Loan interest rates are less comparable: banks reduce branch networks: impact on borrowers

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The decreasing number of bank branches in Germany makes it more difficult for consumers to compare loan offers from different banks locally. This is problematic because interest rates can vary by bank. The lack of comparison of loan offers generates unnecessarily high interest rates.

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The number of bank branches in Germany is constantly decreasing. According to the latest figures published by the Bundesbank, there were a quarter fewer bank branches in 2022 than in 2019, which, with 6,221 branches no longer available, represents a challenge for daily banking business. While cash can be withdrawn at the supermarket checkout, there is no need for further over-the-counter transactions or a face-to-face conversation with an on-site advisor.

Decreasing number of bank branches in Germany: the challenge for loan applicants

This evolution makes it increasingly difficult, especially for individuals, to obtain and compare loan offers from different banks. This can be expensive for borrowers because “the interest you have to pay on a loan also depends largely on the bank you go to. A wrong decision can quickly cost you several hundred or thousands of euros,” explains Alexander Artopé, CEO of Smava, a loan offer comparison portal.

Cost of a loan: the choice of bank makes the difference

Current data from Smava shows this: While the Bundesbank reports an average national interest rate of just under nine percent for a consumer loan, there are significantly cheaper options with interest rates sometimes six percent or less. The variation in interest rates depends not only on individual solvency, the amount of the loan, the term or the intended use, but also to a large extent on the chosen bank.

A recent survey shows that 41.7 percent of banks surveyed want to reduce interest rates on new loans in the next three months, while 58.3 percent want to leave interest rates unchanged. This is likely to further increase existing interest rate differences between banks. Comparing the different offers from banks is therefore essential if you do not want to pay too much for your own loan.

Save more than 7,000 euros with the right interest rate

To illustrate the savings potential, the following sample calculations compare different annual effective interest rates for loans of €5,000, €10,000 and €30,000 with different terms. The calculations show how important the comparison is, since a potential saving of more than 7,000 euros is possible.

Why Online Credit Comparisons Require Individual Information

To make meaningful loan comparisons, individual applicant information such as typical income and current expenses must be taken into account. Online tools that only ask about the desired loan amount, term, and intended use can be misleading, as they often display the best possible interest rate, which does not necessarily correspond to the actual interest rate offered. For an accurate comparison, providing personal information is essential. Online platforms request this information to create personalized loan offers and ensure transparency and accuracy when comparing interest rates.

Go to FOCUS Online Installment Loan Comparison

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