The brand “girocard” unites the electronic payment system “electronic cash“ and the “Deutsche Geldautomaten-System“ (German ATM system). With more than 100 million issued cards, girocard is the most common debit card in Germany. It allows for cardholders to withdraw cash at around 58.000 ATMs nationwide and to pay cashless at point of sale (POS) terminals. Unlike credit card payments, girocard payments and cash withdrawals are debited directly from your account.
Maximum security is guaranteed via secure chip and PIN procedure: All girocard transactions are processed by the secure EMV chip, instead of a magnetic stripe, which is vulnerable to skimming. Beyond that, the PIN ensures that only the legal owner can use the girocard. girocard is a product of the German Banking Industry Commitee (GBIC) and thus uses the high security standards of the GBIC.
Apart from withdrawing cash and paying at a POS, the girocard offers many additional features.
When you are asked in Germany, whether you want to pay with card, usually the cashier means paying with your girocard in combination with entering your PIN. To do so, insert your card into the terminal and enter your PIN, when the terminal asks you to. The money will be withdrawn directly from your account.
Debit payments using the girocard system are easy to handle as well as safe and secure for both customer and retailer. girocard is accepted at about 840.000 terminals in Germany alone.
Contactless payments are a new type of card payment, based on NFC technology (near field communication). The technology helps to make girocard payments even faster and easier. Simply hold your card close to the card terminal and that’s it. For bills up to 25 Euros, you usually do not even have to enter your PIN. Paying contactlessly takes only 11 seconds on average. This is a result of a speed measurement by the renowned market research institute GfK. In the same measurement, contact based payments and cash payments took more than twice as long on average.
Currently, contactless girocards are distributed across Germany. By the end of 2018 customers in Germany will possess approximately 55 million contactless girocards. By 2020, there will be approximately 75 million such cards.
Additionally, a growing number of retailers are implementing the technology, thus profiting from more convenience for their customers, faster processing and shorter checkout lines. Among the acceptance partners are retailers such as the supermarket chains REWE, PENNY, Lidl, Aldi Süd and Aldi NORD, EDEKA Hessenring, Norma, Kaufland as well as the toom DIY stores, dm drugstores and ESSO petrol stations.
How to pay contactlessly using your girocard
To pay contactlessly with your girocard, simply look for the corresponding wave logos on your girocard and the retailers payment terminal.
If your girocard can be used contactlessly, it will show the following wave logo, usually close to the chip or in the top right corner on the front:
The retailers’ terminal will show the following logo either printed on the terminal case or in the display:
To make a payment at a participating retailer, simply bring the wave logo on your card together with the wave logo on the terminal. The terminal will beep or light up, when your card was read correctly and show a message when the payment was successfully processed.
Usually, you do not have to enter your PIN for payments up to 25 euros. Nevertheless, as an additional safety measure, from time to time you will still be required to enter your PIN when paying 25 euros or less. Should this be the case, the terminal will display a message.
The following picture shows for various types of payment terminals, how you should hold your card to the terminal:
With your girocard, you can withdraw cash from at around 58.000 ATMs across Germany. Simply insert your card into the ATMs card slot, select the amount you want to withdraw and enter your PIN.
As an additional service, many retailers offer cash withdrawals at their checkouts: When your shopping adds up to 20 euros or more, you can withdraw up to 200 euros from your account. Just tell the cashier that you want to withdraw cash and the amount you want to withdraw. You then pay your shopping plus the sum of your cash, and the cashier hands it to you with your receipt. Cash withdrawals with your girocard at participating retailers are free of charge for you as a customer.
Many girocards are equipped with the prepaid functions GeldKarte (contact-based) or girogo (contactless). If your girocard supports these functions, the according logos will be printed on your card:
In order to use GeldKarte and girogo, the prepaid chip on the card can be loaded with up to 200 euros. After having charged the prepaid chip at your banks ATM or online via geldkarte.de, the prepaid function can be used at more than 420,000 GeldKarte points of acceptance in Germany, for example for car park tickets or in public transport. Just insert your girocard into a card slot and confirm the payment. No further verification – such as entering your PIN or signing the bill – is needed.
If a card has the girogo logo, it can additionally be used for contactless payments up to 25 euros at about 15,000 points of acceptance in Germany, such as supermarkets or retailers. Just hold your card very closely to the terminal and your payment is completed. The girogo shop finder on girogo.de shows, where you can use girogo in your region.
Most girocards are equipped with a Co-Brand (Maestro / VPay / JCB) to secure international acceptance. This allows girocard cardholders to pay electronically and withdraw cash in foreign countries.
Using your girocard and a chip-TAN generator, you can conveniently manage your finances.
Public subsidisations and transfer payments can be granted anonymously with girocard.
Instead of using printed tickets you can save electronic tickets for public transport, parking, events etc. on the girocard.
Identifying employees, limiting entrance to certain areas and recording working time is also possible with girocard.
Storing and redeeming bonus points with girocard is possible in some city-card-programmes
- Ergonomic Study – A recommandation from GBIC download
- Terms and conditions for merchants - Terms and conditions for participation in the electronic cash system of the German Banking Industry Committee download
- Technical Appendix - to the Terms and Conditions for participation in the German Banking Industry Committee's Electronic Cash System download