Julie Ng

Julie Ng

Bank accounts: it shouldn't be this hard

It never occurred to me that I couldn’t just use a normal Girokonto (checking account) for my freelancing business. Just as I don’t understand why web design is a Gewerbe (commercial business) and not a freelance profession in Germany in some cases, I don’t quite understand why I have to now switch banks. But I must.

And how hard can that be? In Germany? Hard.

Problem #1 - No credit card because we don’t know if you’re trustworthy

Fair enough. But if it’s my money, I should be allowed to spend it, no? I don’t need a line of credit. I just need to able to spend my money abroad because “EC Lastschrift” means nothing to Americans and  Brits. As I web designer, I regularly make purchases in USD and GBP. I buy books from independent publishers like Five Simple Steps. My domain name registrar Hover is based in Canada. 

Problem #2 - Fees for foreign currencies

Many banks have a minimum e.g. 1% fee on top of transactions in foreign currencies, with a minimum of e.g. 1,50 EUR. I have several small transactions a month, (domain names, host, ebook purchases, etc.) that would make these fees more expensive than the monthly account fees.

Banks are greedy and these types of fees hurt businesses as well. I’m happy to pay 1% premium, but not a minimum flat of 1,50 EUR.

Problem #3 - Wait, because everything is slow in Germany

You think that if you’re desperate to dump 10K somewhere, banks would welcome you with open arms. No. You need appointments and forms and so far the fastest bank said they could have an account ready in a week, if everything got approved immediately.

Conclusion

No wonder Germany ranks 98 in starting a business.

While I don’t think credit should be as easy in the U.S., it shouldn’t be this hard either, especially if you have money. You just need to put it somewhere.