If you are staying in Germany for an extended period, are receiving a regular salary or fellowship, and have to pay rent, it is a good idea to open a cheque/checking account at a bank at the earliest opportunity. You can open a current account at a bank or “Sparkasse” (savings bank). To do so, you will need to present your passport or identity card and a confirmation from the “Einwohnermeldeamt” (Residents’ Registration Office) that you are a registered resident. Some banks will also require you to present your residence permit from the “Ausländerbehörde” (local Immigration Office). There are hardly any differences between the banks in respect of the services they offer, but there are differences in the charges you have to pay, so you should be sure to check in advance. You will be issued with a debit card called a “EuroCheque-Karte” ("EC card") for your bank account, which will allow you to withdraw cash from a cashpoint (ATM). This service is free if you use cashpoints belonging to your own bank but incurs charges if the cashpoints are maintained by other banks.
Transferring money internationally can be expensive. You should enquire about the conditions at your own bank at home in advance and possibly choose a bank in Germany that cooperates with your bank at home.
Besides cash, most shops, restaurants and firms accept debit and credit cards. Smaller sums, for example in cafés, are usually paid in cash.