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Digital banks, also known as app-based or online banks, give you a whole bank in your pocket. There’s a host of challenger banks, online banks and personal finance apps available now, designed to give you better, faster control of your money.
We’ve rounded up everything you need to know so you can decide if digital banks are right for you.
Digital bank accounts, also called online or app-based bank accounts, are bank accounts that are managed entirely online through your smartphone or computer. These banks will charge far fewer fees than traditional Irish banks and also offer other useful features such as budgeting tools, smart money tracking and low-cost travel and money transfers.
There are several advantages to signing up with a challenger bank:
Here are a few things that you may not know about using your smartphone as your main point of contact with your bank:
Most big banks in Ireland charge admin or transaction fees on current accounts that can range from €4-18 per quarter. There are sometimes ways to avoid these fees, such as maintaining a minimum balance in your account, but the fees are still quite high. Banks also charge fees for ATM withdrawals, card transactions and direct debit/standing orders.
However, digital banks charge far fewer fees. You will find that most will come with a “free” account option that charges €0 per month. Then, if you want to unlock more features you can pay a monthly fee. There are sometimes ATM fees but you will not pay fees for card transactions and there are no annual fees. You can also avoid some of the smaller charges by switching to a paid account.
Digital banks in Ireland usually have limitations on how many ATM withdrawals you can make a month and do not offer cheque facilities. With prepaid cards, you have to load your account digitally through a bank transfer.
Digital banks tend to have better services in terms of foreign currency. Some let you hold multiple currencies in your account while others let you make international transfers faster and more cheaply than standard banks. No foreign currency fees also let you shop from websites abroad without paying too much for your purchase.
Not every digital bank is licenced in the same way. For example, Revolut has recently been granted a European banking licence which means your funds will be protected once it is implemented. Currently, funds are held in an account separate to Revolut and customers cannot deposit their salaries with them. However, N26 holds a German banking licence which means consumer deposits up to €100,000 are protected.
You generally sign up for a bank account in Ireland in a branch but you can also do so online. With digital banks in Ireland, you can only sign up on your smartphone. You also will not get access to Internet banking on your computer with most digital banks.
A benefit of an app-based bank is having full access to your account at all times through your digital banking smartphone app. Lots of digital banks allow temporary freezing of your account if you lose your card, so if you find it again it’s not as much hassle to get a replacement. If you forget your pin, digital banks also have access to a pin reminder after you complete a couple of security questions.
If you lose your phone or it’s stolen, you will still be able to secure your account. Just contact the digital bank (contact details will be on the website) and your account will be able to be locked from your smartphone. If you get your phone back, the bank will be able to set access back up again. If not, you can set up your app on your new phone.
There are a number of online banks available in Ireland. These include:
You can sign up with a digital bank in Ireland by downloading your chosen bank’s app onto your smartphone. You will need a few of your personal details to sign up, including your full name, date of birth, address and email address. You will need to confirm your identity and may need to deposit funds into your account to make it active. Then, your bank account will be created.
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