N26 is a German bank, with its company headquarters in Berlin. It offers banking services across the Eurozone, the US, and Switzerland. N26 bank holds a fully-fledged banking license in Europe, allowing UK customers to get a true bank account and an N26 MasterCard. N26’s full-bank license means that deposits of up to €100,000 are guaranteed by the European deposit guarantee scheme.
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, entering basic personal information, confirming your email, and passing the identity check (methods of which depend per country), your N26 card will be delivered to you by post.
UK customers looking for a current account can choose between three monthly plans, the most basic of which is completely free and offers free card payments in any currency. The N26 ‘You’ plan will cost you £4.90 per month, offering the added benefits of free worldwide ATM withdrawals and exclusive partner offers. The last option is N26 Metal, available for £14.90 per month, offering LoungeKey memberships, travel insurance, customer support, and more.
The three current account options previously mentioned (N26, N26 You, and N26 Metal) are currently the only account types available in the UK. However, the services in wider Europe by N26 demonstrate what the future may hold for the UK service. Abroad N26 offers an N26 Business account and N26 Business Black, both intended for freelancers and self-employed.
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. 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, useful for boosting saving habits. These features are congruent with the challenger bank trend of using banking apps to help shape healthier spending habits.
N26’s savings options are limited to all of the features available in the app. The features include setting savings goals and ‘spaces’ enabling you to set money aside for a rainy day, yet these options will all be more attractive to those currently saving smaller chunks of change.
Currently, N26 also does not offer credit options in the UK. However, in some European countries, loans are available from €1,000 up to €25,000 with no paperwork required.
These accounts’ main benefit is touted as the 0.1% cashback available on all purchases, with the cashback being deposited into your account at the end of each quarter. This is currently the only cashback service offered by N26, meaning that until N26 business accounts are available in the UK there are no cashback opportunities.
Many of the features and services offered by N26 will particularly appeal to frequent travelers, such as the unlimited free foreign currency withdrawals and purchases worldwide. 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 in the UK is 2.8%.
N26 bank offers many competitive aspects to its service, from the freedom to use your card anywhere without having to worry 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 travelers, as they will be the ones to benefit from it most. Despite the lack of additional financial products in the UK, N26 bank has shown great potential in the rest of the world, and expansion to business and credit accounts will help provide a competitive edge.