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How to pay in Germany

Find out the different ways you can spend in Germany.

From digital payment apps to more traditional approaches like using cash, there is a huge range of methods of payment you can use in Germany.

This guide will cover the different ways you can pay in Germany, including the most popular methods and platforms.

Cash payments

While card and mobile payments are gradually being accepted across Germany, you can’t go wrong with traditional cash payments. Some cities, like Berlin, have merchants that specifically opt for cash-only transactions.

Paying with cash is extremely popular in parts of Germany. In fact, Deutsche Bank reported in 2017 that Germans paid in cash for over 70% of their transactions.

Paying with card

With the rise of e-commerce and online shopping, residents in Germany are paying with cards now more than ever. These include debit cards and credit cards.

Debit cards

Debit cards, also known as Maestro cards, work like standard prepaid cards where you can only spend as much as you own. From Deutsche Bank to Commerzbank, German banks now offer debit cards with their current accounts. This way, you can spend on the go without worrying about accumulating interest fees. Examples of such cards include Mastercard debit cards, Visa debit cards, and the common Girocard.

Credit cards

Credit cards tend to be accepted at larger department stores in Germany. With contactless payment features, credit cards are now easier to use than ever. Instead of having to key in your PIN number, you can simply wave your card in front of the payments terminal for purchases below 50 euros. This saves you both time and effort – research by Bundesbank shows that contactless payments take a mere 22 seconds compared to card and PIN payments (29 seconds), as well as traditional card and signatures payments (38 seconds).

Here is a list of common credit card providers in Germany for you to consider.

  • Visa
  • Mastercard
  • American Express
  • Paymill
  • Payone
  • PayPal
  • Ingenico
  • Hipay
  • Postfinance
  • Saferpay
  • Skrill
  • Mollie
  • Payolution
  • Heidelpay

Paying with your smartphone

From Apple Pay to Google Pay, mobile payment methods in Germany allow you to spend from the convenience of your phone. This method treats your phone as a digital wallet or debit card and allows you to transact by bringing your phone near a payment terminal.

Mobile payment options available in Germany include:

  • Apple Pay
  • Google Pay
  • PayPal
  • PAYBACK PAY

Direct debit

Direct debits are one of the more popular methods of payment in Germany. When you opt to make a payment, the money is directly debited from your bank account. This is most commonly used during online transactions, and offered by e-wallets and banks alike.

These are some popular providers in Germany who offer direct debits.

  • Sofort
  • Payone
  • Hipay
  • Paymill
  • Skrill
  • Ingenico
  • Postfinance
  • Instalment payment
  • Klarna

Digital banks also offer direct debit payments. Refer to the table below for popular digital banks in Germany offering direct debits.

Paypal and other online payment methods

There is a host of other online payment methods available in Germany, including e-wallets like Paypal, SMS payment apps like Mobiamo, as well as bank transfer platforms like Giropay, Uberweisung, and SEPA. These payment methods are widely used for online shopping because they are typically considered safe methods of transaction.

While these online payment methods might not be as popular as cash or card payments, more merchants in Germany are warming up to the idea of ​​e-wallets with the rise of e-commerce.

How to pick the right payment methods in Germany

Out of all these methods, which method of payments should you use in Germany? Consider the following factors before making a decision.

  • Location. Some cities in Germany are more receptive to newer methods of payment than others. You should pick a payment method depending on where you’re based. For example, if most merchants in your area only accept cash and there are plenty of ATMs nearby, then using cash might be the best payment method for you.
  • Safety. Different payment methods come with their own risk. E-wallets, for instance, might not be regulated as strictly as digital banks are in Germany. The way you intend to store and use your money will determine which level of security you seek, and thus, the method of spending you choose.
  • Fees. How much does it cost for you to spend? Some payment methods like SEPA transfers are often offered for free by banks in Germany. Other providers might charge a fee for bank transfers or direct debits. These small fees can add up so do take them into consideration before choosing a method of payment.
  • Convenience. Digital bank accounts, cards, mobile payment platforms, and e-wallets offer a world of convenience when it comes to making payments in Germany. Debit and credit cards typically come with contactless payment features so that you can tap to spend without keying in your PIN number. Mobile payment solutions also offer this tap-and-go convenience. E-wallets and digital banks, on the other hand, allow you to spend in a few taps through a handy mobile app.

Bottom line

From mobile payments to direct debits, there are plenty of ways you can spend in Germany. The method of payment you choose will ultimately depend on where you’re based, what you’re willing to pay, and personal spending preferences.

Compare a range of online banks in Germany

Name Product Management Fee Card delivery Supported currencies Mobile payments
TARGOBANK Online-Account
3.95 €
N/A

1

Apple Pay, Google Pay
An online current account that comes with a Visa credit card. Free online transfers and free cash withdrawals at more than 3,000 ATMs.
1822MOBILE Current Account
1822MOBILE Current Account
0 €
N/A

1

Apple Pay, Google Pay
Free account management, €20 when you open an account, up to €100 referral bonus and a free savings bank card: your current account 1822MOBILE offers all of this.
DKB-Cash: Free current account
0 €
Up to 7 business days

1

Samsung Pay, Apple Pay, Google Pay
A current account with fees that comes with a free Visa credit card and free cash withdrawals worldwide.
Norisbank Top Current Account
0 €
5 to 7 working days

1

Apple Pay
Benefit from a 0 € account fee, free Maestro card and free cash withdrawals from thousands of locations worldwide.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Please note these products are not licenced as banks. Check our product review pages for details.
Name Product Management Fee Card delivery Supported currencies Mobile payments
Revolut Standard
0 €
Up to 9 working days

27

Apple Pay, Google Pay
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.
Wirex Standard
0 €
Up to 4 business days

12

Apple Pay, Google Pay

Get a Welcome Bonus of $15 USD in WXT when you sign up with Wirex through Finder.

Benefit from an array of digital payment features, including a free prepaid Wirex card and unlimited fee-free transfers at interbank rates - with zero monthly subscription fee.
Wise Multicurrency Account
0 €
Up to 14 working days

19

Apple Pay, Google Pay
Wise (formerly TransferWise) is an international account with over 50 currencies, instant and very convenient money transfers, a card to spend in any currency, bank details to be paid in 30 different countries and multi-currency direct debits.
Revolut Plus
2.99 €
Up to 9 working days

25

Apple Pay, Google Pay
Enjoy purchase, event ticket and returns protection, plus other innovative features with this lower-priced subscription plan.
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Compare up to 4 providers

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