The free Girocard was once upon a time: Not only some of the classic commercial banks and savings banks charge a fee for the popular payment card, but also more and more direct banks in Germany. ING Germany, DKB Bank and Co. rely on the Visa payment card (Visa Debitcard), which they offer free of charge, and argue with the changed needs of their customers.
For example, ING Germany will charge 0.99 euros per month for the Girocard from the beginning of March 2022, as the institute announced on Wednesday upon request. The first load takes place in April. The Visa payment card, on the other hand, remains free of charge. First of all, the newsletter had Financial scene reported.
Conscious choice for Visa Debit
According to its own information, the largest direct bank in Germany consciously relies on the Visa debit card. This can be used worldwide and is now accepted by most local retailers, including for mobile payment, the institute justified the step. In contrast to the Girocard, it can be used without restriction for online purchases. In addition, current account customers from 50 euros can withdraw money free of charge at 97 percent of all ATMs in Germany and all euro countries. The Girocard, popular in Germany, will cost money in the future. For new customers, this applies to the opening of a current account from the beginning of April. Existing customers must agree to the change.
“Against the background of the BGH ruling, we will also obtain your consent to changes from the past in the course of this,” said the institute. The Karlsruhe judges decided in the spring that credit institutions must obtain the consent of their customers in the event of changes to general terms and conditions.
Low interest rates are driving fees
Heike Nicodemus, an expert at Stiftung Warentest’s “Finanztest” magazine, is currently observing several developments. At some institutions, especially direct banks, she sees the trend away from the girocard towards payment cards from the US providers MasterCard or Visa card. “We suspect that the institutes are pricing the Girocard in order to offer their customers new contracts for debit cards from MasterCard or Visa card.” It may be more cost-effective for the institutes.
At the same time, banks and savings banks generally continue to increase their fees in times of low interest rates. “The Girocard will then no longer cost 6 euros a year, for example, but 7.50 euros,” reports Nicodemus. “Behind the Girocard, however, there is also a service. The dense network of ATMs operated by savings banks and Volksbanks in particular costs money.”
Maestro is nearing its end
The direct bank DKB Bank has also been using the Visa debit card for new customers since November, which is offered free of charge. If new customers also want the Girocard, they have to pay EUR 0.99 per month for it. From the first half of 2022, the Visa debit card will be issued to more than 4.8 million existing customers, the Girocard will remain free of charge for them.
At Consors Bank, the optional Girocard, which can be added to the account, costs EUR 1.00 per month per account holder when an account is opened from March 27th. The Visa debit card is free. Comdirect has also been using the free Visa debit card since the spring, but the Girocard can still be booked without any additional fees. The Visa debit card can be used for online shopping as well as contactless at the checkout or mobile with Apple Pay and Google Pay, argues the Commerzbank subsidiary.
The Girocard, of which there are around 100 million in Germany, is also coming under pressure from another direction. From July 1, 2023, according to a decision by the US card giant Mastercard, Maestro-enabled giro cards that allow the use of the payment card abroad will no longer be issued. The German credit industry assures that banks and savings banks can guarantee that their customers can continue to use the Girocard abroad even after the Maestro system has been discontinued.