Free Credit Card in Germany – Top 6 For Travel and Cashback

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Looking for a free credit card in Germany? Check out this comparison of the top 6 free credit cards in Germany, both for travel and for cashback. In this article, you will also find all information about credit card in Germany, including credit card types, different costs, how to choose the best credit card, etc.

Moving to Germany or new in Germany? Check out our Support Page for all the resources you need!

Free credit card in Germany – Top 6

If you want to get a credit card in Germany, there are a lot of choices (maybe even too many so it is a bit confusing to choose from). Which one you should choose greatly depends on why you want to have a credit card. Basically, there are two big reasons: 

  • To get cashback on local daily purchase
  • To get a good payment condition when traveling abroad

Unfortunately, a credit card that gives you a good payment condition when traveling abroad usually does not give you many advantages for your local purchase. Because of that, we recommend having two credit cards. You can use one when you are traveling abroad, and use another one to get cashback for your local shopping.

The best free credit card in Germany – For cashback

  American Express Payback Card Amazon Visa Card
Monthly or annual fee 0 0 for Amazon Prime members, otherwise 19.99 Euros starting the second year
Foreign Currency fee 2% 1.75%
Worldwide cash withdrawal 4% 0 when there is no credit, otherwise 3%
Provider American Express Visa
Real credit line
Contactless payment
Free replacement card
24 hours customer support
Credit card type Charge Credit Card Revolving credit card
Starting bonus 3000 extra payback points until 18.10.2020 40 Euros cash coupon at Amazon (or 50 Euros for Prime member)
Your liability if someone uses your lost card 50 Euros 0 Euros
Bonus programs

1 payback points for every 2 Euros spent (0.5%), including spending at non-payback partners (Gas station excluded).

Double payback point collection: You collect as well the normal payback points at payback partner shops.

Note: 1 payback point = 1 cent cashback

For every purchase at Amazon, 2% cashback (or 3% if you are a Prime member).

For purchase outside Amazon, 0.5% cashback in the form of Amazon coupons (including gas stations).

Other important notes

– Easy application process with video verification

– Amex app to manage your account easily

– One free additional card

– 90 days right to return your purchase

– Payment with installments possible

– Free emergency card

– Free additional partner card for Prime member

 

More Info

More Info

American Express Payback Card vs Amazon Visa Card – Which one to choose?

It depends on your personal needs. If you are an Amazon Prime member (or if you plan to become one), it makes sense to have the Amazon visa card. I am personally an Amazon Prime member and I think Amazon Prime is a good deal anyway. I shop a lot at Amazon and with Prime membership, I save a lot of shipping fees. Plus, I am watching movies with Amazon Prime all the time.

Being a Prime member, I am getting 3% cashback when I shop at Amazon (which I do very often). I have also a car. It means that I can get cashback whenever I fuel my car (that costs a lot by the way). Besides, Visa is more widely accepted in Germany compared to American Express.

However, if you don’t want to be a Prime member, the American Express Payback Card can be an attractive option, especially if you like to shop at payback partner shops like DM, Rewe, etc. Besides, there is no annual fee at all.

I wouldn’t recommend using either of these two credit cards when you travel abroad. They are just not made for traveling. If you want to find a good credit card for using abroad, read on.

The best free credit card in Germany – For travel

All the credit cards below are free – meaning no monthly or annual fee. And they are real credit cards, with a real credit line.

The focus here is to find a credit card that is free and best to use when traveling abroad. This is because in many cases, you will get a very bad condition when you try to use your German current account (Girokonto) abroad – if that is at all possible.

Note: The below table can be moved sideways depending on your screen.

 

TF Mastercard Gold

Barclaycard Visa

DKB Visa Card

Gebührenfrei Mastercard Gold

No monthly or annual fee

No foreign currency fee

*

Free worldwide cash withdrawal

*

Provider

Mastercard

Visa

Visa

Mastercard

Real credit line

Credit card type

Revolving credit card

Revolving credit card

Charge Credit Card

Revolving credit card

Travel insurance

Χ

Χ

Other important notes

– Free replacement card

– Free emergency replacement card

– Up to 51 days interest-free period for purchase

50 Euro start bonus

– GooglePay and ApplePay possible

– Up to 3 free partner cards

 

– GooglePay and ApplePay possible

– Cashback when purchasing at many online shops like OTTO, Galeria, Expedia, etc.*

– DKB invests your money in social and ecological projects

– Need to also open a current account (Girokonto) with DKB

* only for the first year unless you are an active user with 700 Euro monthly deposit into the account

 

– 5% rebate on rental cars

– 5% travel credit with the best price guarantee

– Free replacement card

– Free emergency replacement card

– Up to 7 weeks interest-free period (but interest rate applies on the day of ATM withdrawal)

– 24-hour free customer service support

 

More Info More Info More Info More Info
Which credit card should you choose in Germany?

All the 4 credit cards above can be a good choice for someone who needs good conditions for traveling abroad. Which one to choose, depends purely on your personal need. For example, if you want to have a free credit card that includes travel insurance, TF Master Gold or Gebührenfrei Mastercard Gold can be great.

If you prefer to have your travel insurance separately, and you need as well a current account in Germany, the DKB Visa card will be the best if you use the DKB current account to receive your salary. Note that without a monthly incoming deposit of 700 Euros, you will not be able to take advantage of cashback in many shops (and also other benefits) after the first year.

Withdrawing cash at a foreign ATM machine

Be aware that even when your credit card company does not charge you fees when you withdraw cash abroad, you may be subject to fees from the foreign ATM machine. Also, make sure you always choose to withdraw cash in local currency at a foreign ATM machine to avoid the high fee charged by the foreign bank.

My understanding of a credit card

In my hometown Hong Kong, getting a credit card is really easy. In fact, when I walked on the street, I often met many credit card promoters who begged me to register for one (They got a commission for every sign-up). Applying for a credit card came with all sorts of starting gifts and bonuses. One can also accumulate points by spending with his credit card which can lead to different gifts and cash coupons. 

Actually, most people in Hong Kong own a couple of credit cards (I had 5 at that time and all were free). One can choose to pay back the whole amount at the end of the month, or only the minimum amount. The credit cards in Hong Kong are always with real credit line as this is how the banks make money (by earning the interest if someone just pays the minimum amount). One can also use his credit card to finance a purchase by paying with installments.

The credit card in Germany  

When I came to Germany, I realized that the concept of a credit card was very different. As you know, Germany is a cash country. People love to use cash here. (This may change due to Corona as more people are using card payment for hygiene reason) 

German people do not like to have loans except for big payments like buying a house or a car. They only use a credit card when they have to, for example, to purchase online or reserve a hotel room. 

In Germany, many credit cards (although they are called credit card) have no credit line at all. They are actually debit cards with a Visa/ Master logo. Spending with the credit card will trigger a direct debit to your current account. And your credit card will not work if there is no more money in your associated current account. Besides, many credit cards in Germany do charge an annual fee.

The color of the credit cards in Germany is also not so important. As long as you pay the annual fee, you can get a platinum or gold card as you want. This doesn’t necessarily represent a better social status and is more about your own preference.

Read also: Invest in Germany to Make Money – Expat Guide

Credit card systems in Germany

Visa, Master, and American Express are the three major credit card systems in Germany. Visa and Master are very similar. They work with retail banks to offer credit cards to their customers. On the other hand, American Express does not work with banks. Instead, it offers its own credit cards directly to the customers.

Visa and Mastercard credit cards are the most widely accepted credit cards in Germany. American Express is also accepted in big chain stores, but not in every shop.

Many shops may not like it if you pay with credit cards. The reason is that they have to pay a fee for the credit card payments (1% to 3% for Visa and Mastercard). For American Express, it is even more expensive and this leads to a lower acceptance in stores. Therefore, it is not uncommon to see a sign in stores which states that card payment is only possible starting 10 Euros or something like that. 

Read also: Insurance in Germany – Which one do you need?

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Why should you have a credit card in Germany?

1) Traveling

Credit cards are widely accepted worldwide and can be very useful when you are traveling. For example, many hotels or rental car companies accept only credit cards as they need to block a deposit on the credit card during the renting process. 

Besides, some credit cards in Germany also let you withdraw cash both at home and abroad in foreign currency. You can also pay with your credit cards abroad without exchanging currencies.

2) Online payment

It is not always possible to use your debit card for online payment, especially if you are paying in a foreign currency. In that case, a credit card will be needed for the online payment.

3) Contactless payment

Many credit cards in Germany offer contactless payment options like ApplePay and GooglePay. It is convenient and also hygienic.

4) Insurance coverage

Many credit cards in Germany come with additional insurance coverage, e.g. travel insurance. It means that if you pay your trip with a credit card, the travel insurance will be included in case of a flight delay, lost luggage, trip cancellation, etc. Some credit cards also cover in case of lost or damaged parcels if you purchase with your credit card online.

5) Cashback

Some credit cards in Germany offer bonus programs where you can accumulate points when you purchase with the credit cards. You can use these points later to redeem bonuses like gifts or cashback. 

For me, I used to pay always with my debit card wherever I could. Now, I always pay with my credit card instead, also for grocery shopping. This eventually gave me quite some cashback. As I am anyway going to spend this money, why not earn some money back?

Read also: Cost of living in Germany – How to save money?

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Different credit card types in Germany

In Germany, there are credit cards with a real credit line, and those with no credit line. If you choose one with a credit line, you can gradually increase your credit limit by paying back on time.

Credit card in Germany with no credit line

Debit credit card

This is actually a debit card with a Visa/ Master function. When you spend, the amount will be directly charged to your current account with no credit period, similar to your normal debit card (Girokarte).

Prepaid credit card

You need to first deposit to the account before you can pay with your credit card. Again, no credit is offered in this type of credit card as you can only spend the amount you have deposited.

Credit card in Germany with a credit line

Charge credit card

With a charge credit card, the amount you spent will be charged to you at the end of the month or after 30 days. So, you will have free credit for the amount for one month.

Revolving credit card

This is the type of credit card I was used to in Hong Kong. You can decide to pay back the amount you spend in full or by installments. It is free if you pay back the amount in full. Otherwise, the interest rate is very high if you only repay the partial amount.

This credit card type is not so common in Germany. But you can still find a couple of providers who offer that.

Read also: Car Insurance in Germany – 13 Ways to Save Money

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Cost of having a credit card in Germany

In Germany, you can find credit cards ranging from completely free of charge, to hundreds of Euros per year. Credit card companies charge the merchants when you use the card. That’s why some credit card companies will offer you a free credit card. (They want you to use it. The more, the better.)

Many traditional banks in Germany offer credit cards with an annual fee. However, if you choose a direct bank (banks with no physical branches), it is quite common to get a free credit card offer. 

When you are comparing different credit cards in Germany, you should not only look at the annual fee. Besides the annual fee, there are different ways that a credit card company can charge you. Below are the different potential costs associated with a credit card:

Annual fee

Many credit card companies in Germany charge an annual fee. But the credit cards also include insurance services like travel insurance, which normally don’t come with a free credit card. 

You will have to check and see if it is better to use a credit card with an annual fee, or to use a free credit card and buy your insurance separately.

Some banks also waive the annual fee if you reach their minimum transaction amount by the end of the year. If you can use your credit card a lot, you may not need to pay the annual fee.

Tips: TF Mastercard Gold and Gebührenfrei Mastercard Gold are exceptions here as they are free and still include travel insurance. So, you basically get your travel insurance for free by using these cards.

Fees for usage abroad

Some credit cards charge you fees if you use them abroad, even if you use the same currency abroad, e.g. within the European region.

Fees for cash withdrawals (in Germany and abroad)

Before making a cash withdrawal with your credit card, you should check the cost carefully. Sometimes, it is cheaper to withdraw cash with your debit card instead as many credit card companies charge a high fee for cash withdrawals, especially abroad. 

Foreign transaction fees

Some credit card companies in Germany charge you an extra fee if you make a transaction in foreign currencies. 

Fee for a second card or replacement

Some credit card companies in Germany charge a fee if you want a second card or if you want to replace your lost credit card.

Interest rate if you don’t pay your bill on time

If you have a credit line on your credit card, make sure you know the interest rate in case you don’t repay the full amount. Credit card companies usually charge a very high interest rate if you don’t pay on time.

For example, some credit card companies start charging you interest when you withdraw cash from an ATM, while some other only start charging you once after the interest-free period.

Read also: 20 Ideas to Make Money from Home – Anyone Can Do

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What to consider before choosing your credit card in Germany?

Before applying, you should think about why you want to have a credit card in Germany. Is it because you want to have a credit line? Or do you want to get cashback? Or do you want to use it for traveling? 

Knowing your needs will help you to decide on a credit card in Germany which can best suit your needs. Below are some of the factors to consider:

Do you need financial flexibility?

If your goal is to have some financial flexibility so that you can pay back your purchase later, you may want to find a credit card with a credit line and a decent interest rate.

If this is not your goal, you may want to choose a debit card instead. Then, you can be sure that you do not need to pay any interest as there is no actual credit line.

Or, you can choose a credit card that allows automatic repayment by setting up a direct debit from your current bank account. This way you don’t need to run a risk of paying interest for the overdue amount, in case you forget to pay back on time. You just need to make sure that you have enough money in your current bank account.

Do you want to perform contactless payment?

If the contactless payment features are important to you, you should choose a credit card with functions like ApplePay or GooglePay. 

How easy is it to apply for a credit card?

Some credit card companies have a very simple and easy application process. You can apply online, verify through a video chat, and know the result shortly. While some other credit card companies in Germany may require more documents and take a longer application process. 

Depending on how urgent you need your credit card in Germany, you should choose one accordingly considering the application process.

Do you travel often?

If you travel often and plan to use your credit card abroad, you should definitely check the foreign transaction fees and foreign ATM fees of the credit card. Another consideration is to choose a credit card with travel insurance included. 

Free credit card vs. credit card with an annual fee

A free credit card usually does not come with insurance or any premium services. A credit card with an annual fee, however, often include some insurance coverage like travel insurance or payment protection insurance, etc.

Some say that it is better to get a free credit card and buy the insurance you need separately, because you usually get a better service and condition by doing so. Some others say that it is cheaper to pay a credit card with an annual fee that includes many different types of insurance, than trying to get each of these insurances separately.

The best is that you do your research. Check the price and insurance coverage from the credit card versus if you would get the insurance separately. Also, think about if you really need this insurance. Sometimes, some insurance policies are just “nice to have” and it may not worth it to pay an annual fee just for those insurances. 

Tips: TF Mastercard Gold and Gebührenfrei Mastercard Gold are exceptions here as they are free and still include travel insurance. So, you basically get your travel insurance for free by using these cards.

Do you also want a current account?

Some credit card companies only offer a credit card together with a debit card (current account). There may also be some conditions associated with a free current account, like regular salary deposits. If you have a current account already and do not want an extra one, choose an offer that you can apply for a credit card only.

Read also: Opening a Bank Account in Germany – Compare English Banking Options

Do you want to participate in different bonus programs?

This is actually the main reason for me to apply for a credit card. I use my credit card to pay my grocery and wherever I can so that I can collect points and get cashback. If this is your goal as well, find a credit card with good bonus programs that are suitable for you. 

For example, if you want to collect payback points, then choose a payback credit card. If you often shop at Amazon, you may want to get an Amazon credit card so that you get discounts while shopping at Amazon. If you have a car, you can also collect cashback with an Amazon credit card when you spend at gas stations.

How easy is it to get a credit card in Germany?

It depends on if you want a credit card with a real credit line or not. Without a real credit line, it is pretty easy to get one as long as you have a German address. The application process will be stricter if you want a card with an actual credit line. Many credit card companies will do a credit check on you and a SCHUFA query. You will need to have a stable income to get a credit card. 

Most of the time, it will take some business days for you to receive your credit card, depending also on how fast the delivery service is.

Read also: Salary in Germany: Are you getting paid enough?

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Please be aware that this article is for information only for those who are looking for a credit card in Germany. We will try to keep the information in this article updated regularly. In case you see any outdated information, please let us know and we will update it accordingly. Our blog accepts no liability in any case. If you need any more details or the latest information, please refer to the credit card companies’ websites directly.


Do you have a credit card in Germany? Why or why not? Do you like your credit card in Germany? Leave a comment below and share your experience!

Moving to Germany or new in Germany? Check out our Support Page for all the resources you need!

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