Freelancers tend to work flexible hours and liberally mix their business and leisure time. All too often, the same goes for their finances. Keeping things separate with a business account can make things easier with less time spent on bookkeeping and administration. We’ll introduce you to the best banks for freelancers in Germany.
The benefits of a business account when freelancing
When you’re self-employed or working freelance in Germany, you’re not obliged to keep a separate business account. You can give clients the details to your regular account and receive funds into your “Girokonto”. Since your rent and other expenses are likely charged to this account, it can be a convenient arrangement. Though many online or neobanks offer free banking, having only one account for private and business funds might appear a cheaper or simpler option.
However, you need to pay taxes on your income as a freelancer in Germany and it’s your responsibility to set aside enough savings throughout the year. That burden becomes more difficult with the lack of transparency when mixing private and business transfers in your account.
A separate business account can help you simplify your bookkeeping and taxes because all transactions are part of your profit and loss account. Several banks for freelancers also integrate with existing bookkeeping tools or software. If you have an accountant or tax advisor, you can forward your bank statements to them without worrying about private transactions.
Top banks for freelancers in Germany
Regardless of which bank you already use and what kind of account you have, you could always get another (free) “Girokonto” with any bank and use that for your business. But since many banks offer extras for freelancers, we’ve done a comparison of the best business accounts for freelancers.
The Berlin startup Kontist offers an account from Solarisbank paired with an easy-to-use smartphone and web app. The clou are the integrated bookkeeping and tax services. You can select from various tiers: their free model gives you a virtual card for smartphone payments, account statements and transfers. The other two options add features such as accounting integration with Lexoffice, Debitoor or Fastbill, data export and automatic categorisation of your transfers. Kontist can calculate how much tax and VAT you owe and set aside the amount due. For a premium, you can use the bookkeeping software Lexoffice or contract the tax services of Kontist and have them do your bookkeeping and taxes for you. This will significantly reduce the time you spent on the administration of your business.
Holvi is another fintech startup which specifically targets the self-employed with online and smartphone banking and integrated bookkeeping features. You can write your invoices directly through their platform, collect your receipts digitally and create financial reports. Team members or your tax advisor can access your data if needed and you can issue up to three cards for the account. Holvi includes Lexoffice integration and the software is free for 12 months for your newly-founded business.
The German neobank N26 offers four different business account models, the most basic of which is available for free. Premium features include travel insurance, lifestyle insurance, sub-accounts for sharing and saving and partner offers. N26 does not offer any bookkeeping features itself. However, it’s one of the few German banks which can connect to an external accounting service such as Accountable thanks to the open banking standard. If you establish the connection, all your transfers appear automatically in Accountable.
If you plan on growing your business into a startup or full-fledged company, Penta is the account to get. You can use it as a freelance business account, but also as a corporate account for a commercially registered business. Company cards, sub-accounts, mobile app, business loans and accounting integration are part of the features on offer.
A Pleo business account starts with the essentials for expenses and accounting and adds two more premium tiers if you need more flexibility or a personal account manager. You get a virtual and plastic card, digital categorisation of your receipts and a smart receipt finder for your email inbox. The platform integrates with many accounting solutions and is especially useful if you have a lot of individual business expenses.
Qonto starts with a basic service for freelancers, but your account can grow at the same time as your business with features and services for startups and SMBs as well. You can have your choice of German, French, Italian or Spanish IBAN, which can be beneficial when accepting payments from these countries. Premium features include additional members, multi-accounts, automatic accounting and extra cards.
Fyrst offers a free business account as well as a premium service. Features include business loans, international transfers and factoring, which means selling the debt a client has to you in order to obtain instant cash. The Fyrst platform is available as a web and smartphone app and integrates with SevDesk, Lexoffice or Sage accounting tools. The service is provided by Deutsche Bank. Unfortunately, there is no English language option yet.
Want to know more about being self-employed in Germany? Here’s how much you can earn as a freelancer in the country.