N26 bank review
Following Brexit, N26 has now closed its UK operations to focus on growing in Europe and the US.
EU-based digital bank N26 no longer offers bank accounts in the UK – it announced in February 2020 that it would stop operating here due the UK’s decision to leave the EU. If you are looking for a digital current account, read our guide outlining alternatives to N26.
On 11 February 2020, N26 issued the following statement: “With the UK having left the EU, we will in due course be unable to operate in the UK with our EU banking licence, so we will be leaving the UK and closing all accounts. We’ve made careful plans to support customers, and we are sorry to have to leave.”
Like most challengers, it’s good for people who are looking for a fresh, mobile first approach to banking.
We’ve highlighted the key features, pros and cons of N26, to help you decide whether it’s the option for you.
What is N26?
N26 is a digital-only current account, with a modern banking app that shows spending insights and gives you control your finances.
N26 is already operating in Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria, Belgium and a wide range of other European countries. It has more than 3 million customers and has recently launched in the US, too.
How does N26 work?
When you sign up with N26 you will be sent a cool, clear, contactless Mastercard.
The three of them all operate on the same app, whose features include:
- UK account number and sort code. You’ll be able to set up direct debits and receive and make payments the way you would with a traditional bank like Barclays or Lloyds.
- Make transfers. Send, receive and even request money from friends instantly. N26 supports direct debits, but not standing orders.
- Google Pay and Apple Pay. N26 supports both Google Pay and Apple Pay, so no matter if you’re the iOs or the Android type, you can use your phone to make payments in stores.
- In-app security. Set and change daily spend/withdrawal limits, reset your PIN, lock or unlock your card and enable or disable online or foreign payments.
- Spending statistics. Get automatic categorisation and breakdowns of your purchases. You can also create your own personal tags to organise your transactions.
- Spaces. Saving up for a particular goal, like a bike or a holiday? Put money into small sub-accounts away from your main spending pot. Like they say – out of sight, out of mind. No interest will be paid on your savings though.
- MoneyBeam. Lets you send money to smartphone contacts, without even knowing their bank account details. Money is sent to fellow N26 users instantly, or within two days if they’re not with N26.
How does the app look?
N26 fees and limits
N26 does have some rates and limits that you should be aware of.
- UK customers get fee-free cash withdrawals, up to the daily limit of £500.
- If you make foreign cash withdrawals with your debit card, you’ll be charged 1.7% of the amount taken out.
- The maximum daily limit for in-store or online payments is £5,000.
- The maximum monthly limit on card payments is £20,000.
Using N26 abroad
Travelling with N26 is cheaper than using most cards from traditional banks, as it doesn’t charge any fees for foreign currency transactions.
However, while cash withdrawals in pounds are free of charge, for ATM withdrawals in other currencies, N26 makes a surcharge of 1.7% of the withdrawal.
Also, be aware that at the moment N26 does not support international money transfers. You can only send and receive money from other UK accounts.
Is N26 safe?
Every N26 bank account has deposit protection: the compensation scheme of German banks guarantees up to €100,000 (about £85,000 – the same amount as the UK equivalent scheme).
N26 also offers a Bug Bounty programme. This means cash rewards to encourage security researchers to track down bugs or vulnerabilities.
The app itself has a three-tier security procedure protecting your account and transactions. Your account can only be paired to one smartphone at a time, you must log in to your account using your password or fingerprint, and you must verify all online and offline transactions with your PIN.
Pros and cons of N26
- Free full UK current account that does pretty much all you can expect.
- Quick to apply and set up.
- Slick app with great security and budgeting features (freeze your card, categorise your spending…).
- Unlike with other digital banks, your account can be accessed both on your phone and via N26’s web app.
- Fee-free card transactions abroad.
- Set savings goals and put money aside for a rainy day with Spaces.
- Safe and secure, including deposit protection.
- 1.7% surcharge for foreign currency withdrawals.
- Some prominent features are still unavailable in the UK: you can’t set up a standing order, load cash into the account or make an international money transfer.
- Only does current accounts, you can’t get any other financial products.
- No bank branches so not for you if you like face-to-face service.
If compared to traditional banks, N26 is really competitive, especially for travelling abroad. You can use your card anywhere without being charged any fees, apply quickly online and enjoy a really slick banking app that’s packed with features.
However, it’s no longer operating in the UK. For a UK-based digital bank check out the likes of Starling.
Frequently asked questions
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Our team evaluates banking apps to determine their value against similar products on the market.
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