Euro banking in Germany
Your to-do list is a mile long, but you’ll need money to get it all done. So, give top priority to getting an account through an on-base credit union or bank. This will eliminate headaches when paying bills, transferring money, making purchases, getting cash and managing funds between U.S. dollars and euros.
Credit unions are owned and operated by their members. Members’ savings are combined to create a pool of funds from which other members can borrow. Members then reap the rewards of their pooled investment income by gaining lower loan rates, higher savings rates and additional services.
Andrews Federal Credit Union has branches in Wiesbaden as well as shared branching with Service Credit Union locations. Available services include online banking and bill pay, e-statements and worldwide access to ATMs and branches. Call +49 (0) 611-9787-600.
Service Credit Union has branches in Ansbach, Baumholder, Garmisch, Grafenwoehr, Hohenfels, Kaiserslautern, Ramstein, Sembach, Spangdahlem, Stuttgart and Vilseck. Service Credit Union is open daily and offers check depositing from your smartphone. “Call 24,” an automated phone teller, is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To sign up for Call24, call international, 00-800-4728-2000, or visit a local branch. You can then access Call24 within Germany at 0-800-732-8847 or German Commercial: +49 (0) 631-351-2090.
Contracted financial services
Since 1976, the Department of Defense (DOD) has contracted a financial institution to provide banking and financial services for military members, DOD civilians and their families stationed overseas. Currently, Bank of America holds this contract and provides services through approximately 67 Community Bank branch offices and 300 ATMs located around the globe. Community Bank also provides an interactive banking service so that you can access your account anytime, from almost anywhere. Call toll-free: 00-800-BANK-EASY (00-800- 2265-3279) or DSN: 314-546-1892 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except German holidays.
European debit cards
Many German businesses do not take credit cards. Always carry euros when off base. And get an electronic cash (EC) card — also known as Girocard, Visa VPAY or Maestro Card — through your bank. It’s a must-have when you’re out exploring.
The German banking system differs from the U.S. approach, so you may be confused the first time you need to pay bills for German services. However, with today’s technology and assistance from your financial institution, it’s a snap! When paying by phone, you can often use your European debit card. To pay by mail or online, you usually need a funds transfer form.
Germany has adopted the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) system. To fill out your funds transfer form, you’ll need to know the euro amount due; International Bank Account Number (IBAN); Bank’s Identifier Code (BIC); account or reference number on file with payee; and the payee’s name, IBAN and BIC.
You can also set up automatic funds transfers (Dauerauftrag) and automatic direct debits (Einzugsermächtigung) from your account.
Beware of fees
Off-base ATMs offer the best exchange rates, but you may pay transaction fees, depending on your account services. Ask about available options when signing up for accounts at on-base financial institutions. For example, if a premium checking account has a maintenance fee but waives transaction fees, it may be a better deal. Bill-pay services usually have fees for each transaction. You can avoid these by using cash or card.
You can minimize fees by setting up an account with a German bank, but know the conversion rate before depositing U.S. dollars to the account. You may be better off exchanging U.S. dollars for euros before transferring funds. The DOD will not deposit paychecks to German banks.
European banking services available to you
- 24-hour telephone access
- Savings and checking accounts
- Branch/online loan applications and support
- Free transfers between participating credit unions
- Free transfers between Community Bank locations
- ATM access worldwide
- U.S. credit and debit cards
- European debit cards
- Automatic bill payments
- Online bill pay – U.S. and foreign banks
- Online banking – U.S. and foreign banks
- Online statements
- Retirement and 401(k) management
- Currency conversion
- Mobile banking and smartphone apps
- Smartphone check depositing
- Credit and debt counseling