I have an existing account with an Austrian bank that provides for a certain level of annual turnover and with a certain kind of payment card. The bank also offers a "higher level" type of account that has higher limits and comes with a better, more universally accepted debit card.

I'm trying to write an email to the bank that contains the simple sentence "I would like to upgrade my account." But I am struggling to find an appropriate German verb for this kind of upgrade. Google Translate suggests "aktualisieren" which seems to imply "update" rather than "upgrade", e.g. bringing software up to the most recent version as opposed to consciously choosing a "better" version of something.

If I give Google the specific phrase "I would like to upgrade my bank account" then it suggests "aufwerten", but dictionary translations seem to suggest that this implies more of an "appreciation in value" rather than the sense I'm looking for.

Any suggestions for what would sound right to a native speaker? It's not the kind of thing one can tell the nuances of just by looking in a dictionary.

  • 3
    Are you sure you want to discuss this in German if you can't ask the initial question on your own? There may be follow up questions and terms you'd also struggle with.
    – Robert
    Commented Jan 16, 2018 at 23:12
  • If what you want is a higher overdraft limit, the word you are looking for is "Dispositionskredit". Commented Jan 17, 2018 at 10:54
  • @Robert: that's a fair consideration, but I'm not worried about making myself understood - I could muddle my way through the discussion in German well enough, and I know the bank adviser speaks as good English as I do German; this is more a question of how to improve the 'polish' of my language to make it sound a bit more natural. Besides, I've met one or two expats in Austria who never bother learning German because they can get by with English well enough. I don't want to be that guy. Commented Jan 23, 2018 at 16:41
  • @rackandboneman: thanks for the tip, I'm not after an overdraft on this occasion but I'll add it to my linguistic arsenal for future reference! Commented Jan 23, 2018 at 16:42

5 Answers 5


I checked some german banks which offer an upgrade for their accounts. Clicking these links, you get a webpage with a more legal phrasing, where the bank itself uses the word "wechseln", so you could write in your e-mail something like this:

Ich möchte von meinem Basic-Konto zu Ihrem Premium-Kontomodell wechseln.


Here is a simple solution, close to your English expression, but anyway valid even in more refined written communication:

Ich möchte gerne mein Konto zu einem xyz-Konto hochstufen.

Note however that it is advisabel to not dismiss the "zu einem xyz-Konto" part, as Ich möchte gerne mein Konto hochstufen would sound a little bit odd. (xyz is here used for the name of the new type of account.)

You may also say:

Ich möchte für mein Konto um eine Höherstufung (auf ein xyz-Konto) bitten.

In oral communciation, the most natural, non-formal way would probably be to not mention the direction of the shift (up) at all, and rather ask for the change as such:

Ich habe das Konto mit der Numer xxxxxxx bei Ihnen. Das ist derzeit ein abc-Konto. Könnten Sie das zu einem xyz-Konto machen?

  • 3
    Das letzte wäre sehr umgangssprachlich. Ich würde "umstellen" verwenden.
    – glglgl
    Commented Jan 16, 2018 at 14:47
  • Thanks for your detailed suggestions, which are closest to the literal meaning of my question; however I'm going with "wechseln", as suggested above, since it answers the intent of the question using language that banks themselves have been seen to use, without the informality suggested in other answers. Commented Jan 16, 2018 at 17:02
  • @glglgl: Indeed, or "in ein ... umwandeln". Commented Jan 18, 2018 at 8:06
  • @glglgl Agreed, and also to O.R. Mapper. - My machen zu indeed is an example of Umgangssprache. I edited the answer to that effect. Commented Jan 19, 2018 at 13:25

I can't say for sure how language conventions are in Austria but when writing to a German bank I would use the German loanword from English upgraden:

Ich möchte mein Basic-Konto zu einem Premium-Konto upgraden.

  • 2
    You can, but I wouldn't. Okay perhaps in oral communication... but even then it has a taste of forced youthfulnes. Commented Jan 16, 2018 at 14:06
  • 3
    @ChristianGeiselmann There still are a lot of people who do not accept English loanwords, but when reading commercials from banks, or when trying to figure out what the names they give their products mean, it lets me believe that banks definfitely are not amongst them. So there is nothing to worry when using upgraden especially not when the bank wants to sell you something and you are their customer.
    – Takkat
    Commented Jan 16, 2018 at 14:17
  • 1
    Thanks for the suggestion - I can see how a young and trendy customer talking to a young and trendy bank in Germany may use that style, but my instinct is that a slightly older chap addressing an Austrian bank about a business account may want to lean a little closer towards formality. I'm afraid I'm one of those people who finds it a bit infuriating when UK banks and phone companies talk to me as if I'm one of their mates down the pub, so I wouldn't want to be guilty of the same in Austria. Commented Jan 16, 2018 at 17:06
  • @DanielHume: my age is 57 (no secret, really) so I likely will be older than most bank accountants facing me. As said, in Austria the acceptable wording may be different. Sad we do not have a definite expertise from the many Austrian members here. Go for IQV's suggestion, that is fine. It will be ok for Austria too.
    – Takkat
    Commented Jan 16, 2018 at 22:03
  • @Takkat I agree that there is nothing to worry that upgraden would not be understood; yes, it would - by practially everybody nowadays. The question is how would a majority of native speakers feel about that choice of a word in that sentence, and my thesis is that most would find it artificial. Not a natural way of speaking, rather a way of speaking intending to demonstrate something e.g. coolness or so. This may change in the next 10 years of course. Commented Jan 19, 2018 at 13:47

Another proposal:

Ich möchte von meinem Standard-Konto umsteigen auf den Kontotyp mit den erweiterten Möglichkeiten.

Or maybe better:

Ich möchte mein Standard-Konto umwandeln in den Kontotyp mit den erweiterten Möglichkeiten.


You could use the word "aufwerten", which you already mentioned. You also could try "erweitern". I think a native speaker would know what you mean.

  • 1
    Thanks for your effort in making the suggestion, however I'm trying to move away from "they would know what I mean", for which I could pick any word from a dictionary that approximates to "make bigger/better", and closer to "sounds more natural to native ears". Commented Jan 16, 2018 at 17:04

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