N26 is one of the most popular banks in Germany. It is also very popular among expats because they provide their services in English. As an internet bank, they do not have any branches you can walk into. What does this new age bank have to offer? Here is an objective review after having an account since 2015.
What is N26
N26 is a German fintech that entered the scene in 2013. It was called Number26 at the time. It started with a partnership with Wirecard. Since July 2016, Number26 rebranded as N26 after getting its own banking licence.
A banking license of it’s own in Germany means deposits are protected to the tune of 100,000Euros.
N26 is available in the following countries:
Opening an account
Opening an account is quite straightforward. Most banks require proof of registration(Anmeldung) to open an account. N26 allows you to open an account with an Anmeldung. The process is quite straightforward.
- Start here: Fill out your information and verify your email.
- Download the N26 app
- Complete the verification process – You need your passport
- Your debit card will be sent to you in a few days.
The N26 app is intuitive to use. There is also a web application but the majority of the functions live in the app. Here are some of the important features of the app.
You can keep track of your income and expenses. The app automatically categorises your transactions. It is mostly accurate but if you need to change it manually, you can also do that.
You can organise your finances by creating spaces inside the apps. Spaces are subaccounts and can be used for savings or organising your finances. You can create rules to transfer money regularly into your spaces. You can look at them as virtual piggybanks.
Security and pushTan
You use the mobile app to validate your all transactions. You will receive push notifications on your app to verify your transactions and major actions. The app is central to managing your account. Even if you use the website, you have to verify on your app.
You have control over your card on the app. You can
- activate your card,
- lock, unlock your cards.
- control your spending by setting limits.
- Switch features on and off. e.g. Online payments, ATM withdrawals, payments abroad and contactless payments
Depositing and Withdrawing Money
N26 has a network of retail partners at which you can deposit and withdraw money. You can look up the partners in the area on the app. Scan the QR at the counter to complete the transaction.
There are 3 ways to transfer money in the N26 app
- Bank Transfers: The commonest way to transfer money in Germany using IBAN
- Moneybeam: Instant money transfer to other N26 users. You can see other N26 users on your contact list in the app.
- QR Code: Generate a QR code for another N26 user to scan. They do not have to be on your contact list
How much does N26 cost?
N26 has 4 plans for personal and business customers
|Plan||Price per month|
|N26 Standard||0 Euros|
|N26 Smart||4.90 Euros|
|N26 You||9.90 Euros|
|N26 Metal||16.90 Euros|
You can find the latest plan prices here
As an N26 customer, you receive a free Mastercard and Maestro card. There is a 2 Euro charge for withdrawals with the Maestro card in Euros so you should use the Mastercard if you can avoid it. For non-Euro withdrawals, there is an extra 1.7% charge.
Most vendors will accept Mastercard in Germany. You can withdraw 3 times for free with your Mastercard. If you use N26 as your primary account or are one the N26 Smart plan, you can withdraw up to 5 times for free.
N26 Metal and N26 Business can withdraw up to 8 times in a month.
After free withdrawals, you pay 2 Euros per withdrawal.
Good For Traveling
N26 is my preferred bank for travelling. There are no charges when you withdraw outside Germany. The exchange rates are really low(Mastercard rates) and generally better than Visa cards. It will definitely beat the rates at any forex bureau.
There have been occasions where I would withdraw money abroad and the interest rate had been lower than the current rate on Google.
Your N26 account is a debit account. However, they have an overdraft function so you can effectively spend more than you have in your account. This to the best of my knowledge is different for everyone. You can expect to have a higher approved overdraft if you are using N26 bank as your primary account.
The interest rate for overdrafts is 8.9% per annum which is a high-interest rate in Germany but not unheard of for bank overdrafts. I would use this with caution.
You can adjust how much overdraft you want or switch it off entirely in the app
English Customer Support
One of the reasons why this bank is attractive for expats is that they have English speaking customer service. You first run into a bot when you try to reach them but you can send it to go find a human quite quickly.
What else does N26 offer?
N26 also offers a business account for freelancers and sole proprietors. The only limitation here is that you cannot as of today have both a personal account and a business account with them.
Also, only freelancers and sole proprietors can open an account because the account needs to be in the name of an individual(no business names)
Whether you want a primary bank account or a handy second account to organise your finances, N26 is a good choice. You should be able to sleep at night knowing that they have their own banking license, unlike some other app-based fintech companies. If English speaking customer support is important to you, N26 is one of the best bets in Germany.
Some Frequently Asked Questions
Bank transfers take 3-5 working days. In my experience, bank transfers have taken about a day or two.
Moneybeam transfer is instant. However you can only send to another N26 user in your contacts. If they are not your contact, you can also beam money via QR code.
N26 offers debit cards. You can have an overdraft. If you need a credit card, you can get one at any other credit card institution.
Yes N26 is a real bank. They have their own banking license therefore as good as any other bank in Germany. However, they are a 100% online bank. You cannot walk into a banking hall.
Single Euro Payments Area – This is a framework for cross-border payment in the Euro zone.
A SEPA transfer takes about 3-5 days depending on the bank and country you are transferring to. Be careful – it is almost impossible to reverse a transfer after you have sent it.
I have both banks and I must say I prefer N26. Part of the security for me is knowing they are a German bank. Revolut also has a license in the European Union(Lithuania) so they are also regulated.
Yes! You can give your IBAN to your employer and receive your salary into your N26 account.
The bank was called Number 26 when it first started. They rebranded as N26 in 2016.
There are a few options
1. Transfer money from another bank account
2. N26 Moneybeam
3. Use any of the partner retailers. You can find partners in the area on your app.
N26 is pretty much like any other bank in Germany. They are regulated. Should anything happen to make you lose your money, you have a 100k Euros guarantee through the German government.
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