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A woman at the ATM: The credit lines have risen on average

Photo: Angelika Warmuth / dpa

The interest rates of credit institutions in Germany have recently risen sharply. In May, bank customers who overdrew their current account paid an average of 11.22 percent interest, according to Stiftung Warentest. A year ago, it was 9.43 percent.

The testers regularly examine the overdraft interest rates of all banks in Germany – i.e. a total of 1127 financial institutions. According to the new results, the amount of overdraft interest varies greatly from bank to bank. In one of its models, the cheapest bank does not charge any fees at all if the account is overdrawn, the most expensive 16.46 percent.

(Read a guide on how to avoid or get out of the expensive interest rates here.)

Testers complain about lack of transparency

Stiftung Warentest classifies credit lines that cost more than 15.25 percent as "too expensive". The testers often criticized the banks' non-transparent information policy. "Instead of simply stating the applicable overdraft interest rate, they indicate, for example, which reference interest rate they are referring to and by how many percentage points the overdraft interest is more expensive," it said. Customers would then have to do their own research and calculations, which would be "silly and annoying".

However, the testers pointed out that when choosing an account, not only overdraft interest, but above all the account fees should be taken into account. "A current account should not cost more than 60 euros a year," it said. This criterion was met by 77 out of 450 accounts in a separate current account analysis.