Maestro debit card feature will expire in July 2023

Wednesday 4 January 2023 15:53 CET | News

The Maestro feature for debit cards will expire in July 2023 in Germany.


The Girocard, known more frequently as the EC card, is the most popular payment card in Germany. But the credit card company Mastercard announced that savings banks and banks will no longer be able to issue giro cards with the Maestro symbol from 1 July 2023 , as Maestro will be discontinued. Maestro cards can normally be identified by the blue and red Maestro logo which has been on it for years. 

What is Maestro?

With the Maestro function, which is a service of the Mastercard company, cardholders can also withdraw money abroad or pay with the giro card. As a rule, either the V-Pay or the Maestro logo can be found on the approximately 100,00 million bank cards in Germany.


Withdrawing money and making payments without a Maestro function

With the abolition of the Maestro function, it will no longer be possible to withdraw money abroad as usual with the giro card. However, that does not mean that this will no longer be possible. However, banks will be able to use other systems to enable foreign operations. Whether that will be via a different payment system or a second card will most likely become apparent in the first months of 2023.

Why is the Maestro function being abolished?

According to a Mastercard representative, the Maestro function is no longer up-to-date and will therefore be abolished. The biggest disadvantage of the Maestro function is that it cannot be used to pay online in most places, seeing as a credit card is required for this. The Girocard will remain fully operational in Germany even without the Maestro function. Future payments and withdrawing money will continue as usual.

The Maestro feature for debit cards will expire in July 2023 in Germany.

Sparkasse banks have already exchanged EC cards

The Sparkasse saving banks are at the forefront of the exchange of Girocards. According to Handelsblatt, for example, all 170,000 cards at Sparkasse Siegen are already equipped with the new Mastercard function. The Sparkasse Niederbayern-Mitte relies on Visa and began exchanging 110,000 cards in December 2022. In Cologne at the Kreissparkasse, the new bank card (Mastercard and Visa as a co-badge) will be issued to customers starting June 2023, and the exchange of existing cards is planned from October 2023. From July, the Volks- und Raiffeisenbanken will likely also begin issuing cards without a Maestro function.


What happens with Maestro cards issued before 1 July 2023?

Any customer who has received a new bank card with the Maestro logo does not need to worry that it will no longer work from July 2023. The cards will most likely continue to be used until the expiry date. After that, customers will be issued a new card by their bank.

According to Handelsblatt, S-Payment, Sparkasse's payment service provider, reported that around 60% of the Sparkasse banks use Mastercard giro cards, and the rest use the Visa variant. This is a significant increase for the credit card company, seeing as so far only a few Sparkasse banks have relied on the Maestro counterpart: V-Pay.

Postponement for some banks

In the event of technical challenges, the Mastercard company promises to help with migration plans, which may also include transitional periods. Handelsblatt reports that customers of the Frankfurter Volksbank can still use the Girocard with Mastercard function until the end of 2027. Commerzbank and Deutsche Bank have not yet released statements about the future foreign functions of their bank cards.

Some private banks, such as Targobank, Santander, Hypo-Vereinsbank, or Comdirekt, no longer issue Girocards. Instead, they largely rely on a Visa debit card, which has the advantage that they can be used as virtual cards with Apple Pay or similar payment apps. In the past, this was only possible for Sparkasse customers with giro cards. However, Visa or Mastercard debit cards are not accepted at all cash registers in Germany.

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Keywords: credit card, debit card, payment processing, cross-border payments, banking
Categories: Payments & Commerce
Companies: Mastercard
Countries: Germany
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Payments & Commerce


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