N26 Bank and Cards review – Is N26 safe? – 2021 updated

The future of banking is online! Every year more and more customers are moving from traditional to online banks to get premium services for incredibly low fees. N26, MonzoBunq and Revolut are emerging leaders in the online banking sector. In this article I will review N26 bank services and (credit) cards. In this N26 bank review I will explain:

  • What is N26 bank?
    • IBAN 
    • Is N26 a credit card or a bank?
  • N26 personal bank accounts and cards review
    • Standard account and card
    • Smart account and card
    • You account and card
    • Metal account and card 
  • N26 business bank accounts review
    • Business
    • Business Smart
    • Business You
    • Business metal
  • Is N26 safe?
  • Is N26 worth it?

What is N26 bank?

N26 is a leading online bank that started offering banking services in Germany and Austria in 2015 and quickly expanded all over the world. Nowadays, N26 has a full banking license and it is available in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the US. 

Is N26 a credit card or a bank?

There is quite some confusion out there about the difference(s) between a credit card and a debit card. A credit card is a card that allows you to perform transactions without paying immediately when performing these transactions. Basically paying with a credit card means building up debt when purchasing something.You will have to pay this debt off (most times with interest) at the end of the month or in separate installments. When paying with debit cards, you will simply pay with the balance available on your card or bank account. 

Unlike some people might think, both credit cards and debit cards can be used to purchase online. In the specific case of N26, all N26 cards are Mastercard debit cards that can be used to pay both online and in physical stores.

N26 IBAN

Depending on your location, N26 will offer an adequate IBAN and card that allows you to perform transactions. For example, you will get an US bank account if you are based in the US. If you are based in the EU, you will get a German, Italian or Spanish IBAN. This will allow you to make all payments and transfers you need to make in your country of residence. Therefore N26 is not just a card but a Bank offering complete banking services.

N26 bank personal accounts and cards review

N26 offers several bank accounts and debit cards. Like most online banks, N26 offers a free basic account and several (paid) upgrade options. I will now review all the different N26 accounts and debit cards to help you choose the best option. 

N26 standard account 

The standard account is a free online account offered by N26. This account is completely free unless you have more than €50,000 balance. If your balance is more than €50,000, N26 will charge you a deposit fee of 0.5% p.a. So let’s say that N26 is free for normal users!

This free account offers everything you need from a bank account:

  • A free (physical) Mastercard debit card 
  • Contactless and mobile payments (Apple Pay and Google Pay)
  • Unlimited free worldwide payments (at the MasterCard exchange rate)
  • Three free withdrawals per month in the your home currency
  • Free bank transfers 
  • Basic N26 app functionalities:
    • Statistics and insights on your expenses
    • Up to 2 spaces and sub accounts

These are quite some good functionalities for a free bank account. As usual for online banks, N26 offers the same functionalities as a traditional bank account, but for free! The N26 app is also really well designed and easy to use. No worries if you are not a tech geek, you will quickly learn how to use the N26 standard account! Also nice to know that the N26 card is see through, this is quite unique and personally I find it really cool!

N26 standard account: ATM withdrawal fees and withdrawal fees abroad 

As I just explained, the N26 standard account offers a lot of free features. However, you will incur a cost when withdrawing money abroad and if you exceed the three free monthly withdrawals in your home currency

An ATM withdrawal fee of €2 applies to each withdrawal above the three free monthly withdrawals. 

When picking up money abroad in a currency different from your home currency, N26 will charge you a 1.7% fee on top of the Mastercard conversion rate. It is important to notice that this 1.7% fee is only applicable to cash withdrawals, NOT to payments with your debit card abroad. When abroad, you should try to pay as much as possible with your card instead of withdrawing cash, as this will save you quite some money. 

As just mentioned, when you pay abroad, N26 uses the MasterCard exchange rate and does not charge you any extra fee on top of it. Although this is quite a convenient exchange rate, the MasterCard exchange rate already includes a small conversion fee. 

If you plan to spend (and withdraw) a lot of money abroad, you can consider using Revolut instead of N26. Revolut offers free withdrawals abroad and uses the most convenient interbank exchange rate. 

N26 Smart account review

The N26 smart account is the entry level paid account offered by N26. The main difference between N26 Standard and N26 Smart is that N26 Smart offers sub accounts, extra cards and shared accounts. The Smart account also offers special premium offers and phone support via hotline. Another extra feature of the Smart account is that it offers 5 instead of 3 free cash withdrawals per month. 

The N26 Smart account costs €4.90 per month. Although this can sound cheap when compared to traditional banks, it is only worth it if you need shared accounts or multiple cards to manage your expenses and you are not interested in advanced banking functions and insurances. In my opinion, the Smart account does not offer enough extra functions when compared to the Standard account to justify the fee of €4.90 per month. If you are interested in advanced banking features and insurances I would really recommend you to get an N26 You or Metal account instead. These accounts are more expensive than a Standard or Smart account but they also offer real advanced banking functions and offer a better quality price ratio.

N26 You account review

The N26 You account really offers quite some fancy banking features, travel insurances and unlimited free withdrawals. If you are looking for advanced online banking and a good travel insurance at the same time, a N26 You account offers all of this for just €9.90 per month!

The N26 You account offers the following features:

  • All the features offered by the N26 standard account
  • Extra N26 cards and shared account functionalities
  • Unlimited free cash withdrawals 
  • Travel insurance:
    • Medical travel insurance
    • Trip insurance in case of cancellation
    • Pandemic insurance in case of COVID-19
    • Flight insurance 
    • Luggage insurance
  • Limited lifestyle insurance
    • Insurance for shared vehicles (like car sharing and e-scooters)
    • Winter sport insurance 
  • Premium partner offers and discounts
  • Phone support via direct hotline 

What a long list! N26 You account offers a lot of functions for just €9.90 per month. If you plan to travel a lot, N26 You is the way to go. Before online banks hit the market, good travel insurance and unlimited cash withdrawals were very expensive functionalities only available with very expensive premium credit cards. With N26 You, you can get the functionalities of premium credit cards for less than €10 per month!

N26 Metal review

What is the difference between the N26 Metal account and the N26 You account? Simple, the Metal account offers a more complete travel insurance. The N26 metal travel insurance also offers rental car coverage (up to EUR 20k) and mobile phone coverage (up to EUR 1k). There are two important aspects that we would like to mention about these extra insurances. The rental car insurance coverage is only valid if you are away from home. The phone coverage is only valid if the phone and the event are eligible. I therefore recommend reading the terms and conditions to make sure that these insurances are actually useful for you.

Of course, you will also get a Metal card with your N26 Metal subscription. The N26 metal Card is really classy and high quality. 

N26 Metal costs €16.90 per month. This is not exactly cheap considering that the N26 You plan costs €9.90 per month and already offers most of the functionalities offered by N26 metal. As the main advantage of the N26 Metal plan is the car rental and phone insurance, I would only recommend buying N26 Metal if you often rent cars or if you would buy phone insurance separately. In any other case, the N26 You plan is probably better value for money.

N26 Business bank accounts review

N26 also offers business bank accounts. The N26 business bank accounts are very similar to the personal accounts both in terms of costs and functionalities. Let’s take a look at the N26 business accounts.

N26 Business account

N26 Business account is the entry level business account offered by N26. This account is 100% free and offers the same functionalities as the N26 standard personal account plus a very nice 0.1% cashback! I have to be honest, this is quite impressive! Most other free Business bank accounts (like the Revolut business account) do not offer a cashback. WIth N26 you are actually paid to use your free account. Not bad right? I would really recommend small business owners to use the N26 Business account and never pay for business banking in their life!

N26 Smart, You and Metal Business account

All other N26 business accounts (Smart, You and Metal) offer the same functionalities as their ‘counterpart’ in the personal account options, plus a nice cashback. The cashback is 0.1% for N26 Smart and You and 0.5% for the Metal account. To be honest, 0.5% cashback is quite substantial for a debit card! So if you plan to spend a lot with your N26 business card, a N26 Business Metal card might be the best option for you! 

Is N26 safe?

N26 is really safe! N26 is a real bank based in Germany. Your money is therefore protected by the German Deposit Protection Scheme up to €100,000. Germany is a developed country with a very solid banking system, so the German Deposit Protection Scheme is a great protection for your money. You can find more information about this protection scheme on their website.

For what concerns the N26’s cybersecurity, N26 offers 2 step verification and MasterCard secure code. These are great safety features that N26 implemented to protect your safety! You can Find out all about the safety features that your N26 card has to offer on the N26 website security page.

Conclusion: is N26 worth it?

N26 is, without a doubt, one of the top online banks available today and it is absolutely worth it to open a N26 account. This is valid for both private and business users. I would recommend the N26 free account to all low budget clients, and N26 You for all other users. N26 Metal is only worth it if you plan to rent cars very often and want to be insured for it. If you are not convinced about N26, and want to read about some alternatives, you can take a look at our Revolut, Bunq and Monzo reviews.