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Germany - Banking System

ATM "Bankautomat"
Automated Teller Machines are mainly found at banks, but there are also dispensing booths at the airport, large train stations, and at large festival sites such as Oktoberfest.

If you have a German bank account, you generally pay a monthly fee for the account and/or a fee per transaction. German ATMs do not generally issue paper receipts for the transaction, so if you need to check your balance this is often a separate transaction and charged accordingly.

Generally if you withdraw money from a branch of the bank at which you hold an account, the transaction is free. Many of the banks have banded together for reciprocal rights to each other's ATMs, so you can often use ATMs for free at one of your bank's partner banks, e.g. Dresdner Bank, Deutsche Bank, Commerzbank, HypoVereinsbank and Post Bank are all part of the 'Cash Group', so if you belong to one of these banks you can use all the other banks' ATMs for free.

Check to see whether you can use Visa, Mastercard or Cirrus at the ATM. But remember, if you withdraw money on your credit card, you will be charged  interest immediately on all outstanding credit debts!

Exchanging Money "Geldwechsel"
With so many countries adopting the Euro as their unit of currency, there is no longer the need to exchange money as frequently as a few years ago. If you do need to exchange money there are places at border posts, the airport, in and around the main train station and where souvenir shops are concentrated.

Useful vocabulary
The following translations are for terms that appear on the Überweisungs slip:

Empfänger: Name, Vorname/Firma  payee: surname, first name/Company
Konto-Nr    account number
BLZ (Bank Leitzahl)   bank institution number
Kreditinstitut    name of bank
Betrag     amount of money
Verwendungszweck   reason for/name of payment
Kontoinhaber    drawer
Absender    drawer

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