The Briefing

The difference between debit and EC cards

And why EC cards will be abolished in 2023

Loads of people in Germany still use EC cards — also known as giro cards — but they’re so old school that they’re set to be scrapped in 2023. If you need more reasons to switch, here's a list of why debit cards are just better.

May 19, 2022
Reading time 2 min.

Why do I care?

Not sure if you still have an EC card? You’ll recognize it by the IBAN on the front, and the fact that you can't use it to pay online often. These cards are set to be scrapped in 2023, so now is a good time to get familiar with the alternative: debit cards!

What exactly is happening here?

The EC card is so German

EC cards are a completely German thing. No other countries have them!

At the moment, EC cards — which have an IBAN plus a V-Pay or Maestro sign — can be used to withdraw money and pay in restaurants, but you often can’t use them to shop online.

In June 2023, the Maestro and V-Pay function will start to be discontinued. This means that at some point withdrawing cash, or paying abroad with your EC card will no longer be possible. The outcome? You’re going to need a debit card!

Debit card replaces EC card.

Debit cards are so-called because every transaction is debited in real time - they are linked to a current account. Okay, that goes for girocards too, but, there are two big advantages to having a debit card:

First off, you can make online purchases with debit cards. Instead of having an IBAN on the front, they have a credit card number on the back. That means you can use it to shop online without having to use a traditional credit card with a credit limit. You can also pay via Paypal with your debit card.  

Secondly, you can use a debit card to withdraw cash or pay for things almost anywhere in the world, because Visa/Mastercard is accepted in over 200 countries.

But what about that important IBAN?

If you're thinking to yourself, "but I need my IBAN to get my salary," then rest assured: you do get an IBAN with your debit card — and it’s easy to find in your banking app.

Once you open your OWWN account, you don't have to wait for a physical card to arrive in the mail; you’ll be able to start making transactions right away with a virtual card. This virtual card also means that forgetting your wallet won’t ever be a big drama — you’ll always have a payment option as your virtual card will always be connected to your current phone or smartwatch.

And, there’s one other important benefit: Virtual cards are more sustainable — they have a much lower carbon footprint than physical cards.

What does this mean for me?

If you still have an EC card, or even a couple of cards — an EC card and a traditional credit card — then now might be a good time to consider combining everything into one simple virtual debit card.

The advantages of debit cards really do outweigh any disadvantages! They’re great if you travel a lot, want to manage your money flexibly, and shop online.

PS: Have you seen our neww card designs yet? You can choose your OWWN virtual card in our banking app and immediately see how well a debit card works for you.

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