best business account in germany for freelancers
Finance,  Work in Germany

How to Choose a Business Account in Germany as a Freelancer (2022 Edition)

Last updated on April 7th, 2022 at 04:22 pm

Traditional national banks, direct banks or one those new Fintechs offer a wide variety of business bank accounts in Germany. Which bank account suits you the best depends on many factors. Find out more in this post.

 

So you have registered as a freelancer with the tax office and the first invoice is ready for the client. But which bank account details should you add to the invoice? Can you use your personal bank account or is a business bank account in Germany mandatory for freelancers?

In this very detailed post, I will discuss the factors you must take into account before choosing a business account as a freelancer in Germany and how the costs of a business account are made up.

 


Disclaimer: This blog post may include affiliate links. These links do not cost you anything but I might earn a small commission if you decide to order something from one of my recommended partners. Thank you for your support to help keep this platform growing!


 

Types of Business Bank Accounts in Germany

There are three types of business bank accounts in Germany.

  • Mobile or Fintech Banks
  • Traditional Banks
  • Direct Banks

 

Mobile or Fintech Banks (Mobile-Bank)

In the past few years, a number of fintech have started to offer mobile banking in Germany (also known as M-Banking or mBanking). Mobile banking is getting more and more popular because of the convenience, less reliability on cash, the ability to take your finances anywhere with you with your smartphone.

Advantages of having a mobile bank account in Germany:

  • You can check your account on-the-go
  • They offer flexibility and independence from branch opening hours.
  • They are paperless and offer online account management
  • A mobile bank account in Germany is most suitable for expats who want to stay for a few years (1-3 years) in Germany

Below is an overview of some of the fintech-led mobile banks and the features that they offer in their ‘free’ business account in Germany for freelancers.

Bank/

Features

Holvi

Kontist 

Penta

FYRST

Trustpilot Rating (April 2022)

4.0/ 5.0

4.3/ 5.0

4.3/ 5.0

3.4/ 5.0

Language

EN/ EU

EN/ DE

EN/ DE/ IT

DE

Business Card

1

Virtual Only

2

1

International Transactions

           NA

         NA

1% fee

per transaction

NA

SEPA Transfers

per month

Unlimited
(Limited to Fair Use Policy) 

Unlimited

100

50

Cash Withdrawals

per month

 2.5% fee per withdrawal

NA

2

Unlimited (only at Cash Group ATMs)

Bookkeeping & Accounting

Includes Lexoffice integration 

Available in Kontist Premium @ 9,00 €/ per month

Includes Lexoffice or Debitoor integration

Integrate accounting solutions

@ 25% saving

Mobile App

iOS & Android

iOS & Android

iOS & Android

iOS & Android

Starting Price per month

0,00 €

0,00 €

9,00 €

0,00 €

Details

 

Traditional Bank (Filialbank

A branch or a traditional bank is a credit institution with a distinctive branch network. Ideally, a branch bank has branches in every major city or municipality.

In contrast to a direct bank, a branch bank thus has a better infrastructure to provide its customers with personal and individual service throughout the country.

Advantages of a branch bank:

  • Nationwide branch network
  • Individual advice and support
  • Products can be individually adapted to the customer
  • High service level
  • Most suitable for expats turned immigrants who plan to stay for long-term in Germany

The table below shows the business bank account features offered by a couple of popular Filialbank in Germany.

Bank/ Features

Deutsche Bank

Postbank

Commerzbank

Trustpilot Ratings

(April 2022)

2.1/ 5.0

3.7/ 5.0

2.0/ 5.0

Language

EN/ DE

DE

EN/ DE

EC/ Debit Card

1

1

1

Credit Card

29,00 €/ year 

30,00 €/ year

34,90 €/ year

SEPA Transfers

0,25 €/ paperless transaction 

2,50 €/ paper transaction



0,22 €/ paperless transaction

2,50 €/ paper transaction

First 10: Free 

0,15 €/ paperless transaction 
1,50 €/ paper transaction

Cash Withdrawals

2,50 €/ per withdrawal

Free and Unlimited
at Cash Group ATMs

1,00 €/ per withdrawal

Bookkeeping & Accounting

NA

Available

NA

Mobile App

NA

iOS & Android

iOS & Android

Starting Price

per month

12,90 €

Free for first 6 Months,

then 5,90 € 

9,90 €

 

Direct Bank (Direkt-Bank)

A direct bank in Germany is usually one that does not maintain branches and serves customers by mail, online or by telephone. Many direct banks today operate mainly via the Internet and offer all their services and support online.

The lack of a branch network has several advantages:

  • Lower costs, which are usually passed on directly to customers
  • Availability 24h around the clock
  • No fixed opening hours
  • High safety standards
  • Free additional services

Below is an overview of some of the most popular direct banks in Germany.

Bank/ Features

Fidor

DKB

NetBank

Trustpilot Rating (March 2022)

2.1/ 5.0

3.3/ 5.0

1.2/ 5.0

Language

EN/ DE

DE

DE

Business Card

Digital Card: Free
Physical Card: 3,00 €/PM

1

1

International Transactions

CHF/AUD/CAD: 0,50 % + 8,50 €

Other currencies: 0,50 % + 0,40 €

NA

1% fee per transaction

SEPA Transfers

per month

Unlimited

0,01 €/ per paperless transaction

10: Free
Additional paperless transactions: 0,15 € 

Cash Withdrawals

per month

1st withdrawal: Free
2nd withdrawal onwards: 3,00 € per transaction

At DKB ATMs: Free 
At 3rd-party ATMs: 1% fee

1st withdrawal: Free
2nd withdrawal onwards: 3,00 € per transaction

Bookkeeping and Accounting

NA 

NA

NA

Mobile App

iOS & Android

iOS & Android

iOS & Android

Starting Price per month

5,00 €

15,00 €

4,85 €

 

Best Business Bank Accounts in Germany

 

As a freelancer in Germany, you are spoilt for choice when it comes to business accounts. Here are a few banks – classic, direct or mobile that offer business accounts in Germany with great conditions for freelancers and entrepreneurs.

 

Penta

Penta is one of the best business banks in Germany for everyday banking. You can either use it as your primary bank account in Germany or use it alongside existing accounts.

With Penta, you can set up a business account in Germany online within 48 hours instead of waiting for weeks. Whether you own an online shop, provide IT services or work as a freelancer in Germany, Penta can make your banking easier.

You can open three types of business bank accounts in Germany; Starter, Comfort and Enterprise.

Here are some advantages of Penta business account in Germany:

  • Online account opening with German IBAN
  • VISA debit cards for all employees
  • Deposit insurance of up to €100,000
  • Preparatory accounting for easy expense management
  • Accounts from €9/month — no hidden fees

 

Open a Penta Business Bank Account in Germany for just €9,00/month

 


Kontist

Kontist, a Berlin-based fintech offers an intuitive business bank account in Germany that you can manage easily from your smartphone. Oh, and they offer their services in English as well – so they are expat-friendly too!

They offer 3 types of business accounts for freelancers and self-employed. Free, Premium and a Duo.

With Kontist Premium you can automatically categorise your expenses and revenues based on your invoices and receipts. It also gives real-time tax forecasting and an overview of the automated reserve account.

In Kontist’s Duo, you can integrate Lexoffice, popular English-German accounting software in Germany, with the Kontist Premium Business account. Lexoffice is rich with bookkeeping features for freelancers. Basically, it turns bookkeeping into a cakewalk. You can create invoices, scan receipts, capture expenses and prepare your tax return easily with Lexoffice.

 

Sign up for Kontist Duo’s Banking und Bookkeeping Plan for just €12.00/month.


 

Deutsche Bank

Deutsche Bank is one of the most recognisable banks in Germany. I have been with Deutsche Bank since 2010 and can wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone looking for a reliable bank account in Germany.

For one, they have a very simple and easy online banking system which is also available in English. I also have another account with VR Bank and their signup process is extremely complicated in comparison.

It is also very easy to open a bank account with Deutsche Bank. When I first went to their branch office to open my account, they called up an English speaking colleague to assist me. It might not be the case in every DB branch, but at least they seemed to be open to it.

Deutsche Bank’s private bank account starts with 6,90 Euro per month (what I have since 2010)

Click here to learn more about their Aktivkonto

 

Deutsche Bank’s business bank account starts with 12,90 Euro per month (what I have since 2017)

Click here to learn more about their Businesskonto

 

Deutsche Bank


 

Postbank

Postbank is one of the most well-known branch banks in Germany. You may recognise them from their bright blue-yellow colours even before knowing the brand name. They’re literally…everywhere in Germany!

Postbank offers excellent conditions for a business account in Germany to freelancers and business owners.

A sole trader or freelancer can conveniently open a new Business Giro Account (completely online!) as an “Individual account (trader or freelancer)

The best part is that they also provide account management through their mobile app.

So you get all the conveniences of the innovative fintech AND the reliability of a decades-old bank in the German finance sector.

 

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Some of the advantages of having a Postbank business account are:

The only downside is that they offer their services in German only. So if you’re already here looking for a bank account in Germany and all, you may as well brush up your German language skills 😉

 

Click Here to Open a Postbank Business Girokonto for Freelancers Online (FREE for the first SIX months!)

 


 

Do You REALLY Need a Business Bank Account in Germany?

 

As a rule, there are no legal requirements that force an entrepreneur or a freelancer to open a business account in Germany. The only exception is when you’re setting up a corporation (e.g. GmbH or UG), you must open a business account.

Any freelancer is free to choose their preferred payment method, but nowadays invoices are rarely paid in cash. It is very common for freelancers to continue using their private current account for business purposes at the beginning. But it can become quite a hassle in a matter of time.

 

 


 

Using Current Account as a Business Account in Germany

 

In theory, the scope of services of a private current account and a business account is very similar.

As long as the number of transactions remains manageable and limited your bank probably won’t even notice. However, if your monthly transactions are too high, your bank may ask you to open a business account.

Switching to a business account at a later stage is possible, but it comes at additional costs and great hassle. You will have to inform all your clients of new bank details or else they will continue transferring payments to your old account. Think of all the monthly business-related subscriptions that you may have to update.

 

 


 

How Much Does a Business Account Cost?

 

The free business bank account in Germany is a widespread myth.

Many providers offer their accounts with a free account management fee. However, there are costs for cards, bookings or deposits and withdrawals on top of that. Thus the costs for the respective business account rise rapidly.

So even though on paper many banks may offer a “free” bank account, you still end up paying some fee in one way or the other. The fees for a business account consist of different components.

Here are the main costs that you should consider when comparing business accounts.

 

1. Account Maintenance Fee

The account management fee can range between 0 and 98 euros per month. A higher fixed monthly fee often comes with some perks – lower variable fees, more paperless bookings, or other additional services.

2. Monthly Fee for EC and Credit Cards

Depending on the account type, some EC and credit cards are free of charge. However, credit cards are often associated with annual additional costs for the business account.

3. Costs for Transactions

– Paperless Transfers (online transactions)

Banks can charge €0.0 to €0.30 for online transactions. Depending on your account, a certain amount of ‘free’ paperless bookings may also be included in your business account.

– Paper-based Transfers (documented transactions)

Paper-based transfers are those that you make using a form. This also includes checks as well as cash deposits and withdrawals. Paper-based transactions can cost up to €10.00 with some banks.

4. Fee for Deposits and Withdrawals

– Cash Deposits

Not all providers offer deposits to the business account. Some banks charge up to 5 Euros per deposit.

– Cash Withdrawals

Withdrawals with the EC card are usually free of charge at the classic banks. Some direct banks and mobile banks charge high fees since they do not have their own network of ATMs.

5. Other Costs

Additional costs are incurred for your business account, for example for payment transactions across national borders, setting up standing orders by telephone, issuing new or (additional) cards, bounced direct debits or chargebacks.

 

 


 

How To Open a Business Bank Account in Germany?

 

Until now, the classic way to open a business account has been to go directly to the bank branch. You make an appointment with the bank of your choice and bring all the documents required for registration to your appointment.

But now, this is much easier. Most online and mobile banks in Germany let customers open a business account without visiting an office. This generally works in two ways:

  • An online application process – You finish the application form online. After the bank has checked your detail you will have immediate access to your business account. In this method, you carry out the Video ID procedure (Videoident) to identify yourself.

 

  • A postal application process – This is still the case with many branch banks. You will be asked to fill up a PDF registration form online, which you print out and take to the post office. When you hand in your documents at the post office counter, you carry out the Post-ID procedure (Postident) to open the bank account. In this case, the post office employee is authorized to verify your identity for the account opening.

 

Regardless of the  application process, you will share the following basic personal details when opening a business bank account in Germany:

  • Name and address, date and place of birth
  • Name, legal form and sector of the company

 


 

Tl:dr – Having A Business Bank Account in Germany is Pretty Useful

 

It is understandable that as an international freelancer, it may not seem necessary for you to open a dedicated business bank account in Germany. However, there are several reasons not to rely on your private bank account. Despite the higher costs, a business bank account in Germany has many advantages.

In summary, now we know that:

  • By law, a business bank account in Germany is not mandatory for freelancers (except when registering a corporation).
  • Keeping business and personal transactions separate is recommended for transparent business finance management.
  • Banks in Germany can ask you to switch to a business bank account if your monthly business-related transactions exceed a certain number.
  • Banks in Germany also offer a wide range of services for business bank accounts, which can considerably simplify the financial processes of a company.
  • Choose a bank that offers a range of business bank accounts in Germany and check the customer service quality of a bank before opening an account.

 

Are you a freelancer or a business owner in Germany? Which business bank account  in Germany did you opt for? Tell us your experience in the comments below.

 

best bank account for freelancers in germany

Hi there, I am the human behind this blog. If you could not tell by my photo, I am fueled by tea. My expat journey started at the age of 19. Germany has been my home for several years. I hope you will find some helpful insights if you are considering moving to Germany or already live here.

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