It has been now more than two years since I received my first N26 card. As a digital nomad, I am always seeking to use the most valuable products that allow me to save money while traveling. That applies also to my finances. Today I will share my experience with the German N26 bank.
In this N26 review, you will find out whether the N26 card is for you. I am reviewing the N26 card, its features, the N26 customer support and the overall user-friendliness of the N26 cards.
Tthis article is based on my personal experiences. I am sharing the positive as well as negative aspects of the N26 card.
My goal is to educate you about the fees and conditions that come with N26 cards so you can have the best experience abroad and avoid unpleasant surprises.
When traveling, you don’t necessarily think about the fees that come with your payments abroad.
If you plan to travel long-term, the fees for ATM withdrawals as well as payments in foreign currencies might account for quite a significant percentage of your spendings.
The N26 offers
- no fees when paying your bills abroad
- best currency exchange rate (market rates)
- only 1.7% fee from ATM withdrawals in foreign currencies
This doesn’t sound bad at all - don’t you think so too? Keep reading to find out more!
What you will learn today
- What is the N26 bank?
- Who can apply for the N26 card?
- N26 fees - all you need to know
- Opening a bank account with N26 bank in only 10 minutes
- N26 Standard Mastercard
- N26 Black - my card of choice
- How I save money with the N26 Black
- Can you rely on the N26 Black travel insurance?
- N26 Metal - a Mastercard from steel
- The N26 Maestro card - the only spare card you can use
- N26 App and features
- FAQ about the N26 bank
- Is the N26 bank worth it?
- Conclusion of my N26 review
The German N26 bank is considered the leading mobile bank in Europe. Since its inception in 2013, the N26 bank managed to acquire more than 2.5 million users.
At the moment the N26 bank offers its products in 24 countries and is constantly expanding.
The N26 bank’s most popular product is the free N26 bank account, which can be opened within 8 minutes from anywhere and managed via the N26 banking app.
Before you keep reading my N26 review, make sure you can apply for the N26 card.
Currently, you can order the standard N26 card if you are resident of the following 24 countries:
Germany, Austria, Ireland, France, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Slovenia, Estonia, Greece, Slovakia, the UK, Poland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Liechtenstein, and Iceland.
The N26 Black card can be ordered from the above-mentioned countries except for Slovenia and Greece.
The N26 Metal card is currently available only for users from Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, France, and the UK.
If you live in one of the supported countries, the N26 card might be a great option for you.
When choosing the best bank account you should inform yourself about their fees. You would be surprised how many travelers are not aware of the fees that they need to pay for ATM withdrawals or card payments.
Being aware of your expenses that come with the usage of your debit card can save you hundreds of Euros every year. Here are the most important fees that you need to be aware of when using one of the N26 cards.
You can open a bank account with the N26 bank within 10 minutes. In order to qualify for an N26 card, you need to be at least 18 years old and reside in one of the 24 supported countries.
- Click here to open an account via the N26 website
- Insert the required personal information and your contact details. You will also need to insert information about your tax residency and agree with the N26 terms and conditions.
- Click on “open a bank account” and verify your email.
- In the next step download the N26 banking app for your Android or IOS device.
- As soon as you download the app you will need to go through the sign-up process. You will need to verify your phone number as well as your identity with a quick video call. I recommend having a stable internet connection when signing up for the N26 account as it will speed up the verification process.
- As soon as you pass the identification process you can order your N26 Mastercard to your home. Expect delivery times from 4 to 12 days, depending on the country of your residence.
- When you receive your card, you will need to activate it in your N26 app as well as set up your PIN before making any payments.
Now that you have your N26 bank account set up let’s look at the options that the N26 has to offer.
The basic N26 Mastercard is the most popular debit card offered by N26 bank. It caters all users that value no subscription fees, no fees for the international transaction as well as the usage of the intuitive N26 banking app.
One of the benefits the N26 Mastercard has to offer is free unlimited ATM withdrawals within the EUR-Zone with some exceptions in Germany. If you happen to use the card within the EUR-Zone you have basically no fees at all.
The N26 Mastercard is also suitable for travelers that don’t withdraw high amounts in foreign currencies. If you travel to a country where you can pay your bills with the card rather than cash, the free N26 card will be more than sufficient as there is no fee on card payments worldwide.
All of the benefits you will get with the standard N26 card
- No monthly fees
- Unlimited free ATM withdrawals in the Eurp-Zone (3 to 5 ATM withdrawals in Germany)
- Worldwide payments with the best exchange rates
- Only 1.7% fee on non-EUR ATM withdrawals
- Free N26 app that will help manage your finances
With the basic N26 card you will get all the benefits that come with the N26 app.
Keep reading to find out more about the features of the N26 app and how it will make your life easier.
My experience with the N26 card
As from my experience I haven’t come across a better card that can be used in countries with the Euro as their primary currency. The card is accepted everywhere and you can pay or withdraw money for free.
When it comes to traveling, the card is still very good. You can use the card to book flight tickets or accommodation without any problems. Often you need to approve your payment in the app, which in my opinion is a good security measure.
Be aware however that it’s not a credit card. You can only use the balance that you have on your account. Some car rental companies might not accept it, even though so far I haven’t had any problems when I rented a car in the US, Australia or New Zealand.
When you plan to pay abroad I would highly recommend having another spare card with you. When I wanted to buy tickets for public transport in the US (Boston and New York), the N26 card was often declined.
I also had a situation where I could not withdraw money from the N26 card as the local ATM could not read the chip. This happens often in Asian countries and has more to do with the ATM as with the card itself. In 95% of the time the N26 card is accepted however, I suggest you always carry a spare card with you.
The N26 Black is the premium card that comes with a monthly fee of € 9.90 which is deducted in the beginning of every month. If you decide to order the N26 Black card you need to sign up for the annual plan.
The fee for the first month will be deducted immediately upon sign up, even though you need to wait a few days to receive the card.
The N26 Black comes with significantly more value to users who withdraw more cash abroad. If you are living abroad most of the year as I do, you might need to withdraw more money in the foreign currency as at home. This is the case particularly in Asian and South American countries, where cash is still the preferred payment method.
Compared to the free N26 card which charges 1.7% foreign currency ATM withdrawal fees, the N26 Black has no fees on ATM withdrawals worldwide.
This means that if you withdraw more than € 582 (or equivalent in the foreign currency) with the N26 Black card, you save money compared to withdrawals with the free N26 Mastercard.
The monthly fee of € 9.90 for the N26 Black card equals the 1.7% ATM withdrawal fee in foreign currencies that is being charged when withdrawing € 582 with the free N26 card.
As the N26 Black does not charge any ATM withdrawals in foreign currencies, you save money when withdrawing above the mentioned amount.
I spent the last five months in Thailand, where I withdraw on average € 1.440 per month. If I would use the standard N26 card, the 1.7% fee on ATM withdrawals abroad would be € 24.48 per month.
If I withdraw money with the N26 Black card, I only pay the monthly fee of € 9.90. I save on average € 14.58 every month on bank fees. For the five months that I spent in Thailand, I saved € 72.90 with the N26 Black card.
This is the main reason why I use the N26 Black card. Currently, I am not aware of a debit card that would cost me less. Read my review about the N26 Black here.
Apart from no ATM withdrawal fees abroad, the N26 Black card offers also a comprehensive insurance package. This is more of an additional bonus. It is not meant to replace proper travel insurance and it should not be a deal breaker either.
Let me explain why N26 Black travel insurance isn’t something you should rely on.
- The insurance that comes with the N26 Black card is valid only for trips that don’t exceed the duration of 90 days.
- It’s only activated when you pay the expenses such as flights and accommodation with the N26 Black card. If you use other forms of payment, the insurance won’t cover anything.
- If you travel for longer than 90 days, you will lose the insurance coverage.
The N26 Black insurance offers good coverage for medical expenses or costs connected to the loss of your luggage. If you need to cancel or abort your trip, you will be covered up to € 7.500 however you will need to pay an excess of 10% to 20% by yourself.
If your phone gets stolen, the N26 insurance covers the cost of a replacement only if you have purchased the phone with the N26 Black card. The max. coverage is up to € 300 and you will need to pay an excess of € 50. To find out more about the insurance policies read my review about the N26 Black card.
The N26 Black card pays off if you withdraw a significant amount of money abroad. I would not advise ordering the N26 card as a replacement for your travel insurance if you plan to travel long-term.
You can order your N26 Black card in the Upgrade section of the N26 app.
The N26 Metal is the luxury card from N26, targeting business people who aim to show off their status with the N26 Metal card made from steel. Other than that you won’t find much value that should convince you to opt-in for the N26 Metal.
The N26 card from steel is significantly heavier as the N26 and N26 Black cards which are made from plastic.
It comes with the same benefits as the premium N26 Black card.
Additionally, you will receive some discounts when buying products from N26 partners:
- WeWork Coworking Spaces – 1 day / month for free
- Outfittery – € 30
- Tannico – 10% discount
- Home24 – 10% discount
- Drivy Car Rental – € 25 discount for new customers
- Lanieri suits – 25% discount
- Hotels.com – 10% discount
- IHG accommodation – 20% – 30% discount for early birds
- Babbel language app – 3 months for free
The N26 bank does not offer any joint accounts. You also can’t combine more N26 cards, meaning you can’t use the N26 card, the N26 Black and N26 Metal at the same time.
The only way to get a spare card is to order the N26 Maestro card. There are no special benefits that come with the Maestro card. Additionally to the 1.7% fee for ATM withdrawal in foreign currencies you pay € 2 for each cash withdrawal.
Let’s look at the reasons why the N26 bank is one of the best options for long-term travelers and people who love to manage their finances from their smartphones.
The mobile application from N26 can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection. It comes with a lot of functions and features that will make the management of your finances a flawless experience.
Here are some of the main features you can use with the N26 app:
- Send money fast to any other N26 users with N26 Moneybeam
- View spendings and income sorted in categories in your N26 statistics
- Exchange currencies with the best market rates and low TransferWise fees
- Stay up to date with your spendings with instant push notifications
- Set up your PIN, lock or order your N26 card
- Set limits for ATM withdrawals and daily spending
- Use spaces to open sub-accounts, dedicated to saving money on the side
- Additional financial products such as overdraft, invest26, and cash26 allow you to expand your balance, invest in funds or withdraw money from N26 partners - these features are only available in Germany and Austria
Is N26 a real bank?
N26 is a real German mobile bank with a banking license. With the N26 bank account, you can access and manage your finances from the N26 banking app on your smartphone. The N26 bank offers bank accounts and debit cards in 24 European countries, including Ireland and the UK.
Is N26 FSCS protected?
The N26 mobile bank is based in Germany. Your bank account balance is protected by the European deposit protection scheme up to € 100.000 (around £ 86.000). The FSCS (Financial Service Compensation Scheme) protects only your bank account deposits with UK based banks up to £ 85.000.
Can I use N26 in the UK?
Yes, you can open an N26 bank account even if you live in the UK. Be aware that if you choose to use the free N26 card, the ATM withdrawals in the UK come with a 1.7% fee. Card payments in any currencies remain without any additional fees. To avoid ATM withdrawal fees in the UK, order the N26 Black card.
Is N26 a credit card?
No, the N26 card is not a credit card but a debit card. There is no overdraft function for users outside of Germany and Austria. The N26 Mastercards are accepted worldwide. You can use the N26 debit cards to book flights or accommodation. In many cases, the N26 card is also accepted by car rental companies.
Does N26 have a banking license?
The German mobile bank N26 has a banking license since July 2016. Your deposits are secured by the European deposit guarantee scheme up to € 100.000 per user. All deposits on your N26 bank account are handled by the N26 bank and not any third party banks as it’s often the case with competing banking-apps.
What is an N26 account?
An N26 account is a digital account that you can access and manage through the N26 app on your mobile phone or through the N26 browser application. You can open an N26 bank account within 10 minutes and transfer money in seconds. Upon sign up, you will receive a free N26 debit card that is accepted worldwide.
Can I use N26 abroad?
The N26 debit card is one of the best cards that you can use abroad. You can withdraw cash at almost any ATM in the EUR-zone for free. There are no foreign transaction fees when using the card abroad. If you opt-in for the N26 Black card you can enjoy free ATM withdrawals worldwide.
Can I have two N26 accounts?
Currently, the only option to have two N26 bank accounts is to sign up for a business bank account. N26 bank does not offer joint accounts, which means you can not share debit cards with family members. The only option to use two N26 cards is to order a Maestro card additionally to your N26 Mastercard.
What is the N26 card?
The N26 card is a debit card issued by the German mobile bank N26. Upon opening a bank account you can choose from three cards. The free basic N26 Mastercard, the N26 Black card or the N26 Metal card. Additionally, you have the option to order an N26 Maestro card, that can be used as a spare card.
To complete the N26 bank review, let’s have a look at the core features that are often used when comparing bank accounts.
Opening an account with N26
Anyone with a smartphone can open an N26 bank account within 10 minutes. You don’t need to provide any paperwork. During the signup process, you will be asked to answer a few personal questions and verify your identity.
When opening a bank account with other banks, you often need to go to the branch and open it in person. That’s not the case with the N26 bank. Everything can be done from your mobile phone within minutes.
Opening an account with N26 will save you a lot of time. That’s just brilliant, don’t you agree?
N26 banking app
The N26 app is currently the most user-friendly banking app on the market. The vast amount of features increases the security of your bank account and helps to always keep track of your finances.
Sometimes the login via fingerprint is a bit too slow, however, I have never had any issues with the bank. It is very intuitive to use although it is full of features.
Due to the fact that the N26 bank is a digital bank it does not need to invest money into building branches. Thanks to the digital infrastructure the bank can offer low fees for their banking products.
User’s that don’t demand the personal relationship with a banker, will be more than happy with the low fees by the N26 bank. You can view all the fees here.
N26 customer support
As with most online banks, customer support from the N26 is not the best. While the customer support that you can reach from your N26 app can answer most of the general questions, it fails to solve more complex issues.
Here is my personal experience that I had to go through with the N26 support.
I went to Thailand with a basic free N26 card. At that time I did not realize that I would need a lot of cash so I haven’t thought about the N26 Black card. When I spend a few days in Koh Lipe I forgot my card in the ATM.
I immediately logged into my N26 app with the intention to order a new card to Thailand. The app did not allow me to insert my current Thai address so I got in touch with the customer support, which explained that N26 does not ship to Thailand but only to the countries, where the bank operates.
This was a big surprise to me as the N26 is targeting people who travel. I explained that so far I had no issues with N26 bank and that I would like to keep it that way. We exchanged a few messages and the support agreed to make an exception and send me the card to Thailand. By that time I was without the card for a few days already.
A week later I received the card to my home address in Austria. I got in touch with the support again and requested an explanation. The support answered that there was another card shipped to my address in Thailand. A few days later I got the second card to my address in Austria. At that time I stopped bothering with the support as they were clearly not capable of shipping the new card to me.
In the end, I asked my parents to ship it to Thailand. I could have saved at least a week of discussion with the N26 support. Promising the user to ship a replacement card while traveling and then not delivering is quite bad in my opinion.
In the end, I ordered the N26 Black card as it allows me to save money due to the fact that I am withdrawing more than € 582 of cash every month.
I am not the first person who has had a bad experience with the N26 customer support.
In the last few months, I have been chatting with the N26 support to get some more information about their offers. In most cases, they were able to help very fast.
Even though the N26 customer support won’t get a five-star rating from me, there isn’t currently a better card for long-term travelers than the N26 card.
At the moment there is no other bank that offers better benefits as the N26 app combined with the N26 cards.
This in-depth review of the N26 bank should help you to better understand their products and find out if they are suitable for you. There are always benefits and cons that you need to consider when choosing the right card. It comes down to your needs and expectations.
You can compare free bank accounts suitable for travelers here.
The N26 card is helping me saving money while traveling. Do you want to enjoy the low fees and worldwide acceptance of the N26 cards as well?