A current account is the most convenient way of dealing with money transactions:
- Your salary or scholarship will be paid into it.
- You can set up a standing order ("Dauerauftrag") for regular payments with fixed sums (such as your rent), so that the money is paid automatically on specific dates.
- You can transfer money to other bank accounts by filling out a form ("Überweisungsformular").
- You can give somebody else a direct debit authorization ("Einzugsermächtigung") which will allow them to book sums of money from your current account. This procedure, which is called "Lastschriftverfahren," is useful if you have to make regular payments of varying sums to utility providers like a telephone or electricity company. You sign an "Einzugsermächtigung" allowing the company to bill you directly.
Although banks hardly differ in the services they provide, their fees vary considerably,
so it is worthwhile comparing several banks before making your choice.
A list with a selection of banks can be obtained at the Welcome Centre.
To open a bank account, you have to present your passport and your address. You will then receive a debit card ("EC-Karte") and a secret PIN number that you should memorize as you will need it when you use your card. The card can then be used to withdraw cash from your bank's cash dispensers. Please note that you will have to pay a fee if you withdraw money from cash dispensers of other banks.
Banks are generally open Mondays to Fridays from 8:30 to 16:00. Access to cash dispensers is usually 24 hours a day.