How a digital bank account can help you during COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

A bank account you can apply for and manage from home.

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Norisbank free current account

Norisbank free current account logo

€0

Monthly Fee

  • Receive €100 starting credit until 31 Dec
  • Germany-wide cash deposits
  • Apple Pay
  • Flexible credit line included
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COVID-19, also known as the Coronavirus, has caused an unprecedented crisis across the world. Here in Germany, people have been advised to stay at home and public gatherings of more than two people have been banned. These measures, including gastronomy businesses, hairdressers and gyms, have caused mass disruption to people’s way of lives, including the way people manage their finances and banking.

In this guide, we’ll take you through digital bank accounts, what they are and how they might be a good option to consider during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

What is a digital bank account?

A digital bank account is an account that you can apply for and manage entirely from your computer or smartphone. You don’t need to visit a bank branch to apply, pick up your debit card or manage your account. This makes it a viable option to consider as we’re self-isolating and only able to leave home for the essentials.

How can a digital bank account help you during the Coronavirus crisis?

Digital bank accounts come with a number of features that can make banking simpler and more convenient. This is especially important during COVID-19.

  • No face-to-face interactions required. Digital banks do not have branches you need to visit to apply for an account and all customer service is conducted in the app or over the phone. When you have applied for an account and your identity has been verified, your card is mailed to you.
  • Low fees. It’s more important than ever to keep our spending on bank fees low, and digital banks have far fewer fees than traditional banks. You can usually have your pick of a standard account with no monthly fee or pay for a higher tier account to unlock more features. With all account tiers you are generally given free ATM withdrawals up to a certain limit, free foreign currency transfers up to a limit, no contactless payment fees and no transaction fees.
  • Budgeting features. When you sign up for a digital bank you’ll get an app to manage your spending. Features with these apps include automatic spending categorisation, savings goals and analytics.
  • Low-cost international payments. With travel limited, you may need to send money overseas or receive payments from other countries. You can do this easily with a digital bank account. Finance app Revolut lets you hold multiple currencies in the one account, while N26 lets you transfer money to other currencies with no foreign currency fees.

What other features come with a digital bank account?

You can also find a number of other features offered by digital bank accounts, including:

  • Multiple accounts. Digital bank bunq lets you open up to 25 accounts each with their own individual IBAN while Revolut gives you a dual account with a UK account number and a European IBAN.
  • Mobile wallets. Digital features such as Apple Pay and Google Pay are usually standard.
  • Paying your friends. Along with easy international transfers, you can pay your friends, too. This includes through split bill functions or through innovative unique payment links such as those offered by bunq.
  • Card and safety controls. Keeping your money safe is easy with a digital bank app. You can switch off contactless payments in the app and switch them on again when you like. You can also lock and unlock your card if you lose it or it’s stolen and also change your spending limit, all within the app.
  • Cryptocurrency. Finance apps such as Revolut and Wirex let you buy and sell cryptocurrencies directly within the app.
  • Savings. While few digital banks have savings accounts that pay interest, they do have a savings function that encourages you to build up your savings balance and reach a savings goal. For example, N26’s Spaces feature lets you save for a specific goal and keeps that money away from your main account funds.

Compare a range of digital bank accounts in Germany

Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Monthly fee Card delivery Supported currencies
Comdirect Bank Current Account
€0
N/A
EUR
A free current account with no minimum incoming funds. Includes a free Visa credit card and free cash withdrawals worldwide.
Norisbank free current account
€0
5-7 working days
EUR

Receive €100 starting credit for a limited time*

Benefit from a €0 account fee, free Maestro card and free cash withdrawals from thousands of locations worldwide.
Openbank Kostenloses Girokonto
€0
N/A
EUR
A free current account with free euro transfers within the eurozone. Includes a debit card with free cash withdrawals worldwide.
Commerzbank Kostenloses Girokonto
€0
3 to 4 business days
EUR

Receive €100 starting credit after 3 months of account activity

A current account with €0 fees and cashback at select Shell petrol stations. Includes a Mastercard Classic credit card.
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Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Monthly fee Card delivery Supported currencies
Fidor Smart Current Account
€5
N/A
EUR
A mobile current account with real-time notifications on your transactions. Includes a digital Mastercard with mobile payment and a Smart Banking app.
N26 You
€9.90
Up to 10 working days
EUR
A smart IBAN account with no currency conversion fees, complimentary insurances and no ATM fees here or abroad.
Tomorrow Zero
€15
3-5 business days
EUR
A free Visa debit card with free transactions across the globe and unlimited free ATM withdrawals per month
TARGOBANK Online-Account
€3.95
N/A
EUR
An online current account that comes with a Visa credit card. Free online transfers and free cash withdrawals at more than 3,000 ATMs.
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Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Monthly fee Card delivery Supported currencies
bunq Travel card
€0
Up to working 10 days
EUR
A no monthly-fee card that lets you travel and spend globally using the real exchange rate. Security controls and simple payments.
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Please note these products are not licenced as banks. Check our product review pages for details.
Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Monthly fee Card delivery Supported currencies
Holvi Starter
€0
Up to 10 business days
EUR
An online account ideal for new businesses with €0 monthly fees and unlimited SEPA transfers. Includes a Holvi Business debit Mastercard.
VIABUY Prepaid Mastercard
VIABUY Prepaid Mastercard
€1.65
3-5 business days
EUR
VIABUY Prepaid Mastercard comes with no line of credit and it does not require credit checks.
Holvi Grower
€12
Up to 10 business days
EUR
A full online business account with unlimited SEPA transfers, unlimited invoicing and up to three Holvi Business Debit Mastercards.
Revolut Standard
€0
Up to 9 working days
GBP,SEK,PLN,CHF,DKK,NOK,USD,CZK,CAD,AUD,RON,EUR
Enjoy no monthly fee, no currency conversion fees up to €1,000 per month and the ability to hold over 15 currencies in your account.
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*You must transfer at least 3 salary payments (wages, salary, pension, salary, BAföG) of at least 1,000 € per month by 31 March 2021.

What fees and charges come with digital banks?

These differ depending on the bank, but generally you can expect the following:

  • Monthly fee. Most digital banks offer a standard €0 account and then come with paid, tiered accounts that which come with more features.
  • Foreign currency fee. You’ll find that digital banks generally waive foreign currency fees. However, this may be for only a certain number of transactions per month. If you’re currently overseas or plan on travelling later on with the account, make sure you pick an account that meets your needs.
  • ATM withdrawal fees. Usually, digital banks will not charge for ATM withdrawals up to a certain number per month. This is because these accounts do not charge you any transaction fees or contactless payment fees, so you can use them as often as you want in-store or even online without being charged.
  • ATM withdrawals abroad. You may be charged a fee for withdrawing money from an ATM that’s not in Euros.
  • Card delivery. Generally, card delivery will be free, but some digital banks charge for this with their free accounts.

How do you sign up to a digital bank?

Signup is relatively simple. Once you’ve compared your options above, click “Go to Site” on your chosen digital bank account and you’ll be taken to the website to complete the signup process. You’ll need a few things to sign up:

  • Personal details such as your name, date of birth and address
  • Your passport
  • Your face (for a selfie)

Once you’ve verified your identity you will need to add €10 to your account by linking an existing bank account.

Have more questions about digital banks in Germany?

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