Digital business accounts: A comparison of online banks in Germany

updated on 27. May 2021 10 minutes reading time
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No matter what kind of entrepreneur you are, opening a business (bank) account is your ticket to better financial management. Depending on your business, online banks and fintech companies use digitalisation to make this type of account even better. In this article, you’ll get a primer on the online banks in Germany and the digital business accounts they offer.

Contents

  1. Quiz: Is a digital bank right for me?
  2. Our recommendations
  3. Open a business account online: Digital Banks A-Z

  4. What do I need from an online business account?
  5. How do I choose the right account?
  6. Do I even need a business account?

 

Quiz: Is a digital business account right for me?

If you answer “yes” to three or more of the following questions, then an online bank is a good fit for you.

  • Do I mainly use smartphones and computers for managing my business?
  • Do I want to digitise my business as much as possible?
  • Do I want to link additional third-party services (eg accounting, tax adviser) to the account?
  • Can I do without in-person services?

If you do tend towards a branch or direct bank, you can find more information here.

 

Our recommendations

 

firma.de Siegel Partner L

Finom Logo

 

Logo Penta

 

 

Open a digital business account: A-Z of online banks in Germany

All the following data was researched in May 2021. Please always read the current conditions of the respective provider because we can’t guarantee that things won’t change.

bunq

Product Easy Money
Suitable for all businesses ✔️
Number of possible users 1 (shared use possible for an additional charge)
Financing
Trustpilot score 2.5 out of 5 ⭐
Cost per month €9.99

 

 

Fidor

Product Smart
Suitable for all businesses
Number of possible users 1
Financing
Trustpilot score 1.8 our of 5 ⭐
Cost per month €5 (€12 annual card fee)

 

 

FINOM

Product Solo
Suitable for all businesses ✔️
Number of possible users 1
Financing
Trustpilot Score 4.7 out of 5 ⭐
Cost per month €0

 

 

FYRST

Product BASE
Suitable for all businesses ✔️
Number of possible users 1
Financing ✔️
Trustpilot score 3.8 out of 5 ⭐
Cost per month €0 for freelancers/sole proprietors

€6 for companies

 

 

Holvi

Product Lite
Suitable for all businesses ✔️
Number of possible users 2
Financing
Trustpilot Score  4.5 out of 5 ⭐
Cost per month €6

 

 

Kontist

Product free
Suitable for all businesses
Number of possible users 1
Financing
Trustpilot score 4.4 out of 5 ⭐
Cost per month 0 Euro (€29 annual debit card fee)

 

 

N26

Product Business Standard
Suitable for all businesses
Number of possible users 1
Financing
Trustpilot score 4.0 out of 5 ⭐
Cost per month €0

 

 

PayCenter

Product Firmenkonto/Gewerbekonto
Suitable for all businesses ✔️
Number of possible users 1
Financing
Trustpilot score n/a
Cost per month €11 (set up fee approx. €66)

 

 

PENTA

Product Advanced
Suitable for all businesses ✔️
Number of possible users 2
Financing ✔️
Trustpilot score 4.4 out of 5 ⭐
Cost per month 1st month free then €9

 

Qonto

Product Solo
Suitable for all businesses ✔️
Number of possible users 1
Financing
Trustpilot score 4.7 out of 5 ⭐
Cost per month €9

 

 

revolut

Product FREE
Suitable for all businesses ✔️
Number of possible users 2 for the standard version
1 for the freelancer version
Financing ❌  (in development)
Trustpilot score 4.3 out of 5 ⭐
Cost per month 0 Euro, £49 (approx. €50-60) annual card fee

 

 

What do I need from a digtial business account?

In Germany, there are now numerous providers offering different banking solutions. To make the right decision, you should first figure out your requirements for a business account. This will keep the search short and effective.

How to figure out your business account needs 

Weight the following criteria with a simple point system:

0 = not crucial
1 = less important
2 = important
3 = very important

(Add further criteria if necessary.)

  • Number of cards and users
  • Amount of the account management fees
  • Additional fees for paperless and paper-based transactions
  • Additional fees for foreign transfers
  • Number of free cash deposits and withdrawal
  • Available cash dispensers
  • Amount of available overdraft facility and conditions
  • EC card and credit card included
  • Upper limit for free transactions
  • Mobile banking
  • Financing/factoring
  • Option of data export for your tax adviser
  • Interface for synchronisation with accounting (eg with a software solution such as lexoffice)
  • Planned taking out of a subsidised loan (this can be an important factor because the lending bank won’t normally deposit the loan into an account at a third-party bank)
  • Free account switching service
  • Integration of Google Pay/Apple Pay

 

How do I decide on the right account?

This is only a short overview. If you want to get informed, taking a closer look at product and service tables is the way to do it. The costs for transfers, transactions with foreign currencies or cash withdrawals can often only be found out here. At this point, at the latest, the list of your requirements is worth its weight in gold in order not to lose the overview.

Does free mean free? Or: what is the best account fee strategy?

If you only run a small business, rarely withdraw money and have few paper-based and paperless transactions, the free account offers are attractive because you can expect few additional costs per unit.

For larger transaction volumes and multiple users, these providers quickly become expensive. In this case, it is better to choose an account that has higher basic fees but offers more functions and included services.

If rapid growth is likely, you should also look at what upgrade products have to offer and whether an account switching service is available.

Also, keep in mind, it’s smart to have multiple business accounts.

Another factor: if you do not have EU citizenship and/or residency, this will limit your choice when opening an online business account. You can find out more about this here.

Are there additional costs for a digital business account?

Even if some accounts promise to be completely free of charge, it is not uncommon for costs to be hidden for day-to-day functions. These are the typical fees you may get hit with:

  • Account management (fixed basic amount per month)
  • Account statements (usually monthly)
  • Documentary transactions (monthly; eg foreign transfers, cash deposits)
  • Voucherless transactions (monthly; eg standing orders, SEPA direct debits)
  • Use of debit and/or credit card(s) (usually as a fixed amount per year)
  • Additional users or cards (joint account management, monthly or annually)
  • Deposits and withdrawals (monthly)
  • Overdraft facility (also called Dispo in Germany; monthly)

Expect a business account to cost up to €100 per year.

 

Do I even need a business account?

Business accounts are mandatory for corporations and partnerships. Sole proprietors, GbRs and freelancers don’t need a business account per se.

Legality aside, bear in mind many banks prohibit the business use of a private account in their general terms and conditions. So it’s advisable to read the small print, otherwise, the bank has grounds to terminate your account without notice.

Also, no matter what, it’s best practice to keep private and business transactions separate. This prevents disputes with the tax office. If, for example, you want to deduct an expense as an operating cost but the invoice was paid via your private account, the onus of proof is on you.

By clearly separating the accounts, you make accounting much easier and you can avoid any prying into your private transactions.

 

The information published on our site is all written and checked by experts with the utmost care. Nevertheless, we cannot guarantee its accuracy, as laws and regulations are subject to constant change. Therefore, always consult a specialist in a specific case – we will be happy to put you in touch.

firma.de accepts no liability for any damage caused by errors in the texts.

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