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Paying bills in Germany

Hello everyone,

What bills do you pay? If you are renting, are bills included in the price of rent, and is this common practice in Germany?

How can you pay your bills (e.g. online, at provider's store, at the post office)? Which is the most convenient or reliable way?

With what frequency are different bills sent in Germany? Are there different deadlines for payment?

Thank you for sharing your experience.

Priscilla

Utility bills are usually paid separately from (i.e. not included in ) the rent, but the exact details should be specified in the rental contract.
Some (usually garbage, insurance, tax, maintenance) are collected from the property owner - so you'd have to pay a fixed monthly amount to him/her on top of the rent.
Others (usually gas, water, electricity) are billed by usage and have to be paid either to the owner or directly to the provider. This, too, should be specified in the rental contract.
Payments are usually made by bank transfer. For professional providers or landlords, it is often possible to give permission for automatic deduction from your bank account. This saves you the hazzle of monthly bank transfers, but you should only do that if y<ou trust the provider/landlord.

In Germany most bills are paid by bank transfer. As far as I know this is nearly universal in Europe in contrast to America where they write checks, something not really done in Germany. One must have an account that allows transfers known as a Giro account rather than a savings account. One can either fill out a form and give it in at your bank or more common these days, do it all online. 

Regular payments like rent, utilities etc. are arranged at the bank; say to transfer a given amount each month known as a Dauerauftrag . Bills for phone service for example are a bit different since the amount will vary each month. For this, one gives the bank permission to pay out the money requested by such companies with something called an Einzugsermächtigung.

One needs to be careful to only give trusted companies such an allowance because it can be a hassle to get any money back if they somehow overcharge. I would never do this for a onetime payment for something I ordered. If one registers a car though one is required to give one to the tax authorities so they can grab your annual vehicle tax. The advantage of these regular payments is that you will never overlook and miss paying a regular bill and say get your phone or electricity cut off.

For purchases in shops there are credit cards or the more common EC Maestro debit cards. Germans also pay a lot with cash for small purchases but nearly anyone with a bank account also has some sort of plastic. One reads the occasional story how paying with cards is unusual in Germany. This is simply untrue although maybe half of in person purchases, as opposed to online, are done with cash.

Hello  Priscilla.
Good  day.
I pay  bills  very  often here  in  Germany.  At least  3 bills  per  month.  First  the  rent. Then  the  insurance.  The  Internet. ... Germans  have  so many  bills.  If  you  pay  late  generally  there  is  a  penalty  of   about  5€
Best  regards :)

Hi Priscilla, 
Most Utilities like  garbage, water, electricity, etc.  are paid on a monthly or quarterly basis, with a direct bank transfer. Your water and electricity meters are read once a year, and the due balance is either refunded or transferred directly to or from your bank account, or credited towards you next payments.   The estimated monthly payment is then revised to fit your actual use.

When shopping at stores most people pay with their debit cards.  Credit cards are rarely used.  Cash is still used, but is becoming less and less common for anything except small payments.

In order for payments to be withdrawn from your account, you must sign an approval form.  Things like annual club payments are also usually payed with an automatic bank transfer.  These automatic bank transfers are initiated by the creditor not you.  If payments are withdrawn falsely, you can within (i believe) 6 week period have the payment cancelled.  So you should check your payments on a regular basis.  In the 45 years I have lived in Germany,  this has only happened once. 

I hope this helps,
Dave

Hi,

Mostly all the registration are online deductions directly from your Bank e:g: Internet etc. For Radio Television you have to pay by your own as a Bank Transfer.

Also it depends on you that you register for auto debit or monthly transfer by your own.

Thanks :)

Hi,

  I have a SEPA direct debit mandate for some of my most common bills, they take it from your bank account every month on a specific date. I use it for my gym , credit card expenses, public transport monthly passes and my internet and electricity payments. Personally I find it convenient to do it this way than to do it manually every month and trying not to forget or double pay.

However, if you are here for a very short term , less than six months, you could also choose to do it manually or pay at the vendor directly.

Cheers!

Hello,
Most of my bills are separate from my rent.  Every landlord has different things included or not included in the rent.  For example, Snow cleaning service is included in my rent.  In Germany you are responsible for sweeping snow off public walk ways that are in front of your house or apartment.  The down side of this is if there is no snow I'm still paying.  The up side is I never have to be home or worry about cleaning the snow b/c if someone gets hurts it will fall on my landlord not me b/c I pay for that service.  If someone falls you could be liable if you did not properly manage the snow or ice.  Yard debris or garden maintenance could include fees as part of your rental agreement as well.  Some of my main bills like the rent or trash are paid via automatic bank transfer.  Anything that is relatively the same amount I prefer setting up the auto-transfer so not to worry about it.  All medical bills outside of what insurance pays are sent via regular mail and I pay these separately.  I log into my bank account and make those transfers manually on-line.  No dropping payments in the mail.  Those days are over.  I've found if I forget to pay a bill late fees are attached.  Then continual bills are sent to your house.  Sometimes you get emails if the business has it.  The companies billing you will eventually send your outstanding bill to a collection agency and they will harass you from then on.  Not good so pay your bills asap.  Oh and btw...all my bills are in German.  No English which makes it difficult.  I've tried requesting English and no one does it so good luck with that.  My advice...be organized and have a friend help you if need be.  Your bank can also help and advise you on their system.   Good luck. :)

Hi, I pay all my bills via SEPA Lastschrift which allows the respective company to debit my account. Should I not agree with the debit then I have 6 weeks to get the money returned (Rücklastschrift). You can also get a separate payment order which the requires your attention such as parking or speeding fines. The system is extremely efficient and your account will tell you all the details of the debit. Easy.

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