ATMs or “Geldautomaten” (literally: cash machines) are quite widespread in Germany. They are mostly located inside or outside bank branches. ATMs in public places like shopping centres, petrol stations are less frequent than in other countries but you can normally find them in busier locations. Look for signs announcing “Geldautomat” and/or bearing a blue/red ec-logo.
All German ATMs are equipped to accept Maestro branded cards and will not surcharge for withdrawals when used with a foreign card, contact your card issuer to find out about their charges. Most ATMs are also set up to accept the major credit card brands (VISA and MasterCard), with AMEX machines more thinly spread.
While all ATM machines operate to a common standard, the fees for German cardholders vary depending on which network the machine is connected to. Withdrawals from one’s own bank are typically free of charge (except for normal account charges) while a withdrawal from a machine on a competitor’s network incurs charges of 3 to 5 EURO (check with your card-issuing bank, how much they charge).
After an industry-wide fee arrangement was terminated by the savings banks some years ago, reciprocal networks have been founded to allow customers to use another bank’s machines free of charge or at reduced rates:
- BankCard Service Netz (run by the co-operative banks)
Allows the reciprocal use of almost all cash machines installed by Volksbanken or Raiffeisenbanken at reduced rates or, depending on the bank issuing the card, free of charge.
- Sparkassen (savings banks)
Allow free withdrawals for savings banks customers at almost all machines run by other savings banks
- Cash Group (run by the commercial banks and Postbank)
Reciprocal agreement of the commercial banks and Postbank, allowing free use of each other’s ATMs for customers.
- Cash Pool (arrangement by some smaller and regional banks)
Arrangement between SEB, Baden-Württembergische Bank, Citibank, National-Bank Essen, SchmidtBank, GE Money Bank (formerly Allbank) and the Sparda group of banks to allow free use of each other’s ATMs for customers.