welcome bonuses
Many offers include a welcome bonus for new account holders. Usually these are credits or low overdraft interest rates. In almost all cases, however, certain criteria must be met in order to receive these gifts.
Moral standards / sustainability
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It's not just terms and fees that are important to you in a checking account, but also a bank's moral philosophy? Find out whether the institution operates according to ethical principles. This includes whether banks invest in projects that do not fit your moral compass. Possibly friends or acquaintances can make personal recommendations for or against a current account at this point.
What costs are relevant for the current account comparison?
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New customers are usually welcome at banks. This does not mean, however, that favorable banks must in principle offer a fee-free current account. In addition, there may be costs that you should already take a look at when comparing current accounts.
Annual fee (account management fee)
Numerous banks in the comparison offer you best current accounts without account maintenance fees, but sometimes this is subject to certain conditions.
For example, some institutions only waive the fee if a minimum amount is deposited in the current account each month or if there is a continuous credit balance. Check if you can meet these conditions on a regular basis. With a current account that offers free account management without conditions, you will save unnecessary costs in the long run.
Credit card costs
It may be that a credit card matching the current account is not offered entirely free of charge. You should therefore clarify in advance how high the costs are and what the conditions are abroad.
Costs for Girocard (formerly: EC card)
Whether the Girocard is free, a bank must indicate. Direct banks usually do not charge any fees, while some regional branch institutions require a certain contribution for provision.
Fees for second/partner card
Both credit cards and current cards in the form of a duplicate for the partner or as a replacement are often associated with fees.
Costs for transfers
Transfers from the current account cost money at some banks. Here it is worth taking a look at the terms and conditions to avoid any unwanted charges. For bank customers also charge for transfers in real time and in foreign currencies.
Costs for foreign currencies
Money transactions in foreign currencies, such as transfers or cash withdrawals, are usually associated with costs. This applies both to the use of the credit card and the Girocard.
Debit interest is charged by a bank as soon as you overdraw your current account within the limits of the overdraft facility granted to you by the bank. Here, high costs can quickly arise.
The low prime rate means that banks are now increasingly demanding so-called custody fees from their customers. From which limit this happens with a current account, differs sometimes significantly.
It is possible that when withdrawing cash from an ATM, additional fees will be charged. This is especially true if the bank itself does not cooperate with the ATM operator. The fees are usually not refundable.
Current account with premium
In the current account comparison can sometimes also find offers where customers receive various bonuses as a thank you for opening the account. This seems attractive at first glance. As so often, however, a closer look is recommended, because the award of bonuses may be linked to conditions. For example, the bank can
- a minimum number or sum of money for cash receipts,
- for payments a minimum number
- or something for the cancellation of an account with another bank
demand. It is worth checking before signing the contract whether the premium for the current account is granted in the individual case and without disadvantages.
Recruit new customers: bonuses for referrals
While many bonuses from banks apply to new customers, there are sometimes referral bonuses for existing customers. If you are satisfied with your bank and an acquaintance is currently conducting a current account comparison, you could benefit from your recommendation. After signing the contract, you will then receive a premium from the bank.
What types of checking accounts are available and how do they differ??
If you do a current account comparison, you will quickly find that there are several different account models. Here it is important to be able to distinguish between these, so that the selected bank account really fits your personal needs.
The credit account does not require an overdraft facility and thus offers protection against overindebtedness. People who want to open a checking account despite negative Schufa or otherwise encounter hurdles, are provided with a credit account accordingly. This type of account is therefore often referred to as a "current account without Schufa" or "current account despite Schufa".
Current account for children
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Best account for the start: Even for the youngest there is an account with which they can gain their first experience. Here parents can specify how much money may be withdrawn maximum. An overdraft is not possible and it is a current account without salary receipt.
In addition, the account is well suited for transferring regular savings contributions. Often worthwhile because of the more attractive interest rate.
Current account for young people
A current account must offer more for young people than for children. As a safety net remains the waiver of an overdraft facility and usually there are still attractive interest rates on the balance. Many young people get access to Internet banking with their checking account and have their own debit card. This is how they learn to handle personal finances in practice.
Current account for students
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Students usually have to manage their monthly budget thoroughly. Because account management fees can put a strain on the available budget, student accounts are usually free of charge, according to the bank comparison.
Special conditions for students
Free current account without incoming salary, favorable overdraft interest rates, discounts for certain products or services, occasional cash back and more – the benefits of the student account are often only available up to a certain age!
Current account for employees and pensioners
A favorable current account for pensioners and employees is characterized primarily by the fact that it offers a Girocard and an overdraft facility. Retirees also often get the chance to open a free checking account. However, this then usually does not come with interest on the balance.
Joint account for communities of heirs, married couples and business partners
In some cases, it pays to take out a checking account for several people. This is what the joint account is designed for. It is suitable for couples and business partners, for example, but also for shared flats and communities of heirs.
There are two possible arrangements for accessing the current partner account: With an And account, decisions can only be made jointly; with Or accounts, it is possible for each individual to carry out financial transactions without approval from the others.
Business current account
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A business account is tailored to the special needs of self-employed entrepreneurs. It can be used commercially, which is often associated with special conditions and sometimes higher account management fees.
What's practical about the business checking account is that it allows you to separate personal and business payments. Against the background of possible audits by the tax office in the future, this is a relief.
With the garnishment-free checking account, your balance is protected up to about 1.100 euros protected every month. Taking out this type of checking account is only worthwhile if you have debts and garnishment is likely to occur.
To convert your current account into a so-called P-Konto, you must submit an application to the respective bank or savings bank. The following applies: In the event of a garnishment, the bank must have completed the conversion within four days of receiving the application.
Frequently asked questions and answers about current accounts
How safe is my money in a checking account??
The money in a checking account is protected by deposit insurance of up to 100.000 euros per bank within the EU is protected by law. Online banking also has security mechanisms: for example, TAN procedures or smartphone apps with fingerprint sensors are available for transactions.
It should be noted that although receiving the TAN via SMS is popular, the chip TAN procedure or the use of a specially set up app are more secure. Also find out if there are any additional fees for generating transaction numbers.
Safety tips for your checking account:
- Check your account statements several times a week for irregularities. This is how you can quickly report strange account movements on your current account.
- Always keep your EC card and your access data for the current account in a safe place. You should not keep the PIN for your card in your wallet.
- Have your current account blocked immediately if you lose your EC card. You can call the uniform hotline (116 116) nationwide in almost all cases.
- Always check your transfers thoroughly for transposed numbers.
How much money should I keep in my checking account?
As a rule, it makes sense to keep only as much money in the checking account as is necessary for regular expenses. If necessary, it may also be worthwhile to have a certain buffer to cover unforeseen expenses without incurring overdraft interest.
The current account is not suitable for investing money due to the low interest rates on credit balances. It is worthwhile to compare the current alternatives and to minimize the risk of possible penalty interest rates.
Some institutions have offers available, where the current account itself is interest-bearing. Interest is paid out annually, quarterly or monthly. As a rule, however, you can find higher-interest investments by comparing call money accounts or fixed-term deposits.
How quickly can I use my new account?
Once you fill out the online application and mail it to the bank, it takes about one to two weeks before you receive your cards and numbers.
How to cancel a current account?
You can cancel your current account by mail or in the branch office. Online banks usually offer a separate service for this purpose. Usually there is no deadline for the cancellation of the current account. You only need to provide your name, address and account details. Immediately after the account is cancelled, it is deleted from Schufa.
Can my opening application be rejected?
Yes, this is possible. For example, if you have negative Schufa entries. In this case, the credit account without overdraft facility is an alternative and also here a current account comparison helps.
Does the Schufa have any meaning for my current account?
Yes, Schufa provides information about your creditworthiness. If there are negative Schufa entries, it can happen that the financial institution rejects your application to open a current account.
My current account has been blocked – What do I do now??
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Checking accounts can be blocked due to account seizures, personal insolvency and suspected manipulation by third parties. So, for example, if you type the PIN incorrectly three times or report your card as lost.
To unblock the account, go with your ID to local banks. If you have had your current account blocked due to a lost EC card, you can apply for a new one directly. With the online current account, the unblocking is done with the help of customer service via a secure procedure.
What can I do if I have overdrawn my account?
Even if you should best avoid the overdraft, it can happen with the current account to an overdraft: For example, if the rent is posted a day early and the salary a day late.
To avoid high overdraft interest, balance the negative amount on your checking account as soon as possible. If this is not possible, it is recommended to reschedule the debt into an installment loan or use a framework or call loan. Both forms are usually accompanied by more favorable conditions.
Current account guide
Read here what is understood by a current account, and which target group specific accounts (current account for self-employed, students, children & Co) there are. In addition: checklist for comparison, how to use the overdraft facility correctly and tips for the cancellation of your old current account.