What does this mean for bank clients?

Maestro or Visa? By the summer of 2023 at the latest, this question will no longer arise. The Mastercard provider will then terminate the Maestro payment system. – Photo: Benjamin Nolte/dpa

The blue and red logo will soon disappear from the game cards. Owners of such Maestro cards must prepare for changes abroad. Experts explain in detail what this means.

With 100 million copies in use, the giro card is by far the most used bank card in Germany, according to the German banking industry. However, many Maestro card users now have to adapt to the changes. Because the blue and red logo payment system should be a thing of the past from July 1, 2023. But what does the cancellation of the Maestro mean for everyday life?

What changes must consumers prepare for? Can they even fear getting a new card? Answers to important questions:

What has the Maestro payment system been used for so far?

According to the Deutsche Kreditwirtschaft (DK), holders of Maestro-symboled gyro cards could not only withdraw money and pay with the card in Germany. Thanks to the Mastercard payment system, this has so far been possible even abroad without any problems. “Wherever customers see an acceptance mark at ATMs or cash terminals, they can use their card,” explains DK.

Why is Maestro being discontinued?

Mastercard itself explains in the message that the Maestro feature is no longer relevant and will therefore be discontinued. “Where e-commerce growth far outpaces retail, it’s time to renew Maestro cards,” the company writes. Maestro cards were created for physical use. This leads to problems in online trading because, for example, Maestro card code numbers are not compatible with many online portals.

However, the Baden-Württemberg Consumer Center (VZBW) suspects another reason for the cancellation: Mastercard wants to make more money from online sales, according to the statement. The Giro card has been the standard means of payment in Germany until now. If payments are no longer possible due to the unavailability of Maestro, customers will have to use a Mastercard credit or debit card more often instead of direct debit. This not only increases the share of credit and debit cards in the German market. Online stores would also have to pay the company more fees for paying with these cards.

How do I know it applies to me?

Until now, banks have offered different sporogiro cards with different payment systems, explains Christian Urban from the North Rhine-Westphalia Consumer Center (VZNRW). In addition to Maestro, there is also V-Pay, which belongs to the Visa provider. “According to this, you will usually also find different symbols for individual functions on your gyro card.” If you recognize the red and blue Maestro logo on your gyro card, the changes apply to you.

How long can I still use my Maestro debit card?

“From July 2023, banks and savings banks will no longer be able to issue new cards with the Maestro function,” says Christian Urban. However, cards issued up to this point could be used until the end of their validity. Expert tip: “You can find the expiration date on the card.” Since Sporojiro cards are in most cases still valid for several years, the Maestro function will not disappear overnight.

However, VZBW points out that banks can decide for themselves when they want to switch to another payment function. “Your bank must tell you exactly when you can no longer use your Maestro card,” consumer advocates said. “You should therefore monitor the information from your bank and find out about the advantages and disadvantages of new offers,” advises Christian Urban.

So do I have to take care of the new card myself?

No. According to the VZBW, you only have to act if the bank offers you a new card or account change. “Your bank will contact you about it.” You must first agree to the changes and get advice from the bank in advance. Advice from consumer advocates: “Ask specifically about the differences between the new card and your previous card.”

What are the consequences of cancellation for me?

“The termination of the Maestro function actually only concerns the use of the card abroad,” says Christian Urban. Because the cancellation of the payment system means that you can no longer pay or withdraw money abroad with a giro card as before. According to VZBW, this does not mean that sporogyro cards would stop working abroad. “Banks can use other systems to enable foreign assignments.”

Read also: After the change: Customers of savings banks can continue to pay cashless abroad

Consumers should not worry: there will be other ways to get money abroad, the statement said. “Whether it will be through another payment system or a second card will probably become clear in the coming months.” In Germany, the giro card will remain fully functional even without the Maestro function. “Going forward, you should be able to pay and withdraw money with your debit card as usual,” he continues.

Do I have to be prepared for disruptions and changes at my favorite coffee shop or supermarket around the corner?

“There is no need to rebuild terminals in Germany,” says DK. Since the termination of the Maestro function only concerns the use of the card abroad, the gyro cards in Germany should continue to be ready for use according to the VZNRW without any problems.

What could the cancellation of the Maestro feature entail?

Many banks are now offering multiple debit cards from Mastercard and Visa as an alternative to the giro card, says Christian Urban. “However, not all stores have accepted these cards yet.” As a result, stores would have to switch in some cases, which would result in higher costs for merchants – for example, due to fees charged by debit card companies. “This in turn could lead to higher local prices.”

How exactly are checking, debit, and credit cards different?

According to DK, all three cards have one thing in common: customers can pay cashless with all cards and withdraw money from machines. With a debit card, the amount is deducted directly from the current account. Girokarte is the most famous debit card in Germany. With credit cards, sales are collected and usually debited from your checking account once a month.

− dpa

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