Money and banks
Many financial transactions take place in Germany without using cash. Accounts known as current accounts are used for payments that do not involve cash. All types of payment transaction can be carried out using a current account: Money can be deposited in these accounts (for instance via transfers or by depositing cash), and money can be withdrawn or debited from them (for instance by withdrawing cash, paying by card, making transfers, via direct debits or standing orders). Current accounts are particularly used to pay bills and settle recurrent expenditure items such as rent or electricity bills.
Wages and salaries are also transferred directly to a current account. You should therefore open a current account at a bank particularly if you are working.
Ask for further details at the bank of your choice if you would like to set up a current account. Find out about the conditions and costs involved, as these can vary considerably. Also ask about the documents you need to bring with you when you open an account.
Banks frequently offer loans for larger purchases. They do however charge interest for the money you borrow as a rule, and these are very high. You should therefore consider your options carefully before agreeing to take up a loan. Remember that you may have to pay back the loan over many years, and that your income may change. Find out as much as you can, check that the offer is reliable and always compare it with several other offers.
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If you have a current account, your bank will often allow you to have an overdraft facility. This allows you to spend more money than is available in your account up to an agreed limit. Whilst this makes you highly flexible when it comes to purchases that you need to make at short notice, the interest rates for an overdraft facility are much higher than the rate normally charged on loans. It is therefore only a suitable option if you need small amounts of money for a short period.