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What is a Maestro card?
All debit cards with the red and blue Maestro logo can be called Maestro cards. They enable you to withdraw cash and make contactless payments at machines and point-of-sale terminals that also bear the Maestro logo.
Only a few banks in Germany issue cards that only support Maestro. The typical Maestro card is a girocard (EC card) which, in addition to the girocard logo, also bears the Maestro symbol.
The advantage of Maestro: use abroad
A debit card with Maestro function offers the same functions as a Girocard. Many card users therefore wonder why their bank card is also equipped with the Maestro function. The advantage is that the cardholder can also use it to withdraw money abroad and make cashless payments. So if you are planning a long-haul trip, you would be well advised to have a Maestro card, but you should speak to your bank beforehand. Sometimes this function is restricted for security reasons, but can then be activated for the respective travel destination.
Maestro, Girocard and V-Pay in comparison
A simple girocard is the debit payment system of the Deutsche Kreditwirtschaft and is only suitable for domestic payments and cash withdrawals. In order for it to work in other European countries, it must either be equipped with Maestro, the debit system of the credit card company MasterCard, or V-Pay from Visa. In contrast to V-Pay, Maestro also works outside of Europe and has points of acceptance worldwide, regardless of whether payments are made in one country with euros or another currency.
Withdraw money with the Maestro card and make cashless payments
Withdrawing money with a bank card with Maestro function works in the same way as with a simple giro card and is just as secure.
Maestro card users need the four-digit PIN provided by the bank to withdraw money from an ATM or to make cashless payments in a shop. This PIN can never be found on the card itself. Cardholders should ideally just memorize the PIN or at least keep it separate from the Maestro card.
Maestro card fees
The issuing bank determines the fees for issuing a card with Maestro function. However, many banks waive the monthly or annual account management fee. Withdrawal of money at the ATMs of the house bank is usually also free of charge. However, there may be fees at ATMs from other banks - for example abroad, but also in Germany. Before traveling, it is therefore worth checking with your bank whether they have cooperation agreements with certain banks in the country of travel. In this case, the withdrawal fees are lower or even waived for the customer. If this is not the case, it might be worth ordering a credit card for the trip abroad.
By the way, businesses also benefit from Maestro: Cashless payment transactions that customers process using Maestro usually incur lower costs than credit card payments. This is why restaurants and shops sometimes accept Maestro cards but not credit cards.
Maestro and MasterCard: the difference
The main difference between a MasterCard credit card and a debit card with Maestro functionality lies in the settlement of purchases and withdrawals. In the case of a credit card, this runs through the credit card company, which in effect grants the customer a credit until the credit card statement. When paying via Maestro, however, the money is debited directly from a current account, as is the case with other debit cards.
With a Maestro card, the customer does not receive any credit. If the current account linked to the card does not have enough credit, payment will be refused. Therefore, Maestro cannot replace a credit card: If you want to book a hotel or rental car, you usually need a credit card. With a Girocard with Maestro function, users can usually not pay online.
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Some banks also offer a Debit MasterCard. This is also a debit card, but customers can use it to pay online. It is not combined with the Girocard.
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