Book Supplement: Money and Geld
Related to the Business and Economy and the Consumers and Shopping categories in the When in Germany... book. Also see The Euro.
Your money isn’t gone, my friend. It’s just that someone else has it.
Ihr Geld ist nicht weg, mein Freund, es hat nur ein anderer.
— Banker James Mayer de Rothschild
Sending Money to or from Germany
The best way to transfer funds either to or from Germany depends on several factors, only one of which is cost.
Because the German banking system functions differently than the US banking system, it’s not a good idea to simply write a US check and send it to someone in Germany. By the same token, transferring funds in the opposite direction—from Germany to the US—also requires an awareness of the differences between banking practices in Europe and North America — and the fees charged to the sender and receiver.
In the not-so-distant past – before the Internet and electronic fund transfers (EFTs) – a popular method of moving money across the Atlantic was the international money order or a wire transfer. Today both of these are a bit old-fashioned, not to mention expensive. The German post office (die Post AG) doesn’t even accept international money orders any more! (But they do accept Western Union transfers; more below.)
eToro.de — Online foreign exchange trading in Germany
Today your money transfer options include credit cards, online services (PayPal, Xoom, etc.), Western Union, your local bank, and even that old standby, the cashier’s check (in certain situations). Let’s look at the various options and compare them—after a brief word about the problem with personal checks.
- See our Currency Converter for the current exchange
rates for various currencies (below).
What’s wrong with a personal check? For one thing, Germans (and most other Europeans) don’t write personal checks payable to a person or firm! (France, where personal checks are still used, is a rare exception.) Unlike a US personal check, a German check or bank draft is a transfer of funds (eine Geldüberweisung) from one bank account number to another. German banks just aren’t set up to deal with a US personal check. As a result they won’t even consider cashing an American personal check unless you have an account with the German bank, and they will charge the account holder a fee for depositing the check. For a check payable in US dollars, the German bank will also charge a foreign exchange fee, further reducing the amount of euros the recipient actually gets transferred into his or her account.
Of course, the same is true for a German check deposited into a US bank account. My own American bank takes a cut of the exchange rate from euros to dollars, plus they deduct a foreign-currency check-processing fee from my account. This even applies to an EFT (or SWIFT transfer) from a foreign bank. Many banks also may place a hold on deposited checks in foreign funds and only make the funds available to the account holder after a certain period—days, weeks, or even longer. Most US banks won’t accept foreign checks at all, unless they are payable through a bank in the US (including Deutsche Bank). Check with your bank before you deposit a foreign check!
MORE > The Euro (facts and figures)
Money CalculatorNeed to know how much money your dollars or euros will buy? Use our currency converter (below).
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