Girocard is a German equivalent of a bank-issued debit card using which you can withdraw cash from ATMs and pay cashlessly at point-of-sale (POS) terminals. In order to ensure that these cards can also be used abroad, it is co-branded with Mastercard (Maestro), Visa (V-Pay) or JCB. Previously known as EC-Karte, the terms girocard and EC card are often used synonymously.
Since it is a debit card, payments and cash withdrawals using Girocard are immediately debited directly from your account. Girocard is a standard card issued with a German bank account. Read more information on a German bank account.
Girocard features demystified
Each bank has a slightly different format for the design of a girocard, but mostly have these features shown using an example of a Sparkasse girocard.
1: Your IBAN number
The IBAN is your account number which is standardized European account information used for SEPA bank transfers within the EU.
All modern Girocard come with a chip for security reasons where you are required to enter your four-digit pin when paying. The new cards also have a “contactless” symbol so you can pay quickly without entering the PIN.
3: The Maestro/V-Pay logo
Girocards are cobranded either with Maestro or V-Pay so that it is accepted worldwide.
4: The girocard logo
You can identify a Girocard with the Girocard logo on the debit card.
5: Validity date
At the time stated on your card, you will automatically receive a new card.
6: Emergency blocking number
If your card is lost, you can call the emergency number 116 116 anytime to block your card. Read more: How to block your card in Germany?
7: The signature field
If you have received a new Sparkassen Card, sign it on the strip.
8: The card number
If you have multiple girocards for the same bank account, you can differentiate the cards using this card number.
Credit institutions worldwide can be clearly identified via the BIC. The BIC is composed of eight or eleven alphanumeric characters.
10: Girogo and the GeldKarte
This symbol stands for the GeldKarten function. With the GeldKarte chip of your girocard, you can top-up the chip with cash and then pay on machines which accept chip payment. Unlike debit card payment, the chip function of GeldKarte technology does not need internet connectivity. This is especially useful for paying small amounts (tickets, parking fees, cigarettes, etc.) on machines that support the GeldKarte technology.
Note: The credit on your GeldKarte chip is like cash. If you lose your card, the chip balance is also lost. If you want to unload the money from your chip, you can do it at the ATM as well.
11: The EUFISERV Logo
Via EUFISERV, you use your Card to transact transactions in the European ATM network.
12: The magnetic strip
ATMs and some card terminals read your card through the magnetic strip.