N26 Black is now available in the UK, offering free ATM withdrawals everywhere in the world.
Since mid-November 2018, German challenger bank N26 has been operating in the UK with a basic current account .
N26 Black and Metal premium cards were then launched in January 2019 and December 2018 respectively.
Our review looks at features, fees and benefits of the N26 Black card and tells you whom it might be suitable for.
What is N26 Black?
N26 Black 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 and comes, as you may have guessed, in an elegant black design.
The N26 Black card 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 Black card are likely to be worth it only if you travel a lot.
Download N26 now for free
Video: Alex Weber, head of international markets, on why N26 is different
N26 Black fees
The N26 Black card comes for a fixed monthly fee of £4.90. 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 Black 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 the N26 Black card gives you a good value for money before trying it out.
The benefits of N26 Black
There are two main extra features that you get with an N26 Black card that you don’t get with a standard one:
- 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.
N26 basic vs Black vs Metal
While N26 basic is for free, N26 Black and N26 Metal are both premium options that require you to pay a fixed monthly fee.
N26 Metal is a further upgrade of N26 Black. N26 Metal offers all the benefits of an N26 Black card, 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 Black
- 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
- 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 Black 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.
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 Black.