N26 review: A free Mastercard and bank account


Good things are rarely free. N26 is an exception.

With N26 you get a free debit card and a free bank account, which is perfect for a project, a shared household bank account or as a backup payment card.

Background

N26 is a German neo-bank that was founded in 2013 by Valentin Stalf and Maximilian Tayenthal. 

Today, N26 has about 1,500 employees and has more than 3,5 million customers from 26 markets.

N26 has raised almost 700 million euros in funding. *GASP* 😱 One of the most recent investments came from Tencent Holdings, the company that has now a majority stake in Supercell, worth billions of euros. N26 ranks currently in the top 10 most valued FinTech companies.

So, it's a big operation. Massive.

N26 features are simple but powerful

You won't find on N26 all the same features an old fashioned bank will offer you, but you'll get the main things that matter, for free.

A free bank account in your pocket

N26 has adopted a "mobile first" approach and indeed you need a mobile phone to use N26. Need to make a bank transfer? Just choose a recipient, choose the amount and send. Regular SEPA transfers won't cost you anything, either.

And what is a bank anyway? For me it's the place I hold cash

A free debit card

Isn't it pretty!! 🤩 This is the best part for me. I'm not sure if I'd prefer a credit card (maybe a credit/debit combination?), but a debit card is just as convenient for me. 

A lot of people will say that it's best to not have more than one credit/debit card. I disagree. I have
  1. My primary one that I pay for my own expenses
  2. A shared household expenses credit card we use to pay for e.g. groceries, gas etc
  3. One I use for my own company's expenses (side hustles like this blog)
  4. One I use to pay for my employer's expenses
  5. And then a back-up (or two) for vacations.
I mostly just use 1,2 and 3. It makes a lot of sense to keep my expenses separate. #3 makes life SO much easier accounting-wise and #2 ensures me and my wife have our own financial freedom of choice.

If you agree with the above, then having a free debit card from a bank like N26 is very welcomed. I can imagine the following to be very useful applications, for example:
  • N26 could be your emergency fund
  • A back up payment card for vacations
  • A shared household account for you and your spouse (we hold ours in the car)
  • The first account for your kid with a payment card you can't get into debt for
  • An account and card for your side projects
Does anything on the list sound suitable to your situation?

Five free ATM withdrawals per month

With the free account, you get to withdraw money from an ATM for free five times per month within the Eurozone. Outside of the Eurozone there's the tiny 1.7% markup for withdrawals in foreign currency.

Of course, ATMs around the world can have their own fees. N26 will not be able to waive them. Be sure to always check the fees at the ATM you're using.

Luckily, N26 has it's own ATM locator that helps you to find a cheap ATM, which is helpful especially abroad.

Saving money gets easier with Spaces


People are generally often very bad at saving money. It's not in our nature. Spending is. 

N26 Spaces is a feature that lets you create buckets for your money away from your main account. In the above example, I've created an example space for a vacation for 2,000 €.

You can create automatic transfers to spaces, which can help you for example to prepare for Christmas. You can also use Spaces to pay yourself first if N26 is the account you get your salary to.

Works with Google Pay and Apple Pay

You don't need to carry the card with you everywhere, or anywhere even. Just add the card to Google Pay or Apple Pay and use it with your phone.

This is especially useful if you use the N26 account as a shared household expenses account. This way you and your spouse (or your kids) can all use the shared N26 account to make purchases from the family account. Pretty neat!

Business account

N26 provides a "Business account", which isn't meant for large businesses, but rather for the self employed and freelancers. I'm using the N26 Business account for this blog.

The main benefits of a business account are:
  • you get 0.1% cashback for all your purchases.
  • you can organize your transactions with #hashtags, many of which are automatic
So, it's a little cheaper and it adds some visibility to your business. However, the account holder name is (for now at least) still you personally, not your company's name.

Premium features

N26 You - a travel insurance and a nicer card

N26 You is a premium account that costs 9.90€/mo. For that, you get:
  • A nicer looking credit card
  • Unlimited free ATM withdrawals, also outside the Eurozone
  • Up to 10 Spaces
  • Insurance for medical expenses abroad
  • 24/7 medical assistance hotline everywhere
  • Expenses reimbursed if your luggage is delayed, lost, damaged or stolen
  • Costs covered if your trip gets cancelled
  • Covers costs that happen to a shared mobility vehicle
  • Covers medical costs of winter sports accidents
So pretty extensive.

If you don't already have travel insurance, N26 You could be a great fit. Make sure you read the details though.

N26 Metal

In addition to benefits of N26 You, with 16.90€/mo you also get:
  • An even more stylish credit card
  • Mobile phone insurance up to 1,000€, covering damage or theft
  • Also rental car damage is covered to up to 20,000€
So for about 200€ per year, you get a rental car insurance for your travels and a proper smartphone insurance. That's actually quite cheap. Often when you rent a car abroad you end up paying easily 100€ for damage waiver per week. Two such weeks and you could have just had N26 Metal instead, with all the other benefits.

Also, how many of us crack our smartphone screens almost every year? It seems even that would be covered, although I haven't seen the small print myself.

Shared spaces

Shared spaces let Metal and You -customers to create a Space that multiple people can save (transfer money) to. This could be useful if you wish to save towards a certain item with your spouse, for example. Only one of you need to have a Metal or You subscription, not both.

What is N26 lacking

There are some things N26 doesn't provide that I would like to see in the future.

E-invoicing

You guys probably haven't heard from e-invoicing yet, but it's a pretty big thing in Finland. All the regular invoices I receive as a private consumer come electronically, directly to my bank accounts. I just log in and approve them (or I set up auto-approve rules). 

E-invoicing isn't such a big thing outside of Finland yet, but it is coming. I expect N26 to introduce support for that in the future.

There's no phone support

N26 is growing really fast. If you get stuck with something, you can't call them up. They don't have a support line.

They do however have a live chat support. I personally prefer a chat. Nowadays call centers are often outsourced to somewhere far away with bad connections and cheap headsets. It's a lot more efficient to get your point across when it is in writing.

Opening a bank account on N26

Who can open a bank account on N26?

To open an account on N26 you need to
  • be at least 18 years old
  • be a resident of a supported country (currently: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK and the US)
  • have a compatible smartphone
  • have a supported photo ID (eligibility depends on whether you live in Germanyoutside of Germany or in the UK)
  • not have a previous account with N26
  • be able to verify yourself in English, German, Spanish, Italian or French.

How to open an account on N26

Opening an account with N26 could not really be easier. All you need is a smartphone and a photo ID or passport.


  1. Head over to n26.com and click Open Bank Account.
  2. Proceed to add your details and confirm your email
  3. Download the n26 app
  4. Use the app to verify your identity, including snatching a photo of your photo ID
  5. Wait for your card to arrive

Is your money safe on N26?

Money deposited on an N26 account is insured up to 100,000 €, or the equivalent amount in GBP. This insurance ensures that if N26 becomes insolvent, savings are covered up to that amount.

Full disclosure

I have an account at N26 that I use every week and it's perfect for me. I wanted to open a bank account for my side hustles and this blog so that I could keep everything organized. With other banks it would've taken days or weeks to open the account, and it would've meant me physically visiting their offices. None of the others were free, either.

It's easy to give a high review on N26, it being free and giving so much value to me. Sure, it doesn't have all the features yet, but the ones that are missing aren't a pain point for me. The alternatives I had to compare N26 had 100€-300€ opening fees and 10€-20€ monthly fees. For what?

So, for me, N26 is perfect. I am currently using the free account and it has superb value to me. For that reason N26 is getting full 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐. I usually don't recommend anything on this blog but as even the free account with N26 is great, I can fully recommend it, if for nothing else then as a backup card for your vacations.
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