N26 claims to be the “bank you’ll love”. They promise a free N26 bank account, smart and flexible banking in real-time, and 100% mobile banking. Sounds too good to be true? In this N26 review, I take a closer look at the popular online bank.
I check the functionalities, look at the different N26 account types, see what features are really free, explain how you can sign up for an N26 card, and show who can profit from an N26 account.
Table of Contents
What Is N26 and What Are the N26 Benefits?
N26 is Europe’s fastest-growing mobile bank and was founded in 2014 in Berlin, Germany. What began as a small start-up has now grown to 1,500 employees and about 7 million customers worldwide.
They offer pretty much the same services as a traditional bank does. However, they are specialized in mobile banking using a smartphone.
- With this online business model, N26 can operate at a much lower cost and hence, can provide a cheaper service than normal banks.
- Unlike other banks in Europe, their registration process is very simple and quick.
- Banking with N26 is easy, straightforward, cheap, or even free, and super-intuitive thanks to their well-designed app.
I have been using their bank account since 2016 and it’s still one of my absolute favorites. It saved me so much in fees during the last couple of years and I’m a huge fan of their straight-forward, modern banking approach.
How Does N26 Online Banking Work?
N26 banking works exclusively online. There are no physical branches.
N26 customers open a bank account online (which takes less than 8 minutes), verify their identity, and download the app.
That’s it. From that moment on customers can use the app to pay, make transactions, change payment limits, monitor their money flow, lock the card, and much more.
You also get a Mastercard, which is a debit card, that you can use at any ATM around the world to withdraw money or pay without any fees.
Besides the non-existent fees, the N26 app is really the best thing about N26. I haven’t heard a single person not gushing about it. Seriously. Here are just some benefits:
- The design is very elegant and modern.
- It is super powerful – you get to do all types of banking-related services with it.
- It makes your money flow very transparent, organized, and easy to understand by giving detailed statics.
- It operates on a high-security standard.
Just in case you are wondering: Once you have set up your account, you can also use the desktop version of N26 if you prefer banking on your computer.
What features does the N26 app offer?
Since we’re talking about their functionalities anyway, we might as well go a little bit deeper and have a look at some of my favorite features:
1. Contactless Payments via N26 Apple Pay and N26 Google Pay
You can use N26 Apple Pay or Google Pay to make payments without your card. Checkouts in stores couldn’t possibly get easier and quicker with these real-time transactions. Of course, this technology is absolutely safe, using Touch ID or Face ID.
2. Push Notifications
As soon as you pay something with your card, your phone immediately vibrates in your pocket, giving you a note about the transactions. If you get paid on your N26 account, your phone also lets you know straight away. Does your internet provider take its money from your account? Your phone tells you.
If you are like me and don’t check your bank account every day, this is a great way to keep an overview. You always know what happens with your money.
3. Transaction Categories
This app is super smart. If you buy a train ticket, it automatically classifies this transaction as “Transport”. Have a coffee in a restaurant = “Bars & Restaurant”. Pay your rent = “Household”. Buy makeup = “Drug Stores”.
Wondering why N26 does that? At any time, you can have a look at your statistics and see how much money you have spent on each category. A fantastic way to easily analyze your expenses and income and to spot areas where you could save more.
4. Cash Withdrawals via CASH26
This function is currently only available in Germany, Italy, and Austria but I’m sure it will spread soon. You can simply go to one of the almost 15.000 participating shops, show them a barcode created in your app and they will give you up to 200 Euro cash from your bank account per transaction. No ATM or card is needed. No fees.
5. Banking Settings
You can change all the important settings in your app directly: Changing your daily transaction limits, locking your card in case you have lost it, resetting your PIN, or turning online payments, international payments, or withdrawals on and off as you like.
No need to contact a bank employee anymore. You can manage your own security settings with a few clicks.
Welcome to the future! I haven’t seen this feature in any other bank but I think this is going to be huge! If you want to send money to your friends, family, or whoever, you don’t even need to have their bank account details anymore.
All you need is their email address or phone number and you can transfer the money. If they have N26, too, the transaction happens immediately. As soon as they receive the money, they only need to accept it. If they don’t, the money goes straight back into your account. Again, no fees are charged.
7. Cash Map
The cash map is particularly handy when you are new to town and don’t know your way around. It shows you where you can find the next ATM near you or the next CASH26 partner. No need to google around for ages.
The premium versions of N26 come with extensive insurance coverage. They cover things like: stolen phones, flight delays, travel cancellations, or delayed luggage. The partner insurance company for that is Allianz.
Tip: Although they offer an impressive list of coverage, I always recommend getting specialized travel insurance. Banks are no experts when it comes to insurance and often, the liability cases are very limited and have many exceptions. That’s why I would never rely on a bank or credit card provider for insurance.
N26 and Wise Integration
Yes, my two favorite online banks have joined forces!
If you have been reading this blog for a while, you know that I’m also a huge fan of Wise, formerly TransferWise. I’ve been using them for years now and couldn’t be happier with their service.
Wise allows you to make transactions between different currencies at the so-called mid-market rate, which is the best exchange rate you can get, in only a few days.
This is very handy if you want to send or receive money from one currency to another. For example, if you are currently traveling or living in Europe but your client or employer pays you in USD. A fantastic way to transfer money to EUR which is so much cheaper than a normal bank transfer.
I have written an extensive review on Wise, too, if you want to learn more.
Since N26 bank has partnered with Wise, you can profit from these advantages, too, when making a transaction between two currencies. Double win!
What Are the N26 Bank Account Fees?
If you have to pay fees and how much depends on the type of plan you get. N26 has two main options, depending on what you want to use it for:
- Personal plan and
- Business plan.
I don’t want to go into detail about both options now, so let’s just quickly look into the N26 bank account fees of the personal plans:
- N26 Standard: free
- N26 Smart: €4.90/month
- N26 You: €9.90/month
- N26 Metal: €16.90/month
The differences between the N26 bank accounts are mainly in additional features such as travel insurance, lifestyle insurance, or things like shared account:
No matter what type of plan you go for, you never have to pay for:
- Setting up an account
- Verifying your identity
- Issuing your N26 debit card
- Downloading and using the powerful N26 app
- Contact via live chat
- Payments in any currency
- Mobile payments
- Contactless payments
- Deposit protection of up to €100,000
- 2 sub-accounts for easier budgeting and saving
- Up to 3 free withdrawals per month in Germany
All these services are 100% FREE!
Is there an N26 Credit Card?
Unfortunately, there is no N26 credit card, yet. Both personal and business accounts have debit cards only.
But since they are growing so rapidly, it wouldn’t surprise me if they came out with an N26 credit card in the near future. So let’s wait and see.
Who Can Get an N26 Card?
If you want to open an account so you can get an N26 card, you need to:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Own a compatible smartphone
- Live in a supported country
Note: You do not need to be officially registered in that country and you don’t need to be a citizen of that country. You only need to stay/live there.
The supported countries are:
Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the USA.
Don’t worry if your country is not on the list yet. Looking at the speed of their growth I’m pretty sure they will expand this list soon. So stay tuned.
N26 USA: Can US residents get an N26 account?
Yes, N26 is now also available in the USA. That means all you need to do is to go to the N26 USA website and open an account. You will need the usual personal details to sign up, that is:
- First & Last Name
- Date of Birth
- Social Security Number
- Physical Home Address
- Mobile Phone Number
- Email Address
How To Open An N26 Bank Account?
Another one of the perks is: It is super easy and quick to open an N26 account. According to their website, you can do it in less than 8 minutes! Here we go:
- Head to the N26 website and click on “Open Bank Account”.
- Give your email, personal details, and a shipping address for your debit card.
- Select the plan you want.
- Prove your identity.
- Connect your smartphone.
That. Is. It. No painful bureaucracy, no filing papers, no visiting a branch.
You can now use your N26 bank account to do payments or money transfers. In a few days, your debit card will arrive at your given address.
How Do I Verify My Identity via IDNow to Open an N26 Bank Account?
Again, proving your identity to open an account with N26 is fairly easy. Depending on where you live, your nationality, and the type of ID you want to use, you have two options:
- Video Verification
- Photo Verification
For the first one, you simply do a video call with N26’s video identification partner IDnow. A lovely customer representative will ask you to hold up your ID to the camera so they can verify the details you provided earlier.
You can also verify your identity by a photo of your ID and a selfie through the N26 app.
Which method you need to choose depends on your nationality, your country of residence, and the type of ID you use.
Is the N26 Card Safe to Use?
The N26 card is absolutely safe to use! Many people may ask “What bank does N26 use?” The answer: N26 is a fully licensed bank! That means that they don’t need to use another bank to provide their services.
N26 holds a banking license and therefore must comply with the rules of the German financial regulatory authority. Another advantage of N26 being located in Germany is the fact that the German deposit protection insures all deposits up to 100.000 Euro.
So much to the legal security background.
To protect their customers’ accounts, they have created a very smart system:
- Secure login: If you want to access the app, you need your username and password (you have to type it in every time again, no chance to save it) or use a fingerprint/face recognition system.
- PIN confirmation: Every time you make a transfer or connect or disconnect a new smartphone, you need to use a 4-digit code.
- Push notifications: You will get an instant notification for every incoming and outgoing payment. In case something doesn’t look quite right to you, you can jump in immediately and lock your account if necessary.
- Banking settings: You can activate and deactivate banking settings, such as ATM withdrawals, online payments, or payments abroad, with one click in the app. For instance, once you have used an ATM, simply deactivate the cash withdrawal function until you use it the next time to avoid card skimming.
How Can I Contact the N26 Customer Support?
if you have any questions, you can contact the N26 customer service via:
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Support Chat: in the N26 mobile app or web app
- Phone Call: 1-888-626-0626.
On top of that, there is a comprehensive help center that answers all of the common questions customers have.
The Downsides of N26 Bank
Nothing is perfect. As with every bank, there are a few minor disadvantages with N26, too. Here they are:
- In the free plan, N26 Standard, you don’t get an N26 customer service number you could call, only live chat. I have to admit that I find this a bit unusual but as long as the chat is efficient, I’m ok with that.
- The locations for opening an account with N26 are limited to European countries and the USA only at the moment. However, they are constantly working on expanding the list.
N26 Bank Review Verdict: Mobile banking for Travelers and Digital Nomads
As you can see, there are many fantastic reasons to fall in love with N26. They provide the next level of mobile banking and make international payments so much easier.
Setting up an account and getting an N26 card is a breeze. Payments and N26 withdrawals are free and thanks to their great app quicker than ever before. Statistics and push notifications to help you keep an overview of your money flow at any time. Even transfers to different currencies are possible at the best exchange rate due to their partnership with Wise.
Whether you are a personal or business user, I’m happy to say that an N26 bank is a brilliant option for all digital nomads, travelers, expats, or anyone who is looking for a new and smart way of online banking.