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How to switch your bank account in Germany

3 min read

Opening a bank account isn’t a lifetime commitment, but the inconvenience of switching can make it feel permanent. Regardless of why you want to switch, it’s a chore to open a new account and make a smooth transition. You have to update everyone that has your old IBAN or card information, and avoid missing any direct debits. Missing a monthly recurring bill because your old account was charged can even hurt your Schufa score if you fail to pay it. It typically takes the five following steps to switch your bank account in Germany.

1. Open a new bank account

Get a headstart on the process by opening the new bank account you want to switch to in the future. You may want to switch for a variety of reasons—your account is charging too many fees, it’s located in a different country or there aren’t enough ATMs. Whatever the case may be, open your new account as soon as you make a concrete decision to switch. You can open an online bank account with N26 in less than 8 minutes by verifying your ID over video call. You don’t even have to leave your house.

2. Put money in your new account

Don’t get rid of your old account right away. Transfer money to your new account so you can gradually change all your automatic payments.

3. Change your direct debits, standing orders and incoming payments

If you have any automatic payments set up, you have to replace your old IBAN and card number with your new ones. Some examples include standing orders like your monthly rent, direct debits for your utilities and subscriptions, and incoming payments like your monthly paycheck. N26 has a template you can use to inform payment partners that you’ve switched to an N26 bank account.

4. See if you successfully changed them all

Give yourself at least a full monthly payment cycle to see if you changed every automatic payment partner, and make sure you didn’t forget any potential yearly payments.

5. Close your old account

Your bank should offer a closing order document online that you can simply send by mail. You can transfer all the remaining funds into your new account, which will take as much time to complete as any regular transfer. Here’s an example from Deutsche Bank.

These are relatively simple steps, but it’s a manual process that requires a lot of patience. If you want to skip the work and use an automatic German bank account switching service, that’s also an option.

How to switch your bank account automatically

N26 partnered with FinReach to create a free account switching service that takes care of the process entirely online. There’s no paperwork required, and you can sign everything digitally at once from your phone or computer. With your permission, the service will scan your previous account activity to identify payments that look like direct debits, standing orders and regular incoming transfers. Once you verify them, it will alert all your automatic payment partners within a week. You can check your status as you go for up to 90 days after you start the account switching process, and every official document is downloadable for your bookkeeping needs. The final step is to close your old account and transfer your remaining balance to your new account, which you can also do straight from FinReach.

By N26

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