EC card and credit card? Both good – but one better?

Germans love their EC card, which has actually long been called Girocard. Almost everyone has one. The credit card, on the other hand, is at best the substitute solution for many. But why is that? Many a prejudice against the credit card turns out to be false on closer inspection. Moreover, a credit card offers many advantages. The KlarMacher have taken a closer look.

Liquid until the end of the world

“The world speaks Visa” is a popular slogan. And indeed: Over three billion Visa cards have been issued so far. World record. In about 50 million shops and stores around the globe, you can pay with the brand’s plastic money. From South America to Africa to the Far East.

The Girocard – until 2007 officially an “EC card” – cannot keep up. It is actually a purely German system. To make it work abroad, banks have to combine it with a credit card system – usually V-Pay (from Visa) or Maestro (from Mastercard). Only in this way is it possible to use the Girocard outside Germany – if a merchant accepts one of these two payment systems.

Otherwise, you are on the safe side with your credit card abroad – and often it is almost obligatory. For example, if you want to rent a car. A Girocard or cash as a deposit? Usually almost impossible. Paying with Girocard in the USA? You would probably have a better chance with Monopoly money.

Th disposition can wait

If you pay with your Girocard, the money is debited directly from your current account. And when the tide is out? No problem, you have a disposition, officially called a disposition frame. The catch: If you overdraw your account in this way, high interest rates are due. Until you have balanced it out, the borrowed money will cost you dearly.

With a credit card, the name says it all. With this you pay without your account being charged immediately. So you get credit in the truest sense of the word. (You can read more about this in the article “Who actually pays what here” or: How does a credit card work?) And it is interest-free until the agreed repayment date. So if you are liquid again in time and balance your credit card account, it won’t cost you a tired cent.

Online shops are online on credit cards

No question: As a substitute for cash in supermarkets and the like, the Girocard is extremely practical in Germany. It is accepted almost everywhere, its use costs nothing, and with some of them you can already pay contactlessly via NFC.

In the virtual worlds of the Internet, things look different. Often you can do little with the Girocard. If you want to pay by direct debit from your giro account, the merchant must offer a corresponding payment system such as giropay, paydirect or instant bank transfer.

A credit card, on the other hand, is as natural for an online shop as the amen in church. What’s more, you can get your order even faster. Because when using a credit card, the merchant receives a payment guarantee from the credit card company. Because he receives his money safely, he can execute the order immediately and ship the goods. With Girocard, this guarantee is only available if the merchant requires the entry of a PIN. However, he has to pay fees to the network operator for this. Otherwise, he will not send your goods until your money has been credited to his merchant account – the package to the credit card user is already on its way.

More ATMs, fewer fees with Visa credit cards

You want to hold good old-fashioned cash in your hand? Then off to the ATM and pull out a few bills. This is almost always possible with the Girocard and in many cases also with the credit card. At the machine, symbols reveal which card systems it accepts.

With a Girocard, withdrawing money is free of charge if the machine belongs to the bank from which you got the Girocard. Some banks have also joined an association, for example the Cash Group (Deutsche Bank, HypoVereinsbank, Commerzbank, Postbank). The savings banks are part of a separate association. The advantage for you is that you can use any ATM of your bank’s network free of charge. But be careful: If the machine belongs to another banking group, you may incur substantial fees, usually as a percentage of the amount paid out or as a lump sum. The fee information is available at the machine.

If you have a credit card, you have a wider choice of machines from which you can withdraw money free of charge – at least with a Visa card. This is because Visa requires ATM operators not to charge customers of other banks any fees. If the credit card provider does not charge any fees either, you can get cash almost everywhere free of charge.

By the way: You can withdraw money free of charge with a Visa card with both credit cards of the Hanseatic Bank.

Mastercard leaves the question of fees to the vending machine operators, which is why there are extra charges, especially at some savings banks.