7 Must Knows Before Getting One
In a few minutes, you’re going find out if N26 is the right choice for your needs.
But wait there’s more 🙂
In many situations, N26 makes spending, saving and managing money much better and (as it turns out) is a reputable and trusted bank.
But this is not your average “these guys are great” type review – we dig a lot deeper (including looking into the scores of negative reviews – below).
By digging deep into real customer reviews (particularly the negatives ones) we uncover the reality of using N26.
Essentially, N26 is a pioneer in modern banking – which means it can offer some useful advantages. This internet-only, fully-licensed European bank offers most of the accustomed features, regulation, safety, and service of the regular banks, but in a lightweight mobile app.
You get a MasterCard that you can top-up and use for withdrawing cash at ATMs worldwide and making money transfers. It can also make the life of international travellers much easier and save them some money on all the basics.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.
- Is N26 Right for You?
- Customer Reviews
- How to Sign up?
- How does N26 Work?
- N26 Fees
- How safe is N26?
- User empowered banking for the global economy (Europe, USA)
- Mobile app
- Free account, card, and very low fees
- Free ATM withdrawals (3 per month anywhere worldwide)
- Inexpensive currency exchange
- Pulled out of the UK unexpectedly (recommend Bunq – our review)
- 24X7 phone support not available
- Limited to Europe & US
- Potential re-verification issues
1. Is N26 Right for You?
N26 is a great bank account alternative to traditional banks for individuals and self employed people who travel or do business in multiple currencies.
As a leading digital bank, N26 removes costs and frustrating paperwork. For individuals, the popular €9.90/month option has free payments in any currency and free withdrawals worldwide.
This bank is available for residents of Germany, USA, Ireland, Austria, Spain, France, Italy, Belgium, Netherlands, Finland, Luxembourg, Portugal, Slovenia, Greece, Estonia, Slovakia, Poland, Denmark, Sweden, Liechtenstein, Iceland and Norway.
Yes, there is also an option for Americans! (see details below)
If you are based in any of these countries and have to travel frequently or make foreign payments, N26 is has a few options to consider.
For personal use – There are 3 options which we discuss below.
For business use – There is also an option if you are a freelancer or self employed.
This video shows some of the cool features of N26.
1.1 Personal Users (3 Options)
See if the options are available in your country – here (opens a new tab so you can keep reading).
Details for Americans below.
- Send money instantly
- Request money
- Secure login, including “Touch ID” or fingerprint authorisation
- Google Pay integration
- Set and change your withdrawal and payment limits
- Keep track of your finances with the help of spending statistics with automatic categorisation
Here is the difference for the three-tiers.
1) The free basic account enables free ATM withdrawals in euros and free payments in any currency.
2) The €9.90 per month option (N26 You) also has free withdrawals worldwide (not just euros) and an insurance package (for travellers).
3) The €16.90 per month option (N26 Metal) has everything (N26 You) has with dedicated customer support.
To figure out which one might be better for you check out “When it Works” below.
1.2 N26 in America
In the US there is just one card designed to bring much cheaper banking and overseas spending to Americans.
- No minimum daily or monthly account balance requirements.
- No monthly maintenance fees
- No foreign transaction exchange fees while travelling overseas
- Soon: 2 free ATM withdrawals
1.3 Business users (1 Option)
For most of Europe (not inc. the or US) there is a N26 business account designed for small business owners, self-employed people or freelancers.
You also get a Mastercard for business spending and a Maestro card for personal use.
Moreover, you get 0.1% cash back on all purchases and free card payments worldwide.
- Comes with comprehensive travel insurance by Allianz
- Exchange currency at mid-market rate without paying percentage fees
- Online invoicing
- Up to 10 sub-accounts (called spaces), which enables business owners to separate costs as per business units.
- Track spending with the help of statistics
- Web-version to enable viewing on desktop or another bigger device
To qualify you need to reside in: Germany, Austria, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Greece, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Finland, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia
If you still want a similar service for business and you are a resident of the UK (or anywhere else), TransferWise Borderless is an excellent alternative to N26.
2.1 When it Works
N26 works really well for international travellers.
But first, let’s look at the problem N26 is solving.
Until recently traditional domestic banks were your only option when it came to getting cash out overseas (ATMs), paying for things in different currencies, and especially getting paid in different currencies.
Basically whether you knew it or not – you were getting hammered with fees.
While some fees – like overseas ATM withdrawal fees – are pretty clear (but still frustrating) many fees go unnoticed and can be significant – like the exchange rates you are given.
But now you have options and N26 is a leader.
The free account (and the free card) however charges you 1.7% on purchases, so you may want to upgrade to the paid options (except the US).
N26 works also uses TransferWise for international money transfers, which keeps costs low.
Although if you transfer a lot of money or transfer frequently, then you might like to consider our “When it Doesn’t Work” section below.
In addition, N26 has put a lot of love into their mobile apps on Android or Apple.
Other optional extras that come with the paid accounts are;
- Allianz insurance that includes coverage for acute medical emergencies and 24/7 medical phone assistance. It also covers flight and luggage delay, for delays over 4 hours.
- For just £15, you also get LoungeKey membership access with all the comforts such as food, showers and WiFi.
But nothing is perfect…
2.2 When it Doesn’t Work
The best way to learn about a service is through real customer reviews.
N26 generally enjoys great reviews online.
However we find it is the negative reviews, particularly those on TrustPilot that often uncover a lot.
Even the best services are going to have negative reviews and we believe when you take negative reviews in context of the bigger picture they can be very helpful.
Here are the results (taken from 100s of the most recent reviews).
See below for “What This Means”.
- 3% Sign Up Troubles
- 6% Locked Out
- 9% Customer Service / Service
Of all the negative reviews roughly 6% of total reviewers get locked out.
These lockouts occur after sign-up and initial approval. In some cases funds are frozen and this naturally causes a lot of distress to users (although it is expected that the money would be returned).
“N26 is legally obligated to verify our customers at regular intervals.”
“As a fully-fledged bank, N26 must submit itself to banking regulations in place. Said regulation is aimed at protecting our users.”
Customer Service / Service
Approximately 9% of total reviews relate to their services or dealing with their customer service team.
Slow cards dispatch, ineffective customer service and blocked accounts are the main complaints.
And it’s worth noting here that the “dedicated customer support” is optional and only available to the £14.90/€16.90 per month tier. The other options will mean you are restricted to online chats when you need support.
Perhaps a worthwhile upgrade especially if the other benefits make sense.
As for the blocked accounts, which means that the funds are potentially frozen, this is probably due partly to the regulations they have to meet as a registered bank.
But this is definitely a cause for concern in our opinion and as a result in our Bottom Line (below) we recommend using them as part of your banking solution – not the whole solution.
Sign Up Troubles
N26 no doubt deals with a lot of regulations as part of the sign up process, which includes ID checks. It is at this point where about 3% of applicants (who left a review) found that their applications were declined.
Although this is no doubt frustrating for those who are declined, if you prove the criteria in our next section “How to Sign Up” you chances of being declined are slim.
What This Means
N26 overall have a 4/5 rating on TrustPilot, which is considered “Great”.
In fact, here’s what the majority of customers have said about N26:
“Awesome”, “Easy, fast and safe”, “So far the best bank”, “Fast shipment of the card” and even “makes life easier”
In our opinion, N26 (opens new tab) might be a great solution for your banking needs.
Like other similar services, there is a possibility of being locked out since N26 has to meet banking regulations. To get the benefit of N26 and protect yourself we would recommend limiting the funds you keep with them which means that you get all the benefits N26 offers with limited pitfalls.
There are five alternatives to N26 that we found for the UK, US and Australia with TransferWise Borderless (review) account being the most available (practically world wide) and with similar app functionality, foreign currency accounts and cards. These options are not immune from regulations and indeed have many of the same issues.
In general, if smaller money transfers are likely to be something you will need to do then TransferWise Borderless is certainly worth a look because they started life as a money transfer service and eliminate the use of a 3rd party, which makes things usually run smoother.
If business in multiple currencies is your main focus, Revolut is also a worthy alternative.
Our comparison of Revolut with N26 might also help you to decide.
3. How do you Sign up?
Signing up here for N26 is super easy (opens new window so you can keep reading).
Start with checking out all the options on offer.
You can be up and running in just a few minutes. All you need to do is download the app, fill in the details, agree to terms and conditions and order your card.
In order to open an N26 account you must:
- be a resident of a supported country (as listed above)
- be at least 18 years old
- own a compatible smartphone
- hold a supported ID (there are different requirements for different countries, list of supported IDs us available on their site)
- be able to verify yourself in one of the supported languages that include English, Spanish, German, French or Italian
Here is how you can sign up:
- Once you confirm your email, personal details and address, select the type of N26 account you want
- You will be asked to prove your identity and connect your smartphone to your account.
- You can top up your new N26 account via Bank Transfer. If you are in Germany, Austria or Italy, you can top up using CASH26 deposit
- You will receive your N26 MasterCard by post in a few days.
4. How Does N26 Work?
Thanks to its lean organisational structure and fully online business model, N26 is able to keep its operating costs very low and transfer these savings to their customers.
They have also entered into partnership with some of the most reputed companies in the financial sector, which ensures some cool perks if you sign up for their paid accounts.
This way, you get most of the features of a regular bank account including an international debit card with free ATM withdrawals.
Here is what you can do with your N26 account.
- N26 enables transfers in 19 currencies directly through their app. They have partnered with TransferWise (our review) for currency transfers; hence, you can make transfers at mid-market rates.
- Free ATM withdrawals up to five times a month. Your N26 Mastercard enables you to withdraw Euros from any ATM worldwide (paid accounts offer free ATM withdrawals in any currency worldwide).
- Free international payments without having to notify the bank – everything can be done just at the press of a button.
- Allows contactless payments, which means, you don’t need to physically swipe your card. You can save your payment details in the app and make payments without having your card around. Even your bank account can be linked to your N26 account and you can charge your account when required.
5. N26 Fees
Opening a standard N26 account is free. It provides access to the account overview via the N26 mobile and web app. They have different plans, and you can choose the one that best suits your needs.
The three plans they offer are:
1) N26 (FREE)
- Free card payments in Euros
2) N26 You (€9.90 per month)
- Free card payments in any currency
- Free ATM withdrawals worldwide
3) N26 Metal (€16.90 per month)
- Free card payments in any currency
- Free ATM withdrawals worldwide
- LoungeKey membership
- Travel insurance and purchase protection
- Dedicated customer support
- Exclusive partner offers
For currency withdrawals in currencies other than the GBP, you may have to pay 1.7% with your standard MasterCard. (These fees are waived for N26 You and Metal subscribers.)
6. How Safe is N26?
N26 is a regulated bank (in Germany) so you can reasonably expect there are some important safeguards.
They use a variety of operational and technical measures to give you extra control and safety.
The N26 app or Android or Apple gives you complete control of your account allowing you to set and change daily limits, reset your pin, lock the card if it is stolen or lost (no calling up the bank) and enable or disable foreign or online payments.
You can even customise the card permissions as per your needs.
Mastercard SecureCode provides an added layer of security for fraud prevention.
You can login using your fingerprint rather than typing your password every time, as an added security feature.
7. Bottom Line
N26 is a great service that provides you most of the accustomed features of a regular bank, but in a completely digital way. From cash withdrawals at ATMs to international money transfers at exchange rates with very low fees, they have a lot to offer.
It is particularly useful for international travellers, self employed people and freelancers.
Moreover, the account is easy to set up and the app is very user-friendly.
They also have all the requisite safety features in place (just like a regular bank) and some very cool features (that give high street banks a run for their money).
However we think it is a good idea to limit the funds you hold with them to avoid possible issues if your account gets frozen.