Best Free Credit Cards In Germany 2024

Andreia Ferreira
by Andreia Ferreira
Updated on

As an expat, it can be challenging to navigate the world of free credit cards in Germany.

Between information in a language you may not understand, the technical jargon of banks, and the large number of options you have, it’s very easy to feel lost and confused when choosing the best free credit card in Germany for yourself.

In this guide, we will compare some of the best free credit cards in Germany, examining their conditions, while providing you with the essential information you need to make the best decision for your needs and to help you save money. 

Comparison Table

Barclaycard Visa

Santander Bestacard Basic Visa

TF Bank Mastercard Gold

Advanzia Gebührenfrei Mastercard Gold

Bank Norwegian Visa

Payback Amex Card

Amex Blue

Type of credit card

Revolving

Charge

Revolving

Revolving

Revolving

Charge

Charge

Annual fee

€0

€0

€0

€0

€0

€0

€0

Cash withdrawal fee

Free

Free (4x per month)

Free (but an annual interest rate of 24.79% is applied from the first day of withdrawal until it’s settled. Eg. If you withdraw 100€ and pay it back a month later, there’s an added ~2€ to pay)

Free (but an annual interest rate of 24.69% is applied from the first day of withdrawal until it’s settled. Eg. If you withdraw 100€ and pay it back a month later, there’s an added ~2€ to pay)

Free

4%, at least €5

4%, at least €5

Foreign transaction fee

0%

1.5%

0%

0% (but there's a Mastercard network fee added)

0%  

2%

2%

Annual interest rate

23.13%

18.58%

24.79%

24.69%

24.40%

5% on top of the base interest rate*

5% on top of the base interest rate*

Direct debit as repayment option

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Credit score check

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Travel Insurance

Yes

Yes

Yes

Replacement card

€15

€1.90

Free

€9

Free

Free

Free

Banking app

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Google & Apple pay

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

English website & support

*The base interest rate is set by the European Central Bank and can change. As of October 2023, it was 4.5%. 

Which Is The Best Free Credit Card For You?

Quick Summary

These credit cards are free of fees (annual fee, cash withdrawal and payments fees, and foreign transaction fees) and give you financial flexibility, making them a good choice overall. 

This American Express card has a strong focus on cashback bonus and point collection that can be exchanged for rewards. 

This card offers you no foreign currency fees and comprehensive travel insurance, making it our top pick for travelers.

Easy application with a high acceptance rate, even if you don’t have a long credit history.

Which Are Free Credit Cards? And How Do They Work In Germany?

In Germany and many other countries, free credit cards (also known as kostenlose kreditkarten) are credit cards that don’t have an annual fee for their usage. 

Credit cards are different from a debit card, where you just use the money you have in your bank account. Credit cards can be useful when it comes to certain purchases, like renting a car for example, since a debit card is not always accepted. 

While credit cards that have an annual fee may provide higher benefits, a free credit card is usually enough for everyday use.

Besides, many free cards still include several benefits, including no foreign currency fee or cash withdrawal fee, for example.

There are several types of credit cards:

  1. Revolving Credit Cards: this type of credit card refers to a line of credit that remains open-ended even as you make payments. 

You have a preset credit limit, and every time you use the money and pay it back, the available credit goes back to what it was initially. You can carry a balance from month to month by only paying the minimum each month, but interest applies to the remaining amount. 

  1. Charge Credit Cards: this type of card requires the cardholder to pay the full balance each month. There are no interest rates but there are penalties for late payments. 

A charge card also doesn’t have a preset credit limit, which doesn’t mean unlimited spending. The purchases are approved based on several factors, including current spending patterns, payment history, and credit records.

  1. Prepaid Credit Cards: prepaid cards are not real credit cards. You can use only the amount that was loaded onto the card, and there is no credit line. 

These cards are not linked to a bank account and typically do not require a credit check. 

Can A Credit Card Be Free? 

A credit card can potentially be close to completely free if you use it smartly.

This means getting a lifetime free credit card with no annual fees, no hidden charges, and paying your balance in full before the due date to avoid high interest rates and help you save money. 

However, your free German credit cards can have several fees associated, such as:

  • Interest rates: if you choose to repay the borrowed money through installments, you have to pay interest on the amount you borrowed. This interest rate varies, but if you are not careful, the costs can quickly escalate. That is why repaying in installments is rarely a good option.
  • Cash withdrawal fees: when you withdraw cash from an ATM, you may need to pay a fee. These fees vary according to the provider. Some providers may not charge cash withdrawal fees in Germany and worldwide ever or only a few times a month, while others do. 
  • Foreign transaction fees: some free credit cards charge a fee when you make payments in different currencies, typically ranging from 1% to 3% of the purchase. 

Best Free Credit Cards In Germany 2024

Our review is going to focus on seven free credit cards.

We will take a look at the fees and conditions, as well as the benefits each credit card company offers. Finally, our pros and cons table will give you a clearer idea of the advantages and disadvantages you can expect from each credit card. 

1. Barclays Visa Card

Barclays is a credit card company that offers an attractive, completely free credit card – the Barclays Visa Card – which has no annual fees, no cash withdrawal fee above 50€, and no foreign currency fees. 

Barclays Visa Card

images

Annual Fee

€0.00

Eff. Interest Rate

23.13%

Welcome bonus

€0

Apply today

On Barclays Website

Card SystemVisa
Card TypeRevolving
Annual Fee€0
Effective Interest Rate23.13%
Domestic payments€0
Payments abroad €0
Domestic cash withdrawals€0 (Above €50)
Foreign cash withdrawals€0 (Above €50)
Limits for cash withdrawals in Germany and abroadUp to €500/daily
Credit Card limitUp to €10,000
Direct debit paybackYes
Credit score checkYes
Replacement Card€15
Banking appYes
Google & Apple payYes
English website & supportNo

Permanent €0 annual fee.

Worldwide payment & withdrawal free of charge.

Flexible repayment (interest-free for up to 2 months).

0% installment purchases for 3 months up to €500.

Direct debit available.

Credit card limit up to €10,000.

Apple & Google pay available.

Free withdrawals only from 50€.

There’s a default setting for partial repayment (but it’s possible to change it to direct debit).

No traveling insurance included.

  • 3 free partner cards for family and friends.
  • 5% discount on travel packages from selected partners.
  • €500 emergency cash in case your credit card gets lost or stolen.

Barclays Visa is a revolving credit card with a credit limit of up to 10,000€, which can be advantageous if you need to make an expensive purchase. However, you usually start with a lower credit card limit depending on your credit history, which can increase over time. 

One advantage of this credit card is that it can be linked to your checking account, so you don’t have to use another bank account to repay your credit transactions. You can also transfer money to your bank account. Barclays also offers payback flexibility, so you can decide each month whether you want to pay your monthly credit card bill all at once or in installments. 

Barclays gives you an interest-free period of up to 2 months to pay off your credit card transactions. And it also gives you an interest-free 3-month loan for individual purchases up to €500.

However, you have to be careful because Barclays Visa is billed by default using the partial payment option, which is associated with high-interest rates (23.13%).

We recommend you change to the direct debit option on your home banking to avoid these costs. 

As an additional benefit, Barclays gives up to 3 free partner cards for family and friends.

2. Santander BestCard Basic Visa

Santander Bestcard Basic Visa is another credit card with a permanently free annual fee.

This credit card was introduced after the discontinuation of the Santander 1plus Visa Credit Card, which had more advantages than the present one, especially for use abroad. The new Santander credit card has more fees and fewer benefits. 

Santander BestCard Basic Visa

bestcard

Annual Fee

€0.00

Eff. Interest Rate

18.58%

Welcome bonus

€0

Apply today

On Santander’s Website

Card SystemVisa
Card TypeCharge
Annual Fee€0
Effective Interest Rate18.58%
Domestic payments€0
Payments abroad 1.5% (Except euro which is free)
Domestic cash withdrawalsFree 4x/Month
Foreign cash withdrawalsFree 4x/Month
Limits for cash withdrawals in Germany and abroadUp to €1,000 Daily
Direct debit paybackNo
Credit score checkYes
Replacement Card€1.90
Banking appNo
Google & Apple payNo
English website & supportNo

No annual fee.

Money withdrawals are free up to 4 times a month.

Paying in euros is free.

1% fuel discount.

5% travel discount.

Interest fees apply from the 5th withdrawal.

Default partial repayment with interest.

Apple & Google pay not available.

  • 1% fuel discount for fillings up to 200€ a month.
  • 5% travel discount when booking through selected partners.
  • A free partner credit card.

Santander Bestcard Basic Visa offers free money withdrawals worldwide, but only 4 times per month.

From the fifth withdrawal, you start paying large interest fees. Unfortunately, Santander will also charge foreign transaction fees (1,5%) with foreign currencies except for the euro.

When it comes to repayment methods, there is a default setting for partial repayment of 5% of the credit card bill, meaning only 5% gets paid automatically, and then the remaining amount transfers to the next month.

This partial repayment incurs an interest rate of 18.58% on the remaining balance.

You can avoid this cost by repaying manually the entire amount by bank transfer by the end of the month. Direct debit is not available. 

Some advantages include not needing an extra checking account, a 1% discount on fuel sales up to 200€ a month (an exclusive offer you won’t easily find in many credit card providers), 5% cashback for trips with selected travel partners, and a free partner card. 

3. TF Bank Mastercard Gold

TF Bank offers an attractive revolving credit card with a credit line – their TF Bank Mastercard Gold – which is permanently free from annual fees. 

TF Bank Mastercard Gold

download 3

Annual Fee

€0.00

Eff. Interest Rate

24.79%

Welcome bonus

€0

Apply today

On TFBank’s Website

Card SystemMastercard
Card TypeRevolving
Annual Fee€0
Effective Interest Rate24.79%
Domestic payments€0
Payments abroad €0
Domestic cash withdrawals24.79% interest (Until you wire the amount back to the card)
Foreign cash withdrawals24.79% interest (Until you wire the amount back to the card)
Limits for cash withdrawals in Germany and abroadUp to €1,000 Daily
Credit Card limitUp to €10,000
Direct debit paybackYes
Credit score checkYes
Replacement CardFree
Banking appYes
Google & Apple payYes
English website & supportNo

No annual fee.

51 Days payment period.

No foreign currency fees.

Traveling insurance included.

Cashback benefits.

Easy online application.

High interest rate of 24.79% to withdraw money.

Direct debit is not available.

  • Travel insurance if you pay at least 50% of the travel booking with this credit card.
  • 5% cashback on rental cars and travel bookings.
  • €120 HelloFresh voucher code.
  • Up to €60 bonus if you refer a friend.

One of the main advantages is a long free repayment period of 51 days, giving you plenty of financial flexibility when you borrow money. If you decide to pay in installments, you have to be careful because the interest fee is high at 24.79%. 

This credit card doesn’t charge foreign exchange fees, so you can use your card freely worldwide.

However, you should be careful when you withdraw cash from the ATM, as interest fees (24.79% annual interest) will take place immediately from the day you withdraw until you settle your balance. 

For example, If you withdraw 100€ and pay it back a month later, there’s an added €2.84 to pay, totaling €102.84.

The other big advantage of this credit card is that it offers you free travel insurance for trips that were paid with the TF Bank Mastercard Gold for at least 50%.

It includes protection for travel cancellation or interruption, flight delay, and luggage insurance, as well as accident insurance. If you choose this card, make sure you are well-informed about the terms and conditions of the insurance.

This credit card also offers a 5% cashback on travel bookings and a few other advantages you can check out here.

4. Advanzia Gebührenfrei Mastercard Gold

Advanzia Bank offers the popular Gebührenfrei Mastercard Gold, a free credit card with zero annual fees, but with some caveats (the website is not very transparent and makes it look completely free).

Advanzia Gebührenfrei Mastercard Gold

card DEU B2C

Annual Fee

€0.00

Eff. Interest Rate

24.69%

Welcome bonus

€0

Apply today

On Gebührenfrei’s Website

Card SystemMastercard
Card TypeRevolving
Annual Fee€0
Effective Interest Rate24.69%
Domestic payments€0
Payments abroad €0
Domestic cash withdrawal24.39% debit interest
Foreign cash withdrawal24.79% debit interest
Limits for cash withdrawals in Germany and abroadUp to €1,000 Daily
Credit Card limitUp to €23,000
Direct debit paybackNo
Credit score checkYes
Replacement CardFree
Banking appYes
Google & Apple payYes
English website & supportNo

No annual fee.

7-week payment period.

No foreign currency fees.

Travel insurance included.

Cashback benefits.

Apple & Google pay available.

High interest rate of 24.39%, including to withdraw cash.

Direct debit is not available.

  • Travel insurance if you pay at least 50% of the travel booking with this credit card.
  • 5% cashback on rental cars and travel bookings.

The main advantage is that it has no fees when it comes to foreign currencies, payments, and withdrawals.

However, you should be aware that there is an interest rate for withdrawals at 24.69% a year, which is applied from the day of the withdrawal until the balance is settled.

For example, if you withdraw €100 and pay it back a month later, there’s an added €2.85 to pay, totaling €102.85. 

That is why some people consider this credit card not suitable for money withdrawals as you have to pay interest until you pay back the amount.  

Although Advanzia doesn’t have an explicit foreign transaction fee, they use an exchange rate established by Mastercard, which includes a percentage markup on top of the rate established by the European Central Bank. You can check the rate difference here.

Like with other credit cards, credit card payments can only be done manually. You also have to be careful with partial payments so you don’t pay interest, as they are subject to high interest rates. It’s advisable that you fully balance your transactions on time. They offer a 7-week period free of interest.

Advanzia also offers you travel insurance, which includes travel cancellation and luggage insurance, medical protection abroad, and liability insurance. There’s also a 5% cashback on rental cars and travel bookings.

5. Bank Norwegian Visa

Bank Norwegian card is a permanently free credit card, charging no fees for payments and withdrawals in Germany and abroad, which is a very advantageous feature.

You also don’t need to have a second bank account to use this card. This is an actual credit card with a credit limit of up to 10,000€.

Bank Norwegian Visa

download 22

Annual Fee

€0.00

Eff. Interest Rate

24.40%

Welcome bonus

€10

Apply today

On Bank Norwegian’s Website

Card SystemVisa
Card TypeRevolving
Annual Fee€0
Effective Interest Rate24.40%
Domestic payments€0
Payments abroad €0
Domestic cash withdrawals€0
Foreign cash withdrawals€0
Limits for cash withdrawals in Germany and abroad
Up to €500 Daily (Germany) and up to €1,000 (Abroad)
Credit Card limitUp to €10,000
Direct debit paybackYes
Credit score checkYes
Replacement Card€9
Banking appYes
Google & Apple payYes
English website & supportNo

Permanent €0 annual fee.

Worldwide payment & withdrawal free of charge.

Flexible repayment (interest-free for 45 days).

Credit card limit up to €10,000.

Comprehensive travel insurance included.

Apple & Google pay available.

High-interest rate (24.40%)

Only for people above 20 years old with good Schufa score.

  • Travel insurance (health protection, travel accident, trip cancellation, and baggage insurance).

The credit card also offers a comprehensive travel insurance package for trips up to 3 months, which includes health protection, travel accident, trip cancellation, and baggage insurance.

At least 50% of the travel costs need to be paid by the Bank Norwegian card. 

The insurance covers not only you but up to 3 other traveling companions. However, the coverage is limited to people under 75. You can find the full conditions here, unfortunately only in German. 

The Bank Norwegian credit card allows you to settle your transactions by transfer or direct debit. You have 45 days free of interest to pay back the amount. You have to be careful with the payments, as the interest rate is high, at 24.40%. 

To be approved for this credit card, you need to be above 20, have a stable income, and have a clean Schufa check. 

6. Payback AMEX Card

American Express credit cards may be less used in Germany, but they offer some nice benefits. 

The PAYBACK AMEX card is a free credit card that has the benefit of giving you points every time you make a payment. For every €3 you spend, you gain a point.

These points can then be exchanged for rewards through the PAYBACK rewards store. When you receive your card, you will get 1,000 points credited within 4 to 6 weeks.

Payback AMEX

card payback large

Annual Fee

€0.00

Eff. Interest Rate

None

Welcome bonus

Up to 2,000 extra points

Apply today

On American Express Website

Card SystemAmerican Express
Card TypeCharge
Annual Fee€0
Effective Interest RateNo interest (Payment made in full each month)
Domestic payments€0
Payments abroad 2% fees
Domestic cash withdrawals4% fees, at least €5
Foreign cash withdrawals4% fees, at least €5
Limits for cash withdrawals in Germany and abroad€750
Credit Card limitVariable (Depends on creditworthiness)
Direct debit paybackYes
Credit score checkYes
Replacement CardFree
Banking appYes
Google & Apple payYes
English website & supportNo

No annual fee.

Payments free of charge in the eurozone.

1,000 points bonus for new clients

No annual interest rates.

2% fee on foreign currencies.

4% fee on all withdrawals.

Not all stores accept American Express.

No travel insurance.

  • 1,000 bonus points for new customers.
  • Extended 90-day exchange policy for online and offline purchases (a maximum of €300 per item and €1,200 per year can be refunded).
  • Payback points can be exchanged for award miles on the flyer program Miles & More.

The credit card has no annual interest rates since you must repay your debts every month, which will be deducted from your linked bank account.

Although the card has no annual or monthly fee, there are some costs involved that make the card not so attractive beyond online purchases. 

There is, unfortunately, a 2% fee for foreign currencies, which makes traveling with this card not so sustainable. American Express will also charge cash withdrawal fees at a rate of 4%.

7. AMEX Blue

AMEX Blue is another American Express credit card that offers you no annual fee, a 25€ starting credit and comes with an additional credit card. 

AMEX Blue

card blue lrg

Annual Fee

€0.00

Eff. Interest Rate

5%*

Welcome bonus

€25

Apply today

On American Express Website

Card SystemAmerican Express
Card TypeCharge
Annual Fee€0
Effective Interest Rate5% on top of the base interest rate
Domestic payments€0
Payments abroad 2% fees
Domestic cash withdrawals4% fees, at least €5
Foreign cash withdrawals4% fees, at least €5
Limits for cash withdrawals in Germany and abroad750€
Credit Card limitVariable (Depends on creditworthiness)
Direct debit paybackYes
Credit score checkYes
Replacement CardFree
Banking appYes
Google & Apple payYes
English website & supportNo

No annual fee.

€25 welcome bonus.

Transport accident included.

Access to rewards programs.

Banking app with real-time information.

Free additional card.

Not all stores accept American Express.

No travel insurance.

Rewards program is subject to a fee.

  • €25 welcome bonus.
  • Access to the American Express Membership program with 5000 points upon registration (€30 annually).
  • Access to American Express Offers and American Express Experiences.

Compared to multiple credit cards in Germany, you won’t find much of an edge from AMEX Blue besides not having annual fees.

This is because holders of this card have to pay for payments in different currencies (2% fee) and pay to withdraw cash (4% fee). So it’s definitely not the best credit card to travel with.

With this card, you can have access to the Membership Rewards program, where you receive 5000 points for the activation which can be exchanged for purchases from many shops.

However, it is not free of charge, as you have to pay 30€ annually. You also have access to the American Express Offers program, where you get cashback rewards from stores, as well as American Experiences.

Amex Blue also offers you transport accident insurance. Unfortunately, traveling insurance is not included.

Things To Keep In Mind While Choosing A Free Credit Card In Germany 

There are a few important things to keep in mind while choosing a free credit card in Germany.

First of all, the best German credit card will really depend on your personal circumstances and what you value the most in a card like this, so you should always do your own research based on that.

A few things to consider:

  • Credit cards are different from debit cards: a debit card immediately takes out the money from your bank account, while with a credit card, you are borrowing money from a credit line. 
  • There are a few different types of credit cards: revolving credit cards keep a line of credit open over time, even after you repay the full amount; a charge card requires payment in full every month; and a prepaid credit card allows you to spend the amount you have stored in your credit card account.
  • Cash withdrawal fees: not every credit card charges cash withdrawal fees, but some do. You have two possible types of costs with cash withdrawals – a fee every time you withdraw money from an ATM, which can be a percentage or a fixed amount; and a daily interest charge based on the card’s annual interest rate, which applies from the moment you withdraw the money until you settle the balance.
  • Interest rates on credit cards: interest is what a credit card provider charges you for borrowing money, and is usually expressed as an annual percentage rate. You can avoid this cost by paying your bill in full in due time. Always check and compare the annual interest rate. 
  • Credit limits on credit cards: a credit limit is the maximum amount you can borrow from the bank. There are also limits on daily and weekly withdrawals.
  • Cashback and Rewards programs: some credit cards offer the possibility to earn cashback on every purchase you make. Other cards have a rewards system where you can get points and exchange them for goods or services. It’s always good to check for these bonuses. 
  • Extra benefits: many free credit cards offer nice benefits such as travel insurance or other types of insurance, vouchers, cash bonuses for new clients, etc. 
  • Customer service: look for providers of credit cards that offer good 24-hour support, user-friendly mobile apps, and English-speaking support.
  • Requirements to get a credit card in Germany: make sure you always look for the requirements, which typically include being of legal age, being a resident of Germany, and having a clean Schufa credit check. 

How to get a free credit card in Germany?

To get a free credit card in Germany you have to follow a few steps. These steps can vary depending on the credit card provider you choose.

Generally speaking, you first have to provide some personal information about yourself, which may include professional occupation and income. Then you usually have to consent to be checked by Schufa for your creditworthiness. 

Then, you are legally obliged to identify yourself. You are able to do this online through video, and you need to have with you your ID or valid passport. 

Finally, you will receive your credit card within a few days.

FAQs

Typically, the main requirements are being of legal age (18 or above), residing in Germany or in the EU, and having a valid identification document.

Some banks may ask for information about professional status and income. They may also require a Schufa check.

Yes, generally you are subject to a Schufa check before being approved for your credit cards.

Yes, it is possible for foreigners to get credit cards in Germany, but the requirements may be tighter. 

There are a few German credit cards that have no foreign transaction fee. Barclaycard Visa, Norwegian Visa, or Advanzia Gebührenfrei Mastercard Gold don’t charge that fee. 

Conclusion

Finding the best credit card for yourself will depend on your specific circumstances, needs, and interests.

Completely free credit cards will allow you to save money on international payments and other transactions, and give you the flexibility and safety to use the card without large interest fees. 

Hopefully, this guide gave some insights to help you in the search for the best credit card for yourself. 

Andreia Ferreira
Andreia Ferreira
Andreia is our main writer/researcher here at TwoExpats. She does extensive research on the various products we review as well as writing compelling content that is easy to digest by our readers.

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