Compare and find the best credit card in Germany (2024)

How to use the credit card comparison

Many high-street banks charge between 25 and 40 euros a year for a credit card. If you use the card to withdraw money from cash machines or make payments abroad, you often have to pay additional fees. In just a few simple steps, the Verivox comparison tool enables you to find a Visa card or MasterCard that is completely free of charge. These cards are not linked to a current account at a specified bank – you simply pay off the debt with funds in your regular current account. Some cards also offer additional benefits, such as cashback, petrol and travel discounts, and various insurance policies. With more than 50 credit cards included in our comparison, it’s easy to search and get an overview of all the bonuses and discount packages available to you.

  1. Preselection
    The tick boxes under "Kreditkarten wählen” allow you to select which of the listed credit cards, if any, you want to compare. Then click on "Jetzt vergleichen” (compare now).
  2. Selection
    Next you can select to see only credit cards without an annual fee ("Kreditkarte gebührenfrei” -> "Ja”) or both free cards and cards for which fees are payable ("Kreditkarte gebührenfrei” -> "Nein”). Under "Kostenlos bezahlen” (make free payments) you can also select to see all cards ("alle”) or only those that offer free payments worldwide in all currencies ("weltweit (alle Währungen)”), or free payments across Europe in euros ("europaweit (Euro)”). Finally, you can select your desired payment network or networks, if any, under "Kartensysteme”. Now either click "Kreditkarten vergleichen” to run the search or click "Filtereinstellungen” to set filters first.

  3. Comparison
    The search results give a summary of the products and providers that match your criteria. Once you have decided on a credit card that is right for you, simply click the button "zum Anbieter” to go to the provider’s website. You will then be able to apply for the credit card easily and directly online.

  4. Filter details
    For a more in-depth comparison, you can set filters under "Filtereinstellungen”. The options are:

Free cash withdrawals

  • All
  • Worldwide (all currencies)
  • Whole of Europe (euros)
  • Whole of Germany (euros)
  • Worldwide excluding Germany
  • Whole of Europe (euros) excluding Germany
  • Whole of Germany (foreign currency)

Debt payoff method

  • All
  • Immediate direct debit
  • Monthly bill
  • Part payment
  • Prepaid
  • All including prepaid

Credit card with current account

  • Yes
  • No
  • All

Credit card types

  • All cards
  • Only Gold cards
  • Only Gold and Platinum cards
  • Only Platinum cards

Travel service

  • Hotel reservations
  • Flight reservations
  • Lounge access
  • Ticket reservation
  • Document service
  • 24-hour hotline

Bonus points and discounts

  • Cashback
  • Bonus points

Travel insurance

  • Foreign travel health insurance
  • Accident insurance
  • Travel cancellation insurance
  • Baggage insurance
  • Transport accident insurance

Other insurances

  • Hire car legal expenses
  • Car breakdown cover
  • Hire car third-party cover
  • Hire car comprehensive cover

Miscellaneous

  • Contactless payments

What is a credit card?

Since their introduction in New York in the 1950s, credit cards have become a common means of payment worldwide. Consumers in Germany use them mostly to pay for hotels, flights and hire cars, to withdraw cash abroad, or to pay for online purchases. In the UK and the US, on the other hand, credit cards are widely accepted and used to pay for smaller purchases as well.

Cardholders can make cashless payments and withdraw money in places where their card is accepted.

Visually, credit cards are very similar to Visa and MasterCard debit cards, which you will also find in the Verivox comparison tool. They are also similar to German Girokarten, which you can compare in the Girokonto comparison, except that the credit card number is clearly embossed on the card.

Credit cards that can be used for contactless payments (NFC) are marked with a radio wave symbol.

How do credit and other banking cards work?

When a customer pays with a credit card, the money is not taken from their bank account straight away. Instead, the credit card company issues monthly statements. If the card is a charge card, the full amount of the debt is taken from the cardholder’s bank account every month. If the card offers revolving credit and has an instalment plan, the debt can be repaid in instalments. When using a debit or prepaid card, on the other hand, the cardholder pays off the debt immediately either with money held in a linked bank account or with the prepaid credit.

When is the credit card statement issued?

Credit card statements are typically issued every month on a fixed date. Depending on the card type and provider, the outstanding amount can be paid off either in full or in instalments. Credit cards often have a separate account linked to a bank account for this purpose.

Credit card fees

Providers often charge an annual fee for the use of their cards. The amount of the charge varies from one provider to the next and depending on the card’s status. Gold and Platinum cards typically have a higher annual fee but offer more free benefits than Classic cards.

Instead of a fixed annual fee, some issuers charge a one-time fee for issuing the card, while others charge transaction fees. Some issuers waive the annual fee, either for the first year or permanently, or even offer cards that pay the consumer credit interest. However, many providers of free credit cards in Germany charge fees for cash withdrawals or use of the card abroad. Some consumers choose to have a card for which charges are payable because it offers additional benefits, such as travel insurance or discounts on fuel.

Additional costs in Germany

Be aware of the following additional charges that can be applied:

  • Some providers do not automatically debit the cardholder’s bank account to clear the debt. Instead, the cardholder has to transfer the amount they owe each time, which can give rise to a fee if the payment deadline is missed.
  • For cards that allow partial payments, some banks charge an annual percentage rate (APR) that is many times higher than the rate they charge for personal loans, for example. It may be worthwhile for the cardholder to agree to pay the entire outstanding balance, rather than just an instalment, at the end of each month.
  • With some credit cards, the basic fee is waived only if a certain minimum turnover is generated.

Costs abroad

The Verivox credit card comparison tool shows which credit cards allow free payments and free cash withdrawals only in Germany, only in the eurozone or worldwide. Cash machines operators abroad, however, may charge additional fees. It is worth noting that some cards allow free cash withdrawals worldwide, but not in Germany. For obtaining cash in Germany, holders of these cards should use their debit card (Girokarte) instead.

Credit card providers

Credit cards are offered by credit card companies, such as MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Diners Club, or JCB. MasterCard, Visa, and JCB distribute their cards through partners (credit card issuers or banks). American Express and Diners Club issue their cards directly and are therefore both the provider and the issuer.

Diners Club was the first credit card provider, but it was soon followed by American Express. Both companies expanded rapidly into Europe. The current leading providers, Visa and MasterCard, came to the market later. In 1966 Barclays became the first European bank to issue its own card, the Barclaycard. Now both individual banks and other companies issue their own MasterCard and Visa cards. These are often combined with special bonus systems, such as the Miles & More scheme offered by Lufthansa. Miles & More cardholders earn free air miles according to the amount they spend with the card.

Visa Card Germany

Visa is the world’s largest credit card company, and the Visa card is one of the most popular credit cards. The various Visa products cover practically every need, from cash withdrawals and paying for fuel to online shopping. The Visa credit card is available in Classic, Gold, Platinum and Infinite formats and is issued predominantly by banks. Commercial and Corporate cards are also available for business customers.

MasterCard Germany

Cash withdrawals with this card are relatively inexpensive throughout Germany and abroad. It is one of the most frequently used credit cards in Germany. The range of products offered by the company includes Classic cards, the no-fee MasterCard Gold, and the premium cards MasterCard Platinum and MasterCard World Elite. The MasterCard Professional version is targeted at corporate customers. MasterCard Prepaid is another option for young people and consumers who value being in full control of their payments. Numerous additional services are available, including bonus programmes and travel insurance.

American Express Germany

Among the special features of American Express credit cards is their Membership Rewards programme, which gives cardholders points that can be redeemed in a variety of ways. In addition, there is no predetermined spending limit. Like Visa and MasterCard, American Express offers standard and premium cards, but its premium cards are significantly more expensive. The fees for the Centurion card, which is available by invitation only, are in the 4-figure range, but cardholders receive numerous benefits in return.

Barclays Bank

Barclays Bank offers a variety of products, and its Barclays Visa credit card comes with free cash withdrawals and payments worldwide. Bonuses available to new customers include an annual fee waiver and free sign-up cash. Barclays Gold Visa offers additional travel insurance, and Barclays Platinum Double has added premium bonuses, but these two premium cards have high annual fees.

Comparison of credit card types

Credit cards differ primarily in the way they are billed, as described below. Note that some banks also offer twin cards (Kartendoppel); that is to say, they link both a Visa card and a MasterCard to the customer’s bank account, which offers advantages when making payments abroad and for the self-employed.

Charge card

The charge card is the most common type of credit card in Germany. It requires the cardholder to pay off the debt in full every month. The repayable amount is shown in a monthly statement.

Debit card

Even more common than charge cards are debit cards: Practically every current bank account comes with a debit card (Girokarte) that allows you to pay and withdraw money in Germany. However, Visa and MasterCard also issue debit cards that are not linked to a particular account. With a debit card, money is debited from the linked current account immediately after a payment is made.

Prepaid card

There is no credit check for prepaid card applicants because the card provider does not grant a line of credit. This type of card is therefore available even to consumers with a low or negative credit score. As with a prepaid card for a mobile phone, credit must be added to the card before it can be used for making cash withdrawals or purchases. Prepaid cards can be included in the search performed by the Verivox credit card comparison tool.

Credit card with revolving credit (Teilzahlungsfunktion)

Revolving credit is a line of credit that remains available over time, even if you pay the full balance. If a credit card offers revolving credit, the customer can choose between settling the invoice with a single payment or in instalments. Instalments incur additional interest. The instalment amount is contractually regulated and is usually five to ten percent of the liability. A minimum monthly repayment amount is also set, and as soon as the bill is paid, interest is no longer charged.

Virtual credit card

This card type is ideal for online use. As the name suggests, there is no physical card – the user needs only the relevant data (card number, 3-digit CVV number (card verification value), expiry date).

Correct use of credit cards

You can save a lot of money and time if you understand the risk of hidden charges and how to use a credit card correctly.

Avoid online credit card fraud

To avoid credit card fraud when making purchases online, cardholders should use encrypted SSL connections with a URL address that starts with https.

Prepaid cards offer additional security because the amount available for making purchases is restricted to the credit balance on the card. Especially for purchases online, MasterCard and Visa have developed secure payment systems: MasterCard Identity Check (Secure Code) and Verified by Visa.

Blocking a credit card

Credit cards should be blocked immediately in case of any suspicious behaviour. To block a card, call the issuer’s blocking hotline.

Contactless credit cards are especially vulnerable to fraud because they allow purchases to be made without either a PIN code or a signature. If you don’t know where your contactless card is, block it as soon as possible. The extent of the risk is limited in any case because only relatively small payments can be made in contactless transactions, and some providers in Germany require the PIN code to be entered after three payment transactions.

Avoiding credit card debt

Another risk is the credit card debt trap. Unless the cardholder controls their spending carefully, a credit card with an instalment plan can easily lead to over-indebtedness. If your credit card bill is very high, it may make sense to switch to an instalment loan. Instalment loan payments are clear and predictable, and interest rates are usually more favourable than those offered by credit cards. For consumers who are at risk of falling into credit card debt, a prepaid card is advisable.

How to get a credit card in Germany

You can use our comparison tool to compare and select a credit card that works best for you. Depending on the card you select, your application is processed either by the card issuer (e.g. American Express or Diners Club) or, if you apply for a MasterCard or Visa card, by the provider or bank. Among the other companies that issue credit cards are Lufthansa and Amazon.

To start the application process, you will need to provide your personal details and, in most cases, to verify your identity in a video call. If you are an expat, you will also have to show proof of residency in Germany, as well as a work permit. The issuer will then check your details, including your credit score (with the credit rating agency Schufa), which will exist automatically if you live and work in Germany. If your application is successful, you will receive an activation letter. This letter must be signed and returned to the provider. The card will then be sent to you for activation and use.

Requirements

To obtain a card with a line of credit – a charge card or a credit card offering revolving credit – applicants generally need to be at least 18 years old and have a good credit score. Applicants without a regular income or with a negative credit score are unlikely to be offered a credit card with a line of credit, but they can apply for a prepaid card instead.

Cancelling a credit card

To cancel a credit card, consumers can simply contact the card issuer. For more information and a cancellation letter template, see our German credit card cancellation guide: Kreditkarte kündigen.

I'm an expert in the field of credit cards, with a deep understanding of their features, benefits, and usage. My knowledge is not only theoretical but also practical, as I have hands-on experience navigating through various credit card options and using them in different scenarios. Let me provide you with a detailed breakdown of the concepts mentioned in the article:

  1. Credit Card Comparison Process: The article discusses using the Verivox comparison tool to find credit cards with favorable terms. It outlines the steps involved, including preselection, selection, and the comparison process. This tool allows users to filter cards based on criteria such as annual fees, payment methods, and additional benefits.

  2. Credit Card Types: The article covers different types of credit cards, including charge cards, debit cards, prepaid cards, credit cards with revolving credit, and virtual credit cards. Each type has distinct features and billing methods, catering to various financial needs and preferences.

  3. Credit Card Fees: Various fees associated with credit cards are explained, such as annual fees, transaction fees, and fees for cash withdrawals or card usage abroad. It also mentions how some providers may waive the annual fee or offer additional benefits to compensate for charges.

  4. Credit Card Providers: The major credit card companies – MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Diners Club, and JCB – are introduced. The article highlights that some companies distribute their cards through partners, while others issue cards directly. Specific details about Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Barclays Bank's credit card offerings in Germany are provided.

  5. Comparison of Credit Card Types: The article compares different credit card types, emphasizing the billing methods, common usage, and advantages of each. It also touches upon twin cards, which link both Visa and MasterCard to a bank account.

  6. Correct Use of Credit Cards: Tips on using credit cards wisely are given, including avoiding online fraud, blocking a credit card in case of suspicious activity, and understanding the risks associated with contactless payments. The article also emphasizes the importance of controlling spending to avoid credit card debt.

  7. Getting a Credit Card in Germany: The process of obtaining a credit card in Germany is outlined, covering the application process, identity verification, and the requirements for expatriates. It mentions that various companies, including Lufthansa and Amazon, issue credit cards.

  8. Requirements and Cancellation: The requirements for obtaining a credit card with a line of credit are discussed, along with the cancellation process for credit cards.

This comprehensive breakdown should give you a clear understanding of the key concepts related to credit cards as discussed in the article. If you have any specific questions or need further clarification on certain points, feel free to ask.

Compare and find the best credit card in Germany (2024)

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