Definitions of Savings


For many years the savings book was the Germans’ favorite investment instrument. On the other hand, savings deposits served the banks to a limited extent as an inexpensive refinancing option. However, especially among younger investors, savings deposits have lost their attractiveness in recent years. Today they prefer the much more flexible and sometimes much better-interest overnight money accounts. The importance of savings deposits can be seen from the figures from the Deutsche Bundesbank. After all, in 2012 private households had invested assets of over 600 billion euros in deposits with a notice period of three months or more.

  • According to Section 488 BGB, savings deposits are a form of loan from the saver to his bank.
  • Requirements for a savings deposit: Drafting a certificate, at least 3 months’ notice, unlimited contract period and no authorization for payment transactions.
  • Bauspar contracts are not savings deposits.
  • The greatest risk for savings deposits is the loss of purchasing power.

The legal basis of savings

Savings deposits represent a form of loan from the saver to his bank. For this reason, special formalities apply to savings deposits, above all the notice period. Savings are made by issuing a certificate, the savings book or today more often a kind of check card, documented. This is a debt deed. From a legal point of view, this is a bearer paper. Theoretically, a bank would have to make a withdrawal from the account to anyone who presents a savings book without an identity check. By definition, savings are used to build up wealth and are not approved for payment transactions. Savings deposits are covered by the statutory deposit insurance and are protected in Germany with at least 100,000 euros per saver. A higher level of protection depends on the respective credit institution. Savings deposits oblige banks to hold minimum reserves with the central banks. A maximum rate of ten percent of the volume held applies to savings deposits.

The requirements for a savings deposit:

  • Issuing a certificate
  • At least a three-month notice period
  • Unlimited contract term
  • No authorization for payment transactions

The variants of savings

Despite the narrow definition, the term savings deposit does not only include the savings book. The characteristics also include

  • Savings bonds
  • Premium savings contracts, also for capital-building benefits
  • Savings plans

Building society contracts were explicitly excluded from the term savings deposit.


For legal reasons, private individuals in particular were intended as the target group for savings deposits. Asset accumulation should be done in a simple and straightforward manner. Savings deposits may also be made by non-profit, charitable or church associations. In addition, associations of natural persons, for example associations or communities of heirs, are also possible for use. Legal persons are excluded unless they are charitable, non-profit or church-related. Municipalities and municipalities are also allowed to open savings deposits.

Deposit and disposal for savings deposits

The banks are repeatedly told that there are delays in the payment and the value, i.e. interest-relevant, crediting of the amount to a current account . With regard to savings deposits, jurisprudence has stated that the bank’s obligation under the law of obligations arises on the day of the deposit and not on the day of booking. This means that credits to savings accounts must be valued to the exact day. The associated interest on the savings deposit occurs once a year on December 31 of each year or when the deposit is liquidated.

The disposal of savings

Basically, a disposition on a savings deposit provides for the submission of the savings book or savings card. Without submitting this document, the bank is under no obligation to provide any service from the deposit. The situation is different, however, if one of the three following business transactions is the cause:

  • Rebooking in favor of another customer’s savings account in the same house
  • Settlement of costs in connection with securities orders or repayment of a loan
  • A transfer to the saver himself if he is unable to go to a bank in person due to hindrance
  • Loss of the certificate

The availability

In contrast to a call money account , the availability of a savings deposit is limited. Savers can withdraw a maximum of EUR 2,000 within 30 interest days. If this amount is exceeded, the bank will charge penalty interest of 0.25 percent pa at the current credit interest rate. A three-month notice period applies to all amounts in excess of EUR 2,000. The only exception is the interest from the previous year. In January and February a saver can withdraw the interest of the previous year in addition to the 2,000 euros without having to pay advance interest.

Risks of savings

The risks associated with savings do not result from fluctuations in exchange rates or a possible bankruptcy of a bank. The greatest risk for savings deposits is the loss of purchasing power. At present, hardly any bank offers interest on savings deposits. With a forecast inflation rate of 1.2 percent per year, it is impossible to build up wealth. In 2012, the inflation rate led to around 14 billion euros in savings being simply destroyed. Daily money with above-average interest offers at least a slightly better alternative.