Why your bank may not help you if you pay by ec-card and PIN

Laptop with card reader - ©Can Stock Photo Inc. / MultiartOne of the most popular ways of paying for things  in shops in Germany is by ec-card – a standardised debit card that is issued by most banks and accepted by most shops. The card, which has a both a magnetic strip and a chip on it, generally comes with a PIN and you enter the PIN when paying to confirm the transaction, although some older card readers still require you to sign a slip of paper instead.

The money is debited from your bank account in a similar way to a direct debit (“Lastschrift”), but the similarity stops here. Because whereas a direct debit can be reversed within 6 weeks, I recently found out that such protection is not offered when paying by PIN. [Read more…]

Why you need a VB-Nummer to register a car

FahrzeugscheinI’ve talked before about how the process of buying and registering a car in Germany.

Since I recorded that podcast there has been a change in the way that the insurance works, as I found out when I changed my car last year.

One of the best things about the German registration system is that you must arrange insurance for the car before you go to the Zulassungsstelle to register it.  If you do not, then you will either not receive any number plates to put on the car, or at the very least they will not have valid stickers on them, making uninsured cars very easy to spot on German roads. [Read more…]

Leasing a car in Germany (and why you might want to)

Ford FocusMany companies in Germany who provide their employees with company cars do not actually buy the cars outright, instead they prefer to lease them and my company car is no exception.

By leasing the car, I pay a monthly fee to a leasing company, often a bank, who have purchased the vehicle from my usual dealer.  That fee allows me to drive the car up to an agreed number of kilometres each year.

And when the lease runs out, I just return the car to the dealer and can lease a new one.

Buy why not buy the car outright as a business and then sell it again later? [Read more…]

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