Sparkasse banks start charging own customers for withdrawals

For many foreigners new to Germany, it’s annoying enough to be charged for withdrawing cash at any ATM. But paying to take money out at your own bank seems a step too far.

Sparkasse banks start charging own customers for withdrawals
Photo: DPA

If you have an account with say Deutsche Bank in Germany and decide to take out money at a Sparkasse ATM, you can end up paying close to €5 for the service.

Given the distinct lack of ATMs on German streets and the necessity of paying with cash in many shops and restaurants, this state of affairs can lead to more than the occasional frustration.

So customers of Sparkasse banks are unlikely to be pleased to hear that many branches are charging fees of up to €0.50 to their own customers when they withdraw cash.

The finance website reports that Sparkasse banks across Germany have started charging these fees. But because Sparkasse is a network of around 400 partly public companies, the fees vary from region to region.

The website came to the conclusion that, of the 400 companies in the Sparkasse network nationwide, over 40 of them are now charging withdrawal fees.

In Erding, a town just north of Munich, customers with “classic” current accounts can now withdraw cash twice in the month from a clerk for free, before paying a €0.29 fee. Those who withdraw at an ATM can withdraw money four times per month before they start being charged.

But that fee is relatively benign compared to other Sparkasse banks, which make customers pay for every withdrawal.

Twenty Sparkasse companies now charge customers every time they take out money. Several Sparkasse banks, including those in Rottal-Inn, Bavaria, and Grebenstein in Hesse, have started charging €0.50 for every withdrawal.

Most frustratingly for Sparkasse customers, it does not even seem clear whether they are fully alerted to the charges.

The Erding Sparkasse failed to respond to a request from to know whether customers were warned at the ATM that they were about to be charged.

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Where in Germany do people have the highest disposable income?

An economic study has shown huge regional differences in income throughout Germany. So which parts of the country have the most to spend each month, and which are feeling the squeeze?

Where in Germany do people have the highest disposable income?

A study by the Economic and Social Sciences Institute (WSI) of the Hans-Böckler foundation reveals stark regional differences in disposable income in Germany. In some cases, households had as much as double the spending money of those in other parts of the country. 

Here’s where people have the most – and least – disposable income each month.

What is disposable income?

The WSI calculated disposable income as the sum of income from wealth and employment, minus social contributions, income taxes, property taxes and other direct benefits or taxes.

What’s left is the income which private households can either spend on consumer goods or save.

The study, which was based on the most recent available national accounts data for 2019, looked at the disposable income of all of the 401 counties, districts and cities across Germany.

Which regions have the highest and lowest disposable incomes?

The study found that the regions with the highest disposable incomes were in the southern states.

Heilbronn in Baden-Württemberg had the highest disposable income of all 401 German counties and independent cities – with an average per capita disposable income of €42,275. The district of Starnberg in Bayern followed in second place with €38,509.

READ ALSO: REVEALED: How much do employees really earn across Germany’s states?

By comparison, per capita incomes in the cities of Gelsenkirchen and Duisburg in North Rhine-Westphalia were less than half as high, at €17,015 and €17,741 respectively. These regions had the lowest disposable income in the country. 

The study also found that, more than thirty years since German reunification, the eastern regions continue to lag behind those in the west in terms of wages.

According to the WSI, the Potsdam-Mittelmark district is the only district in the former east where the disposable per capita income of €24,127 exceeds the national average of €23,706.

Do regional price differences balance things out?

The study also showed that regionally different price levels contribute to a certain levelling out of disposable incomes, as regions with high incomes also tend to have higher rents and other living costs.

“People then have more money in their wallets, but they cannot afford more to the same extent,” WSI scientist Toralf Pusch explained.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: When will Germany raise the minimum wage?

Therefore, incomes in the eastern states, adjusted for purchasing power, are generally somewhat higher than the per capita amounts would suggest.

That could explain why, even after price adjustment, the cities of Gelsenkirchen and Duisburg in western Germany continue to be at the very bottom of the list.

Saxon-Anhalt’s Halle an der Saale, on the other hand, which has an average disposable income of only €18,527, benefits from the lower prices in the east.