I should start by mentioning that the cash culture here in Germany still puzzles me. I find it terribly inconvenient to have to constantly run to the bank for more cash, and I am much better at tracking (and cutting back on) my expenses when I use plastic. I am the kind of person who will always use a credit card to pay for a purchase but never spend money I don’t have. When I have cash in hand, though, it just seems to fly away from me.
That said, I absolutely LOVE the banking system here in Germany. In particular, I love the ubiquity of bank transfers. No more writing and mailing a check to my landlord each month, or mailing out a check for my various bills. I just make a bank transfer.
Sure, this is becoming more common in the US: I paid my phone bill, my credit card bill, and my internet bill online. However, bank transfers to other people are still not really done. (I actually just read an article about person-to-person bank transfers becoming a more popular idea in the US, although I can’t find the link to it now.) This was one of the most frustrating parts of running a freelance business in the US. What a pain to handle all those checks when a direct transfer would be much simpler—thank goodness for my clients who use direct deposit!
I am also thankful that my bank has its entire online banking interface available in English. At some point I hope my German is good enough to take care of money matters in German, but for now I am happy that I won’t mess up something this critical because of a misunderstanding!