Alternatives to N26: A list of similar banks and apps
European bank N26 has closed all its UK customer accounts due to Brexit. Here are other banks like N26 which you could try.
Top alternative banks and apps to N26
- Starling Bank – Great for overseas spending and day-to-day banking
- Revolut – Good for overseas spending, day-to-day banking and range of features
- Monzo – Good for overseas spending and day-to-day banking
- Monese – Good for quick account set up (no proof of address needed)
- Cashplus – Good for day-to-day banking and can help build credit
- Wise – Great for sending money overseas
- Curve – Connects your accounts through one card and app
- Dozens – Digital current account, savings and investment products
- Pockit – Digital current account and card
- Bunq – Fixed monthly fee for digital current account
- Thinkmoney – Automatically keeps your money for bills to one side, for a monthly fee
N26 is a German-born digital bank that launched in the UK in late 2018. In February 2020, following the UK’s departure from the EU, N26 announced it would close its UK operation. There are plenty of other options though, which we’ve rounded up here.
Banks like N26 for day-to-day banking
Many challenger banks specialise in offering a fee-free current account with a debit card and a well-structured mobile app, that helps you keep track of your spending and make payments easily.
Here are the main N26 alternatives. You won’t be charged for using your card or making bank transfers in the UK by any of them, but there are (slight) differences when it comes to other features.
- Monzo. Monzo is the most popular challenger bank in the UK (5 million customers). As it grows, it’s also becoming more sophisticated, and these days its current account has pretty much all the features you can expect: free ATM withdrawals, cash load at all PayPoints (for £1 a transaction), direct debits, plus Apple Pay and Google Pay. Overdrafts are available at rates of 19%, 29% or 39% EAR (variable), depending on your credit score when you apply.
- Starling. Starling Bank has reached over 2 million customer accounts. It has all it needs to compete with Monzo and maybe even a bit more. Cash withdrawals are free and cash deposits into your account are free at every Post Office in the UK. Overdrafts are charged at a rate of 15%, 25% or 35% EAR (variable), depending on your personal circumstances and credit history.
- Revolut. Originally created more as an “alternative” card to travel and send money abroad, Revolut can still be a good option in the UK, but it has some drawbacks. Free ATM withdrawals are capped to £200 a month (there’s a 2% fee after that) and you can’t apply for an overdraft or deposit cash on your account.
Our pick for day-to-day banking: Starling Bank
Monzo and Starling are the top players here, but it’s a close call. Ultimately, we’ve picked Starling because you can deposit cash in your account for free and because your overdraft rate is more likely to be cheaper with Starling than with Monzo.
Banks like N26 for travelling and international transfers
The challengers mentioned above easily beat most traditional banks when it comes to making purchases abroad, simply because they don’t charge a foreign currency transaction fee. The foreign currency transaction fee is a percentage that’s added to all your payments made in another currency by most traditional banks; it can be up to 3% of the transaction, which makes your holiday bank charges pretty expensive.
Instead, fee-free card spending abroad is a given with these challengers, so you’ll need to look at other features to compare them:
- ATM withdrawals abroad. Monzo and Revolut don’t charge for them up to £200 a month (after that, Monzo charges a 3% fee and Revolut 2%). However, with Starling Bank they’re free and you can withdraw up to £300 a day.
- Euro accounts. If you’re an EU national living in the UK, or the other way around, you probably already know how annoying it is having to deal with two different currencies all the time. Starling and Monese offer a solution to the problem through a fee-free euro account you can open alongside your regular sterling one. With Starling, you’ll get the current exchange rate with a 0.4% conversion fee added on top to cover Starling’s costs.
- International money transfers. Starling offers competitive rates and Monzo has a partnership with Wise, but it’s hard to beat Revolut’s selection of fee-free money transfers. You can send money in 29 currencies at the interbank rate for free to other Revolut users globally, or to any account within the Single European Payments Area (SEPA), up to £5,000 a month. For money transfers elsewhere in the world there are fees, dependent on the recipient country and the amount being sent.
Our pick for travelling and international transfers: Revolut
When it comes to all foreign currency things, the choice is between Starling and Revolut. For travelling, Starling tops the league, because if you go somewhere where cash is still the main payment method – as is the case for many countries outside of Europe – Revolut’s £200 monthly limit on free ATM withdrawals can be annoying.
On the other hand, fee-free money transfers (especially in Europe) are Revolut’s speciality – everyone else, including dedicated money transfer companies, charge at least a small fee. So if you also need to send money out of the country every now and then, Revolut is probably your best option.
Banks like N26 for saving
If you’re only looking for top interest-paying savings accounts, challengers aren’t your best shout. Instead, you should probably take a look at what traditional banks offer.
However, challenger banks still have something to offer to savers:
- Better budgeting features. Starling, Revolut and Monzo all automatically categorise your spending, to help you figure out how much you’re spending on what. They also let you set saving goals and put your money in separate sub-accounts (referred to as Goals, Vaults and Pots, respectively) when you save. Starling, Revolut and Monzo also have a round-up feature that automatically rounds up your transactions and saves your spare change if you activate it.
- Atom Bank has a good selection of fixed-term savings accounts. Atom is a digital-only bank, but unlike the others we’ve mentioned, it only does savings accounts and mortgages. It has one easy access and several fixed term savings options available.
- Starling pays a small amount of interest on your current account balance. 0.05% on up to £85,000.
- Monzo is building a savings marketplace. You can sign up to a savings account with one of the partner providers in Monzo’s marketplace, then manage that savings account through your Monzo app. You might get a better deal if you apply directly on the providers’ websites though.
Our pick for saving: Starling Bank
There is no clear winner here. Among challengers, Atom Bank is the one that specialises in savings accounts, and if you want a fixed term one then it can be competitive. But you can’t get a current account with Atom, if that’s what you are looking for as your alternative to N26.
Monzo tops the league for easy access savings accounts, but what you’re doing is actually opening a separate account with another provider, so it’s open to debate whether that really counts.
Finally, Starling is the only one that pays interest directly on your current account balance, so we’re going with Starling – 0.05% on up to £85,000. However, there are more competitive interest rates available with more traditional banks if that’s your priority.
Are challengers safe?
The short answer is yes, all the challengers we’ve mentioned are registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and fully authorised to do what they do. However, there is a slight difference when it comes to how your money is protected:
- Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). It protects all deposits up to £85,000 and applies to financial institutions that have a full UK banking licence. That is: Monzo, Starling and Atom Bank.
- Segregated accounts. Institutions that only have a licence for dealing in electronic money have to keep all their customers’ funds in segregated accounts, from where the money can’t be used to pay the company’s debt and is therefore safeguarded in a bankruptcy situation. That’s the case for Monese and Revolut.
The bottom line
Now N26 no longer operates in the UK, you’ll have to look elsewhere for a digital-only current account. As our guide highlights, there are some great alternatives out there in the UK market, and you can compare them further in our table below.
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