N26 Review: The Best Online Bank Of 2022

N26 Review: The Best Online Bank Of 2022

After years of testing out traditional and online banks, I’ve found N26 to be the best overall banking experience for anyone who travels frequently, digital nomads or not. With free worldwide ATM withdrawals, exceptional travel insurance coverage, and an intuitive, powerful app, I’m a strong believer that N26 is the best bank account for most Europeans.

I recommend starting with a free N26 account and upgrading later to N26 You if you feel the need. With no credit checks and a signup process that takes 5 minutes or less, open your free N26 account with confidence today.

#1 What Is N26?

N26 is an online bank account built for millennials, frequent travelers, and digital nomads.

Launched in Berlin in 2015, N26 now has more than 5 million users.

So why is this German neobank so popular? 

I believe there are two main reasons:

  1. A thoughtful, technology-focused approach to banking that makes transacting across borders and with multiple currencies a breeze.
  2. A robust, easy-to-use app that allows you to bank as quickly as you use every other app.

With that in mind, you can’t write an N26 review without breaking down the bank’s features and benefits. Let’s dig a bit deeper into the specifics of what N26 has to offer.

#2 Benefits of N26

Free ATM Withdrawals

One of the major financial pain points travelers encounter comes when they want to withdraw money from ATMs while they’re abroad. It seems like no matter what country you’re from, just about every traditional bank account everywhere penalizes you for traveling abroad.

N26 is the rare exception.

All N26 accounts get free ATM withdrawals in Euros. That means you can travel freely to any Eurozone country and not pay any fees when you withdraw money. 

If you have N26 You or N26 Metal, you get free ATM withdrawals in any currency. 

Why are free ATM withdrawals such a bonus? Let’s look at how the math works out. 

Right now, every time you withdraw cash from a foreign ATM you’re paying fees in 3-4 different ways:

  1. The 1.5 – 2.5% foreign currency conversion fees that your bank charges.
  2. The additional ATM withdrawal fee of €2-5 that your bank charges.
  3. The 20-24% annualized cash advance fee if you withdraw using a credit card, which averages to about 2% out of your pocket if you pay your statement every 30 days.
  4. The €2-10 withdrawal fee that ATMs charge.

When that’s all said and done, you end up paying 5%+ just to withdraw your cash! Put another way, everything is 5% more expensive than you think it is. 

That doesn’t sound like a huge difference, but even if you travel modestly and only burn €1,000 – €2,000 per month, that’s an extra €50 – 100 you didn’t account for, or €600 – €1,200 per year.

Imagine that: €1,200/year just in banking fees!

That ends with N26.

Zero Foreign Transaction Fees

This may sound the same as zero ATM withdrawal fees, but it’s not.

Zero foreign transaction fees means you pay the exact exchange rate when you make a purchase in a foreign currency, whether you’re in a physical store or shopping online.

This is important, because most banks charge 2.5% in foreign transaction fees, which means if you’re spending €1,000 – €2,000 per month, you’re shelling out an additional €25-€50 (or €300 – €600 per year) in foreign exchange fees, too.

But with N26, that’s €300 – €600 more that you’ll save.

Worldwide Travel Insurance

One of the most-overlooked things about being an N26 cardholder is the insurance coverage that comes with your card.

Because the N26 insurance policy is one of the best you’ll find with any checking account or credit card, period.

N26’s insurance policy covers emergency medical insurance up to an unlimited amount, has very generous flight and luggage delay coverage, and even reimburses you if your phone gets stolen.

Here’s a deeper look at what the policy covers (Note: If no deductible is listed, that means there’s no deductible charged):

Type of Insurance

Coverage

Emergency medical

Unlimited

Flight delay

€400

Luggage delay

€400

Stolen mobile phone

€300 (€50 deductible)

Stolen cash

€500

Extended warranty

€500 (€50 deductible)

Travel cancellation

€5,000 (10-20% deductible)

COVID-19 Coverage

Unlimited

Unlimited medical insurance policies are almost unheard of, and they never come without a hefty price tag, except with N26.

Insurance doesn’t come with a free N26 account, but it is included with N26 You and N26 Metal, and it covers the first 90 days of your trip

Most credit cards cover up to maximum of 30 days if you have a premium card, so 90 days is a very impressive coverage period.

Note: I recently reviewed SafetyWing, the $40/month comprehensive travel & medical insurance subscription, which is worth checking out as well. I recommend using your N26 insurance for the first 90 days of every trip, and then buying a SafetyWing policy for additional travel beyond that.

N26 Review - Apple Pay
N26 Review: N26 has partnered with both Apple Pay and Google Pay to make transactions even easier.

#3 Nine More Features Of N26

  1. Apple Pay & Google Pay: You can pay anywhere that accepts Apple Pay or Google Pay with your N26 card.
  2. Real-time transaction notifications: Whenever money goes in or out of your checking account, whether it’s a bank transfer you’ve initiated or a pre-authorized payment, you’ll get a notification.
  3. Transaction categories: Every transaction is assigned a category like “Bars & Restaurants” or “Travel & Holidays” to help you keep track of your spending. 
  4. PIN resets: Resetting your PIN is as simple as logging into the N26 app and changing it. No calling support, no trips to the ATM—30 seconds and it’s done.
  5. Locking your card: Just like resetting your PIN, locking your card is as simple as logging into the app and pressing a button. Unlocking it is just as easy.
  6. Payments abroad, online payments and cash withdrawals: For your security, you can toggle each of these on and off from within the app at any time.
  7. Spending and withdrawal limits: Another security feature that you can choose and change in the app at any time.
  8. CASH26: Withdraw and deposit cash from thousands of retail locations, turning grocery stores, drug stores and more into your private ATM.
  9. MoneyBeam: Make free, immediate money transfers using just the recipient’s phone number or email address.

#4 Cons Of N26

It’s worth pointing out that N26 is not perfect. Here are the top two complaints users have about N26:

  1. No 24/7 phone support
  2. You can only hold a single currency in your account

In my case, I’ve never found myself needing phone support, even as a Metal member. The app works flawlessly, and N26’s chat support is fast and helpful enough to answer any small questions that have come up for me.

As for only holding a single currency, this hasn’t been an issue for me, either. Every transaction you make—regardless of the currency—is converted at the Mastercard exchange rate to the currency you hold in your account, which is extremely close to the inter-bank exchange rate. This means that you’re essentially holding every currency in your account

However, if you need to transfer money in a specific currency that’s not your base currency, I can see why this would be annoying. In that case, I highly recommend making a low-cost transfer with Wise.

#5 N26 You

N26 You is N26’s premium account.

I’ve personally been using N26 You for over 3 years now, and I find it offers the best value-for-money out of the three N26 accounts.

With that said, I started with a free N26 account, and recommend that you do the same to remove any risk and ensure you like the bank before you start paying for it.

Here’s a table comparing the benefits you get with N26’s free account, N26 You, and N26 Metal, which we’ll introduce in the next section.

 N26 FreeN26 YouN26 Metal
Monthly Fee€0€9.90€16.90
Free ATM withdrawals in Euros
0% Foreign Payments Fee In Any Currency
Worldwide ATM Withdrawal Fees1.7%0%0%
Travel Insurance 
Extended Warranty 
Cash Protection 
Mobile Phone Theft Insurance 
Access to MasterCard World Elite Benefits 
10 Sub-Accounts With IBANs
Dedicated Customer Support  
Partner Discounts  
Tungsten Card  

#6 N26 Metal

N26 Metal is N26’s ultra-premium offering. N26 Metal members are given a beautiful metal card, and the account carries a monthly fee of €16.90/month.

N26 Review - N26 Metal
N26 Review: N26 Metal is N26’s ultra-premium offering.

N26 Metal Benefits

Here are four major benefits you get with N26 Metal that don’t come with N26 You:

  1. 10 Sub-accounts with Individual IBANs: These can be very handy for organizing your money, paying bills, budgeting, and more. You can also share these sub-accounts with friends, which makes pooling money together easy.
  2. Tungsten Card: The N26 Metal card is surprisingly high-quality. I’ve been a Metal member for more than a year now, and my card still looks virtually brand new.
  3. Dedicated Customer Support: On top of in-app chat support, N26 Metal members also have access to a dedicated Metal phone line, which almost never requires waiting on hold.
  4. Partner Discounts with companies like WeWork, Hotels.com, IHG, Outfittery and more. You can find the full list of N26 Metal member benefits here.

When you break down the numbers, I believe it makes little financial sense to upgrade to N26 Metal unless you’re already spending a considerable amount of money with one of the partners in that list of member benefits

For example, if you used your free day at WeWork each month, that would more than pay for the extra €7/month between N26 You and N26 Metal, making Metal a money-saver.

Overall, I can’t recommend N26 Metal from a purely financial perspective, though it’s hard to put a price on the shock you’ll see on your friend’s faces when you drop that metal card.

Instead, I recommend starting out with a free N26 account and upgrading to N26 You or N26 Metal later on if you feel the need.

#7 N26 Business

N26 Business is exactly what it sounds like: a business account from N26. It’s designed for self-employed and freelance users doing business under their own name.

N26 is available in all countries where N26 already operates, which includes Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Ireland, France, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, Finland, Luxembourg, Slovenia, Estonia, Greece, Slovakia, Poland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland, and the United States.

There are two restrictions to know about when it comes to N26 Business:

  1. You cannot have two N26 accounts at the same time. This means that if you have an N26 Business account and want to charge personal expenses not related to your business, you should sign up for an N26 Maestro Card, which allows you to create a joint N26 account (sort of).
  2. You cannot change your N26 account from a business account to a personal account, so you’ll want to be sure that N26 Business is right for you before choosing it on your N26 application.

N26 Business offers all the features of a standard N26 bank account and also gives you 0.1% cashback on every purchase. There’s no charge for N26 Business, though you can also upgrade to N26 Business Smart, N26 Business You, and N26 Business Metal.

Just like with the personal cards, I suggest starting with the free N26 Business account and upgrading later on if you want additional benefits. You can upgrade your account at any time direct from the N26 app.

If you’re torn between opening a personal account and a business account, I strongly suggest the personal account. It will make things easier for you down the road, and gives you a lot more flexibility should you choose to upgrade later on.

#8 N26 Fees

N26’s Price List is eight pages long and fairly dense, so here’s the important stuff:

N26 StandardFree
N26 You€9.90/month
N26 Metal€16.90/month

#9 Is N26 Safe?

Here are a few key reasons you can trust N26 with your money:

  1. Deposit insurance: All N26 accounts have deposits insured up to €100,000 by the German government.
  2. World-class security team: N26 has thousands of employees and millions of users, and they take those users’ accounts seriously—they’ve never had any security issues, and have a large, dedicated team of security professionals on staff to ensure they never will.
  3. Toggle payments abroad, online payments and cash withdrawals: For your security, you can toggle each of these on and off from within the app at any time.
  4. Fingerprint login: Rather than using a password, you can access your account via fingerprint login, ensuring only you ever have access to your funds.

#10 How To Open An N26 Account

There are a few requirements you’ll have to meet to open your account:

  • Be a resident of one of these countries: Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Ireland, France, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, Finland, Luxembourg, Slovenia, Estonia, Greece, Slovakia, Poland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland, and the United States.
  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Hold a recognized piece of government-issued ID (each country is slightly different, but generally passports, driver’s licenses and other forms of national ID are all accepted)
  • Verify yourself in English, Spanish, German, French or Italian

The N26 Signup Process

Here’s how to sign up for N26 in 5 minutes or less:

  1. Click here and fill in your personal details on N26’s website.
  2. Choose the N26 account you want.
  3. Verify your identity and connect your smartphone via the N26 app.

A few days after you’ve done these three steps, you’ll receive your N26 card in the mail, which you can start using immediately.

In Summary

We firmly believe N26 is the best bank available anywhere in the world today. With its rock-bottom fees, user-friendly app, and impressive travel insurance, N26 makes the lives of frequent travelers and digital nomads much, much easier. 

We recommend opening a free account today and upgrading later if you feel the need. Open your N26 account with confidence today.

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83 thoughts on “N26 Review: The Best Online Bank Of 2022”

  • I have British citizenship, but have never actually lived there. I now live in Mexico, but I REALLY want this card! You say you can sign up with a friend’s EU address even if you’re not a citizen/resident, but you also mention something about going to Europe and doing the verifications. What are the verifications and do I have to go to Europe to do them, or can I just have my friend mail me the card once it arrives?

  • I have heard of so many negative reviews about this N26 bank, especially about their customer service. I am also a Canadian thinking of opening up the account with this bank. Now I am a bit hesitated after seeing those negative comments. Do you have some advice about this? Thanks!

    • Hey Eric, I don’t know which negative reviews you’re talking about (link to them here if you can, so we can discuss them in more detail), but I’ve never had any problems whatsoever with N26. The more I use the card, the more clear it becomes to me how valuable the no-fee foreign cash withdrawals are. As far as I know, as Canadians we don’t have any other good options for that, so that’s where I get the most value from N26.

      – Jordan // Editor, How I Travel

  • I think the biggest disadvantage is the fact that you can have only one account by them. No option for subaccounts. I used to divide my money between two accounts depanding on if I was setting something aside or spending. Also because of the security reasons I don’t like to keep all my money on the account with card assigned.

    • A small disadvantage, but sub-accounts does seem like something that N26 could easily offer and would make it more attractive to the digital nomads they seem to be targeting. My business mentor recommended at least 3 banking accounts for any business, each for a different purpose, similar to your purposes.

  • Dear everyone,

    I am an Austrian citizen currently doing a 10-month “social service”, working in an environmental NGO in Dharamsala, northern India, and would like to open up a N26 account for them. The reason is that having a European bank account makes many things much easier in terms of bureaucracy. That is, of course, if it can be established well enough.

    My questions therefore are these:
    – What do I have to consider while opening an account for an Indian entity (I would use my home address in Vienna, but want to make sure there aren’t additional “traps” here)?
    – Do I have to open the account in my own name or can someone from the NGO do so (with my address used for the application)?
    – Are there fees for online transactions from international accounts to this one?
    – Are there fees on transactions to Indian accounts?

    This account’s purpose should be the accepting of international donations as well as general use in India (payment and transaction to other accounts).

    Thank you very much in advance!
    Daniel

    • Oh, I have one more question:

      Is it at all possible to open an account in the name of a “natural person” that is used for an organisation? The NGO I’m working at does, being charitable, not do trade or business of any kind, but does have different incomes (donations) and expenditures than a normal person would have. Since N26 is checking and can deactivate accounts upon detecting “recognisable business sales”, that is of course a requisite for opening an account.
      So, do these business sales only refer to actual businesses or to anything varying from typical personal spendings and income?

      Thanks a lot!

      • Hi Daniel, thanks for your excellent questions – they’re definitely over our head here, so I highly recommend that you get in touch with N26 directly. Their support team is fantastic, so they should be able to answer all of your questions.

        Once they get you some answers, we’d love to hear about them, so feel free to post them here afterwards. Thanks and good luck!

  • Hi, great article and very in depth, much appreciated.

    But let me get this right, I can be an Australian Tax resident, and enjoy fee free ATM’s globally, and for €5.90/month I get 0 exchange commissions/fees charged by N26, instead I use Transferwise FOREX rates. All I have to do is give them a German address?

    Whats the catch? Do you know if they charge landing fees for international EFT’s?

    Cheers

    • Hey Charlie, thanks for the great question. Everything you’ve said is correct: N26 gives you fee-free ATM withdrawals globally, and you use Transferwise’s FOREX rates.

      To be frank, I’m not an expert on the terminology here, so I’m not 100% certain that I’m understanding your question correctly. If by “landing fees on international EFTs” you mean a fee charged to the recipient when you send them a bank-to-bank transfer, then as far as I know they do not. I’ve never come across this in N26’s documentation or in practice, and I use my N26 account to transfer money quite regularly. As for a “catch”, this is what’s great about N26; they’re applying technology in ways that legacy banks simply don’t know how, which allows them to offer a substantially at much lower prices without any sort of catch or hidden fee.

      If I’m understanding the question wrong, let me know and I’ll do what I can to help. Thanks, Charlie!

      Jordan
      Founder // How I Travel

      • Hi! Thanks for great detailed article. To confirm, N26 doesn’t charge a fee for transferring money into the account from my current account? Also, if I am currently living in the U.A,E., will I have an issue with transferring money from my account here into an N26 account?

        • Hi Sally – you’re right, N26 doesn’t charge you a fee to transfer into your N26 account, though whether your current bank will charge you a fee or not, I can’t say (you’ll have to ask them). As for transferring your money from the UAE, that shouldn’t be a problem, either. N26 accepts money transfers at the “bank rate”, which is the best exchange rate available anywhere. That’s part of what makes the card so good for travelers! Take care!

  • Hi Jordan thanks for the fast reply, you understood the question perfectly.

    As a (soon to be) digital nomad I’m looking for a the most flexible low cost global banking solution. I receive income in all major currencies (eg; USD, CAD, AUD, SGD, HKD, CNY) however unless I receive income in EUR, N26 forces me to convert into EUR before it can accept the transfer. This imposes an additional unnecessary exchange commission on most of my income.

    I’m taking the assumption, because your Canadian, and have written about withdrawing money in Thailand, you have suffered from the same problem.

    Can you comment?
    Cheers

    • Hey Charlie, sorry for the delay, I missed this comment when you posted it 2 weeks ago.

      I like to receive funds to my other bank accounts in their base currency (CAD to my Canadian accounts, etc.). From there, I transfer whatever cash I want to spend to my N26 account using Transferwise (also mentioned above), and then I withdraw it from an ATM using my N26 Black card. So in my personal case, I don’t use N26 as my primary bank account so much as my spending account for use abroad.

      It sounds like I can’t offer a great solution to your situation, but that’s been my experience. If you find a better/alternate workaround that works for you, definitely post it here. Thanks Charlie.

      Jordan
      Founder // How I Travel

  • Hi Jordan, after much research I have come to the same conclusion, using local bank accounts is a cost saving, however if you are travelling where you can’t or don’t want one, N26 is the superior choice. Readers here should note Transferwise only ranks among the cheapest brokers in the sub 3k range. So if you are regularly exchanging amounts over this then you may want to consider comparing rates – https://www.monito.com/send-money/australia/united-states/aud/usd/10000

    Thanks again

    • Thanks for the addition, Charlie – I’ve never come across monito.com before (or most of the currency exchange services it recommends), but I’m looking into them all now. Much appreciated.

      Jordan

  • I want to make N26 my main and only bank account. But everywhere I read, people say its their secondary bank account. Could you think of any issues of making it the primary one? I dont want to keep multiple accounts.

    • Hi Salman, I don’t see any issues in making N26 your primary account; I get the feeling that many people, myself included, use it as a secondary account because the primary currency we deal in is not Euros. I’m Canadian and don’t plan on getting rid of my Canadian bank account, since it’s useful for paying off Canadian credit cards, receiving Canadian dollar payments, etc. If you don’t have a situation like that, though, I say go for it. N26 is the way of the future, and other banks are already playing catch-up.

      Jordan
      Editor-in-Chief // How I Travel

  • I’m currently only using my US number Iphone in Germany on wifi. If I want to set up an account, am I able to get bank info from them through wifi?

  • Hi Jordan,
    Thanks for the comorehensive article.
    I am moving to Germany from India, and I wanted to open the account before I reach Berlin so I don’t have to carry a lot of cash or make transactions on my Indian card with insane fee charges (like you mentioned in the article).
    Is it alright for me to give a friend’s address in Berlin, though I will register at the Burgeramt on another address once I reach Berlin? Can I get into trouble for doing that?
    Thanks!

  • Hi Jordan what are the income/initial deposit requirements? I am a UK pensioner currently living in Spain receiving income in sterling into a UK bank and using local Spanish ATM’s for euro withdrawals.

    • Hi Johnathan – there are no initial deposit requirements for N26, nor a minimum income requirement. I actually didn’t use my account for the first month or so after signing up, and that wasn’t a problem. Of course, if you sign up for N26 Black, you’ll need to be able to pay the monthly fee, but aside from that, there’s no minimum balance you need to maintain.

      All the best.
      Jordan

  • hey guys.. if you read the terms&conditions of the allianze travel insurance on the N26 page, it says that the amount of reimbursement for foreign medical expenses is EUR150.000 which isn’t that good at all. So unfortunately it’s not unlimited as the review above states. Although I’m still considering opening a black account only I’m not sure if that coverage would be enough if anything would happen abroad.
    What do you guys think ?

    • Hi guys, I agree with this comment ^^ limit of EUR 150,000 seems to be applicable now. Have also read that N26 has stopped using TransferWise and that all the foreign cash withdrawal benefits have been significantly curtailed since this review was written. Could you perhaps comment on that?

      • yeah sure Julian.. well that seems to be false rumour since I’m still using transferwise within the N26 app which is indeed a very useful feature. I’m a customer in Germany but I bet they still have it in the other countries as well..
        I upgraded my account into black in the meanwhile btw, the EUR150k insurance amount should be sufficient if you’re not traveling to the US where the costs are ridiculously high.

  • and on top of that: you can get an overdraft even if you don’t live in Europe! My friend is Belarusian citizen, she resides in Belarus and she got €500 overdraft! Crazy! Also you don’t have to have any official income to get an overdraft. I got €1500 (live in Germany) although i don’t have any job

    I’ve been using n26 for two years and its just incredibly amazing. This ia the best bank in the world and this is how every bank should be. Not only for traveling but also for living in your city.
    After i read your article about n26 black I finally realised how great it is. Gonna sign up soon.

    One question: if one doesn’t reside in Europe would it still be possible to use the insurance policy of black?

  • Hi Jordan, amazing article. Thanks so much for this! Quick question regarding n26 regular account (not black). I’m traveling to India soon and was planning on taking my n26 card with me to use withdraw money. Obviously this seems like the cheapest way to do it but do you know if there is a limit on how much I can withdraw per month? I keep finding conflicting information on the n26 website regarding this.

    Thanks again,
    Laura

    • Hey Laura, good question – you can set and update your own personal withdrawal limits in the N26 app, so that should be the only constraint you face (other than the amount you have in the account, of course). Keep in mind that with the regular N26 card, you pay a 1.7% fee on foreign cash withdrawals. That’s still cheaper than you’d pay with 95%+ of other debit/credit cards, but it is something to be aware of. If you extend your trip, you may want to switch over to N26 Black for the fee-free foreign cash withdrawals.

      Enjoy your trip, Laura! 🙂

    • Hi Laura, very sorry for such a late reply. The daily withdrawal limit is €2,500, with a monthly limit of €20,000. I’m taking this info from directly within the app, where you can set your daily withdrawal and spending limits (security feature). As an aside, the daily payment limit is €5,000 and €20,000 monthly.

      Enjoy India!
      Jordan

  • Hi! I understood that you can give them the address of a friend in Europe to have your card sent, right? But when I’m registering they ask which country I live, and when I put it, they say they’re not available in my country (so I can’t go further). If I tell them I live in the country I’ll be only visiting (albeit a long visit) isn’t it wrong or dangerous, I mean, like fraud? = D

  • HI, I’m based in Europe and expecting to get 50.000$ from U.S. I want to withdrawl about 80% of sum. How about doing it with by having a g26 regular account/card? It seems they exchange $ to eur and I will be able to withdraw the sum wiithin 3 months. However, I have heard people in Latvia, Lithuania,Slovenia are only available to withdrawal 600-800eur in one time.

    • Hi John, I’m not exactly sure about the withdrawal limits in Latvia, Lithuania and Slovenia – that’s something you’ll have to get in touch with N26 directly about. ATMs in different countries often have different withdrawal limits as well, so that may constrict what you’re doing. Best of luck in finding the answer.

    • Hi John, I don’t know the specifics of withdrawing from your account as a Latvian/Lithuanian/Slovenian citizen, since my account is based in Germany and this is a pretty specific situation. With that said, I’m sure this is something N26 Support can help you with.

  • Hi Jordan,

    Very informative article. And your responses to comments are very helpful, as well. Thanks.

    I want to share with you and your readers my experience with N26 Black. I’m a digital nomad living in many different countries in SE Asia, Central America, Europe.

    I signed up for N26 Black because of the free ATM withdrawals worldwide. But I’ve noticed that the exchange rate they give me isn’t the mid-market rate. I researched a lot both about the legal terms (what they’re allowed to do) and the actual spread (what they actually do in practice). Bottom-line conclusion: they can charge whatever they want, and in practice it has worked out for me to a charge of 0.60% worse than the mid-market rate over the last 3 months.

    Here are the details I’ve found. The N26 Black price list says:
    “The exchange rate for card use abroad stems from the general terms and conditions for the N26 Mastercard.”

    Checking out the N26 Mastercard terms, there is no real information on the exchange rate used. So I went through Mastercard’s terms in detail, and also chatted with some customer reps there. The conclusion is that Mastercard sets its own foreign exchange rate based on its proprietary internal calculations. Legally, they can do whatever they want. One result of this procedure – and a very frustrating problem for me – is that you can’t know in advance what the exchange will be: when you use your N26 card, you have no way of knowing what exact exchange rate will be applied to your transaction. Given how many people in the world are affected, it was very surprising to me that it’s so opaque, but at least based on the terms I’ve read and my follow-up chats with the reps, you really can’t know in advance.

    All this made me very curious about what I’m really being charged, so in the last 3 months, I’ve kept complete records of every N26 transaction I’ve done and the actual live exchange rate at the moment of transaction. I’ve found that every N26 transaction is calculated at a rate which is worse for me than the mid-market rate (so clearly the rate you get isn’t a random fluctuation around the mid-market price; otherwise, you’d expect the rate to be better some of the time). I’ve found that on average, the N26 card costs me about 0.60% from the mid-market rate. I haven’t found any clear patterns with respect to intra-day rate volatility or end-of-day timing (I’d thought the rate would be closer to mid-market either if it’s a day with low volatility or if the transaction occurs at the end of the day when they fix their final rates, but I’ve found no evidence for either of those ideas).

    Interestingly, even in the Thai Baht example which you use in your article here, it seems you were charged roughly 0.5% from the mid-market rate at the time of your transaction, so that falls in line with what I’ve found.

    As a reference point, I’ve also checked rates for changing cash in exchange stores. The costs really vary by country and city, but with some astute shopping around and a bit of hard negotiating, I’ve found that an average spread of 0.50% above mid-market is the best I could count on for cash exchange. And realistically I think I’d end up averaging much higher if I were always exchanging cash to fund my life; I’d guess maybe 0.75%. So carrying a lot of cash and constantly exchanging wouldn’t save money compared to N26. Plus it’s really unsafe.

    One better option I have is to use a currency trading account for the exchange and then send local currency funds to a local bank account wherever I’m traveling. The set-up is: I can get fees for under 0.l0% using foreign exchange trading accounts (spreads vary by currency pair). The trading account is free to maintain, transfer fees into the account from my home bank are cheap/free, and transfers out are around 2-5 eur. Then I open a local account wherever I’m living and withdraw the funds (for free) using their ATM card and machine. I’ve found in countries I’ve traveled (SE Asia, Central America, Europe) that it’s easy and cheap to open a local-currency accout. Importantly, receiving money from abroad is always free at the banks I’ve used when it’s in local currency.

    This option seems much cheaper than N26 Black. N26 Black costs €9.90 per month (at their newly-raised price) plus 0.60% of the money I withdraw. I spend around €2,500 in cash per month. So N26 Black costs me just about €300 per year (€118.80 in monthly fees plus €180 as the spread over the mid-market currency rate). By opening local bank accounts and then once or twice a month converting and sending my money using the currency trading account, I would instead spend somewhere around €70-90 per year in fees. This cost savings of €200 per year compared to N26 Black has really opened my eyes. It would also avoid the headache I currently have with N26 that I must always find local banks which do not charge additional fees to withdraw from their ATM; they’re very rare in many places.

    As far as I can tell, the disadvantage of this option is the hassle of opening local accounts everywhere. It definitely is more convenient to just use the N26 Black card wherever I am and then have all my records across all countries organized cleanly in one place. N26 Black is also useful when I visit countries where my stay is so short that I don’t have time to open a local account.

    Conclusion: N26 Black is convenient. And it’s definitely cheaper than a standard bank ATM card. But based on my analysis in the last months, I’ve found that for me as a digital nomad living in several countries each year, using N26 Black to get cash around the world just isn’t worth it for me.

    Hope this is helpful for you and others.

  • Hey Jordan – I really enjoyed reading about N26. I’ve had “Aspiration”, a US based online banking company for about a year now as I’m an avid world traveler and they offer a checking account with some of the similar perks for world travelers (I’ve listed them below for you to check out, which you probably already know about). My PAIN has always been ATM Fees at home and abroad as well as high Foreign Transaction Fees from the big banks. I love the idea of signing up for this N26 account, though In my case, I don’t think know that I’d be gaining that much considering I would still need to pay the fee to Transfer USD-Euro (using Transferwise or similar company) to N26 account. Am I missing something, other than travel insurance coverage not being included with Aspiration, and the daily ATM withdrawal limit being much lower ($500 per day vs 2,500 Euros per day)? Look forward to hearing your thoughts!

    Aspiration Online Checking Account:
    -no fees for any ATM withdrawal worldwide (if one is assessed it will be reimbursed every monthly billing cycle)
    -no monthly fee
    -no minimum balance
    -1.1% foreign transaction fee (Currency Conversion Assessment of 0.2%. If the transaction is done in another country, there is also a Cross-Border Transaction Fee of 0.9%)
    -$10 to set up
    For the first week:
    $100 a day for online withdrawals/transfers
    Then, for the remaining three weeks:
    $500 total daily limit for any combination of cash withdrawals, PIN purchases, or any charges requiring your signature, of holding an account.
    $500 daily transfer limit, both incoming and outgoing
    After this initial 30 day timeframe, then you have:
    $5,000 per day external transfer limit
    $500 per day cash limit (ATM withdrawal)**
    $2,000 per day PIN-based (debit) limit
    $2,000 per day signature-based (credit) limit

    • Hey Naomi, really great question. It sounds like N26 might have a few things on Aspiration, but it will really depend on exactly how you use your card. For example, if you’ll be spending most of your time in the U.S., Aspiration may be the better option, since there’s no monthly fee and the 0% foreign currency fees you get with N26 won’t matter much. Since you say you’re an avid world traveler, though, I get the feeling you spend more time outside the U.S. than you do stateside.

      In Section #9 above, I mention that N26 Black makes sense if you withdraw or spend €582 in a month, which is based on a comparison to the 1.7% fee charged by N26’s Standard account. In your case with Aspiration, though, the comparable fee would be 2.2% (1.1% foreign transaction fee + 0.2% currency conversion assessment + 0.9% cross-border transaction fee = 2.2%), so your breakeven point moves from €582 to €450. If you withdraw or spend more than €450/month while abroad, then, N26 Black makes sense.

      To complicate matters a bit more, you’ll also want to think about how much the benefits like travel insurance, extended purchase warranty, mobile phone coverage etc. are worth to you. Personally, I think the travel insurance is a total steal, while I hardly use the other benefits.

      Overall, I’d say if your monthly spend is above €450/month when you’re abroad, N26 Black is a no-brainer. If it’s below €450/month, you’ll need to weigh the value of these additional benefits and make a decision on your own.

      Hope it helps, Naomi!

  • Hi Jordan, I’m a British Citizen but living in the Caribbean. Can I use my brother’s UK address for card delivery?

    • Hi Hilary, unfortunately N26 hasn’t launched in the UK yet, so you won’t be able to use your brother’s address (they’re expecting to launch there before the end of 2018, but it hasn’t happened yet). For now, you’ll have to have the card sent to an address within Europe.

  • Hi! Could you help me with the pros and cons of having a N26 business account? Do you know if it is OK to use your business account also for personal use? Would the insurances also cover leisure travel for instance? Or only business travel?

      • Is N26 a bank that helps facilitate payments? My aunt and uncle were going to borrow money, I guess from a private lender. The address of the bank facility etc.. was this bank (N26 in Germany). When the private lender apparently went to go the money to loan them, the bank advised him that my aunt and uncle needed to purchase an insurance in order to secure the loan to them.. Because of this extra payment, they felt that it was a fraudulent loan.. so I just wanted to clear that and make sure….

        • Hi Sonia – this is a pretty specific scenario that I don’t have a good answer for. I wish I could help, but I’m not comfortable giving any advice/thoughts when I’m not certain about what I’m saying. What I can say is that N26 allows you to borrow up to €25,000 directly in the app, which shows up in your account immediately, so they do offer a lending element that doesn’t get talked about very much. As for the private lender your aunt and uncle were working with, though, I can’t offer any insight there.

          • Thank you very much for this. And thank you for taking the time to explain and respond to me.
            This is all new to me as well as I never knew such a bank existed. Do you mean to say that N26 bank gives loans directly to people to borrow? Ut seems then that they guy who was ‘loaning’ the money to my aunt and uncle was doing so personally through N26. They live in Sao Miguel,Azores, Portugal. Would they be able to obtain a loan from N26? If so, whats the process for them?

          • Hi Sonia – yes, N26 does offer credit directly to its users, and like most banks, it offers credit at varying interest rates depending on those users’ income and creditworthiness. The creditworthiness calculation is opaque to even the bankers themselves, so I can’t say exactly how that works, but it’s worth a try for them. They can learn more about N26 Credit here: http://www.howitravel.co/out/n26-credit/

            What I do know is that the first step in them getting that loan will be signing up for an N26 account through the regular process (here: http://www.howitravel.co/out/n26/). Once their N26 account is approved, they should go to the Credit tab of the N26 app and request to borrow between €1,000 – €25,000 from there. They’ll be able to see the exact terms of the loan (payback period, interest rate, monthly payments) before committing to anything, so I recommend they try that. Once they do, please come back and let us know how it went! Thanks, Sonia.

          • Hi Sonia – yes, N26 does offer credit directly to its users, and like most banks, it offers credit at varying interest rates depending on those users’ income and creditworthiness. The creditworthiness calculation is opaque to even the bankers themselves, so I can’t say exactly how that works, but it’s worth a try for them. They can learn more about N26 Credit here: https://www.howitravel.co/out/n26-credit/

            What I do know is that the first step in them getting that loan will be signing up for an N26 account through the regular process (here: https://www.howitravel.co/out/n26/). Once their N26 account is approved, they should go to the Credit tab of the N26 app and request to borrow between €1,000 – €25,000 from there. They’ll be able to see the exact terms of the loan (payback period, interest rate, monthly payments) before committing to anything, so I recommend they try that. Once they do, please come back and let us know how it went! Thanks, Sonia.

  • Merry Christmas 🙂
    I live in one of the EU countries. I have no intention of traveling a lot and withdrawing money in foreign currencies.
    What i’m interested in, is using a N26 debit card for making fee-free online foreign currency payments. If that’s possible. Just like the “fee-free foreign currency withdrawals all around the world” of the Black card.
    So are online payments in foreign currency (other than Euro) also fee-free and at mid-market rates ?
    And with both regular and black cards ?

    • Merry Christmas and excellent question. Yes, all transactions made with your N26 card (regular, Black or Metal) are converted at the mid-market rate, whether those transactions are made online or in a physical store. The only difference between the cards to be aware of is that the regular cards impose a 1.7% currency exchange fee when you withdraw foreign cash from an ATM, but that won’t affect you in this case. Happy holidays and enjoy your N26 card!

  • Hi there, I am a Spanish citizen living in the USA. I keep my traditional bank account in Spain that is linked to my old Spanish cell phone. When in the USA whenever I want to use online banking from my Spanish bank it sends a text message to my Spanish phone which I never have with me. Do you have any suggestions? With N26 can I have a Spanish IBAN and transfer money to Spanish traditional bank accounts ? Does a Spanish N26 account allow a USA mobile number? Thank you for your help. Jose

    • Hi Jose – yes, you can have a Spanish IBAN with your N26 account, and you can transfer to/from your traditional bank account from there. You won’t need a Spanish or a USA phone number to verify transactions or transfers when using your N26 account, since all verification is done through the mobile app.

  • Hello, perhaps you could helpme,thanks in advance
    I have a N26 account with N26 YOU card, im portuguese, at this moment living in Portugal, but in December,or beggining of January, i will live in Brazil,for personal and professional reasons.
    Have you ever been to Brazil or do you know anyone who has been using the N26 cardor N26 you to make withdrawals and payments? and everything went well?

    • Hi Rodrigo, yes, I’ve been to Brazil using my N26 card and it worked totally fine. You won’t have any problems using your N26 card for payments or ATM withdrawals in Brazil.

  • Hi there, it seems that I am on the right page for my questions 🙂
    I am British, live and work in the UK, but might soon relocate to Singapore. my intention is to keep my banking presence in the UK as I have a flat and need to receive money too. I have been banking with Lloyds and have several accounts here in the UK but would like to simplify my banking through a modern one in order to have quicker, simpler visibility and versatility on it. I am therefore looking at three in particular Monzo, Starling and N26.
    my questions relate to the address of where you can live and phone number.
    >can I change my address to Singapore one once I moved there, or do I still need to resident of the UK?
    >do I need a UK phone number or could I have a Singaporean one? I am asking as I might cancel my current contract but would have thought that trough the app it would work
    thanks for your response

    • Hi Olivier, great question. Moving to Singapore will be a very easy transition with N26. Once you receive your card, you can simply change your address and phone number in the app to your Singaporean address and phone number. The address and phone number will only be used for internal administrative purposes, since N26 will never call you, and they don’t send monthly statements.

  • thanks for your prompt response!
    In principle I would agree with you as I would have thought it is the case for all modern online banks as app based
    …But for example starling told me that they need the phone number to send me push and it has to be a UK one and that their legislation only covers Uk resident.
    and Revolut told me that I need to close my account and open a new account in Singapore

    you can confirm that this is not the case with N26 and I can simply make the change online and it will all work?

    • Hi Olivier, N26 never sends SMS push notifications, they only send notifications or request two-factor authorization with their app. Still, have you reached out to N26’s support team to get the official answer?

  • yes I did they were very helpful and did tend to corroborate what you said. the only thing they said that will be maybe challenging is that after certain I might need to cancel my account if not living in the UK.

    Two last questions if I may…
    today I use revolt and I particularly like the fact that I can have “different money” in my wallet. N26 is not the same right?
    assuming that I have GBP on my N26 account, and that I have N26you and that I take money in an ATM or pay with my card, is money taken out in GBP or in the local currency? and is it with transfer wise if I understand correctly?

    thanks again
    Olivier

  • Hi there ! Just wanted to share my so-far challenging experience with them. I signed up 2 weeks ago from my new residence in Spain. Unfortunately I typed in a wrong French phone number when I did, which makes the app inaccessible. They have an extremely complicated security procedure just to correct that one single digit. After several on line chats with them I was asked to wait until I received my card. When I did, I had to go through another whole on line verification process which took ages, although they had all of my information when I registered. They then promised to get back to me the next day so my phone number could be corrected and for me to have access to their app. I have told them it’s urgent as I need an account number for my Spanish utility bills. 3 days later I’m still waiting for their call – the entire process has taken about 2 weeks ! Just to change a phone number ?? I’m not impressed so far and am actively looking for other options.

  • Hi!
    I am also Canadian but living in Lisbon, Portugal. I just received my N26 card and so far have been unsuccessful. I have a Canadian PayPal account that will not allow me to send any money to my N26 account. And when I signed up to TransferWise, the only way that my Chequing account could send money would be via wire transfer which costs $13,50 per transaction.
    Can you please explain how you are able to send money from your CAD bank account to your N26 account? Have tried contacting both N26 and PayPal and they could not help me?!
    Thanks!

  • I have a cousin who lives in Argentina. Wiring funds to her from the United States is very complicated (the wire has to go through a 3rd party bank and not all US banks will provide this service). Will she be able to open a N26 bank account, which will allow me to wire $USD funds to her from the US, without any trouble (like I wire funds to friends in Europe)?
    Also, if she opens a N26 bank account, will she be able to wire funds from that account, in Euros, to a standard bank account in the EU (Germany, Spain, France, etc.) and if so, what would be the exchange rate used and will there be any additional fees for such a transfer?
    Thank you!

    • Hi Sofia, all of the scenarios you’re asking about are indeed possible but your cousin will need a European or US address to open her N26 account. If she can do that, transferring funds in and out of her account will be easy and, if its in the same currency, fee-free.

      As someone who used to live in Argentina, I know the situation with the dolarblue can be very discouraging and difficult, so having an N26 account would certainly make things much, much easier.

  • Hi Jordan
    My name is Jorge and I would like to ask you a question.
    First of all I apologize and I tell you that I am writing this through the Google translator since I do not know English.
    I live in Argentina and my intention is to open an account in N26 which, according to what I was informed, is a very good Bank.
    I saw in a YouTube tutorial that a person did it without any problem but I don’t remember the link.
    I entered the website but it tells me that they are not yet in Argentina and they put me on a “Waiting List”.
    The question is: Can the account be opened online even if they are not physically in Argentina?
    I have an account in Euros at the BBV and I do not need to withdraw money, but if I transfer to that Bank for when I travel to Andorra and Italy, I can pay with the Debit Card, since where I go there is no Branch of the BBV.
    Any information you can give me, I appreciate it.
    Again I apologize for the translation and I await your response.
    Greetings from Argentina.

    • Hi Jorge, unfortunately you won’t be able to open an N26 account from Argentina. However, if you have an address in Europe where you can send your card, you can apply while you’re there using this link (it brings you directly to the signup page). Then you’ll be able to use the card all across Europe, and when you return to Argentina as well. I hope this helps!

  • Hi Jordan,
    I recently moved to Denmark from the US for a seven-month work contract. My employer requires me to open a bank account here to receive my salary. Am I correct in assuming that an N26 can receive direct deposits from my employer? (Mostly y’all talk about cash, money transfer, withdrawals, and not deposits.) They will pay in Danish kroner, and N26 will convert this to Euro and there it will sit in my account until I get hungry. I understand the terms of using the card as a normal credit card, and that the transaction will carry an exchange rate set by N26 ( you call it mid-market, but Maria up there suggests it’s not). As you may know, Denmark is approaching cashlessness. People here use something called MobilePay for many transactions: at stores, among friends, etc. My question is whether MobilePay interfaces with N26. Do you know? – Thanks so much for all that you do, but please do not share my contact details with dreadful Amazon.
    — Robin

    • Hi Robin,

      Yes, N26 can receive deposits, so you won’t have any trouble there. I know Maria mentioned that N26 charges a spread on the mid-market rate, and while it seems like she’s been quite diligent in following that, that simply hasn’t been my experience. I check the current exchange rate on every single foreign currency payment/deposit that impacts my account and they’re almost always processed exactly at the mid-market rate (which I find on Google by typing in something like “1,000 DKK to EUR”).

      I actually don’t know much about MobilePay, so I can’t be very helpful there, but N26’s customer support should have all the answers you’re looking for. All the best, Robin.

      Jordan

    • No, N26 doesn’t have any physical branches, nor does it partner with other banks’ physical branches. Still, the daily ATM limit is €2,000, so it probably won’t be too much of an issue.

  • Bad, that bank not working with Citizens of Ukraine. I’m Living in Germany. But i’m born in Ukriane, and they said , that right nouw it’s impossible to verify my Dokuments, maybe in futtre 🙁

  • Hi, I live in South Africa, and want to move to germany. How can i open this bank account before I move, since you have no presence here?

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