Until not so long ago, going self-employed came with a lot of overhead. You had to think about so many practical details before even spending time doing your actual job. One of those things involved taxes & accounting. Hours upon hours of manual work to keep the books clean.
Those days are effectively over with the rise of clever banking & accounting apps such as Kontist, promessing “taxes, bookkeeping and banking under one roof”.
This Kontist bank review answers if this statement holds true. Have a nice read.
Kontist bank review: too long, didn’t read:
This post is a long-form to cover each aspect in details. You can however find the main findings below, & navigate to the relevant sections for you in this complete Kontist bank review. Feel free to ask questions in the comments too.
- Kontist offers a great blend between banking & book keeping, replacing several apps into one to save time & effort.
- We recommend the premium plan (9€/month), as it strikes a good balance between costs & features. Free plan is lacking.
- Kontist’s unique positioning also offers tax advisors on demand, integrated in the software.
- Kontist is still a young service, and it still lacks some features, especially in the banking part. That might be a deal breaker for some.
- Automatically saves the taxes you owe in a separate subaccount.
- Service & customer support is available 100% in English
- Opening an account takes only a few minutes via the app. No SCHUFA required.
- App interface is really neat & nice to use.
- Most Kontist customers are happy with the service but some reviews do mention occasional technical glitches & subpar customer service.
- Unfortunately not accessible to US citizens residing in Germany, due to banking regulations.
What’s different about Kontist?
Kontist is a paperless banking app specifically geared towards freelancers and the self-employed. It’s different compared to other bank accounts available in Germany. Supported by the infrastructure of solarisBank AG, Kontist continuously monitors turnover and expenditures to calculate users’ tax rate in real time. It also takes much of the bookkeeping task off your plates so you can focus on your business instead. Founded in 2016, the Berlin-based Fintech startup is still in its early phase – but that hasn’t stopped thousands of customers from signing up. Kontist is consistently rolling out a steady stream of updates, with plenty of new features in the pipeline.
Kontist’s main features
In addition to traditional banking features, all Kontist accounts come with attractive features that help you to manage your taxes at a glance. Here are Kontist’s most-used features in brief:
- 100% English service & support
- Integrated tax calculation – This is recalibrated after every transaction so you can monitor your net income and potential tax payments – Premium and Duo accounts only, more below.
- Integrated bookkeeping, VAT declaration, yearly tax declaration (private & business), EÜR – Premium and Duo accounts only, more below
- Tax advisory service on demand: More details about this just below.
- Income tax assessment – This can be used on the Kontist website without creating an account in order to calculate your taxes and social security contributions. You can see how Kontist calculates your tax rate here.
- Categorization – Using this feature, Kontist customers can group both incoming payments and expenses in categories of their own choosing, aiding users with their bookkeeping.
- SEPA transfers – All customers are permitted unlimited free SEPA transfers and direct debit payments.
- Visa business debit card – Customers using the Free account receive a virtual debit card, while other customers receive a physical and a virtual card. Both can be managed within the app.
- Overdraft – Between €500 and €5000 depending on your Schufa score and how long you’ve been a Kontist customer.
- Google Pay – Android users can connect their Kontist accounts to Google Pay. An Apple equivalent has not yet been released, but it is in the works.
Tax advisory service
For an additional fee, users can benefit from full accounting services with direct communication to professional tax advisors. This service is not accessible to Kontist Free users. This service includes the following features:
- Specialist advice – Kontist tax advisors on call via hotline, 7 days a week
- Preliminary accounting – audited consolidated profit and loss account, statement of total recognised gains and losses, balance sheet and cash flow statement.
- Cash accounting (EÜR) – revenues and expenses are recorded when cash is received and paid, respectively.
- Annual commercial and private tax declarations – Calculated payable tax for both your business and private income.
- Startup consultation – Startup owners can enjoy consultation from Kontist’s startup advisors.
What are the different plans available?
Kontist offers a choice of 3 different bank accounts with varying features and benefits.
With a Kontist Free account, users can enjoy all the abovementioned benefits for no monthly fee. The feature-set is relatively small (basically only banking) & it’s hard to recommend against another free banking account like N26 for example, which is a real-bank with more banking features.
In addition to the above benefits, Premium customers can access a range of smart accounting features, including the following:
- Transaction notes – Keep your transactions organised with customisable notes
- Receipt scanning – Save time managing your accounts by scanning paper documents directly within the app
- Automatic categorisation – your transactions will be categorised through machine learning
- Automatic income tax calculation – this moves tax share from each transaction directly into a sub-account
- Automatic VAT income – Moving VAT share from each transaction directly into a sub-account
- Social contribution calculation – Moving this portion of your tax into a sub-account
- Export transactions in MT940 format – This format is DATEV compatible
- Optional integration with fastbill – This synchronises your scanned receipts, invoices, documents and data. Also available in English
- Optional integration with Debitoor – Income and expenses are automatically assigned and synchronized, streamlining the receipt and invoice processes. Available in German, English, French, Italian, Spanish, Danish and Dutch
Kontist Duo accounts included all of the perks of a Premium account, but with a free Lexoffice license on top, an automatic bookkeeping service for business owners, which enables the following features:
- Automatic invoice and quote creation – lexoffice enables users to create unlimited invoices and quotes
- Digital bookkeeping – This allows you to post and process multiple kinds of payment files
- Digital receipt management – Scan all your paper receipts and keep them organised
- Push notifications for transactions – Receive a push notification for every transaction
- Shared access with your tax advisor – Grants your tax advisor immediate access to your finances, cutting out the extra work for you.
- DATEV export – Download your documents in a format accepted across all German banking platforms
Lexoffice is a great software in itself, but it’s hard to recommend for non-German speaker, with no support for English. Debitoor is just as an excellent with English service AND it integrates with Kontist too. Same price level.
The smart accounting services protect Premium and Duo users from unexpected bills and expenses, while also ensuring that customers don’t mistakenly pay undue taxes. Your Kontist account is linked to your local Finanzamt via ELSTER, meaning that the Finanzamt has an accurate and up-to-date reflection of your financial situation.
What are Kontist’s weaknesses?
To paint a complete picture, this Kontist bank review should also mention Kontist’s weaknesses.
Young banking infrastructure
As a Fintech company, Kontist does not have the stability of a traditional bank with a more firmly established infrastructure. There are also long processing fees for international bank transfers. While a transfer to another SEPA country only takes 1 business day, transfers to countries outside of the SEPA region can take as long as 20 business days, see below. A physical debit card is also not included for free for all customers.
There are also monthly and daily limits to how much customers can spend and withdraw with their Visa card. Depending on the nature of your business, this could limit your financial activity. Check this guide for the full list of limitations. There is also a high overdraft interest rate at 11%, which could become costly over time.
Kontist also chose not support to US citizens based in Germany, because of the requirements set by US regulators.
Duo plan breaks the English support USP
Furthermore the Duo account, which is integrated with lexoffice, is only suitable for German speakers, as lexoffice is currently only available in German – a great setback for newcomers who lack a strong command of the language.
Some banking features still lacking
As a relatively new banking company, Kontist lacks some standard features that customers might expect from their bank, such as Apple Pay and cash deposits. No cash deposit are also possible at the moment. Kontist also doesn’t offer true credit cards, only debit cards.
What are Kontist’s strengths:
Don’t spend the money you owe the Finanzamt
This has happened to me a few times. I miscalculated how much taxes I owed. That can put your financial plans on its head. Kontist makes sure to separate the money you own from the money you owe in separate accounts automatically.
Don’t spend 33 days on bookkeeping & admin tasks
A big survey done by Kontist estimates to 33 days a year the time spent on things other than your actual job. Kontist’s feature-set can decrease that time dramatically so you can focus on your business.
Real experts & not just self-help forums
Many comparable services have good customer support & great self-help knowledge bases. Those are good for superficial questions. They are however quickly irrelevant when it comes to digging into the details of your situation. Answers are not tailored to your needs. With Kontist, since all financial information is available, real tax advisors can look into the detail of your problems, quickly & conveniently. That’s unique on the market.
Customers can impact the feature roadmap
In a pretty unprecedented move in the industry, customers can actually vote on what feature should implemented next. This dashboard is a testimony to Kontist’s focus on a customer-centric approach & transparency.
A laser focus on self-employed people
Some other offerings on the market have a double positioning, catering to both incorporated companies AND self-employed people. I find this extremely reassuring that Kontist only focuses on self-employed crowds. This makes sure the approach, interface & feature-set is thought for this audience only.
How secure is Kontist?
To ensure discretion and privacy, Kontist have created a series of security features to keep your finances safe.
- Password protection – All Kontist accounts are password-protected and offer facial recognition or fingerprint login
- In-app security features – Users can report a theft, change their pin or block their card with around-the-clock access to the app’s security settings.
- Deposit protection scheme – Through the solarisbank AG infrastructure, deposits are protected up to €100,000.
- Visa 3D secure – Online payments require TAN varification, sent directly to your phone via SMS.
How much does Kontist cost?
Kontist Free users can enjoy all the benefits of a basic account with no monthly fee. Meanwhile, the Premium account will set users back €9/month and a Duo account costs €12/month. These accounts are both 100% tax deductible. Both come with a physical card that costs €29/year.
All account holders must bear a 1.7% surcharge for transactions and withdrawals in foreign currencies, and withdrawals in the Eurozone costs €2 per withdrawal. All further account costs can be found here under ‘Show all prices and and conditions’.
Kontist Tax Service
The Kontist tax advisory service costs €149/month plus VAT for established business and €99/month for small businesses and people who have been self employed for under 2 years.
How do I open an Kontist bank account?
You can open a Kontist account from the comfort of your sofa in 3 steps – all you need is your smartphone and ID. In total, the whole process can take as little as 10 minutes. What follows is a step-by-step guide to setting up your Kontist account.
- Pick the plan you want here.
- Download the Kontist app – This is available on the Google Play Store and the App Store
- Enter your personal information – This includes name, gender, date of birth, nationality, home address and phone number
- Two-step verification process – Your device will be verified via TAN, before entering a video chat to verify your identity. For this, you just need a valid form of ID.
Are there any restrictions to sign-up?
Unlike some other bank accounts, Kontist does not require a SCHUFA from prospective customers, making it easier for self-employed people to gain a foothold, even if they are running at a loss, or not breaking even. However, that’s not to say that Kontist is open to all.
As a business account, only self-employed people, sole traders and small business owners are eligible for a Kontist account. If your business is a legal entity (GmbH, UG, GbR, etc.), you may not be entitled to a Kontist account. Only German residents are eligible too.
You may also struggle to obtain a Kontist account if your ID is from a BaFin non-compliant country. While nationality is no barrier to gaining a Kontist account in theory, the video identification process does not accept every form of ID. Consult this exhaustive list of accepted forms of ID before applying to make sure you’re able to register an account with Kontist.
It’s currently not possible to open multiple accounts with Kontist, and users are not permitted to open joint accounts.
Kontist bank review: what do the customers say?
No Kontist bank review would be complete without a survey of customer satisfaction. While we don’t have a lot of reviews to go by in comparison to other banking apps, Kontist appears to have amassed a loyal user base – on average the young Fintech company scores 4.6 stars out of 5 across four of Germany’s most trusted reviews platforms. But amid the glowing reviews, a small number of unhappy customers have voiced their dissatisfaction with the bank, with complaints ranging from poor customer service to technical difficulties, with some users suggesting the solarisBank infrastructure is the root of the problem. Here we will take you through some of the biggest pros and cons of Kontist, according to the users.
On Trusted.de, the app has only a small handful of user reviews, although it has scored an impressive rating of 4.7 stars, receiving praise for its user-friendly interface and efficiency.
On the other hand, some of the reviews report that they’ve experienced poor service – specifically, misleading offers and insufficient banking functions.
Over at Trustpilot, Kontist has scored 4.5 stars, with 93% of the reviews being positive. The four and five star reviews predominantly focused on Kontist’s friendly and helpful customer service and the smooth integration with lexoffice.
Meanwhile, the negative reviews tended to zero in on a variety of technical difficulties. Some customers complained that they could not see their transactions within the app, while a few others had their accounts unexpectedly blocked. Others complained about the long processing times for international transfers.
Google Play Store
Google Play Store also rates Kontist 4.5 stars, with many of the positive reviews praising the simplicity of the tax advisory service. Several of the four and five star reviews mention that the dynamic tax adjustments make it very clear to see how much tax is owed.
Of the negative Kontist bank reviews, most of the customers complained of glitches, such as the categorisation feature not working properly. Others lamented that they could not create an account due to their country’s ID not being recognised by the video identification process.
On the App Store, Kontist scored 4.8 stars out of 928 ratings. Customers frequently noted the app’s intuitive design and simplicity, and reported that they found the signup process quick and easy.
However, the negative reviews contained some serious grievances, which are particularly worth bearing in mind if you use multiple devices or SIM cards for business. The SMS TAN service is only compatible with German phone numbers, and changing your phone number takes two days for security reasons. This can be particularly disruptive if you’re a frequent traveller.
Kontist bank review conclusion: who should sign-up?
With its dynamic tax adjustments and beautiful design, Kontist appears to be a crowd pleaser, however some of its services are very much still in the beta phase, limiting the app’s banking functions to just the essentials. For this reason, “”taxes, bookkeeping and banking under one roof”” only partially holds true for now. However, the future is exciting as Kontist has an aggressive roadmap ahead to automatize even more admin tasks.
We don’t recommend the free account as the feature set simply doesn’t hold against any other free banking per app option out there (such as N26 – full review here). The premium plan is the one to go for, as it has all the automation features and you can still integrate it with another book keeping app.
For now, Kontist makes a convenient supplementary account for small business owners. Kontist is also not suited to people who run multiple businesses, as accounts are limited to one per customer. Those who do decide to take the plunge will be rewarded with a simple and intuitive app with accurate instant tax adjustments.
I hope this Kontist bank review was a good introduction & overview. Don’t hesitate to ask questions in the comments if something is unclear. I answer each comment personally.
Kontist bank review – FAQ
Self-employed people who have residence in Germany can open an account with Kontist. Kontist is not a business bank account for incorporated companies. Make sure you ID document is eligible for a verification via webcam.
Pick your Kontist plan on this page, download the app, enter your personal details, verify your device & verify your ID document via camera.
Kontist is a Fintech service built on top of Solaris AG’s infrastructure, which is a bank. Kontist itself does not have a banking license but it does offer deposit safety up to 100 000€.
Yes. Both the app & customer service is fully accessible in English.
No. It’s only available to German resident and only devices with a German phone number can be verified.
There are 3 plans available. A free plan, a premium plan at 9€/ month, a duo plan at 12€/month. Prices are listed excluding VAT.