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How a digital bank account can help you during COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

A bank account you can apply for and manage from home.

COVID-19, also known as the Coronavirus, has caused an unprecedented crisis across the world. Here in Ireland, people have been advised to stay at home and only leave for essential activities such as shopping for essentials, exercising or helping care for vulnerable people. These measures, including the closures of gyms, theatres and other businesses, have caused mass disruption to people’s way of lives, including to the way people manage their finances and banking.

In this guide we’ll take you through digital bank accounts, what they are and how they might be a good option to consider during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

What is a digital bank account?

A digital bank account is an account that you can apply for and manage entirely from your computer or smartphone. You don’t need to visit the high street to apply, pick up your debit card or manage your account. This makes it a viable option to consider as we’re all self-isolating and only able to leave our homes for the essentials.

How can a digital bank account help you during the Coronavirus crisis?

Digital bank accounts come with a number of features that can make banking simpler and more convenient. This is especially important during COVID-19.

  • No face-to-face interactions required. Digital banks do not have branches you need to visit to apply for an account and all customer service is conducted in the app or over the phone. When you have applied for an account and your identity has been verified, your card is mailed to you.
  • Low fees. It’s more important than ever to keep our spending on bank fees low, and digital banks have far fewer fees than high street banks. You can usually have your pick of a standard account with no monthly fee or pay for a higher tier account to unlock more features. With all account tiers you are generally given free ATM withdrawals up to a certain limit, free foreign currency transfers up to a limit, no contactless payment fees and no transaction fees.
  • Budgeting features. When you sign up for a digital bank you’ll get an app to manage your spending. Features with these apps include automatic spending categorisation, savings goals and analytics.
  • Low-cost international payments. With travel limited, you may need to send money overseas or receive payments from other countries. You can do this easily with a digital bank account. Digital bank Revolut lets you hold multiple currencies in the one account, while N26 lets you transfer money to other currencies with no foreign currency fees.

What other features come with a digital bank account?

You can also find a number of other features offered by digital bank accounts, including:

  • Multiple accounts. Digital bank bunq lets you open up to 25 accounts each with their own individual IBAN while Revolut gives you a dual account with a UK account number and a European IBAN.
  • Mobile wallets. Digital features such as Apple Pay and Google Pay are usually standard.
  • Paying your friends. Along with easy international transfers, you can pay your friends, too. This includes through split bill functions or through innovative unique payment links such as those offered by bunq.
  • Card and safety controls. Keeping your money safe is easy with a digital bank app. You can switch off contactless payments in the app and switch them on again when you like. You can also lock and unlock your card if you lose it or it’s stolen and also change your spending limit, all within the app.
  • Cryptocurrency. Digital banks such as Revolut and Wirex let you buy and sell cryptocurrencies directly within the app.
  • Savings. While few digital banks have savings accounts that pay interest, they do have a savings function that encourages you to build up your savings balance and reach a savings goal. For example, N26’s Spaces feature lets you save for a specific goal and keeps that money away from your main account funds.

Compare a range of digital bank accounts in Ireland

Name Product Monthly fee Card delivery Supported Currencies
N26 Bank Account
€0
Up to 10 working days

1

Benefit from no monthly fee, no currency conversion fees and a raft of in-app budgeting features to help you save.
Wise Multicurrency Account
€0
Up to 14 working days

19

Wise (formerly TransferWise) is an international account with over 50 currencies, instant and very convenient money transfers, a card to spend in any currency, bank details to be paid in 30 different countries and multi-currency direct debits.
Revolut Standard
€0
Up to 9 working days

18

Enjoy no monthly fee, no currency conversion fees up to €1,000 per month and hold an array of currencies in your account.
VIALET Current Account
€0
N/A

1

An IBAN account you can use to manage your money and spend in over 200 countries worldwide, fee-free.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Name Product Monthly fee Card delivery Supported Currencies
Wirex Multicurrency Card
€1.20
Up to 4 business days

10

Get a Welcome Bonus of 1,000 WXT when you sign up with Wirex through Finder.

A multicurrency account that lets you spend abroad in over 150 currencies and an array of supported cryptocurrencies.
bunq easyMoney Personal
€7.99
Up to 10 working days

1

A card linked to up to 25 individual IBAN accounts. Earn interest on all money in your account and benefit from competitive rates and fees.
Revolut Premium
€7.99
Up to 3 working days

12

A combined current account and IBAN account with unlimited free currency conversions and international transfers in many currencies.
Revolut Metal
€13.99
Up to 3 working days

12

A premium account with an exclusive Metal card featuring insurances, cashback, concierge service, cryptocurrencies and more.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Name Product Monthly fee Card delivery Supported Currencies
bunq easyTravel Personal
€0
Up to 10 working days

1

A no monthly-fee card that lets you travel and spend globally using the real exchange rate. Security controls and simple payments.
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Compare up to 4 providers

What fees and charges come with digital banks?

These differ depending on the bank, but generally you can expect the following:

  • Monthly fee. Most digital banks offer a standard 0 account and then come with paid, tiered accounts that which come with more features.
  • Foreign currency fee. You’ll find that digital banks generally waive foreign currency fees. However, this may be for only a certain number of transactions per month. If you’re currently overseas or plan on travelling later on with the account, make sure you pick an account that meets your needs.
  • ATM withdrawal fees. Usually, digital banks will not charge for ATM withdrawals up to a certain number per month. This is because these accounts do not charge you any transaction fees or contactless payment fees, so you can use them as often as you want in-store or even online without being charged.
  • ATM withdrawals abroad. You may be charged a fee for withdrawing money from an ATM not in Euros.
  • Card delivery. Generally, card delivery will be free, but some digital banks charge for this with their free accounts.

How do you sign up to a digital bank?

Signup is relatively simple. Once you’ve compared your options above, click “Go to Site” on your chosen digital bank account and you’ll be taken to the website to complete the signup process. You’ll need a few things to sign up:

  • Personal details such as your name, date of birth and address
  • Your passport
  • Your face (for a selfie)

Once you’ve verified your identity you will need to add €10 to your account by linking an existing bank account.

Have more questions about digital banks in Ireland?

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