Top Credit Cards of 2022 in Germany

Are you living in or moving to Germany and looking to get a line of credit? Compare German credit cards to find the best one for your spending habits.

If you are American, going to Germany presents several forms of culture shock. One of the most glaring cultural differences is credit cards are not used as widely. Those that are accepted are often specific types or brands unique to Germany and surrounding areas. That is because Germany has a largely cash-based culture. It even has a popular motto of “geld stinkt nicht,” which means “there's nothing wrong with money.”

Despite the German tendency to lean towards the use of cash transactions, there are times when a credit card is necessary. If you are an immigrant permanently living in Germany, you need at least one credit card. As an expat temporarily living in Germany, you may also find having a credit card useful. Yet, credit cards are not as readily available. Credit Cards and other cards that are available may seem confusing if you are not from Germany. The information below can help you better understand German credit cards and select one that can meet your needs.

What Are the Benefits of Credit Cards?

Careful use of a credit card can help you build up your credit score. By building up your credit score, you can perform certain tasks more easily in the United States, such as qualifying for a home or auto loan. That benefit is similar in German. The German credit score is called a SCHUFA score. A positive SCHUFA score makes obtaining loans easier.

Another benefit of using a credit card is the ability to track what you spend and where you spend it. When you use cash, you can easily lose track of how your money is spent. Credit card purchases produce detailed records. You can use those records to analyze your purchases, change your spending habits, and create a reasonable household budget.

Credit cards are also useful because credit card usage is carefully tracked by banks and credit card companies. That is true in the U.S., as well as Germany. Therefore, fraudulent activity is easy to view and often noticed quickly. Most German credit cards offer fraud protection and charge freezing options for such occasions.

Using credit cards is also beneficial because it makes certain types of purchases easier. For example, if a large appliance fails suddenly, a credit card purchase can replace that appliance quickly. Cash is not always available in large enough quantities when such situations arise. Similarly, credit cards are useful for making other large purchases like airfare, hotel stays, or automobiles.

Are All Commonly Used Cards Credit Cards in Germany?

Not every card used in Germany is a credit card. In fact, the most popular type of card is a girocard. A girocard is a type of debit card. Girocard is a network created to connect almost all German banks and ATMs. When most shop workers in Germany ask if customers want to do cash or card transactions, they are referring to girocard or other debit card transactions. However, shops in areas popular among tourists are more likely to also accept credit cards.

What Types of Credit Cards Are Available in Germany?

As is the case in the United States, credit cards in Germany come in several types. Prepaid credit cards are available to everyone, including residents with low SCHUFA scores. Users must load the cards with desired amounts from their personal funds before using them. They allow users to keep track of spending without incurring credit card debt.

Traditional credit cards as they are known in the United States are called revolving credit cards in Germany. Users of such cards have specified credit limits. They receive monthly bills with specific due dates and payment minimums. Failure to pay on time results in high fees. High interest rates are also common for balances not paid in full immediately.

Charge credit cards are the most popular option in Germany. They do not function the same way as other credit cards. Charge credit cards have no established credit limits. Also, they require repayment in full each month. Often, the full amounts owed are automatically deducted from bank accounts linked to the charge credit card accounts.

What Are Some Top Credit Card Providers in Germany?

If you want a German credit card, you must apply for one. To do so, you must present proof of residency. The company to which you are applying must also run a credit and financial check on you. Doing so helps establish whether you are a good credit risk. The results also influence the limit attached to the credit card if you qualify. Here are some top German credit card providers to which you may wish to apply:

  • Barclays is a popular banking institution based in London, England. It has branches around the world. In Germany, it is one of the most popular credit card sources. Barclays credit cards are also available in the United States. However, applicants living in Germany must apply for the German version.

  •  Das Kann Bank (DKB) is the second most popular credit card source in Germany, as of 2022. Users enjoy it for its easy integration with Google Pay and Apple Pay. DKB is also famous in Germany for its free debit card availability.

  • Advanzia is well-liked by expats and immigrants for its English language customer support and its credit cards with no annual fees. Its credit cards are also usable all over the world without additional fees.

  • TF Bank offers a Mastercard Gold credit card option for German residents. It is appealing because residents with low SCHUFA scores can often still qualify for it.

  • Hanseatic Bank provides qualifying applicants with minimum credits of 2,500 euros. It is also popular because no fees are charged for cash withdrawals from credit card balances.

What Features Should You Look for When Selecting a German Credit Card?

The features you need to look for when selecting a German credit card are like those you would seek when selecting one in the United States. Consider the size of the credit line for which you may qualify, interest rates, and cash advance fees. Also, check to see if companies you are considering offer reward points or other special offers. Finally, consider ease of use. Make sure the one you select is widely accepted throughout Germany and offers easy customer support access.