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Withdraw money abroad: goodbye to freedom

S.o Freedom was once spelled out among young people: the Interrail ticket for a journey by train across Europe in a shirt pocket and in a worn rucksack, well hidden, the postal savings account. That was in the 1980s, and that’s how a whole generation got to know the continent. The budget was tight, but it could be topped up a bit at any time with the blue booklet. Because it had the unheard-of advantage that customers could easily withdraw money from post offices in Europe far and wide, without special fees and often at a favorable exchange rate. A savings account with postmarks in it, with which the payment transactions were notarized: That was strange, even then, but above all it was incredibly practical.

Now this story ends. That is, in the literal sense of the word, it was decades ago. At the end of the nineties, Postbank wanted nothing more to do with the good old postal savings account, the history of which went back to before the Second World War. But in Postbank’s always clear product portfolio, there was the successor to the Sparcard, blue like the old postal savings book and like its predecessor with the great advantage that it could be used to withdraw money free of charge abroad, now even worldwide, at thousands, even tens of thousands of machines . For many years this was allowed ten times a year per card, and in the end only four times. But with two such cards, which were easy to obtain, you could get quite a long way on one or two flights a year to distant continents.

That’ll be over soon. Postbank, which has long been part of the Deutsche Bank Group, announced: From February 2021 onwards, each withdrawal abroad will cost 5.99 euros. Unfortunately, the costs for withdrawing from foreign ATMs are so high that it is no longer possible free of charge, a spokesman said, and suggests that even just under six euros do not cover all of the bank’s costs. The customer can therefore consider himself lucky that it has not become even more expensive.

Have a lot of patience with the credit interest

Be that as it may, in February the freedom that began with the legendary postal savings account, which was advertised in the 1950s with the slogan “Carefree into the distance”, ends in February with its postmarks, like those on postage stamps landed, even interested philatelists and in retrospect was a nice proof of where a trip had led. The Sparcard or Sparcard Direkt, as it is now called, has lost its greatest attraction with the elimination of free withdrawals in the distance.

The Postbank spokesman bravely says that in Germany everything will remain as it has been before, here there is no cost to use the machine and the card is also a good way of achieving savings. But for this you have to be very, very patient with a credit interest rate of 0.01 percent.

Withdrawing money abroad without paying money yourself has become really difficult, because there are also less and less inexpensive credit cards that include this in the price. The limitless freedom with the postal savings book in the backpack, to which the generous grandmother had quickly paid one or two hundred marks for the grandson before the trip, so that he does not end up starving in a rocky hotel on some Mediterranean coast, will not come back anyway .

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