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What is the best bank account for freelancers?

Written by Tino Keller, Managing Director & Founder of Accountable Germany
Updated on
Read in 5 minutes

If you want to start your own business as a freelancer or self-employed professional in Germany, one of the first decisions will be about your bank account.

Although you don’t have to have a separate business bank account as a freelancer, it’s not advisable to use your private bank account for your business activities. In addition, many banks exclude the business use of a private account, which could lead to a termination of the account in the worst case.

➡️ Why you need a separate bank account!

An advantage of a business bank account is, that having a second account gives you a much better overview of your business income and expenses. A business account also offers additional functions that a private account does not have. The separation between private and business expenses also makes it easier for you to prepare your tax returns. So, get searching, get set, get going!

💡Accountable is the tax solution for self-employed professionals. Download the free app or create an account online. This way, you have your bookkeeping and tax obligations under control right from the start. Get started for free!

To open a business account, you need some documents depending on your type of company. If you are a freelancer and want to open an account, you only need your identity card or passport and the corresponding registration certificate from the residents’ registration office. If you are a Gewerbetreibender (trade person), you also need a Gewerbeanmeldung (business registration), which you can apply for at the Gewerbeamt (trade office).

Just in case that you founded a Kapitalgesellschaft (corporation) or a GbR, all partners have to prove their identity and you also need a shareholder agreement and, if applicable, a current excerpt from the commercial register. This fulfills the formal requirements for opening an account.

Once you have a bank account, it can save you a lot of time and effort if you link your business account to your tax software, like  you can do with Accountable. This way, you can keep track of your account activity and easily create invoices, manage your money, and file tax returns.

Banks that offer business bank account

While there are more banks that offer private account than business bank accounts, you still have a lot of choice here as well. The existing offers can be divided into three groups, each of which has its own advantages and disadvantages. We distinguish between branch banks, online banks and so-called FinTech banks.

Branch Banks for freelancers

At a branch bank, you can open your account in person, present the required documents on-site and be authenticated directly at the bank. You will then have a personal contact person who can help you start your own business, compile the necessary documents and advise you on financial matters, such as applying for subsidies.

Of course, you can also manage your account online at branch banks, and almost every bank now has an app that allows you to check your account balance and the latest transactions at any time. A visit to the branch is then only necessary for matters requiring intensive advice.

Branch banks offer a special advantage if your business generates a lot of cash income or if you need change frequently. You can deposit this conveniently at your bank. However, you pay for this service: Compared to other offers, a business account at a branch bank costs the most. As a rule, you pay a basic fee, transaction costs and other fees depending on use. Nevertheless, it is worth comparing the various offers and account models, as the fee models of the banks can differ significantly.

If you use Accountable for your taxes and bookkeeping, you can for example connect these branch banks:

  • Sparkasse
  • CommerzBank
  • HypoVereinsbank
  • Volksbank
  • UniCredit
  • Deutsche Bank
  • Raiffeisenbank
  • Postbank

Online banks for freelancers

With a bank that operates solely online, you can simply open the account online and identify yourself using the Post-Ident or Video-Ident procedure. Then you have to send the documents required to set up the account by mail. Some providers also offer the option of sending the documents as PDF files by e-mail or uploading them to a portal.

Although online banks do not have physical stores, you can still take advantage of personal advice, e.g., via telephone, e-mail or chat. But there’s a lot of movement here, too, and some banks now offer personal video consulting, which is very close to an in-branch consultation.

Online banks also offer various account models that you can choose from and that contain different fixed fees. Overall, online business accounts are cheaper than comparable branch accounts, but you usually don’t have a personal contact for your affairs.

You can connect these banks with Accountable: 

  • DKB
  • ComDirect
  • ING

FinTech banks for freelancers

When you open your account with a FinTech bank, you usually first have to download the corresponding app and register with the selected bank. The required legitimation is usually carried out via Video-Ident. Other names for a FinTech bank are Neo or Challenger Bank.

The special thing about a business account with a FinTech is the simplification of banking services and, depending on the account chosen, there are practical additional services such as accounting, invoicing, project management and much more. The offerings in this regard are very diverse. So when deciding on an account with a FinTech bank, it is even more important to pay attention to individual needs.

Most FinTech banks offer a free basic business account that you can use for the most necessary payments. As a rule, the entire banking business is handled in an app, and you can contact the bank via email or chat for everything else.

A number of  FinTech banks can be connected to Accountable, for example: 

  • N26
  • Penta
  • Kontist
  • Revolut

Self-employed – which bank is best for me?

Choosing the right bank depends on a variety of factors, like fees and additional costs. If personal service is particularly important to you, then an account at a branch bank could be the right choice.

If you’re comfortable with online banking, an online-only business account could be ideal for you, especially since an online account often costs less than an account managed at a local branch.

Comparatively new are FinTech banks, which offer a classic but completely digital- or in-app bank account with some additional functions, such as invoicing or even accounting.

💡Accountable tip: We’ve put together some questions that may be important for you to consider when deciding on a business account, depending on your personal situation.

Checklist for choosing a business bank account

  • What does the business account cost (basic fee and transaction costs)?
  • Does the bank offer personal advice?
  • Will I be granted an overdraft credit, i.e. can I exceed my credit limit, so that I have more financial flexibility and can also pre-finance large business expenses on occasion?
  • Is financing possible?
  • Will I receive support in applying for subsidies?
  • Does the bank offer payment systems?
  • Is online banking easy to use?
  • Is there an app?
  • How much do transfers abroad cost?

Conclusion: What bank for my freelance situation?

When choosing a business account for freelancers and self-employed persons, you should pay attention to the total costs and not only to the monthly fees. Whether a free bank account for freelancers makes sense depends on your personal requirements. Because the services you need from a business account highly depends on your personal situation, it makes sense to determine which criteria are particularly important to you first and then decide for a type of bank account.

➡️ How to use Accountable tax software with your bank account.

All your taxes. Done.

Just add your invoices. Accountable generates all of your tax returns without mistakes..
Tino Keller, Managing Director & Founder of Accountable Germany
Tino Keller, Managing Director & Founder of Accountable Germany

Tino already built two companies and therefore knows the challenges freelancers face first hand. With Accountable he wants to solve all those challenges related to taxes.
When not working, Tino enjoys a nice Asado with a glass of Malbec as well as celebrating one of the occasional wins of favourite soccer team 1. FC Köln.

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