N26 Bank

N26 in-depth review, useful information and user opinions

N26 Bank
Last updated:
4.8
Excellent

With its headquarters in Berlin, N26 offers bank accounts in the UK and throughout the Eurozone, as well as in the US. Could this rapidly-growing German bank be one to join as an account holder?

First Glance

N26 is amongst many challenger banks looking to shake up your financial management. But, unlike some others with their brightly coloured cards and cool image, N26 branding seems a little more sophisticated.

Is this more serious approach extended to their banking offerings?

Here are some of the benefits and drawbacks of N26 at a glance. Continue for more detail about this online bank:

Pros

  • Manage your account on your smartphone, or use the web browser
  • Free ATM withdrawals in the UK, with no monthly limits
  • Use Google and Apple Pay
  • View categorised spending, with monthly reports for budgeting
  • Lock your card temporarily
  • Discreet mode to hide financial figures

Cons

  • You can’t pay in cash or cheques
  • Debit cards can take up to 10 working days to arrive
  • Many features are slow to roll out in the UK
  • Money isn’t protected by the FSCS

What is N26?

N26 started out as Number 26, back in 2016.

Just a couple of months later, earning a banking license and rebranding with its shorter name, this previously unknown financial company became one of the world’s first challenger banks.

N26 grew rapidly. In fact, this fast growth lead to a few issues at first. Early N26 users faced problems with long delays for customer service, potential security breaches and the introduction of a Fair Use Policy that limited ATM withdrawals. But, that same rapid growth meant that N26 was forced to shape up quickly. Today, it’s a very popular bank with more than 3.5 million customers.

The first bank you’ll love

N26

Primarily, N26 is an app-based bank. But, unlike many app-based challenger banks, it also offers a full web interface. This means that even without your phone, you’re able to connect and manage your money.

On your phone or laptop, you can carry out a range of actions including setting daily withdrawal limits, locking your card and making use of budgeting tools.

Who is N26 for?

Whilst many other challenger banks take a unique and innovative approach, N26 more carefully bridges the gap between ‘legacy’ and ‘challenger’. In fact, you’ll find that N26 accounts can be managed much more like your older bank products.

For people that want to break free from the big banking names that they’ve held accounts with for decades, N26 could offer a relatively effortless transition. You’ll manage your account in much the same way, but with some of the benefits of newer challenger banks. Take advantage of budgeting tools, real-time spending notifications and security controls, joining more than 3.5 million existing N26 customers.

But despite appearing more like a traditional bank than many other challengers, N26 has its flaws. Namely, that you can’t deposit cash and may need to wait up to 10 working days for your card to arrive in the mail.

There are many good things about using N26. But for some users, these benefits may be outweighed by the inconvenience of a bank that’s still very much outside the UK.

How does N26 work?

Begin the process of applying for an account using the N26 smartphone app. You can also start with N26 for web, though you’ll still need your smartphone later on.

Download the Android or iOS app, to select your preferred account. Even if you use the web interface, you can’t complete the account application without linking to a mobile phone. You’ll need a passport or driving license for identity confirmation.

Once you’ve signed up for an N26 account, you will need to wait for your card. Cards can take up to 10 working days to reach a UK address. You’ll receive a Debit Mastercard that you can use for UK and overseas spending. In the meantime, use the N26 WebApp to find your bank account details.

What features do you get with N26?

N26 features include:

Discreet Mode

Discreet mode allows you to manage your account, on your phone or other device, with sensitive data blurred out. Anyone looking over your shoulder should be unable to see details like your bank balance and transaction amounts. This feature may be suitable for people that often do their banking in public places, such as on the train or in their local library.

Daily Limit Control

Use the app or WebApp to set your own daily limits. You have control of exactly how much you can withdraw or spend each day.

Transaction Notifications

Your smartphone app will notify you of any financial transactions.

Lock Your Card

Temporarily lock your card, so that it can’t be used. This feature can be found in both the smartphone and WebApp interfaces.

Budgeting Tools

N26 automatically categorises many financial transactions. Use this information to see where your money is being spent. At any time, access a monthly overview to view charts that reveal your spending habits.

MoneyBeam

Using MoneyBeam, you can send money to someone else without their bank account details. You’ll just need their email address or phone number.

TransferWise

In partnership with TransferWise, N26 provides the option to transfer money in a total of 19 currencies. You can initiate TransferWise money transfers from within your smartphone app.

Spaces

Open a Spaces sub-account, to share amongst up to 10 people. Acting as a joint account, your Space gives everyone the option to add and withdraw funds. It is only available to users with paid-for accounts.

All people sharing a space should be trusted to have access to the money. Each person will also need their own You or Metal account.

What packages do N26 offer?

N26 offers a free bank account, with the option to pay for premium features.

N26 You is a paid-for account costing £4.90 per month. Account benefits include a choice of five different card colours, partner discounts and free overseas ATM withdrawals (usually charged at 1.7%).

N26 Metal is a premium offering costing £14.90 per month. It provides the benefits of N26 You, along with a metal Mastercard in a choice of three colours. Additional features include priority support to skip the queue, plus a travel insurance package and Lounge Key access for airports.

Customers need a You or Metal account to access the Spaces service.

Are there any extra charges?

A standard N26 account is free to open and use. There are no charges for everyday banking, including UK ATM withdrawals.

You can order a replacement plastic Mastercard up to once a year free of charge but will need to pay £6 for each further replacement. A replacement Metal card costs £40 each time.

How safe is N26?

As a German bank, N26 is regulated by German financial authorities. It does not offer FSCS protection.

UK customers are protected up to a total of the equivalent of 100,000 Euros, through the German Deposit Scheme. This works out at roughly £89,000, though the exact figure will vary.

How do you contact N26 customer support?

There are no N26 branches. Instead, you can contact customer support using their app or online banking. Live chat support is only available between 7am and 10pm.

There are no options for telephone or email support.

N26 Metal account holders have access to priority support. As a result, they’ll get straight through to an advisor and don’t need to wait in a queue.

Can N26 be your everyday bank account?

An N26 bank account has all the essential features of any UK account. It includes an account number and sort code, can receive incoming payments and has Direct Debit functionality. But, you may find it hard to use as your everyday account.

With N26, you’re completely unable to make deposits by cash or cheque. Whilst some other challenger banks have workarounds in place or have partnered with PayPoint for occasional cash deposits, N26 hasn’t followed suit. This means that you’ll need to find an alternative way to make a cash deposit, perhaps by giving the money to a trusted friend who can make an electronic transfer. If you plan to use this as your primary account, it makes sense to keep another one open.

Without telephone or email support, and with the bank regulated by German authorities, you may not have the same peace of mind that you would with other banking providers. Features that launch across Europe can be slower to launch in the UK, with Apple Pay only supported since early 2019.

If you don’t expect to ever use cash or receive payments by cheque, then you might really appreciate some of N26’s offerings. The option to bank from your browser is a welcome feature that many challenger banks aren’t providing, whilst shared spaces might be very convenient for students in shared accommodation.

N26: The Verdict

N26 doesn’t break the mould. It’s certainly not as innovative as you’d expect from a challenger bank. But, it’s a stable contender.

Traditional features, like browser-based banking, combine with modern smartphone app functionality. You’ll receive push notifications and have access to budgeting tools, whilst still being able to access your accounts without your handset.

Despite being primarily app-based, N26 seems in many ways to be more like a high street bank. Yet, it lacks something important that high street banks still rely on. With no branches of any kind, nor any partnerships with the likes of PayPoint, these accounts are completely cash-free. You can’t deposit cash or cheques, which could easily become inconvenient.

If you need an account that can receive incoming salary payments, being used for your bills by Direct Debit, then you shouldn’t face any real issues. In fact, unlike some of its competitors, N26 offers free UK ATM withdrawals with absolutely no limits. But if you’re looking for some creativity, then you’re looking in the wrong place. An N26 account is very much for those that want simplicity and comfort.

At times, you’ll really notice that you’re dealing with an overseas bank. From a relatively long wait to receive your card to the late launch of features like Apple Pay, you may face some waiting around. But, if you’re drawn to premium metal cards and the option to use your laptop, then N26 has you covered.

This is a bank for people that aren’t ready to depend completely on their smartphone. It’s a reliable comfort that will meet your expectations but offers extra convenience in some areas at the expense of convenience elsewhere.

More About N26 Bank

Formerly known as Number 26, N26 is a digital challenger bank based in Berlin, Germany. After working mostly in the Eurozone since being established in 2016, the bank expanded to the UK recently and has plans to expand into the United States in 2019.

Some of N26’s online services are provided in German, English, French, Italian and Spanish.

N26 Bank Product and Services

Account opening is straightforward – N26 is partnered with IDNow, and new customers verify their identity in a short video chat with a member of the team. Customers must have a valid passport or Government-issued ID card to do this.

N26 customers can open a basic current account – with all the associated features – and receive a debit Mastercard. This account is free.

N26 also offers investment programmes, overdrafts and premium current accounts for which customers pay a monthly fee. The premium Mastercard is currently only available in France, Ireland, Germany, Italy and Spain; it is named N26 Black. A further premium banking service, known as N26 Metal, was launched in Germany, France, Austria, Spain and Italy in June 2018. The bank plans to introduce these services in the UK in the near future.

N26cards are compatible with Google Pay.

N26 services are not available in Cyprus or Malta, but residents of all other Eurozone countries can open an account. Customers in Germany, Austria and the Netherlands can also ask for a Maestro card in addition to the Mastercard.

N26 doesn’t charge fees for basic transactions but has introduced a Fair Use policy covering most countries. This policy limits cash withdrawals to 3-5 free each month; a two Euro fee is charged for additional withdrawals.

Customers with other N26 customers in their phone contacts can use a service called Moneybeam to immediately transfer money to those contacts.

N26 Bank Security

N26 bank accounts are guaranteed by the Compensation Scheme of German Banks up to €100.000. Extensive information and advice on keeping accounts safe, and how N26 works to protect customers, is available on the N26 website.

N26 Bank
N26 bank review
Bottom line
N26 is taking the world by storm. It's certainly one of the better new digital banks we've tested out. There are perhaps a few comparable accounts with other providers, but it's hard to beat N26's app that is packed full of features. And if you love travelling the world, there are many benefits.
Pros
Manage your account on your smartphone, or use the web browser
Free ATM withdrawals in the UK, with no monthly limits
Use Google and Apple Pay
View categorised spending, with monthly reports for budgeting
Lock your card temporarily
Discreet mode to hide financial figures
Cons
You can’t pay in cash or cheques
Debit cards can take up to 10 working days to arrive
Many features are slow to roll out in the UK
Money isn’t protected by the FSCS
4.8
Excellent
Helping the UK make informed banking decisions
  1. 1.5
    Cheap and Cheerful - Poor Customer Service.

    I opened an account with N26 and tried to use their account switching service. Numerous problems, and Customer Service is utterly useless. It uses a computer driven Bot to give you answers that are contained in the FAQ section of the web site – what is the point of that? Getting through to a human takes time. and then they are a typical call centre type of operation that cannot actually give answers or solve problems.
    This is a cheap and cheerful account that has limited functionality – you get what you pay for. Just pray that noting goes wrong with any transactions, as getting it sorted is well nigh impossible. I would NOT recommend this as a main bank account.

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  2. 0.5
    Don't trust this bank! Worse experience ever!

    This is the worst banking experience.

    They advertise as great bank for travelers but their system don’t support foreigners passports unless you are present in Germany for their sudden identification check up that can only be done at the local post office.

    My account was frozen without notice because at this sudden second identification check up, their system couldn’t support my foreigner passport for online identification and I needed to be in Germany to go to a local post office to complete it. I’m currently living abroad and have bills to pay but can’t because their system have automatically frozen my account until I go back to Germany. The only option I have from afar is to close my account and transfer my funds to another account. They don’t recognize my second bank account outside of Europe, so I have to send it to my husband’s account I’m Germany. Their customer service is unable to give me an estimate of how long it will take for them to transfer my funds to my husband’s account before closing it. I’m waiting for two weeks already without being able to access any of my funds.

    I could never imagine having such a worse headache with a bank in life. I’m emailing them everyday, no answers, the only way to speak to someone is through their long waiting web customer support, their advisers are evasive with answers not giving us any clear update or estimate for when to expect the situation to be resolved.

    There’s no physical n26 office to call as they are only an online bank. N26 is unnacountable to the consequences that this problem on their system is causing me, and I’m at the mercy of their weak and inneffective response.

    Their marketing strategy for travelers is a fraud to get costumers. They can’t support travelers.

    Now all my money is frozen without expected time to be released. They are holding what is not theirs and not taking ownership for something that this whole problem is their fault and should be resolved asap.

    If you have any funds on this bank, move it away to a safe bank account you can trust, ASAP. After my experience with them, I don’t trust N26 and will not recommend this bank to anyone.

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    1. Of course they refuse to discuss it, its GDPR regulations. Would you be happy if someone approached your bank to talk about you?

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