The banking app Revolut as well as the German mobile bank N26 are the leading “fin-techs” in the digital-banking sector in Europe. In today’s comparison N26 vs Revolut you will find out which card is the better option for you.
Customers of N26 bank and Revolut benefit from the best currency exchange rates, fast and secure access to their accounts, fast money transfer and low fees across all verticals.
This makes the N26 and Revolut one of the best debit cards for travelers, digital nomads and people who prefer to pay fewer fees in exchange for 100% digital banking.
N26 and Revolut offer three different types of debit cards:
- Free Mastercard
- Premium Mastercard
- Metal Mastercard
You can certainly compare the fees, however, there are more factors that you should know about before signing up with one of those companies.
I am using both N26 and Revolut cards while traveling the world, keep reading to find out which debit card is the better option for you.
Before we jump to the comparison between the N26 and Revolut cards you should first know if you can even apply for the card. Both companies are slowly expanding globally, there are however still some limitations on where you need to be based to receive the card.
You can apply for the N26 card if you reside in one of the following countries:
Germany, Austria, Ireland, France, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, Finland, Luxembourg, Slovenia, Estonia, Greece, Slovakia, United Kingdom, Poland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Liechtenstein, and Iceland.
You can apply for the Revolut card if you reside in one of the following countries:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, Switzerland and Australia
At the moment you need to be resident of the European Economic Area (EEA) with few exceptions. However, both companies aim to expand their products also to the United States. I will update this article as soon as this will be officially announced.
Keep in mind that in case you lose your N26 card while traveling abroad, a replacement can only be shipped to one of the countries where N26 operates.
Revolut ships your first card to your address where you reside, replacement cards can be shipped worldwide.
Without further ado, let's have a look at the offer of the free Mastercard from the N26 bank and Revolut.
If you withdraw Euros in any country from any ATM you will not be charged any additional fees, unless there is an ATM transaction fee, charged from the ATM machine.
If you withdraw your money in GBP, USD, AUD or any other currency you will be charged 1.7% when using the N26 free Mastercard.
Revolut does not charge any fees up to € 200 withdrawals (or equivalent in any other currency). If you need to withdraw more, Revolut will charge you 2%.
The debit cards from N26 and Revolut are fairly well positioned considering that most banks charge a fee of 2% - 5% on ATM withdrawal in foreign currencies.
|N26 Black / Metal||Revolut Premium / Metal|
|Foreign Medical Expenses up to € 150.000||Foreign Medical Expenses up to € 17 Mio. (excess € 86)|
|Delayed Flights over 4 hours ( € 100 / hour up to max. € 400)||Delayed Flights over 4 hours ( € 80 / hour up to max. € 382)|
|Luggage-Delay Insurance for delayed flights over 4 hours up to € 1.500||Luggage-Delay Insurance for delayed flights over 4 hours up to € 382|
|Travel Cancelation up to € 7.500 (excess 10% - 20%)||Emergency Dental Treatment abroad up to € 350 (excess € 86)|
|Travel Curtailment Insurance and early return up to € 5.000|
|Collision Damage Waiver (lowering the excess up to € 750)|
|Car Rental Excess Deduction|
|Mobile Phone Theft Protection up to € 300|
|Cash Theft Protection up to 4 hours after ATM withdrawal and € 500|
|Purchase Protection up to 60 days after purchase and € 2.500|
|Extended Warranty up to € 500 (excess € 50)|
As you can see, both N26 Black and Revolut come with a comprehensive insurance package. While looking at the table you might get the impression that the N26 Black offers a better deal.
Fact is, that the N26 Black covers you only during trips with a duration up to 90 days. If you travel long-term, you will need proper travel insurance with better coverage. Note that the N26 Black travel insurance only applies for trips that you booked with the N26 Black card. If you haven’t booked the flight tickets and accommodation with the card, the travel insurance won’t activate and you will not be covered. If you are interested in more details, read their terms and conditions here.
The insurance that comes with Revolut premium card will cover you regardless if you pay for the trip with the card or not. The excess for most insurance claims, however, makes the Revolut premium card quite expensive. The Revolut premium card covers you also only for trips with a duration up to 40 days. If you plan to stay longer, you won’t be covered. Read more details about the Revolut travel insurance that comes with the premium card here.
The insurance offered with the N26 Black and Revolut premium cards is covered by third-party companies such as Allianz (N26) and White Horse Insurance (Revolut). You can submit insurance claims through the Revolut and N26 app.
Both premium cards from N26 and Revolut are not a replacement for comprehensive travel insurance. It is rather an extra safety layer but not something you should rely on. If you look for options to stay covered for medical expenses abroad, check the insurance from Safetywing and Worldsnomads.
Save money on cash withdrawals
The only real value that comes with the N26 Black and Revolut premium card is the higher limit for cash withdrawals in all currencies. Revolut increased the monthly limit for free ATM withdrawals up to € 400 while N26 offers free ATM withdrawals worldwide in any currency.
This is also the main reason I opted in for the N26 Black card. In many Asian countries, you will need a lot of cash, since the cashless payment culture is not as developed here. Apart from local ATM fees, that I am charged with every withdrawal I save at least the 1.7% foreign currency withdrawal fee from N26.
In case you plan to stay longer, the amount of withdrawals adds up, so does the 1.7% fee in case you use the N26 free debit card.
At the moment I use the N26 Black card which does not charge any cash withdrawal fees worldwide. In the end of the day, it is cheaper to pay the monthly fee for the N26 Black as using the N26 free debit card while being abroad.
Note that this is only the case if you travel to countries, where you need a lot of cash. In countries where cashless payments are accepted (USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand) you don’t need any N26 or Revolut premium card.
A nice perk that comes with the Revolut premium card is also the LoungeKey-pass that gives you access to 1.000 airport lounges worldwide.
Both N26 Metal and Revolut Metal offer the same benefits and insurance cover as the above-mentioned premium versions.
The N26 Metal, as well as the Revolut Metal, come with a unique design. The cards are made from reinforced steel, which makes them much heavier as regular plastic cards. Apart from the aesthetics, there are only a few benefits that come with the metal version.
The price-value-ratio of the N26 and Revolut metal cards is the lowest, compared to the free and premium versions.
Both companies are targeting users that will use the cards as a way to present their wealth. When it comes to the additional features, there is not much-added value.
If you travel light like me, you will probably not want to have a heavy card in your wallet.
Who has the better exchange rate - Revolut or N26?
N26 and Revolut are well known for their good foreign currency exchange rates. Traditional banks usually charge a hefty foreign currency exchange fee. Additionally, they have a high spread on the currency exchange rate - they like to follow their own exchange rates rather than the market rates (interbank rates). Why? Because that’s how they make money.
N26 and Revolut’s main mission is to offer users the possibility to transfer and receive money in foreign currencies for the best rate and lowest fees.
I am traveling since mid-2017 now. Having the option to receive and transfer money for the lowest cost was one of the topics I had to figure out myself. My favorite services I use for exchanging currencies is Transferwise, N26, and Revolut. There are pro and cons with every service, for the purpose of this comparison, let’s stick to the differences between N26 and Revolut.
This is the result of my currency exchange test with Revolut and N26
Exchange rate € 1 = 1.579190 AUD
€ 1.000 = 1.572,68 AUD
Transferwise fee: € 4,12 (already included)
Exchange rate € 1 = 1.5788 AUD
€ 1.000 = 1.578,81 AUD
fee: 0% during weekdays, 0.5% on the weekend
The currency conversion with Revolut turned out to be cheaper during the week as compared to N26, which collaborates with Transferwise and charges a small Transferwise fee for the currency exchange.
If you would make the conversion on the weekend, Revolut would charge you 0.5% ( €5 ) which would make the currency exchange more expensive as N26.
Both companies are very transparent when it comes to the communication of their currency exchange fees. The N26 as well Revolut banking-app show you exactly how much you will get in the foreign currency as well as the fees you need to pay, before making the conversion.
Most banks don’t offer you this option, which often results in unpleasant charges that you did not expect.
What you should know about the currency exchange with Revolut
In case you use the free Revolut Mastercard, you should be aware of the free currency exchange amount of € 6.000 per month. If you plan to exchange more money, you will be charged 0.5% from each conversion.
Revolut changes their currency exchange fees based on the time of the conversion as well as the foreign currency.
- USD, GBP, EUR, AUD, CAD, NZD, CHF, JPY, SEK, HKD, NOK, SGD, DKK, PLN, and MXN: 0% during fx hours (weekdays), 0.5% when the markets are closed (weekend)
- THB, RUB, UAH: 1% during fx hours (weekdays), 2% when the markets are closed (weekend)
- all other foreign currencies: 0% during fx hours (weekdays), 1% when the markets are closed (weekend)
Revolut is not a bank (yet)
Revolut is a banking-app, which means that all your money is being stored at one of the UK based banks. Revolut collaborates with Lloyds and Barclays bank. When you open a bank account with Revolut you will receive a UK-IBAN. Your money is protected under the FSCS regulations up to € 100.000.
Compared to Revolut, N26 has a banking license and your account will be held with the N26 bank as opposed to a partner bank. The banking license enables the company to expand to multiple markets but also take full control of the technology so it can offer the best product to the user. Additionally, the banking license increases the trust into the company as it is regulated by the European Central Bank. All your money with N26 bank is protected by the European deposit guarantee up to € 100.000.
Joint accounts are not supported
Both N26 banks, as well as Revolut, do not offer joint accounts. The only option to use two N26 cards simultaneously is to order an additional Maestro card. You can not use the free Mastercard and the N26 black or metal card at the same time.
Revolut offers you the option to order multiple physical as well as virtual cards. The bank account can however not be opened on more than one person.
What happens when you use the card
Losing a debit card when abroad is not a pleasant situation. First, you will need to lock your card to avoid any fraud. You can do this through the mobile app that you use to manage your account.
In case you lose your phone as well, you can log in to your N26 bank account from any web browser and lock your lost card.
Revolut does not offer any login options for web browsers. The only way to access your account is via the Revolut app. In case you lose your phone, you will need a new sim card and a new phone to login into your Revolut account and lock it. This makes the process for the user quite painful.
Ordering a new card
The loss of your card is frustrating enough. If you happen to be abroad, you will want to order a new card as soon as possible.
If you have the N26 card, you can only order a new card to one of the countries, where N26 is active. Worldwide shipments are not supported and the N26 bank is not flexible enough to deal with those request.
Trust me, I have been through that. Read my experience with N26 here.
The only way to get a new N26 card is to order it to your home address and ask family or friends to ship it to you.
Revolut, on the other hand, can ship your card anywhere, which is a clear benefit over the N26 bank.
Who has the better support - N26 or Revolut?
The quality of the support from N26 and Revolut is quite the same. You can chat with a support agent within minutes through the banking-app. Both companies are good when it comes to answering general questions.
The N26 failed to impress when I lost my N26 card in Thailand and had to get a replacement. I haven’t had a negative experience with Revolut yet, however, there were no significant issues so far.
Who has the better app - N26 or Revolut?
Both banking-apps are very intuitive to use and offer similar functions.
The N26 app comes with the following features:
- Overdrafts up to € 6.000 for 8.9% annual interest (depending on your credit score and country of residence)
- Spaces allow you to open sub-accounts and use them for saving purposes (no interest)
- Savings allow you to invest in funds with 1.48% annual interest
- Cash26 allows you to withdraw money for free at any N26 partners in Germany
- Moneybeam allows you to send money to other N26 users instantly
- Statistics allow you to view your expenses sorted in relevant categories
- Login via fingerprint does not always work
- Not all of the features are supported in every country where N26 is active
- N26 Black and N26 Metal are not available in all countries
The Revolut app comes with the following features:
- Analytics allow you to view spendings based on categories, merchants and countries
- Payment links allow you to generate and send links and request money from anyone - even users that won’t use Revolut
- Split bills with other Revolut users
- Set Budget for your spending
- Vaults help you save up your spare change
- Store up to 29 currencies within your account
- Virtual card for secure online payments
- Cryptocurrency feature does not offer the full functions of a crypto exchange
N26, as well as Revolut app, allow you to top up your accounts for free with most European debit cards as well as via bank transfer. You can also manage your security settings, change your PIN or freeze your card.
As you can see, there are many differences apart from fees and prices you will pay for the card. It comes down to your personal preferences and how you like to manage your money.
When it comes to making the right decision, the three main questions you should ask yourself are:
- How often do you withdraw cash and how much?
- Do you need any additional insurances?
- What features of the banking-app are you most likely going to use?
Both cards offer great terms for exchanging foreign currencies. For most users, the free Mastercard from both companies will be good enough.
If you happen to travel a lot to countries where you need a higher amount of cash, the premium accounts might be worth looking into.
I have tested the free and premium versions of both cards myself and chose to use the N26 Black as my primary card, mainly due to the fact that I don’t have to pay any additional withdrawal fees in foreign currencies. Unless there is a local ATM fee I can pay and withdraw worldwide for free.
This, however, does not mean that’s the right choice for you as well. Chose the card that fits your demands the best.
If you have any questions or want to share your experience with one of the mentioned companies, leave a comment. I am happy to help.