EU based digital bank N26 has chosen to stop operating in the UK in early February due the UK’s decision to leave the EU. Read our guide for alternatives to N26.
Other alternatives to N26
German challenger bank N26 launched its cheapest premium option in the UK in January 2019. Back then it was called N26 Black, but it since got revamped and now goes by the name of N26 You.
Our review looks at features, fees and benefits of the N26 You card and tells you whom it might be suitable for. It also explains what’s changed between N26 Black and N26 You (spoiler: not much).
What is N26 You?
N26 You is a premium debit card that gives you extras you don’t get with just a N26 basic current account, for a fixed monthly fee.
The card is a contactless Mastercard. N26 Black used to come, guess what, in an elegant black design. With N26 You, you can choose between five different colours, that N26 calls “aqua, rhubarb, sand, ocean and slate” and we can safely translate into “a classier version of light blue, pink, yellow, dark blue and black”.
Just like it used to be for N26 Black, N26 You includes all the benefits of a basic N26 bank account. In the UK, this means free payments anywhere in the world with Mastercard exchange rates, free cash withdrawals at ATMs in the UK, and the N26 banking app.
The app itself has bunch of handy features, such as allowing you to set your own spending limits, or enable and disable overseas payments and to choose your own PIN, plus a money management tool that automatically categorises your spending.
The extra bonuses you pay for with an N26 You card are likely to be worth it only if you travel a lot.
Video: Alex Weber, head of international markets, on why N26 is different
N26 You fees
The price hasn’t changed. N26 You comes for a fixed monthly fee of £4.90, just like N26 Black used to. This is cheaper than in other European countries, where it costs €9.90 (around £9) a month, because there it includes an Allianz travel insurance that at the moment is not available in the UK.
Once you sign up, there is a minimum of 12 months of membership, during which you can’t cancel the card and the monthly fee will be automatically deducted from your account. If you don’t cancel at least four weeks before the contract expires, N26 You is then automatically renewed for another year (with a 30-day cancellation period), and so on. Therefore, it’s a good idea to do the maths and make sure N26 You gives you a good value for money before trying it out.
The benefits of N26 You
There are two main extra features that you get with N26 You that you don’t get with a standard account:
- Free cash withdrawals at ATMs anywhere in the world. You can withdraw money abroad without paying a fee. For currencies other than sterling, exchange rates are those set by Mastercard. With a basic account, instead, there is a 1.7% fee on cash withdrawals abroad.
- Up to 10 Spaces. Spaces is an N26 functionality that allows users to create sub-accounts to put money aside. The money is still in the account, but cannot be spent – so the Spaces feature basically works like an easy-access savings account that pays no interest. With an N26 basic account, the maximum number of Spaces is two.
These two are the same extra features that N26 Black used to offer. However, N26 also says that in the near future N26 You will also allow you to order an additional card if you need it and will offer some exclusive partner deals (for example with WeWork). N26 Metal already includes some partner benefits, so it’ll be interesting to see which of them N26 will offer to its You customers, while still maintaining a clear distinction between its two premium deals.
N26 basic vs You vs Metal
While N26 basic is for free, N26 You and N26 Metal are both premium options that require you to pay a fixed monthly fee.
N26 Metal is a further upgrade of N26 You. N26 Metal offers all the benefits of N26 You, plus some more. It costs £14.90 a month and you also get a fancy metal card, a travel insurance, dedicated customer support through the app and exclusive deals with N26’s partners. Those include WeWork office space and Hotels.com. We’ve reviewed N26 Metal so you can learn more about its features and benefits.
Neither of the three N26 options allows you to deposit cash on the account (unless you live in Germany).
Pros and cons of N26 You
- Fee-free card transactions and cash withdrawals in the UK
- Fee-free spending abroad, including cash withdrawals
- Slick app with instant notifications
- Automatic spending categorisation
- You can create up to 10 separate sub-accounts to save money towards a goal with Spaces
- Choose between five colours for your card
- You need to be regularly withdrawing cash abroad to make it worth the monthly fee
- You can’t deposit cash into your account (unless you live in Germany)
- No physical branches
For frequent travellers, N26 You can be a good deal. But bear in mind that, when we say “frequent travellers”, we mean Forrest Gump levels of frequency – you’d need to go abroad at least once a month. If you only look at the free cash withdrawals feature, you need to be planning on withdrawing at least £288 a month abroad to make it worth it. If you don’t, you’ll be better off with a basic account, because the 1.7% commission fee is unlikely to cost you £4.90 a month. Considering that card payments are free with a basic account as well, you need to be a real fan of cash or be travelling to countries where credit cards are not as widely accepted.
With the rebranding from N26 Black to N26 You should come some new partner deals that might be worth the fee by themselves in some cases. But until they’ve launched, we can’t really say.
In conclusion, if you don’t travel a lot, or if you only pay by card when you do, you can probably do just fine without N26 You.
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