Banks and Insurance

At a glance

Find information about opening a bank account, transfering money, paying bills and insurance in Germany on this page.

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To deposit your salary or scholarship or to transfer money, you will need to open a bank account. Many German and some international banks have offices and ATMs in Tübingen, and most offices have English-speaking staff to assist you.

Opening hours

Most banks are open on weekdays from around 8:00 or 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 or 5:00 p.m. Outside these hours, you can still access their ATMs. ATMs of your home bank institute are free of charge. If you want to withdraw money from an ATM of a bank you are not a customer of, fees of around 3 - 5 EUR may apply. The amount will be displayed on screen before you confirm the withdrawal.

Opening a bank account

To open a bank account you will need:

  • your passport or equivalent
  • an address in Tübingen/in Germany
  • a tax ID number/TIN (German and/or from your home country; this depends on the bank)
  • for some banks: confirmation of your registration with city hall

A few days after opening your account, you will receive your debit card in the mail. With this card, you can withdraw money from ATMs and pay in most shops.

Basic bank accounts usually come with a small monthly fee of around 3 - 5 EUR. However, some banks offer free accounts for students or young people, or for people who deposit a certain minimum amount of money each month.

Online banking is a convenient option if you need to complete banking transactions outside your bank's opening hours. Please ask your bank how to apply for or activate online banking for your account.

While there are many brick-and-mortar banks in Germany, online banks that do business exclusively online are becoming increasingly popular. They sometimes offer more competitive rates for monthly fees, so if you do not mind not having a branch office to visit, this might be an option for you.

Cards and cash

After opening a bank account, your bank will issue a debit card for you. With a debit card, you can pay in most shops, though some shops will require a minimum purchase amount (often around 10 EUR) before accepting card payment, or charge a small fee for payments below that amount.

Often debit cards also come with a so-called Geldkarte (money card) option. After activating this function and charging your Geldkarte at an ATM of your bank (maximum amount: 200 EUR), you can use it to pay for services of participating companies, e.g. on the bus in Tübingen, at the swimming pool, for parking decks etc., without needing to enter your PIN code.

While credit cards have become more common in recent years and most stores and restaurants will nowadays accept cards such as Mastercard or Visa, paying cash or with a debit card are still the preferred methods of payment for most people in Germany. Shops might not be able to process payment by credit card, so it's advisable to have some cash on you just in case. Many banks offer the option of getting a credit card. The conditions, e.g. a required minimum monthly income, vary from provider to provider, so please check the respective conditions directly with the bank you are interested in.

Many new debit and credit cards also have contactless payment enabled. With this function, you simply swipe or wave your card over a card reader to pay instead of inserting it into the reader. For purchases of 25 EUR or less, entering your PIN isn't required, thus speeding up the payment process.

Payment by check is possible, but rather uncommon nowadays.

Paying bills

There are several ways to pay bills from your bank account.

One option is doing a one-time transfer (Überweisung). You can take care of this at any branch office of your bank or online.

For recurring payments such as rent, electricity or internet fees, it is common to set up a standing order (Dauerauftrag). You can do this at machines or counters at your bank or online.

Many companies and businesses will also give you the option of a direct debit authorization (Lastschriftmandat). This authorization may be given for a singular payment (einmalige Lastschrift), or may be a general authorization that allows for withdrawal of whatever sum you are due to pay (wiederkehrende Lastschrift), so please be sure to check the wording of the order to determine which type you are signing for.

Transferring money internationally

If you want to transfer money internationally, you may be able to make use of a SEPA (Single Euro Payments Area) transfer if the transfer is going to a participating European country, and if you know the international bank account number (IBAN) and Bank Identification Code (BIC) or Swift Code of the account you are transferring money to. SEPA money transfers from Germany are usually free of charge.

Transferring money without a SEPA transfer will incur fees. Please check directly with your bank to know how high the fees will be for the country you plan on transferring money to.


Germany takes insurance quite seriously, and there is a variety of different types of insurance for all kinds of situations. Please find an explanation of the most important ones below.

Social security

Please find detailed information about health insurance, nursing care insurance, pension scheme, unemployment insurance, and accident insurance on the pages about social security.

Car insurance

Information about car insurance is provided on the page about getting around in Tübingen.

Private liability insurance (Haftpflichtversicherung)

In Germany, anybody can be held liable for damages they have caused to others (third parties). This is why it is common to take out private (family) liability insurance to insure against demands resulting from any damages caused inadvertently. We urgently recommend that you take out a private liability insurance policy or check whether a liability insurance policy in your home country may, possibly, also be valid during your stay in Germany. A liability insurance policy must, at the least, cover all private liability cases and, if possible, also all work-related liability cases.

No matter which company you decide to go with, the following things should be covered:

  • Mietsachschäden (damage to rented rooms or apartments)
  • Schadensausfalldeckung (coverage in case of damage caused by another person who isn’t able to pay for the damage themselves)
  • Schlüsselverlust (loss of keys; preferably private keys as well as workplace keys)
  • if you have children and/or pets, any damage incurred by them should also be covered

Please note: Some private health insurances aimed at international researchers already include private liability insurance. Please carefully read your contract to check whether this might be the case for you.

Other optional types of insurance

Depending on your personal situation, taking out other insurance such as disability insurance (Berufsunfähigkeitsversicherung) or legal protection insurance (Rechtsschutzversicherung) can make sense. The pages of EURAXESS provide a great overview of what other types of insurance might be a good idea for you.

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