The Maestro logo used to belong to the Girocard, the former EC card. Maestro is now gradually being converted to the international payment system of Mastercard and Visa. What to consider.
Some customers of German banks and savings banks are unsettled. Because from July 1st, the usual Maestro logo will no longer be emblazoned on the front of many new giro cards – the former EC cards. Oliver Hommel from Euro Kartensysteme in Frankfurt, the joint venture of the German banks and savings banks that takes care of the possible uses of the Girocard throughout Europe, sees no reason to get excited: “The existing cards remain valid until the expiry date and can still be used.”
The German Girocard has never worked abroad: it was and is dependent on an additional function. So far, Mastercard has made this feature possible with the Maestro system. The fact that the Maestro system will gradually no longer be used from July 1 is a decision made by the Mastercard company, not one of the German banks and savings banks. The US payment service provider is unifying its international business.
Not all banks are switching on July 1st
But that doesn’t seem to work very smoothly. Contrary to what was originally planned, not all banks will switch from July 1st. According to Tanja Beller from the Association of German Banks, she has no overview of which financial institutions are still issuing cards with a Maestro function despite the deadline. Mastercard confirmed on BR-Request, “In the case of technical challenges, we find migration plans together with our partners, which can also include transition periods in individual cases”.
The savings banks, at least, are getting down to business: starting July 1st it “Only the new savings bank cards are available, which are a combination of a girocard and a debit card from Mastercard or Visa,” according to the German Savings Banks and Giro Association.
Debit card is not a credit card
Regardless of the specific date in a bank’s individual case – it is irreversible: giro cards are equipped with the international debit system from Mastercard. Visa already offers this with the VPay system. The international function of Visa and Mastercard applies to the Girocard itself – as a so-called co-badge – or to new debit cards from US companies. Many German direct banks now issue them.
The following applies to both systems: The current account is immediately debited with the payment, whether when shopping in a shop or withdrawing money from an ATM. It is different with a credit card: Here, the checking account is usually only debited once a month.
Almost all giro cards can be used abroad
Tanja Beller makes it clear that it is only an exchange of the so-called acceptance marks: “The rule applies to the customer: If I find the logo on my card abroad at an ATM or at an electronic cash register, then I can use it there .”
However, problems can arise abroad with a newly issued card, warns Stephanie Heise from the North Rhine-Westphalia consumer advice center in an interview with the Bavarian radio: “With Girocards without any Maestro or VPay function: These can then no longer be used to pay abroad.”
Domestic problems with debit cards possible
Conversely, many retailers in Germany are rejecting the new Visa and Mastercard debit cards, which do not have a giro function. This happens when the business in question does not accept Visa or Mastercard credit cards either. As a reason, retailers point to higher costs than with the Girocard.
Whether on holiday or at home – there will be other possible uses for the giro card with a Visa or Mastercard debit function, explains Oliver Hommel: “What is definitely a change: With these combination cards consisting of a Girocard and an international debit card, the customer also has the option of using the card online, on the Internet.”
difficulties at the rental car
According to consumer advocate Stefanie Heise, many car rental companies abroad would not accept either the new debit cards with the Visa or Mastercard logo or a German Girocard for the deposit when picking up a rental car. A real credit card is usually required here.
Vacationers shouldn’t rely on every shop or hotel accepting the old or new giro card. It is therefore advisable to also put a conventional credit card in your holiday wallet.