The first banks are charging fees for the Girocard

Status: 04.11.2021 12:36 p.m.

Most banks and savings banks now charge fees for account management. Now, a monthly amount is also due for the Girocard, once called an EC card, at some institutes.

The free Girocard is becoming obsolete at more and more direct banks in Germany. ING Germany, the largest direct bank in Germany with 9.5 million customers, will now charge fees for the Girocard.

From the beginning of March 2022, 0.99 euros per month will be charged, as the institute announced. The first load takes place in April. The Visa payment card – the so-called debit card – remains free of charge. In doing so, ING is de facto saying goodbye to the free current account, because many retailers in Germany still do not accept credit cards because of the higher costs for them. Many bank customers are unlikely to want to do without a girocard. First the newsletter “Finanz-Szene” reported about it. Other direct banks have already followed a similar path.

Banks rely on Visa cards

According to its own information, ING deliberately relies on the Visa card, which can be used to both pay and withdraw money. This can be used worldwide and is now accepted by many retailers, including for mobile payment, the institute justified the move. Current account customers can also withdraw money free of charge at 97 percent of all ATMs in Germany and all euro-area countries from 50 euros.

What is the difference between giro cards, debit cards and credit cards

The Girocard, formerly known as the EC card, is part of a purely German system. Consumers can use their money to withdraw money or pay in stores. The respective amount is debited directly from the credit balance of the current account. The collective term for such payments is the debit card. This also includes cards from the well-known Maestro system, which the provider Mastercard is phasing out.

In contrast, credit cards are cards that can be used to pay on credit – i.e. from a non-existent balance. “The boundaries are floating,” says Jürgen Moormann from the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management. The collected amount of debt is debited, for example, after a month – sometimes with high interest.

In Germany, cards from providers such as Visa or Mastercard are often issued as debit cards. That means: At first glance it is hardly recognizable that it is not a “real” credit card. The Visa logo, for example, is then printed on the front; however, the small “Debit Card” label on the back indicates that it is a debit card – amounts paid are therefore immediately debited from the account. A credit card says “Credit Card” on the back.

Existing customers must agree to the change. “Against the background of the BGH ruling, we will also obtain your consent to changes from the past in the course of this,” said the institute. The Federal Court of Justice ruled in the spring that banks must obtain the consent of their customers for changes to their general terms and conditions. The introduction of a card fee is likely to pay off for ING: Given the 2.9 million current accounts, there is an annual income potential of 35 million euros.

The DKB also requires Girocard fees

The direct bank DKB Bank has also been using the Visa debit card for new customers since November, which is offered free of charge. These cards will be issued to 4.8 million existing customers in the first half of 2022. If new customers also want a giro card, they have to pay 0.99 cents a month for it. If you have one as an existing customer, you can continue to use it free of charge. The card has the advantage over the Visa debit card that you can use it to withdraw money in supermarkets or petrol stations.

At Consors, the optionally bookable Girocard costs 1 euro per month per account holder when an account is opened since March 27th. The Visa debit card is free. Comdirect also introduced the free Visa debit card in the spring, but the Girocard can still be booked without additional charges.

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