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A guide to payment methods used by German ecommerce businesses

Payment methods in German Ecommerce

The German ecommerce market is one of the largest in Europe and is growing rapidly. In 2023, the revenue is expected to reach €108.80bn. Thus, the opportunities for ecommerce are huge.

Also, you might be surprised to learn that debit cards and credit cards are off the podium. Three other types of payments are leading the way, and we’ll talk about them in a moment.

So how do ecommerce businesses in Germany take payment? What are the trends and dynamics shaping the industry? We’ll take a look at all of these in this guide.

Online Payment Services

As of June 2023, the most common online payment by type in Germany was online payment services. This is claimed by as many as 68% of respondents.

Online payment services have gained popularity in Germany due to their convenience and security. Germans value efficient and reliable financial transactions, and online payment services offer quick and easy ways to make payments and transfers. 

Also, concerns about data privacy and fraud have led to a preference for secure digital payment methods. Thus, services like PayPal, Amazon Pay, and mobile payment apps have become integral to everyday life. Moreover, 57% of German consumers chose PayPal over competing mobile payment services. 


The German online payment market is also dominated by invoices, which account for 54% of German consumers. As a result, offering this payment method is vital to converting shoppers into buyers.

Invoices rely on the merchant delivering the goods with an invoice. Consumers can try the goods and either return them or pay within a time period, usually 14 or 28 days.

Buyers love it because they aren’t required to pay upfront. They get to try their goods first and decide if they like them enough to pay for them. There is no requirement to enter sensitive data into an online portal and the speed of purchasing is also improved because only an address needs to be inputted.

Many third-party services operate within the open invoice structure, allowing consumers to manage their invoices and payments through their portals.

The downside for merchants is that returns of goods are high.

Direct Debit

Direct debit closes the podium with 48% of the votes. This method is popular in online payments as it offers a high level of convenience and allows users to automate recurring payments. It reduces the need for manual payments and simplifies financial management.

Also, direct debit is cost-effective for businesses, as it minimizes transaction fees compared to credit card payments.  Moreover, it’s considered a secure payment method because it requires authorization.

As direct debit is widely accepted, it’s a versatile option for various online services and transactions, further contributing to its popularity.

Debit Card

As we mentioned, outside the sub-niche are debit cards with a score of 38%. Despite this, debit cards are still frequently used, enjoying convenience and financial control. They are widely accepted, making them versatile for a variety of transactions. 

The Girocard (Germany’s counterpart to a debit card)card) processed 6.7 billion transactions in 2022, an increase of 13% over the year. Furthermore, 64% of Girocard transactions in 2021 were contactless.

Debit cards provide instant access to funds in a linked bank account, eliminating the need for potential debt. In addition, they are available to a wide range of people, including those with no credit history.

Credit Card

Credit card usage remains uncommon in the German economy due to factors like internet constraints and a conservative approach to spending. Many Germans prefer to avoid debt and value financial responsibility, which makes debit cards and direct debits more appealing. 

Concerns about accumulating interest and fees also deter some from using credit cards. As a result, Germans often favor payment methods that allow them to spend within their means and avoid credit-related financial risks.

Despite these trends, the German cards market reached a value of $478.80 billion in 2022 and is projected to grow at a 5% CAGR from 2022 to 2026. 

Prominent credit card brands include VISA and Mastercard.

Prepaid Cards/Vouchers

Prepaid cards and vouchers, while less popular than other payment methods, have still garnered attention in Germany, with 25% of German consumers opting for them. 

These payment options offer a degree of financial control, allowing users to load a specific amount of money onto the card or voucher for future use. They are often favored for budgeting purposes and for those who wish to avoid credit-related risks. 

While prepaid cards and vouchers may not be as widespread as other payment methods, their popularity suggests that Germans appreciate flexibility and financial planning in their transactions.

Cash in Advance/on Delivery

Cash in advance and cash on delivery represent even rarer payment methods in the German payment landscape, chosen by 20% and 8% of consumers, respectively. These methods reflect a conservative and cautious approach to online and offline purchases. 

Cash in advance involves paying for goods or services before receiving them, emphasizing trust and reliability in the seller. Cash on delivery, on the other hand, allows customers to inspect items before paying, mitigating concerns about fraud or product quality. 

These payment options cater to the diverse preferences of German consumers and are also chosen, although cash on delivery is less common.

5% of respondents didn’t choose any method from the above – 3% of German consumers say they haven’t conducted any payments online and 2% use other options.

What Does This Mean For You?

Germany has possibly one of the most diverse payment landscapes, and online payments have become an integral part of daily life in Germany, driven by a combination of factors such as convenience, security, and trust in digital transactions. 

Online payment services and invoices stand out as the most popular choices, reflecting the nation’s growing embrace of digital transactions. Direct debit follows closely. Then we have debit cards and credit cards with almost the same score. Prepaid cards and vouchers appeal to those who prioritize budgeting, and cash in advance and cash on delivery serve as alternatives.

Your payment method needs to suit your business, so factor this in from the start, whether you’re setting up your own new business or buying a business that already exists. Consider offering all forms of payment; the more methods you provide to your customer, the more likely they are to convert.

And lastly, know your market. German consumers are conscientious buyers: they compare, shop around, and they’re well-prepared. They don’t often act on impulse. If you don’t offer a payment service they use, why would they choose to shop with you?

Capitalize on the Opportunities

The opportunities are huge in the German ecommerce market. With a significant growth potential and increasing use of online payment services, there has never been a better opportunity to offer your services and products to German consumers.

To make the most of your venture, take the time to research and invest in offering as many payment options to your customers as possible.

If you do, the likelihood of customers converting increases as does your platform for growth in this exciting market.

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About the author:

Patrick Foster is an ecommerce expert and writer from Ecommerce Tips — an industry-leading ecommerce blog that shares the latest insights from the sector, spanning everything from product development to business growth hacks. Check out the latest posts on Twitter @myecommercetips.