February 28, 2010

Interesting Lesson about Banking Here

It's always fun to talk to the bank. You learn all this stuff that they don't tell you unless you hound them for the answer. Fun fact of this month: there is a fee they charge every time we use our debit cards!

Beyond the fee that we pay each month to keep the account open, we also pay for the privilege of having our cards because they don't accept normal credit cards here. We can hardly ever use our Visa card, American Express, etc. This is just one example of the nanny state Germany sometimes feels like. It makes one miss all the choices available in the States.

I should specify here that the charge is not a lot, but it highlights the major difference in opinion about how cards are viewed here versus the US. Germans would rather do cash for everything than risk going into debt. They don't trust themselves to keep track of their money if it's not on hand (of course, they're so organized, they'd be the best at it). In this instance, it's not like the Americans (or Ami's as my co-workers told us is the slang word for Americans in German) do it much better with their crazy amounts of debt. I wish there was something in between that would blend the traits of the two countries.


  1. Hi Ayelet, you left a comment on my blog regarding fabric stores in Munich - I'm really sorry but I can't help you there! I actually live more than 100 km away from the capital an to get there I have to use the most dangerous road of Germany (seriously!), so I avoid it as much as I can. I do buy most of my fabric locally here in Altötting. BTW did you already get acquainted with German motorways? It always scares the beejesus out of our American relatives when another car overtakes them with 200 km/h.... Personally I'm all for a tempo limit on motorways but you wont find too many Germans who think so. :)

    I browsed through your blog a little, it is very entertaining to read about our culture from a foreigners viewpoint. I was very much amused about your thoughts on the use of cards here in Germany. I do read some American personal finance blogs and there is always advice in the lines of “Don't use your credit card for eating out if you can not pay off the balance” or something like that . Well, duh! ;)
    I can imagine that it is quite an adjustment to go from creditcard-county to cashvalley... ;) And you got stranded in Bavaria, too – the most conservative and traditional part of Germany. :)

    Anyway, I hope you'll find some good fabric stores! They used to have a cool fabric department in Galeria – Kaufhof stores but I do not know whether this is still the case.

    Pfiadi (haha, that's Bavarian slang for “bye bye, did you recognize it?)


  2. Hi Katja,

    Thanks for writing back!! I actually stopped by a cute, little quilt shop on Thursday called Quilt et Textile (or something like that). Lots of cool fabric and not too expensive (still much more than in the States). Thankfully, we don't have a car here, but when we drive with others, I do feel a little tense on the autobahn.

    I actually used to work at a financial literacy nonprofit in the States so a part of me loves the German view on money, but the other part craves American convenience (and dislikes being "punished" when I take care of my money). Just something to get used to! I'm glad you like the blog. If you're ever in Muenchen, drop me a line (ayeletdrori at gmail dot com) - I'd be happy to show you the little quilt shop. Thanks for the Bavarian slang - that's a new one for me!