Bank customers looking for more insight into the costs of current accounts will in future be able to obtain information free of charge on a website run by the financial regulator Bafin. For example, account management fees, the amount of interest for an overdraft or credit card costs from the more than 1,400 banks and savings banks in Germany should be listed, as can be seen from the draft of the Bafin's so-called comparison website reporting regulation. The institutions should report the relevant information to the supervisory authority for the first time in September 2024.
“We are pleased that things are finally moving forward,” said Dorothea Mohn from the Federal Association of Consumer Organizations (vzbv). The banking industry and associations have until mid-December to comment on the Bafin draft. The model initially chosen in Germany for implementing the European Payment Accounts Directive had caused discussions in the past.
The comparison portal Check24 initially operated the non-commercial website, but took it offline after just five months in April 2021 due to unclear legal conditions. Consumer advocates had complained about the comparison website's insufficient market coverage. Check24 saw it differently.
Stiftung Warentest's comparison site costs money again
As a temporary measure, Stiftung Warentest made its existing comparison of currently 468 current accounts from more than 170 credit institutions available free of charge on the Internet on test.de. The offer ends at the end of the year. “According to the agreement, we will make our offer chargeable again from January 2024 – like all other current tests on test.de,” said a spokeswoman for Stiftung Warentest.
It is particularly important to consumer advocate Mohn that the so-called basic accounts will be specially marked on the future comparison website and can be filtered out as a selection option when comparing. “Consumers who rely on a basic account are particularly vulnerable. Market transparency is crucial here to avoid these people being unnecessarily burdened with costs,” said the head of the vzbv financial market team.
Since mid-2016, every citizen in Germany has had a legal right to a checking account. All financial institutions should set up a basic account on a “credit basis” for people without a permanent address if they wish. Account holders receive a bank card and are allowed to transfer money. Such an account cannot be overdrawn.
Comparison website Stiftung Warentest Bundesbank on the number of banks in Germany Draft comparison website Bafin