The Comdirect Bank is one of the few German banks, where an account opening from abroad (e.g. USA) is possible.
Only requirement: You have to understand German! Online banking and e-mail support are solely available in German language. In most cases, you can also speak English with the phone customer service.
What you get for free being a Comdirect customer:
- Online checking account with German IBAN / BIC
- Visa card, according to your creditworthiness with credit line or prepaid
- Girocard, debit card to the checking
- withdraw cash free of charge in the USA using the Visa card, within the Euro-zone using the Girocard
- simple online account opening (in most cases)
Details and account opening ► www.comdirect.de/sofortkonto
If you want, you can expand the free checking account with further banking products:
- savings account (product name: Tagesgeld Plus)
- savings plans
- investment account in many currencies (of course also in USD)
- securities account (does not apply to people, who are taxable in the USA)
- overdraft facility (salary payments are recommended)
- consumer loan
- securities loan
- construction loan (if the real estate is in Germany)
As soon as you have read the details on the Comdirect bank, you will see how useful an account can be for you.
I. Comdirect in detail
a) The most important background information about the bank
The Comdirect Bank is one of the big German online banks. It belongs to 80% to the second biggest German private bank, the Commerzbank Aktiengesellschaft (Commerzbank AG). Around 20 % of company shares are traded at the German stock market. Its ISIN is DE0005428007.
If you have a securities account, you can become a shareholder of the bank by buying stocks and get a yearly dividend, if the bank makes profit. It always did in the past years.
Advantages for customers through the „mother bank“
Being virtually a subsidiary, the Comdirect can refer to the national and international structures of the Commerzbank. And it does so, for the benefit of us customers.
For example, we can deposit cash free of charge three times a year at the counters or machines of the Commerzbank in Germany. From the third time on, favourable Euros 1.90 will be charged. Many other online banks do not even offer such a service!
Regarding the USA, it is advantageous that the Commerzbank also has a banking license in the USA. So we save the fees for an intermediate bank when transferring money between Germany and the USA in most cases.
Since my transfer test, I am using the special provider Transferwise for international transfers up to Euros or Dollars 10,000. For amounts beyond, I am using the Comdirect!
b) The checking account
The checking account is a full German bank account, which is suitable for international payments.
Transfers can be made by phone or online paying low rates compared to almost every country in the world.
Transfers in USD, CHF, GBP and more than 20 other currencies are possible.
You can transfer in USD
Online money transfers within the Euro zone are free of charge.
The checking account can be managed via online banking on your computer or via Comdirect Mobile App on tablets and Smartphones.
Additionally, there is a smartPay app that lets you take pictures of invoices and remittance slips. In many cases, the data can be read and taken automatically. This saves up to 80 % time and is also more fun!
Transfers can be confirmed by PhotoTAN, mobileTAN or iTAN list, depending on what is most convenient for you. Each of these methods is offered free of charge by the Comdirect!
Depending on your personal creditworthiness, you can set up an overdraft facility on the checking account. This gives you greater financial flexibility. You will find more details about that in further articles.
c) The credit card
The credit card can be ordered as an extra at the account opening – my recommendation for you!
The credit card is a Visa card. If you have a very good creditworthiness in Germany, you will get a correspondingly high credit line right away.
In most cases, you will receive an initial credit line, which may increase in the course of the customer relationship.
If you apply for your account and credit card from abroad or if there is little or not so good creditworthiness information about you in Germany, then the Visa Card is issued as the prepaid variant. That means that you have to transfer money from the checking account to the credit card account before you can use it.
Good news: The Visa Card is always free!
Whether your Visa card has a credit line or not, the conditions when making payments or withdrawing money are exactly the same.
d) The Girocard
You get the Girocard automatically at account opening. It is a debit card.
Payments with the credit card are debited immediately from the checking account (payments using the credit card are settled once a month with the checking account – until then, they are interest-free!).
The acceptance of Girocards is higher in Europe (especially in Germany) than the one of credit cards. The Comdirect Girocard is a V Pay Card. It is managed by Visa Europe.
In the USA, this card is virtually not accepted. For journeys to the USA or your life there, please order the Visa Card already at account opening.
In Germany, the Girocard will serve you wonderfully, since you can practically make any payments with it and you can withdraw cash free of charge within the Euro zone.
e) Withdrawing cash
You can withdraw money from ATMs with the Visa Card as well as with the Girocard. If you stick to the following rules, the withdrawing is free of charge for you!
|Where am I?|
|Germany||European Union +3
(Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Sweden, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Czech Republic, Hungary, Great Britain, Cyprus)
Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland
|USA and all other countries
e.g. Switzerland, Canada, Mexico, Thailand, Australia (virtually all countries that were not mentioned on the left)
at all ATMs of the CashGroup + Shell gas stations
at all ATMs, regardless of the brand
at all ATMs, regardless of the brand
Please note that ATMs may charge their own fees – in the USA, the Terminal Fee is widespread – but Comdirect has no influence on that.
If you stick to the withdrawal rules shown above, the Comdirect will never charge you a fee for withdrawing cash. Just as with me. 🙂
II. Instructions of the account opening
In the following video tutorial, you can see how the opening of the checking account at the Comdirect works:
III. Q&A: Frequently asked questions and their answers
Open account, even if one wants to emigrate anyway?
Yes! In any case, you should open the checking account at the Comdirect before (if it is too late, then after) the emigration!
We know from our experience that there are many banks – or rather account managers – that cause problems, if the account holder has emigrated. Suddenly, you should visit the branch in person due to a transfer – out of “security reasons” – and similar banters.
This is different at the Comdirect! The bank has a lot of experience with German expatriates. It is no coincidence that it offers a phone accessibility around the clock!
You can reach the customer service 24/7 by phone!
If you are in the USA, you can e.g. simply dial the phone number of the Comdirect in the evening to make orders. At this time, it is late night in Germany, but this does not matter: the Comdirect is there for you.
Additionally, the Comdirect can wonderfully manage your tax status.
If you give notice of departure in Germany and you are no longer tax liable, then your accounts will be changed into “non-resident tax payer”. You get all capital gains credited tax-free!
As long as you are still in Germany, you can take the time to build a good reputation at the bank, e.g. through salary payments. Use the time to e.g. set up credit lines. That could be very useful for you during the transition.
Can I open the account from the USA?
Yes! But as described above, you must master the German language good enough. Up to now, there is no English offering at the bank.
Regardless of the nationality, the Comdirect opens bank accounts in Germany for German-speaking people worldwide. However, it may be that the bank asks for the reason of account opening and the planned use.
Especially at a free checking account with many other free services this is important, because the bank wants to avoid the opening of inactive accounts. That costs the bank money and it has no chance to recoup.
For example, the Comdirect earns when you use the bank cards for payments, because the merchant must pay a transaction fee for each payment.
Of course, there are other earning opportunities for the bank, as for example the fees for international transfers or securities orders. The banks earn most when granting loans. However, these are only granted in principle, if one has the place of residence in Germany.
In order to open the checking account, one has to have at least an average creditworthiness rating.
Without a creditworthiness check, one can open a savings (Comdirect Tagesgeld Plus). In the end, one deposits money into an account at the bank. If one is depositing enough money, one can ask for the opening of a bank account later on.
That is like a trick to enter through the back door. 😉
Checking can be opened from the USA
Account openings by German citizens in the USA and most often also by US citizens are completed smoothly, especially if one can specify a comprehensive reason when asked. For example, because one:
- wants to use the account to receive the pension payments,
- has real estate in Germany and the payments should be made through this account,
- will move to Germany and wants to open a checking account in advance,
- wants to consign money in Euros or other currencies.
Can one open a joint account together with the spouse?
Yes! This is called “Gemeinschaftskonto“ in German. The opening of this account is very easy.
Simply go to the normal online application and choose this account type. Consequently, you can enter the data of both persons.
Idea: The opening of joint accounts is not limited to spouses. You can also share an account with other people. This can be meaningful e.g. if you live in a residential community. In any case, a good relationship of trust should exist!
Alternative: There is also the possibility to open an individual account and authorize another person for the account. When issuing the authorization, there are several variants. The authorized person may e.g. get his/her own online access and credit and bank cards. Or not. Just as you wish.
Sometimes, the path of a joint account is chosen in order to have better possibilities when opening an account. For example, if one account holder is German citizen and the other one is from another country and did not even have the chance to build his/her own good creditworthiness.
Use the comments feature at the bottom of this page to ask your questions or to report your experiences with the Comdirect. My team and I are happy to answer them and help you to become a customer of the Comdirect bank.
Follow our blog and you will learn even more about the clever use of bank and account.
Got enough information for an account opening? ► www.comdirect.de/sofortkonto