Wise and N26 may seem quite similar at a glance.
After all, they both have great cards and take banking into the next decade while saving you a lot of money and generally make life better…
But fortunately you are here because there are a number of big differences that can determine which one will work best.
In the next five minutes, you’ll discover which one has more of what matters to you.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links and savings if you use some of the links! For more information, see my disclosures here.
Quick Comparison: The Lowdown on Differences
Wise is a powerful multi-currency account that lets you hold, manage, and convert between 50+ currencies. You can also get paid like a local in 10 currencies. And their card works seamlessly with the account so that working with multiple currencies is both inexpensive and far easier than traditional banks. Check availability in your country for the Wise account and card.
On the other hand, N26 is a completely digital bank (with banking licenses) with a focus on Europe and the USA with accounts in either Euros or US Dollars. Although you can only hold one currency, they offer 3 card levels, all of which can be used to inexpensively pay for things in different currencies. N26 has different offerings depending on the country. Check out the latest N26 options available in your country – (new tab).
If you plan to hold just Euro or USD you might like N26 Vs Revolut (new tab).
If you live outside of Europe or USA or simply want to hold and manage multiple currencies you might like our Wise Multi Currency Account review (new tab).
- Available in 50+ countries (including the US, UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, etc.)
- Regulated in many countries
- Both personal and business accounts
- Hold 50+ currencies
- Comes with a MasterCard debit card
- Transparent and affordable international transfers
- Dedicated business tools like bulk payments and integration with accounting software
- Not a real bank and thus your deposits are not protected by financial authorities
- Completely digital licensed bank
- Available for both personal and business
- Three account options (free option available)
- Deposit protection available
- MasterCard and Maestro debit cards (depending on location)
- Saving “subspaces” for budgeting
- Lifestyle and travel insurance for premium accounts
- Limited availability – only available in the Eurozone and the US
1. Best for Banking
- Multicurrency account with the ability to hold, manage and convert between 50+ currencies
- Offers local bank details (IBAN and sorting code) in 10+ currencies (including USD, GBP, EUR, CAD, AUD, NZD, etc)
- The MasterCard debit card is accepted in 200 + countries and it’s great for ATM withdrawals, in-store payments, and online payments
- Makes international transfers easy and affordable at the mid-market rate
- Regulated by, authorities such as Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (USA), the UK Financial Conduct Authority (UK), National Bank of Belgium (Europe) as an Authorised Payment Institution, the Australia Securities and Investments Commission (Australia), Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre (Canada) and Financial Customs and Excise Department (Hong Kong). It is also regulated in India, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, and the UAE.
- Has a banking license from European Central Bank (ECB) and the German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin)
- Single currency account – EUR or USD account based on your location
- Mastercard debit card for ATM withdrawals and other payments (offline and online)
- Three options for signing up (free and paid)
- Ability to share the savings spaces with other N26 users (works like a joint savings account)
- Deposit protection up to €100,000 EUR
N26 wins this round as a leading licensed digital bank. They have overlapping features which let you use it as a checking out as well as a savings account. Their debit card makes it easy to travel abroad without breaking the bank, and their business account is great for freelancers and small businesses. And most importantly, as a licensed bank, they protect your money up to €100,000 EUR.
Though Wise isn’t a real bank, they’re our top recommendation if you travel extensively, freelance, or run a small to medium business with a global footprint. Their multi-currency account with the MasterCard debit card makes it easy to pay and get paid in various local currencies with international bank details.
2. Best Card
- Globally accepted MasterCard debit card
- Available for both personal and business
- Free ATM withdrawals at home and abroad (limits applicable)
- Fee-free local payments with currencies you hold
- Contactless payments
- Integrates with GooglePay and Apple Pay
- Create up to 3 virtual debit cards
- Great “get started with the Wise card” guide
- MasterCard and Maestro debit cards that are accepted worldwide
- Available for both personal and business, standard or premium.
- Contactless payments
- Integration with Apple Pay and Google Pay
- Free ATM withdrawals in EUR up to a limit on the free and mid-tier plans (unlimited on the highest tier)
- Fee-free card payments worldwide (currency conversion fees applicable)
- Optional add on card
- Virtual debit card
Both cards are great for traveling abroad, in-store payments, and online payments. The virtual cards help you shop online securely, contact-free payments make shopping offline quick and easy, and free ATM withdrawals at home and while traveling ensures easy access to cash always.
The bonus on Wise is the ability pay using the currencies you hold (you save on currency conversion fees), while N26 keeps costs low by eliminating their service fees while traveling abroad.
3. Real Fees & Hidden Costs (Banking + Card)
- Free personal account
- One-time fee of 16 GBP for their business account. Check the latest pricing for your country including the UK
- Affordable international transfers at the mid-market rate (pay approximately 0.5-1.5% of the amount, which is very competitive)
- Currency conversion fees of about 0.35%-1% on currencies you hold
- A small, location-specific fixed fee is applicable for withdrawing money from your Wise account to a bank account.
- Holding money up to a limit is free in 50+ currencies.
Some examples of how much you can hold:
AUD — $23,000
EUR — €15,000
GBP — £13,000
USD — $18,000
Over that amount, you’ll pay an annual percentage fee (location specific).
- Location-specific card issuing fee: $7 USD / £5 GBP/ €6 EUR/ $10 SGD/ $10 NZD and free in AUD
- You can withdraw money free twice a month up to 200 GBP/EUR for cards issued in the UK and Eurozone. Fees are applicable over this limit.
- For US-issued cards, fees are applicable if you withdraw more than twice or withdraw more than $100 USD in a month
- Three options for getting an account for both personal and business. Fees range from Free to €9.90 EUR per month for personal and Free to €16.90 EUR per month for business accounts Check and compare the latest prices for accounts
- €6.00 per month fee applicable for N26 Basic as well if the customer doesn’t hold an account with any other bank
- Deposit fee applicable for balances more than €50,000 EUR (0.5% per year)
- Currency conversions at the mid-market rate for international payments (via Wise)
- Free transfers in EUR in the EEA and Switzerland
- Fee applicable for incoming international transfers (€12.50 EUR + 0.1 % of transaction
- Overdraft fee applicable (8.9% p.a)
- 10 EUR fee to issue a new card or replace the card (free for premium members)
- Fees for issuing an N26 Metal card is higher (€45 EUR)
- MasterCard withdrawals in EUR worldwide charged at €2.00 EUR per withdrawal
- MaestroCard withdrawal in EUR worldwide charge at 2.00 € per withdrawal + 1.7% of the amount drawn
- Free CASH26 withdrawals in supported countries
- Withdrawal fees applicable for foreign currencies as well: 2.00 € per cash withdrawal at ATM + 1.7% of the amount drawn
Both Wise and N26 offer robust debit cards with reasonable fees. Compared to high street banks, using these cards to pay for your travels, online purchases, or business expenses in foreign currencies is much more affordable.
Their fees are transparent too and you’ll know exactly what you’ll pay for each service. (Some of these fees are waived on the paid versions of N26 like N26 Metal and Business Metal.)
4. Reviews (inc. Negative Ones) — What Others Are Saying
Wise is rated 4.6/5 on Trustpilot with over 130,000 reviews, which is considered “Excellent.”
- Powerful multicurrency account for frequent travelers
- Helpful payment tools for growing global businesses
- Great customer service
- More affordable than banks
“I like the fact you can have multiple accounts in different currencies and can easily and quickly convert from one account to another with great exchange rates. The best part of the service is the Wise Debit card. This has is a game changer for anyone who needs to spend in different currencies. The beauty of this is that you can always pay in local currency (no exchange rates or fees to pay..) So, in UK I pay in Sterling, in Europe in EUR etc. It knows which country you are in and which currency to use.”– Adrian Paul Garrow on Trustpilot
“Wise is a fantastic service. We work with a lot of freelancers from all over the world. We actually use Wise as our primary account where service funds are deposited, and then all payments to contractors are made out of the account and then only profits moved to our actual business account. It has made paying a global workforce so much easier.”– Pirate and Fox LLX on Trustpilot
“I am really happy with my discovery of Wise.– Jacqueline Keel Howard on Trustpilot
Speed; faster than my bank.
Service; informative, helpful and accessible
Cost; definitely cheaper than my bank and my PayPal
This was a good move both for business and personal banking!”
- Unexpected account suspensions
A few users complained that they lost access to their accounts after making a payment.
This happens when a payment is red flagged and Wise steps in to audit it as a regulated financial services provider. This is to make sure your money reaches the right people and your data is protected.
The good news is during this time Wise’s customer support team remains communicative and helpful.
N26 is rated 3.7/5 on Trustpilot, which is considered “Average”
- Affordable payments while traveling abroad
- User-friendly interface
- Feature-rich and more powerful than other digital banks
“Very good bank especially when you go abroad because you don’t have commissions on your purchases.”– Maria Lieta on Trustpilot
“I’m one of the first members of N26 Bank and I’m really satisfied. I see what they did while growing and the service is much better than the other internet bank im using…! I really recommend N26.”– Chris F on Trustpilot
- Poor customer service
Some customers were dissatisfied with N26’s customer service during a crisis – such as unexpected account freezes and concerns around theft of funds.
It’s worth mentioning that customers with free accounts don’t get the same support as premium customers.
However, N26 do their best to restore user accounts (if they comply with N26’s usage guidelines) and recover any lost money.
On the numbers you would think this is Win for Wise. But the truth is the Wise reviews are mostly focused on their excellent money transfer services. We think it fair to give the benefit of the doubt to N26 considering a reasonable score and the fact that they compete with traditional banks more than anything. For comparison, DeutscheBank has a rating of 1.9/5.
- Hold up to 50+ currencies
- Bank details in 10 local currencies – great for frequent travelers and growing global businesses
- Robust business tools including batch payments and integration with software like Xero
- Access to leading money transfer services
- N26 spaces help you budget or save up for specific goals
- Ability to create shared “sub spaces” where you can collaborate on budgeting with other N26 users (like a joint account)
- Deposit protection up to €100,000 EUR
- Travel and lifestyle insurance for premium accounts
- Branded partnerships to help you save money on purchases
- Cashbacks on their debit card
We tied them in this category because the perks they offer complement their respective services.
Wise is a powerful multi currency account with banking-like features and N26 a leading digital bank solving different challenges.
This difference might help you to decide one way or the other.
6. Customer Service and Support
- Customer service is responsive and can be reached via live chat, phone, and email
- Multi-lingual phone support for everyone
- Extensive FAQs section
- Customer service varies by account type:
- Free accounts get chatbot, social media messaging (Twitter and Facebook). and in-app chat support.
- Paid accounts get all of the above as well as multilingual phone support (in English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish)
- Extensive FAQs section
Wise wins this round because they’re known for their proactive and responsive customer support, even for personal accounts which are free. Since they’re a completely digital service, this helps to build trust and loyalty in their users.
N26 offers excellent support for paid accounts, and while the free accounts have a lot of features, they seem to fall short on the customer support based on the review (see above “Reviews”).
If you like N26 otherwise, we think it is probably worth upgrading to unlock more banking features as well as to get access to their customer service team should you have any questions or problems with your account.
7. Wise or N26 for business?
- Multicurrency account – hold 50+ currencies
- Batch payments to reduce admin
- Integration with Key business software like Quickbook and Xero
- Add team members to accounts and stay in control of team spending in real-time.
- MasterCard debit card for founder as well as employees
- Set up direct debits
- E-commerce support – get paid from Shopify, Stripe, etc.
- Affordable transfers to pay overseas employees
- Local bank details in 10 currencies to receive money from clients and marketplaces without high fees
- Volume discount for large payments
- Statistics of monthly incoming and outgoing payments
- Instant payments with MoneyBeam and SEPA Transfers
- MasterCard debit card for spending in EUR as well as foreign currencies
- Insurance package for work and travel (Business Metal users)
- Spaces to set aside taxes
- Pay overseas employees (integration with Wise)
Wise wins in this category by offering a range of services for freelancers as well as small businesses looking to grow their global footprint. They offer features that make paying your team and receiving money in foreign currencies affordable as well as a bunch of tools that help your team save time. Moreover, they let you share the multicurrency with your team, while offering great control over how the business funds are spent.
N26’s business account is efficient but basic and will work well if you’re a freelancer or own a proprietorship business in the EEA.
With two wins for Wise, one for N26, and five ties, it can be difficult to choose a winner.
However as we have shown, there are some major differences which means they will suit different people.
Wise is ideal for you if you’re a frequent traveler, expat, online seller, or own a small to medium sized global business. Apart from helping you manage your international money effortlessly, Wise also lets you transfer money internationally at affordable costs (even large transfers can be affordable with their volume discount).
Check availability in your country for the Wise account and card (new tab)
N26 is our recommendation if you’re in the EEA or the USA and looking for an alternative to traditional banking (N26 has a banking license). Their MasterCard debit card is great to travel with as well as for paying for small business expenses (like paying overseas contractors or subscribing to apps and tools).
Check out the latest N26 options available in your country – (new tab)
So which banking alternative is best for you ultimately comes down to your specific needs.