N26 is a digital-only German challenger bank that’s arrived in the UK. Does it offer anything different? Here’s what you need to know.
N26 calls itself a bank account for real people; it offers everything you can do with a traditional bank, but N26 says it will be easier, and from anywhere.
The bank officially launched in the UK in November 2018 after carrying out early trials of its app. We’ve highlighted the key features of N26, to help you decide whether it’s the option for you.
What is N26?
N26 offers a digital-only current account with a modern banking app that gives you spending insights and lets you control your finances, all on your phone.
N26 is already operating in Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria, Belgium and a wide range of other European countries. It’s now in the UK and has plans to establish itself in the US, too.
Download N26 now for free
- Take control of your finances with one app
- Manage everything directly in the N26 app
- Set payment limits; change your PIN; lock and unlock your card
- Make no-fee transactions anywhere in the world
Video: Alex Weber, head of international markets, on why N26 is different
How does N26 work?
When you sign up with N26 you will be sent a contactless Mastercard.
The three of them all operate on the same app, whose features include:
- Make transfers. Send, receive and even request money from friends instantly.
- Google Pay. N26 supports Google Pay, so you can use your phone to make payments in stores, and also use Google Pay to make purchases online.
- International transfers. By partnering with TransferWise, N26 supports international transfers into 19 foreign currencies directly within the app. It claims to be six times cheaper than using traditional banks.
- In-app security. Set and change daily spend/withdrawal limits, reset your PIN, lock or unlock your card and enable or disable online or foreign payments.
- Spending statistics. Get automatic categorisation and breakdowns of your purchases. You can also create your own personal tags to organise your transactions.
- Spaces. Saving up for a particular goal, like a bike or a holiday? Put money into small sub-accounts away from your main spending pot. Like they say – out of sight, out of mind.
- MoneyBeam. Lets you send money to smartphone contacts, without even knowing their bank account details. Money is sent to fellow N26 users instantly, or within two days if they’re not with N26.
- UK account number and sort code (only supported in the UK). You’ll be able to set up direct debits and receive and make payments the way you would with a traditional bank like Barclays or Lloyds.
How does the basic card look?
Using N26 abroad
Cash withdrawals in pounds are free of charge. For ATM withdrawals in other currencies, N26 makes a surcharge of 1.7% of the withdrawal.
You can avoid this fee if you pay for an item with your Mastercard. There is no fee for making purchases in foreign currency.
In addition to this, N26 has partnered with Transferwise, which makes transfers into European currencies seamless.
N26 fees and limits
N26 does have some rates and charges that you should be aware of.
- UK customers get fee-free cash withdrawals, up to the daily limit of £2,500.
- If you make foreign cash withdrawals with your debit card, you’ll be charged 1.7% of the amount taken out.
- The maximum daily limit for in-store or online payments is £5,000.
- The maximum monthly limit on card payments is £20,000.
Is N26 safe?
Every N26 bank account has deposit protection: the compensation scheme of German banks guarantees up to €100,000 (about £85,000 – the same amount as the UK equivalent scheme).
N26 also offers a Bug Bounty programme. This means cash rewards to encourage security researchers to track down bugs or vulnerabilities.
The app itself has a three-tier security procedure protecting your account and transactions. Your account can only be paired to one smartphone at a time, you must log in to your account using your password or fingerprint, and you must verify all online and offline transactions with your PIN.
Pros and cons of N26
- Easy to manage and track your spending real time
- Your account can be accessed on your phone or via N26’s web app
- In-app security features such as card lock/unlock
- All payments, both national and international, completed within one working day
- Fee-free card transactions abroad
- Safe and secure.
- Partnership with TransferWise means seamless transfers from Euros to 19 currencies
- MoneyBeam lets you transfer money to friends and family instantly
- Unlimited cash withdrawals in GBP
- 1.7% surcharge for foreign currency withdrawals, although this is competitive with other European banks
- No bank branches so not for you if you like face-to-face service