Digital Bank Guide

N26 Review (2020)

January 23, 2020

What is N26?

In this N26 review, we look at one of the trailblazers in the ‘Digital banking’ or ‘Mobile banking’ categories. N26 was founded back in 2013 by two Austrians, Valentin Stalf and Maximilian Tayenthal both from Vienna. The app based bank has its HQ in Berlin and call themselves the ‘the first mobile bank you’ll love‘, which in our experience isn’t an exaggeration.

The N26 bank brings all the features of a world class physical bank and some super nice extras to an app on your smart phone. The real joy in using N26 is the fact you can do absolutely everything from anywhere you have mobile internet access.

As they have no physical branches they provide a cheap (free on their basic plan) banking offering that we think you will enjoy whilst at home or travelling around the world.

How does N26 differ from traditional Banks?

The founders of N26 wanted to create a banking platform that was very simple to use and inexpensive for customers. While most banks create enough revenue through retail banking fees and overdraft penalties for charges, N26 aims to eliminate such costs. It is focused on delivering the most commonly used banking services and not a full range of banking services which involve loan facility, insurance, or unsecured lines of credit. N26 is specially geared at younger people who are tech-savvy and have modest needs when it comes to financial services of a bank. 

How does N26 work?

Think of N26 as a bank on your smartphone, with a Debit MasterCard, Apple & Google Pay attached. It’s an online bank that doesn’t have any branches and has banking licenses in the UK, EU and the US.

It’ll provide you with all the usual features of a bank plus some nice extras, like push notifications when you make a transaction, spending analytics, spaces (virtual sub accounts), cross border payments (via TransferWise), insurance options and extra security.

You can of course do the usual things you would do with a traditional bank like block your card, make payments etc all from the comfort of their mobile or web apps.

Features of N26

Debit MasterCard 

You will receive a Debit MasterCard which you can use like any other card.

Makes transfers easy

You can send, receive, and request money from within the apps without any hassle.

Cheap International transfers

N26 mobile bank is partnered with TransferWise for international payments. The bank supports international transfers into 19 foreign currencies directly from the app. N26 also claims that its international transfer service is six times cheaper as compared to other brands. 

Apple Pay & Google Pay support

It also supports Apple Pay and Google Pay which allows you to make payment in stores with your smart device as well as online. 

Set card limits, Lock card, Reset pin

With N26, you can set and change daily spending and withdrawal limits, lock or unlock your card, enable and disable online and foreign payments as well as reset your PIN. 

Instant Notifications

You get instant notifications after all your transactions, withdrawals, and outgoing transfers. 

In-app Support 

It is the only bank that has no branches. You can only contact them through web app chat function which functions from Monday to Friday 8 am to 8 pm or Saturday between 8am to 7pm. 

Breakdown of Spending 

It provides a breakdown of your spending and shows spending analytics by using artificial intelligence to categorize your transactions. 

Spaces 

A space is quite similar to a saving account. It allows you to track your spending and save for your future goals such as a house deposit or a vacation. Each space allows you to set a spending goal and notifies you about how close you are to your goal. 

With the standard N26 current account, you get access to 3 spaces and if you upgrade to the N26 You or N26 Metal account, you get access to additional 10 spaces. 

Discreet Mode

With the discreet mode, you can hide your balance and transaction details. The feature is available for both mobile and web apps to make sure that your secure information stays secure from prying eyes. 

Insurance

Being a N26 Metal Card member, you are entitled to travel insurance and purchase protection insurance underwritten by Allianz Global Assistance. 

N26 Travel Insurance – It keeps you protected in the event of medical expenses abroad, a medical emergency occurring prior to travel that results in not travelling, expenses for a delayed flight and of the luggage is  delayed over 4 hours and medical repatriation. 

N26 Purchase Protection Insurance – This insurance keeps you covered in the event of repair or replacement of a qualifying item that is damaged or stolen. It works only if the item was purchased with the N26 Standard or Metal card and was insured in your home country or abroad. 

Web and Mobile Apps

Whether you are at home or on the go, N26 provides access via web or app, whatever is convenient.

For Whom is N26 Useful?

One purpose of this N26 review is to point out who would benefit from N26. 

Firstly, N26 can be used by the young generation who are just stepping into the financial world and do not hold many assets. In case you don’t have a mortgage or other major debts, N26 bank account gives you practical features with near zero risk. 

The fees charged by N26 is almost non-existent for people who plan to use the bank exclusively in the UK. Even if you withdraw the cash abroad, a minimal fee of 1.7% is charged on the transaction. The biggest advantage of N26 is the lack of fees and predatory practices as well as built-in statistics which makes financial planning a lot easier. 

The other way to use the services offered by N26 is to have it as an add-on to a traditional bank account. If you need to track your personal spending or are fed up with all the fees associated with top banks, N26 is a real contender for you. Since it is fully integrated with the UK financial system, creating an automatic monthly payment from your main bank account to your N26 bank account would be a snap. 

It is quite evident that a non tech-savvy should steer clear of a banking platform like N26. As the bank relies mainly in the latest consumer technology to cut costs which is a blessing for people who are always stuck to their smartphones, it isn’t really a good option for people who don’t know much about banking through a smartphone and those who do not want an app to handle their financial life. 

Who Might Not Like N26?

It is quite evident that a non tech-savvy should steer clear of a banking platform like N26. As the bank relies mainly in the latest consumer technology to cut costs which is a blessing for people who are always stuck to their smartphones, it isn’t really a good option for people who don’t know much about banking through a smartphone and those who do not want an app to handle their financial life. 

We have already stated in the N26 review above that although the bank offers a suite of most commonly used features, it lacks the depth of financial services and banking interests that big banks have at their disposal. Wealthy individuals might only use N26 for preventing major problems arising from their involvement in digital economy as the services offered by N26 aren’t deep enough to accommodate their needs. 

Which N26 plan is for you?

n26 plan typesN26 – This plan offers all the basic features plus free cash withdrawals in the UK and free payments worldwide. There are no charges for this plan. 

N26 You – This plan offers free payments in any currency without extra foreign exchange fees. With this plan, you get upto 5 free ATM withdrawals per month in euros and free ATM withdrawals worldwide in foreign currencies. This plan costs £9.90 per month. 

N26 Metal – This is the other plan offered by N26 bank. It gives you everything that the N26 plan does. Along with that, you get free cash withdrawals globally, travel, and purchase protection insurance as well as a dedicated customer support and lounge key access. The plan costs £16.90 per month.  

N26 Business – This is an ideal bank account for freelancers and the self employed. You can earn 0.1% cashback on all your purchases and enjoy free card payments across the globe. This plan is FREE!

How to Open an N26 Bank Account?

Opening an account with N26 bank is more or less same like other banks but here the whole process is done online. There are certain steps that you must follow. 

Step 1. Download the N26 App

Opening an account with N26 bank is more or less same like other banks but here the whole process is done online. There are certain steps that you must follow. 

Step 2. Provide your personal information

When signing up for N26 you will be required to provide the same  personal details that any other bank would have required. You will need to provide:

  • First Name
  • Last Name 
  • Email ID 
  • Address
  • Date of Birth
  • Password
  • Phone Number 
  • Promotional codes in case you have any

 After submitting your basic information, you will need to pass their Anti-Money Laundering (AML) check and must provide:-

  • Gender
  • Place of Birth 
  • Nationality 
  • Job and Industry
  • Country where you are taxed
  • Tax ID number 

Step 3. Agree to terms, Choose plan and Verify e-mail

Once you have shared all this information, you can agree to their terms and conditions. After that, you need to confirm your email and opt for one of the three plans that N26 provides

Step 4. Verify identity in-app

The third step is to get your account verified. You need to upload a selfie and a photo ID which is done within the app itself and takes 30 seconds.

Step 5. Pair your smartphone

Onec you are done with the first and second step, you need to pair your smartphone to the N26 bank account you created. It is important to make sure that the phone number you entered in the initial step is correct as you will be receiving a 4 digit verification code. You can change the number later but if it was entered incorrectly, you will be stuck on this step. 

Once your mobile number is verified, just wait for your MasterCard to arrive. 

N26 Availability

N26 in the EU

N26 is currently available to citizens of the following countries:-

Germany, Austria, France, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia.

On the 11th February 2020, N26 announced that it will pull out of the UK on the 15th April 2020. 

N26 in the US

N26 is currently available in the US albeit not as comprehensive a package as in the UK/EU but it’s still worthwhile. Any EU/UK N26 user travelling to the US can of course enjoy the full functionality there.

Is N26 Safe?

Since N26 is a regulated bank, you can expect some important safeguards. N26 uses a variety of operational and technical measures to give you extra control and safety. Some of the safety measures include: 

App Security 

The N26 mobile bank app offers you complete control of your account which allows to set and change daily limits, reset PIN, and enable or disable foreign or online payments. You can also get your card customized as per your requirements. 

Fingerprint Login/FaceID

The app provides a fingerprint login and FaceID options so that you can login by using your fingerprint instead of typing the password every time as an added security feature. 

Also, you get instantly notified of all the actions you perform on your N26 account. So, you can be assured that your account is fully secure and your transactions are safe. 

N26 Customer Reviews

We had a look through the trusty TrustPilot to see what other folks thought of this digital bank and it’s pretty clear it’s a popular choice, with a rating as follows, but they do have some issues they need to work on as 20% of the reviews were negative, we read them and 99% of them relate to using it outside of the EU/UK area, so if you avoid that it will work great for you. I think this problem is due to them not correctly setting their account security to work outside their area.

Final thoughts

Pros of N26

  • Easy to use through a mobile app 
  • Offers a free account, card, and minimal fees
  • N26 allows free ATM withdrawals (3 per month anywhere across the globe)
  • Offers inexpensive currency change
  • User empowered banking for the global economy 

Cons of N26

  • 24×7 customer support is not available
  • N26 is limited to only UK, Europe, US
  • Does not offer all types of financial services 

The N26 bank is one of those handful banking platforms that offers consumers some of the most widely used baking services for rock bottom prices. And since it operates with a full German baking license, it is ahead of many of the other platforms in terms of deposit safety. 

For the younger generation who don’t need full-service banking, N26 is worth a try. The company was not formed to fleece it customers with loads of fees which is how other banks make profit. N26s debit card is directly linked to a client’s account and smartphone which makes using deposited funds straightforward. 

The only drawback about N26 is their short track record. N26 entered the global banking scene at the time of relative calm. It is hard to judge how they will react to tough times in the financial market, if they come across it. 

N26 is a great way to make the most of the accustomed features of a regular bank in a complete digital way. This means no more standing in long queues, waiting for your turn, and going through all the hassle and documentation. From easy cash withdrawals at ATMs to international money transfers at exchange rates with low fees, N26 has a lot to offer. 

N26 is easy to use and the app is user friendly. It has all the requisite safety features and some interesting additional features as well. However, our final thought is that although it is a great banking platform to use, you must limit the funds you hold with it to avoid any possible issues in case your account gets frozen. 

We are more than happy to recommend N26 as it’s not only a very solid all round digital bank, it excels in daily banking within the EU/UK and is also suited for digital nomads, but if you are planning on doing a lot of travel outside the EU/UK you might want to try Revolut.  

Starting off with their free account is a no risk proposition as you get to try the app for free. So why don’t you go ahead and give it a go! We hope our N26 review helped! 

 

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