You need a German bank account to pay your utilities, to receive your salary and to pay your cash-less expenses. Being one of the 20 Things you should know before travelling to Munich, you have rarely the possibility to pay with a credit card. Instead you will use your bank card (called EC-Karte in Germany) for your transactions and to get one you will need a bank account. (Update on 03.01.2020 : Credit card usage is increasing at a faster pace now but still not as common as in other countries)
If you want to open a bank account in a standard brick and mortar bank, you will probably need to have done the Anmeldung and you will possibly need to pay a monthly account management fee. If you want to save money and time, I suggest you to open an account in the direct (branchless) banks or online accounts of the brick and mortar banks like Sparkasse which do not charge monthly fees for this kind of account.
The only disadvantage of a direct bank is depositing the money. Most Germans use direct banks as their second or third bank and therefore do not need to deposit cash as they can transfer money from their other accounts. But in your case, as your first bank, you probably need to deposit cash. (Update March’20 – this year I discovered and have been happily using Transferwise * (* = Partnerlink – from now on will be shown as *)- You can transfer money easily and it is much cheaper than transfering directly from your local bank) Therefore following is the short list of direct banks which enable cash deposit and online account opening. They all do video identification (proving that you are the person you claim to be and your identification document is real) so you can do everything from your home and online. (Otherwise you would have to go to post and let the post employee identify you and send your documents):
The five direct banks where you can open an account online and where you can deposit cash:
N26 * is the new age bank with the new age banking experience. It is loved by the international community. They have an English website and support team who helps you in English. They have a great mobile app which sends you Push notifications for every transaction. You can manage all your settings through the mobile app such as activating/ deactivating online credit card transactions, withdrawals, usage of your credit card abroad or setting up daily limits for payments. You get a Mastercard with your account for free (the account is for free too) . You can deposit cash to your account in supermarkets like Rewe and Penny. And you can literally open your account and get your account details in 8 minutes*!
Comdirect* is the direct bank of Commerzbank. The advantage of it is that you can deposit cash at the ATMs and branches of Commerzbank. I’ve been using Comdirect since some years and have been very happy with it. The advantage of comdirect is the online investment/trading functions, free Visa card and free cash withdrawals all over the world. If you are a traveller, interested in investing or trading, check out Comdirect*
1822direkt* is the direct bank of Frankfurter Sparkasse. You can withdraw money from the ATMs of all Sparkasse’s in Germany for free with your debit card, and when you are abroad, you withdraw free of charge with your Visa card. The cash deposit can be done in other German banks but the banks might charge you for that. Otherwise you can always use this account as your second account. You can open the 1822direct account here*.
PostBank Giro Direkt
This is the online direct banking account of PostBank*. The advantage of this account is that you can use the Postbank and Cash-Group ATMs free of charge for withdrawal and you can open your account fully online in minutes*.
ING is an online bank I’ve been using since quite some time. It is easy to use and comes with a free credit card. As Comdirect, ING-DiBa is also a leading online bank in the matters of investing and trading. The cash deposit can be done at the branches of Reisebank with a minimum amount of 1.000 Euro for free. You can open an account at ING online.
To summarise, I really would recommend opening an account in one (or more) more of these online banks where you can open your account online very quickly, you don’t pay any fee for account management and you have the freedom to manage all your transactions online.
And if you want to start transfer money from outside of Germany to your new German account or from your new German account to abroad, I highly recommend you to check out Transferwise*.
I wish you all the wealth and happiness!
*Total Disclosure: The links that have the * symbol are the partner Links. By opening an account using the links provided here, you will be supporting me so I can continue creating content for you. Thank you.