Standard conditions for concluding a contract with banks in Germany

Standard rules for servicing customer accounts of German banks. What is written in AGB for opening an account or taking a loan in Germany.

German banks use the standard Allgemeinen Geschaftsbedingungen – a general contract form – for private clients.

Bank clients in Germany receive letters of notification from financial partners about the changes in AGB. From a letter to an ordinary person, nothing is clear – there is too much information in small print. And not every lawyer will immediately figure out what exactly is written there, and whether there is any “hitalov”.

Some things about a contract with a German bank should be known from the very beginning of the relationship, so as not to incur unnecessary expenses.

Important rules for German banks

In Germany, there is compensation for losses of private traders from unauthorized access to financial instruments in the amount of 50 €. If a little money is stolen from the account owner, having looked at the TAN for online transfers, you can count on compensation. Modestly, but better than nothing. The € 50 limit does not apply to cases where financial losses have occurred due to the fault of the bank or the payment system. In this case, the credit institution bears full responsibility.

Often, to make a transfer, you need to enter a password – mTAN, which is sent via SMS to your mobile phone. Attackers sometimes steal SIM card data and make transfers without the client’s knowledge. If the bank’s client did not lose his mobile phone and did not transfer access to third parties, the bank is responsible for the money stolen in this way. Or a financial institution will have to prove the guilt of customers in the careless storage of data. Moreover, the evidence must be strong.

Another rule protects ATM users. On forums on the Internet, there are enough discussions of a high-tech method of stealing money: a scanner was superimposed on the card receiver, which simply read information from the magnetic tape of cards inserted into the ATM. The PIN from the card was stolen in two ways: using a silicone pad on the ATM keyboard, or by placing a small video camera with the desired viewing angle. The person withdrew money had no chance to suspect something was wrong – the ATM worked as usual and looked ordinary. And the scammers later created a copy of the card and – woo-a-la! – got full access to other people’s finances. A bank in Germany must compensate for any losses associated with the manipulation of ATMs by criminals. In fact, banks are required to keep a close eye on their dispensing machines.

There is also a small “hit” in the rules, about 90 cents a month. Banks are obliged to notify customers on a monthly basis about transactions on the account. Somehow the bankers are obligated to forward the printout to the account holders. If the owner of the account does not use the Internet service, the bank will send the information by mail. Naturally, the consumer pays for the shipment. There are two ways to avoid receiving printouts: unsubscribe from the service in writing, or use an alert via online banking. I recommend the second method, it’s very convenient.

AGB allows using pins and tans on third-party resources to confirm the right to access the current account and make payments. But be wary of suspicious sites asking for your online banking password!

Contract details

As many as two rules are designed to protect clients from dishonest consultants:

  1. The bank agent, when concluding an agreement, is obliged to notify about the monetary costs associated with the new contract, whether it be an operation fee or an initial payment.
  2. All agent speeches are recorded in a special way. If, after receiving a loan, it turns out that something has to be paid that the client did not know about, this is a violation of the AGB by the bank, on the basis of which the contract can be terminated immediately.

Management of the German account:

  • The Girokonto current account can be closed by notifying at least 4 weeks before the expected date. The Bank does not have the right to impose long periods of warning about the closure of the account.
  • When making a money transfer in Germany , it is not necessary to indicate the name of the recipient: it is not verified with the real name of the account holder.
  • An EU bank transfer cannot take more than 4 business days.
  • The term for challenging the withdrawal of funds from the account is 2 months.

As you can see, the rules are primarily aimed at consumer protection. Therefore, when concluding a contract with a bank in Germany, one should not expect a catch.

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Igor Smith/ author of the article
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