N26

n26 bank card
  • Standard – Free
  • N26 Smart – €4.90/mo
  • N26 You – €9.90/mo
  • N26 Metal – €16.90/mo
  • Business accounts
  • Free payments worldwide
  • Optional metal card
  • Sub-accounts
  • Budgeting

Digital banks are raising the banking bar higher every year with more valuable features and additional financial products that appeal to the mass market. And N26 has undoubtedly raised the bar with its mobile-only bank accounts. Before you read our N26 review, here’s our short verdict:

If you live in Europe and want a solid and reliable (digital) bank account, you should consider N26 Bank. Although it pulled out of the UK market, it is still going strong in Europe and is even expanding into other territories like the USA. We love that there are almost no fees and its paid plans are an excellent choice for travellers.

n26 bank infographic

About N26

N26 is a German bank that was founded in 2013 by Valentin Stalf and Maximilian Tayenthal. The company has headquarters in Berlin but offers banking services across the Eurozone, the US, and Switzerland. 

Initially, this challenger bank started without a banking license, but as of 2016, N26 bank holds a fully-fledged banking license in Europe, allowing customers to get a proper bank account and an N26 MasterCard or Maestro in some countries.

N26’s full-banking license means that the European deposit guarantee scheme guarantees deposits of up to €100,000.

N26 has more than 7 million customers in 25 markets and over 1,500 employees. 

N26 pros and cons

Pros 

  • Free current account with all the expected services
  • Quick and easy to sign up
  • Practical budgeting features 
  • Saving Spaces
  • Paid plans great for travelling
  • No fees for foreign transactions
  • Deposit protection up to €100,000

Cons

  • Can only hold one currency
  • Not many features
  • Business account a bit lacklustre

Fees

  • €2 fee after free ATM withdrawals exhausted
  • 1.7% FX rate for ATM withdrawals other than Euro
  • Everything else is free (apart from the monthly fee)

In which countries is N26 available?

You can open an N26 account in the following countries: 

  • Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France (not available for residents in the DOM/TOM), Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the US

N26 pulled out of the United Kingdom in 2020.

How to open an N26 account

The straightforward online application process makes N26 bank an attractively convenient option when compared with traditional banks. To open an account, customers must be over 18, have a smartphone to access their account, and have internet access. 

After downloading the app, enter your basic personal information, confirm your email, and pass the identity check (methods of which depend per country). Your N26 card will be delivered to you by post afterwards.

How to add funds

In terms of the service offered by N26, it begins with the process of adding funds, which is made fast and easy. There are several options for adding funds, the most convenient of which is debit card transfer, allowing you to fund your card from the app for free instantly. 

Customers can also use their account number to make a direct deposit, use third-party payment processors such as PayPal, and more. 

N26 Personal accounts

EEA customers looking for a current account can choose between four monthly plans, the most basic of which is entirely free and offers free card payments in any currency. 

The N26 ‘Smart’ plan will cost you €4.90 per month, offering the added benefits of free worldwide ATM withdrawals and exclusive partner offers. The ‘You’ plan is €9.90/m and has unlimited free ATM withdrawals worldwide, all kinds of insurances, and more.

The last option is N26 Metal – the flagship plan available for €16.90 per month, offering LoungeKey memberships, travel insurance, a dedicated priority hotline, exclusive metal card, and more.

N26 Standard (Free)

  • Virtual debit card
  • Free payments worldwide
  • Up to 3 free ATM withdrawals per month in EEA
  • Spending insights

N26 Smart (€4.90/m)

  • Colourful debit card
  • Optional extra card
  • Free payments worldwide
  • Up to 5 free ATM withdrawals per month in EEA
  • Spending insights
  • Up to 10 sub-accounts
  • Shared sub-accounts
  • Round-ups
  • Premium partner offers

N26 You (€9.90/m)

  • Colourful debit card
  • Optional extra card
  • Free payments worldwide
  • Up to 5 free ATM withdrawals per month in EEA
  • Unlimited free ATM withdrawals worldwide
  • Spending insights
  • Up to 10 sub-accounts
  • Shared sub-accounts
  • Round-ups
  • Premium partner offers
  • Medical, trip, flight, mobility, and winter sports insurance
  • Luggage coverage

N26 Metal (€16.90)

  • 18g metal debit card
  • Optional extra card
  • Free payments worldwide
  • Up to 8 free ATM withdrawals per month in EEA
  • Unlimited free ATM withdrawals worldwide
  • Spending insights
  • Up to 10 sub-accounts
  • Shared sub-accounts
  • Round-ups
  • Premium partner offers
  • Medical, trip, flight, mobility, and winter sports insurance
  • Car rental and phone insurance
  • Luggage coverage
  • Unique experiences

N26 business accounts

To open an N26 Business account, you have to:

  • Be over 18 and have a valid ID
  • Be a freelancer or self-employed
  • Use the account primarily for business purposes
  • Be an existing N26 user
  • Reside in one of the EEA countries

N26 business accounts are designed for freelancers and self-employed only, and not companies. 

There are four N26 business accounts, and they have the same prices and the same features as personal accounts. There are two more benefits though.

Cashback is one of those benefits. Smart and You users will earn 0.1% cashback for every Mastercard purchase they make. It will be credited directly into their N26 account every month. Metal customers get even more cashback – 0.5%. 

The second benefit is a downloadable transactions list that makes for easier invoicing and tax returns.

Frequent travellers will also benefit from all kinds of insurances on You and Metal plans, including medical travel insurance (up to €1M), trip insurance, pandemic travel coverage, flight insurance, luggage coverage, and more. 

I’m not a big fan of their business accounts because they don’t offer any accounting tool integration, which is standard by now. 

N26 mobile app

The heart of the entire N26 service is the app, which on the surface, looks sleek and easy to navigate. The app’s main features are real-time alerts and information, allowing customers to see their spending in real-time and be notified after transactions. 

The app’s spending insights help you break down your outgoings, which can be helpful in budgeting – for instance, seeing where you could realistically cut down. 

Their ‘Spaces’ feature establishes separate ‘spaces’ for you to squirrel money away from your spending account, helpful in boosting saving habits. 

These features are consistent with the challenger bank trend of using banking apps to help shape healthier spending habits.

N26 card

All premium users get a Mastercard debit card for free. If you’re a Standard account user, you’ll need to pay €10 for a debit card. Smart and You customers can choose from five different colours (Ocean, Sand, Rhubarb, Aqua or Slate). 

Metal users can select their slick metal card in three colours (Charcoal Black, Slate Grey or Quartz Rose). 

>> See what other metal cards are available on the market

With your N26 Mastercard, you can pay online and in the store like a local no matter where you are as there are no fees for payments in any currency, and there are no ATM fees (You, Metal). 

We also need to mention that the card is contactless. You can freeze or unfreeze it from the app and set spending limits for payment options (online, ATM, in-store) and amounts (how much you can spend with it). 

In Austria, Germany, and the Netherlands, customers can additionally request a Maestro card.

Budgeting

N26 has quite a few budgeting features that can help you stay on top of your money and on top of your (bad) spending habits. 

The automatic spending categorisation will help you stay organised and send you an up-to-date overview of your expenses. You can further organise and personalise the system with #tags. 

N26’s push notifications will let you know immediately where is your money going to and where it’s coming from. You can set them up to receive a real-time ping after transactions, ATM withdrawals, transfers, and direct debits. 

To make sure you don’t overspend, you can set up spending limits, withdrawal limits, and so on. 

Spaces

The paid plans have the option to create up to 10 Spaces or sub-accounts that are great for saving money for a big purchase or to simply organise your money better. 

If you want to save on autopilot, saving rules will help you set up recurring transfers from primary to sub-accounts. You just need to set the amount and the frequency (daily, weekly, monthly, half-yearly). Add the round-up feature to the mix to save even more efficiently. 

Each space lets you set a total amount and shows you how close you are to reaching your goal. You can create and delete Space as often as you need. 

Apart from regular Spaces, there are also Shared Spaces. They let you collectively save and spend with up to 10 other N26 users that you know. The premium account holder that created the shared space is the sole owner of the Space. The other participants have his/her permission to transfer the money to and from the sub-account. 

N26 Credit (France & Germany only)

In France and Germany, loans are available from €1,000 up to €50,000 with no paperwork required. The repayment terms are from 6 to 84 months, and the interest rates are between 1.99% and 19% p.a. Apart from the interest, there are no other charges.

When you’re applying for the N26 Credit, they will ask about your personal and financial situation during the assessment. They’ll also look at your credit score in an automated process with no manual checks. 

N26 for travel

Many of the features and services offered by N26 will particularly appeal to frequent travellers. Mastercard debit card is accepted worldwide and offers zero foreign transaction fees when spending abroad, with no markups or extra charges. 

This eradicates much of the uncertainty surrounding the exchange rates and transaction fees associated with foreign travel, especially considering the average charge on foreign currency overseas transactions is 2.8%.

As you’ll see in our following paragraphs, travellers with You or Metal accounts have many added benefits for travelling, including all kinds of insurances if something terrible happens. 

Insurance

Users of You and Metal accounts get access to all kinds of insurance products by default. We’re talking about travel medical insurance of up to €1,000,000 for you, your partner, and your kids in case of emergencies that include dental coverage and winter sports. 

Travel insurance further includes trip curtailment or cancellation coverage, luggage loss up to €2,000 and luggage delay up to €500. For flights that are delayed more than four hours, you can get compensated up to €500. 

Then there’s the pandemic coverage for COVID-19 that includes coverage for “emergency medical treatments abroad, trip cancellations and trip curtailment due to reasons related to COVID-19.”

If you’re a user of shared vehicles like cars, e-scooters, or e-bikes, your shared vehicle hire is covered for damages up to €20,000. 

Metal users can even avail of car rental insurance up to €20,000 and phone insurance for damages and theft up to €1,000 if your phone or event are eligible. 

To make an insurance claim, you simply open your N26 app and go to ‘My Account’. Then tap on your account name under ‘Manage,’ and go to ‘Allianz insurance coverage.’ Select the type of claim you’d like to make and tap ‘Start my claim process.’ That’s it; follow the step-by-step guide on how to submit the required documents to Allianz.

Instant payments

N26 lets you instantly receive, send, and even request money to and from your existing N26 contacts or contacts you add by their email or phone number. They call this service MoneyBeam.

You can also get money added to your N26 account quickly with SEPA Instant Credit transfers. No more waiting for days for the deposit to clear. You get the money deposited instantly. 

How is N26 regulated?

N26 received its full banking license from the European Central Bank (ECB) and the German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) in 2016. Before that, N26 was a fintech company, and a partner bank provided its core banking products.

Because N26 is a full-fledged bank, they can provide financial products like credit loans, overdrafts, issue local IBANs, and savings accounts.

Is my money safe with N26?

As a bank, N26 has to comply with the regulations set forth by the European Central Bank. This also means that your deposits are insured up to €100,000 by the Compensation Scheme of German Private Banks no matter where you are in the EU.

N26 also uses secure logins, confirmation PINs (when you want to make a transfer), and push messages for incoming and outgoing payment. All of these are to ensure that your account stays safe and secure. 

N26 had invested in technology and AI to run ‘advanced statistical models and algorithms, alongside human behaviour analysis’ to protect you from cybercriminals. Does it sometimes flag an innocent user or an innocent transaction? Sure, but that’s how it is sometimes. 

Who owns N26?

N26 was founded in 2013 by Maximilian Tayenthal (CFO) and Valentin Stalf (CEO). Its headquarters are in Berlin, Germany.

The company raised more than $819 million from nine rounds of funding. The last corporate round brought in $30 million in February 2021.

It has 18 investors that include Earlybird VC, Crystalon Finanz, Redalpine, Allianz X, Tencent, GIC, and others. 

Customer reviews

N26 has a 4-star rating out of 5 on Trustpilot, with 65% of reviewers giving it an excellent mark and 18% a bad one. With a 4.0 score, N26 is placed lower than Vivid (4.1),  Revolut (4.3), and Qonto (4.7), for example, and better than bunq (2.4) and Ferratum (2.1).

Competitors

Revolut

revolut

Revolut is certainly N26’s main competitor in Europe and the USA, where they both recently expanded. With more than 15 million users worldwide, Revolut has more than double the amount of customers than N26. It also has more features such as crypto, commodities, and stock investing. 

Bunq

bunq review logo

Bunq is the Dutch challenger bank that operates in EEA, same as N26. Its marketing message is focused on the green revolution and the planting of trees. Believe the message or not, bunq still offers a solid bank account for regular people and businesses. 

Vivid

vivid

Vivid Money is a German challenger bank that was founded only in 2019. For now, you can only open a Vivid free or paid account if you live in Italy, Spain, France, or Germany. Their metal card is also free for now. You get it by default when you sign up for an account, as well as three months of their premium membership for free.

The bottom line

N26 bank offers many competitive aspects to its service, from the freedom to use your card anywhere without worrying about fees to the quick and easy online application system. The app is enjoyable to use, and the added features that help you manage your finances are effective. 

The service is probably most advantageous to travellers, as they will be the ones to benefit from it most. Despite the lack of additional financial products, N26 bank has shown great potential, and expansion to business and credit accounts will help provide a competitive edge.