Can money transfers be tracked?

What to consider when making large transfers

Do you need an above-average amount of cash or do you want to transfer a larger sum of money to pay for a purchase? Basically no problem, but you should pay attention to important details in order to avoid fee traps, waiting times and unpopular surprises.

In the case of a bank transfer, a distinction must be made between a SEPA transfer (SEPA = Single Euro Payment Area) within the euro area and a money transfer to non-EU countries.

"Transfers within the EU are usually unproblematic. Thanks to SEPA, even large transfers can be carried out quickly and relatively cheaply," says Thomas Mai, financial expert at the Bremen Consumer Center.

For a transfer within the European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area (EEA), since the introduction of SEPA, consumers now need the international account identifier IBAN and BIC (instead of the previous account number and bank code). They identify the respective sender and recipient bank.

The IBAN (International Bank Account Number) consists of the country code, bank code and account number. The BIC (Business Identifier Code) is made up of the abbreviation for the bank, the country code and a combination of letters for the branch.

According to financial expert Mai, consumers should make sure that the IBAN numbers, BIC code and the name of the account holder are correct so that there are no incorrect postings. Because that would mean loss of interest, especially with large amounts. If payment is not made on time, interest on arrears would even become due.

If consumers transfer money to an account outside the EU and the EEA, high fees are usually charged. In some cases, transfer fees of up to ten percent of the transfer amount may be incurred.

Also read:Incorrect transfer - how to get your money back

Uniform regulation in the EU

The cross-border buying and selling of goods and services on the Internet is increasing steadily. The majority of intra-European payments are cashless. With the changeover to SEPA, payment transactions in the EU and EEA were harmonized through uniform payment transaction products such as credit transfers and direct debits. Since then, making cashless euro payments has become easier, faster and cheaper. It is possible for consumers and companies to process all of their euro payment transactions via an account with any European bank. Another contribution to European integration.

Under EU law, the SEPA fees must be the same in all Member States for the bank making the transfer. If you make a SEPA transfer online or at a bank terminal, there are usually no separate fees - in contrast to paper transfer slips that you hand in at the counter.

Pay attention to the conditions of the recipient bank

Find out about the conditions of the recipient bank, because some institutions only accept SEPA transfers up to a minimum amount and also charge extra commissions, which can vary depending on the amount.

"Before making the transfer abroad, customers should clarify with the recipient how to deal with the transfer fees incurred," says Axel Bäumer, press spokesman for Targobank, and gives another example: A father transfers a sum of money to the USA with the school fees for Accordingly, the amount should arrive at the recipient without any deductions. In this case, it is recommended that the person making the transfer pays all transaction fees incurred for the money transfer in advance. This is a so-called OUR transfer (sender pays costs After determining the costs that have become necessary, an invoice will be issued.

"But if you want to pay for a holiday home abroad, for example, it is advisable to split the costs between the sender and recipient, which is regulated by the addition SHA for" Share ". The customer only pays the costs for the outgoing transfer at his bank while the recipient - in this case the landlord - bears the costs incurred ”, continues Bäumer.

  • Biallo tip: Find out in good time what costs you should expect from your bank or savings bank. The fees depend not only on the institute, but also on the destination country and the transfer fee.

The SEPA countries include the 28 EU member states, the three EEA states Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein as well as Switzerland and Monaco.

With SEPA, payment transactions in the euro currency are standardized between these countries. This not only creates a better overview, but also creates considerable added value for companies and banks. The SEPA countries without euro currency have to adhere to the competitive conditions of the euro payment area. However, a special situation applies to Switzerland and Monaco, as these states are bound by the SEPA regulations, but not by the EU regulations and directives.

However, the SEPA procedure is not only relevant for cross-border payments, it is also the only system in Germany for national payment transactions.

Also read: Transfer abroad cheaply

Large transfers to non-EU countries: compare fees

Especially for international transfers outside the SEPA area, the fees differ quite drastically among the institutions and it can sometimes be really expensive. It is therefore worth making a comparison between the house bank and online providers such as Azimo, Moneygram or Worldremit, which can be more attractive for transfers overseas.

Specialized institutes such as Western Union can also be an alternative. With the US provider for worldwide cash transfers, you can pay the desired amount by credit card, bank or instant transfer or in cash. The recipient can then pick up the money at the targeted Western Union branch or have the amount transferred to their bank account. An uncomplicated alternative to conventional transfers. With this method, for example, a cash transfer of 1,000 euros to the USA costs a fee of 11.90 euros if the recipient also picks up the money in cash. It will be cheaper if the recipient has the amount credited to their bank account straight away. Then there is only a fee of 2.90 euros.

When it comes to online transfers, many people think of PayPal. However, there is a limit of 2,500 euros, which you can cancel in your account. On your personal start page you have to press the button under 'Information about your PayPal account''Open Limits' and follow the instructions.

Keyword fees: If you transfer money in euros via Paypal, you do not pay any extra costs. Fees will only be charged if the transfer is made in a foreign currency. The amount depends on the currency, recipient country and payment method.

also read: International transfers in foreign currencies - Fintechs are the cheapest

PSD2 directive strengthens the rights of bank customers

The Second Payment Services Directive PSD2 (Payment Services Directive 2) has been in force across Europe since January 13, 2018. This EU directive obliges banks to inform their customers about changes in transfers, direct debits, card payments and online banking. In addition, the rights of bank customers were strengthened. In online banking, for example, the institutes are requested to provide third-party services with access to the payment account at the customer's request and to create appropriate interfaces.

The implementation deadline for the PSD2 directive ended on September 14, 2019.

These are the most important rules that affect your money transfers:

  • Payments booked to your account without your induction or consent must be refunded within one business day.

  • If a payment is posted too late, the payment service provider must settle this with the payee.

  • The liability limit for abuse in online banking or credit cards has been reduced from 150 to 50 euros.

also read: PSD2 - What does the innovation bring for bank customers?

Money transfers over EUR 12,500 must be reported

For money transfers abroad there is an obligation to report if a certain amount is exceeded. According to Paragraph 11 of the Foreign Trade Act (AWG) and Paragraph 67 of the Foreign Trade Ordinance (AWV), natural and legal persons residing or having their place of business in Germany must report payments of more than EUR 12,500 if they have received them from or pay to foreigners. This includes cash payments, bank transfers, payments by direct debit as well as by check or bill of exchange.

The terms "resident" and "foreigner" used here do not refer to nationality in the sense of the AWV, but to place of residence (residence principle). For example, a German who has lived in another country for more than a year is considered a "foreigner". On the other hand, a person of foreign nationality who has lived in Germany for more than a year is to be regarded as a "national".

The Deutsche Bundesbank would like to point out that the following cross-border transactions are not required to be reported:

  • Export earnings

  • Import goods payments

  • Disbursements and repayments of loans and deposits with an originally agreed term of up to twelve months

  • Long-term monetary transactions by financial institutions abroad

Your institute will inform you of the reporting obligation and you must submit this in electronic form to the Deutsche Bundesbank. Further information and the possibility of complying with the reporting obligation online can be found on the General Reporting Portal Statistics (AMS).

"These reports are used to compile foreign trade statistics and must be submitted electronically by the customer directly to the Bundesbank by the seventh of the following month via the General Reporting Portal (AMS). Only private individuals can also submit their foreign trade payment reports by telephone on the toll-free number 0800 1234 111 ( from the German landline network) ”, explains Ralf Palm, press spokesman at Postbank.

Cash payments involve risk

Paying large sums of money in cash is always associated with a risk, as it can lead to total loss through theft. For example, if you need large sums of money for an auction or to buy a car, you have the option of having a Bundesbank check issued. This is accepted in the same way as a cash payment.

This is a check with a limited redemption guarantee that is issued by the Deutsche Bundesbank. You can order it from your house bank and some direct banks also offer this service. Please note that it must be requested at least three working days before delivery. Depending on the institute, the costs are around 30 euros.

  • Biallo tip: You should only choose large withdrawals in cash if no payment alternative is possible. If you want to collect a large amount of cash from the bank, it is advisable to contact your institute beforehand. On the one hand, it is then ensured that the sum is also available. On the other hand, the payout can be carried out in an adjoining room, away from third-party observations.

Tightened Money Laundering Act 2020

An amended form of the Money Laundering Act (GWG) came into force on January 1st, 2020. The Money Laundering Act regulates how financial flows are controlled. The aim of the GWG is to prevent illegally generated assets from being smuggled in.

The new Money Laundering Act is intended to provide more transparency in money transactions - especially when it comes to cash transactions. The focus of the new regulations that have been in force since the beginning of the year is, in addition to expanding the group of those obliged under money laundering law, on tightening the applicable due diligence obligations in relation to money laundering prevention.

Real estate brokers and commercial goods dealers (e.g. art dealers, car dealers, jewelers, etc.) are obliged to report any suspected money laundering to the competent authorities - especially when it comes to transactions of 10,000 euros or more (precious metals from 2,000 euros). In addition, with the reform of the GWG, financial companies have been included in the group of obligated parties, and thus also service providers for digital means of payment (crypto currencies).

If money laundering is suspected, the dealer or the company must immediately inform the Central Office for Transaction Investigations (FIU). This can affect companies and institutions - but private individuals may also have to prove the origin of large sums of money in order not to violate the GWG. However, that sounds more threatening than it really is. If you conduct legal business with reputable partners, you do not have to expect a report or any consequences.

Also read:Foreign currency account - this is how the alternative to overnight money works


For security reasons, you should avoid cash transactions as much as possible for higher financial transactions. When making transfers, it is advisable to check and compare the fees in advance. Payments outside of Europe in particular could be expensive.

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