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ATMs / cash machines

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Germany is very much a cash-based economy: credit cards are hardly ever used to pay for small value items, and when Germans want to pay using a card, they'll usually whip out their EC card, a kind of debit card linked to their current account. For everything else, cash will do nicely, which means there's a huge network of around 53,000 ATMs (cash machines, in German Geldautomat) providing easy access to cash. Most ATMs are contained inside the bank itself, and outside of opening hours you'll have to insert your card into a slot in the door to gain access. It's very rare to find a "hole-in-the-wall" type of ATM directly on the street. However, in Berlin many U-Bahn stations now boast an ATM on the platform.

Virtually all ATMs will allow you to withdraw cash from a foreign bank or financial institution, either by credit card or using a bank card which is compatible with the Plus, Maestro and / or Cirrus networks. Fees may be applied; ask your bank or credit card issuer for details.

If you have a German bank account, be aware that currently fees (typically between 4 and 7.5 Euros per transaction) may be levied if you withdraw cash from an ATM which doesn't belonging to your own bank or your bank's ATM network. There are four such ATM networks in Germany:

The Sparkassen are regional, semi-state owned banks easily recognized by the "S" logo. While each regions' Sparkasse is an autonomous bank, they don't charge for using ATMs in other Sparkassen. There are about 24,000 Sparkasse ATMs in total. Website: http://www.sparkasse.de/
The Volksbanken / Raffeisenbanken are another nationwide network of regional banks, with around 18,000 ATMs.Website: http://www.vr-networld.de/
Cash Group
Formed in 1998, the largest private banks (Deutsche Bank, Dresdner Bank, Commerzbank, Postbank and Hypovereinsbank) are members of Cash-Group, which has around 7,000 ATMs. Website: http://www.cash-group.de/
The smallest of the four ATM networks with about 2,300 cash machines. Member banks of the Cash-Pool network include Citibank, SEB and Sparda-Banks. Website: http://www.cash-pool.de/

(However, it is possible that ATM fees may be abolished at some point.)