Who is a credit account suitable for?
A credit account is primarily intended for customers who banks refuse to open a normal account. The reason for this is in most cases a negative Credit Bureau information. The accounts of underage customers are mostly kept as credit accounts, because any outstanding debts could hardly be collected for legal reasons.
What are the advantages of a credit account?
A credit account offers no advantages over a normal current account. With the exception of a very special case, in which theoretically, you can “seize into the overdraft facility”. However, this does not matter for typical private customers. However, if you cannot open a current account, you benefit greatly from a credit account. Without an account, it is often not possible to conclude a contract of employment or a lease. The credit account therefore prevents a fatal downward spiral from starting with the loss of the account.
Is there a right to a credit account?
A legal obligation to open a credit account exists only in some federal states for the savings banks. The banks in Germany have signed a voluntary declaration to enable everyone to open a credit account, but in practice not all banks adhere to it. In theory, you can insist on opening a credit account at any bank of your choice. In practice, you will surely make your life easier if you choose one of the banks that offer this procedure on its own.
Note: The European Parliament passed a general legal claim to a credit account in 2014. Germany and the other member countries have two years to implement this decision in national laws. Soon there will also be a formal legal claim.
Can the bank cancel a credit account?
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Despite the voluntary commitment, termination is possible if the behavior of the customer justifies it. This is the case, for example, if the account no longer fulfills its purpose because it has not been used for a long period of time or the account is permanently blocked by a garnishment, or if the account is used for illegal business. Aggressive or inappropriate behavior towards employees or other customers of the bank can also lead to termination.
The connection with the garnishment protection account
In theory, garnishment protection and credit accounts are two completely different account types that have nothing to do with each other. In practice, however, banks usually convert current accounts into credit accounts when the customer requests the conversion to a garnishment protection account. When you should do that is another matter! At this point, only this note is important: the conversion does not take place automatically, so the bank must terminate an existing overdraft facility by observing the relevant period.
Myths and half-truths
There is some misinformation circulating about credit accounts that persists on the Internet. The first thing that is wrong is that a credit account is recognizable as such to outsiders. Nor is it generally free of charge. The contrary rumor that credit accounts are particularly expensive is also not correct. Another myth is that no EC cards are issued for credit accounts. There are also a few individual cases in which banks have decided to do so for special reasons. And the information that the holders of credit accounts must be reported by the banks to a place where they are recorded centrally is also incorrect. The latter only applies to garnishment protection accounts in order to prevent someone from opening several of these accounts and thus using the garnishment allowance multiple times.