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Banks and Banking in Germany

The banking system in Germany is a little different to the ones in English-speaking countries. Most purchases are made with cash, checks (cheques) are virtually unknown and credit cards are mainly used for special transactions such as car hire (in fact, many Germans don't even have a credit card). For cashless payments, most banks issue a "EC card", which works like a debit card.

Travelers in particular should bear this in mind and plan to carry some cash with them. Your hotel will very likely accept credit cards, but most shops and restaurants which don't specifically cater to tourists won't. Fortunately Berlin is relatively safe (providing you take the usual sensible precautions) and there is a wide range of ATMs (cash machines; in German Geldautomat) where you can withdraw cash. Most ATMs accept credit cards such as Mastercard, American Express, Visa, Diners' Club International as well as normal bank cards with Plus and Cirrus marks.

If you're planning to stay in Berlin for any length of time, you'll probably need to open a bank account. That isn't usually as difficult as it once was, especially as competition in the personal banking market has hotted up in recent years, although don't expect to get any kind of credit facility (or even a credit card) until you've built up a credit history (which in Germany means showing you have a reliable stream of income).

Further banking / money-related articles