Germany Asylum Seekers Payment Card – Eligibility, Amount, Benefits and Drawbacks 

Germany Asylum Seekers Payment Card

Germany asylum seekers payment cards replace cash for better control over spending. Extended benefits after 36 months, reduced rate of €410/month till then. Adults in the initial reception get €150/month for personal needs. 

Germany Asylum Seekers Payment Card

The introduction of payment cards will replace cash payments, allowing authorities to transfer allowances for purchases in supermarkets, enhancing control over spending. 

The current system provides higher benefits after 18 months in the country, but this threshold will now be extended to 36 months, with a reduced rate of €410 per month until then. 

Adults in initial reception facilities will receive a maximum of €150 per month for personal needs like phone cards or toiletries. This shift is intended to save costs, with potential savings estimated at €1 billion.

Eligibility for Germany Asylum Seeker Payment Card

There isn’t a direct eligibility process for asylum seekers to obtain a payment card. Here’s a breakdown of the current situation: 

  • Automatic Enrolment: Asylum seekers residing in a region with the payment card program are likely to be automatically enrolled upon receiving benefits.
  • Program Stages: The program is still in its pilot phase and not nationally implemented. Eligibility criteria might vary slightly depending on the specific pilot program.

Germany Asylum Seekers Payment Card

How much money can asylum seekers receive through payment cards in Germany?

The exact amount asylum seekers receive on their payment cards in Germany depends on two key factors:

  • Standard Benefit Rate: This is the base amount of financial assistance provided to asylum seekers by the German government.
  • Program Implementation: The payment card system is still in its early stages, and specific details regarding benefit distribution on the card can vary by region.
  • Standard Benefit Range: Asylum seekers in Germany generally receive a monthly allowance of around €400 – €500 (approximately $430 – $540).
  • Payment Card Amounts: There’s no official confirmation on whether the entire benefit amount will be loaded onto the card.
    • Pilot Programs: Some regions implementing pilot programs, like Hamburg, might transfer most of the benefit to the card with a smaller amount provided as pocket money in cash.

What is the process for obtaining a payment card as an asylum seeker in Germany?

There isn’t a direct application process for asylum seekers to obtain a payment card in Germany. Here’s why:

  • Automatic Enrolment: The card is distributed by the authorities handling asylum seeker benefits, not by banks.
  • Pilot Stage: The program is still in its early stages and not yet nationally implemented. Cities running pilot programs might have their own procedures.

What to expect?

While there’s no direct application process yet, here’s a general idea based on ongoing pilot programs:

  • Automatic Issuance: Upon receiving benefits in a participating area, you’ll likely be automatically issued a payment card.
  • Information Provided: The authorities should inform you about the card’s features, usage guidelines, and any restrictions.

What is covered by the payment card for asylum seekers in Germany?

Likely Covered Expenses:

  • Essential Needs: The card is intended to cover basic necessities like food, clothing, and personal hygiene products. These items should be readily available for purchase with the card at most stores accepting regular debit cards.
  • Public Transportation: Many asylum seekers rely on public transport to get around. The card might be usable for purchasing tickets or topping up travel passes, depending on the specific system in your region.

Possible Restrictions:

  • Luxury Items: The card is unlikely to be usable for non-essential purchases like cigarettes, alcohol, or expensive electronics.
  • Cash Withdrawals: While limited cash withdrawals from ATMs might be an option in some regions (e.g., Hamburg), these might be capped to discourage excessive cash spending.
  • Online Transactions: Online payments are typically prohibited to prevent unauthorised online spending and ensure the funds are used for intended purposes.

Germany Asylum Seekers Payment Card Benefits and Drawbacks 

Potential benefits and drawbacks of Germany’s evolving payment card system for asylum seekers:

Potential Benefits:

  • Efficiency: The card could streamline the distribution of benefits, reducing administrative burdens for both authorities and asylum seekers.
  • Transparency: Transactions made with the card can be tracked, offering greater transparency in how benefits are used.
  • Security: The card can potentially reduce the risk of theft or loss compared to receiving cash.
  • Budgeting: The card might encourage better budgeting practices by allowing asylum seekers to track their spending electronically.

Possible Drawbacks:

  • The card might not be accepted everywhere, potentially restricting where asylum seekers can shop.
  • Certain categories of goods or online transactions might be excluded, limiting purchasing flexibility.
  • Limited ATM access in certain programs can pose challenges for situations where cash payments are necessary.

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