N26 is available in Switzerland – Save on Foreign Currency Fees

Posted on

(Disclosure: Some of the links below may be affiliate links. For more information, read my disclosure.)

N26 - A Digital Bank to save on Foreign Currency Fees

Everybody will agree with me that paying 1.5% of fees, or even more,  on each transaction abroad really sucks! That is not something you want to think about when you are on vacation or shopping online in other countries. Thanks to N26, this should never be necessary anymore!

N26 is a digital bank offering transfers in other currencies for free! Not only that. But the entire bank account is free! And they are a bank! Your money is insured according to European laws. You can even withdraw money for free several times a month! That sounds great, right?

In this post, I am going to cover everything you need to know about N26. And since I have already talked about Revolut on this blog, I will compare both services which are similar but not equivalent!

Stay tuned to find out how to save money on foreign exchange fees!

N26

Balance on N26 Mobile Application
The balance on N26 Mobile Application

N26 is a digital bank, that was founded in Germany in 2016. For a short period, it was called Number 26. Its headquarters are in Berlin in Germany.

They first started as a simple interface in front of another bank. But they soon got a German Banking License. De facto, they are now a bank in all of Europe. They got a Full Banking License. They have the same rights as any other bank in Europe.

Since N26 is a digital bank, you will have to access it through your phone or your computer. They do not have bank offices where you can do transactions. It is the main reason they can cut the costs down.

You can receive payments into your account directly using your personal EUR IBAN. You can make your payments as well from your account. Also, if you know people using N26, you can directly send them money!

With your account, you will also receive a Mastercard Debit Card. You will be able to use it to make payments in foreign currencies for free as well! And you can also use it to make withdrawals in EUR for free.

N26 Mastercard
N26 Mastercard

Now, with this Mastercard lies the most significant caveat of N26. They do not offer any cashback on transactions!

While this card is absolutely perfect for payments in foreign currencies, you should not use it for payments in your home currency. This means you should still have a credit card with some cashback next to this one. It should be part of your credit card strategy.

N26 Fees

The most exciting thing about N26 is its very low fees! But, first of all, we have to talk about the three different accounts that are available:

  • N26: This is the standard account for most users. It is entirely free! You get some free withdrawals in EUR and all currency conversions for free!
  • N26 Black: This option is on top of N26 standard and comes for 9.90 EUR per month. You will get free withdrawals abroad as well, which is excellent! On top of the base features, you will also get protection from Allianz Insurance when you travel.
  • N26 Metal: This is the high-end option, for 16.90 EUR per month. You will get all the advantages of Black, plus dedicated customer support and exclusive partner offers. For instance, you can get 10% on some hotels.
International Transfer with N26
International Transfer with N26

Personally, the only service I am interested in would be the basic free option. For me, 9.90 EUR per month for a bank account is already too much. I do not really see the point of the Black and Metal cards. So, we are going to discuss the fees for the standard account here.

N26 also has a business plan. But this is not something that we should be concerned about. This is a plan for self-employed people and freelancers.

You can make five free withdrawals in euros per month. After that, you will have to pay 2 EUR for each extra withdrawal. You can also withdraw euros abroad for free. However, if you withdraw cash in other currencies, you will pay a 1.7% fee!

On the other hand, payments in other currencies than EUR are free! If you transfer money from EUR to GBP, you will not pay any fee. And the current exchange rate will be used. This is really great, and for me, this is the main reason I would use N26.

N26 in Switzerland

Euro Transfer With N26
Euro Transfer With N26

Since September 2019, N26 is available in Switzerland. This means you can use all services of the N26 service if you are a Swiss customer. This completes the already long list of countries supported by N26.

However, there are some limitations. First of all, they do not offer you a Swiss IBAN. This means you cannot transfer money directly from your Swiss bank account without fees.

However, if you have a bank account in euros, you can transfer money to your N26 account for free. And if you get paid in EUR, you can also receive your salary directly in your N26 account.

Another issue is that they actually have no support for CHF. This means you will not be able to use your card in Switzerland. This is a pretty big limiting factory. However, since this is not the main use for this card, you can still use it for your foreign transactions.

On the plus side, they offer a personal EUR IBAN. This can be pretty useful in Europe. And of course, all the services I have talked about before are available in Switzerland as well.

For the time being, I do not think N26 is a good fit for me as a bank account. Since I get paid in CHF and pay most things in Swiss francs, I need a good CHF bank account. As for a travel card, I really need an IBAN to be able to transfer money for free to the account.

However, N26 is still a very interesting option. And I am keeping up to date with this offer to see where it goes.

I am not sure I would change my bank account, but it is an interesting option. For now, my current bank account is free. But who knows how long it will remain free!

N26 vs Revolut

The main competitor of N26 is Revolut. We have already talked in details about Revolut. They both offer similar products, but there are some significant differences.

The biggest differences between these two services stem from the fact that N26 is fully a bank. On the other hand, Revolut is not yet a bank.

In 2019, Revolut got a European Specialized Bank License. However, they did not yet implement anything with that. Moreover, N26 got a Full Banking License while Revolut only got a Specialized Banking License. The difference is that Revolut cannot offer any investment services to its customers. On the other hand, N26 is free to do so. N26 got a banking license from Germany and Revolut from Lithuania.

One great thing about N26 is that your money is insured according to German law. If N26 goes bankrupt, the government ensures 100’000 euros. On the contrary, there is currently no such guarantee for your money on Revolut! Once Revolut becomes a bank, money on Revolut would also be insured under the same conditions. But they have not announced any information about having a real bank account.

Also, the fees system of N26 is much simpler than Revolut. Everything is free! With Revolut, some currencies have higher fees. And during the weekend, fees are higher as well. This is a bit complicated to keep track of.

A small advantage of N26 is that they will deliver your card to you for free. With Revolut, you will have to pay 6 EUR for that service. Another small advantage is that they offer web and mobile applications, while Revolut only has a mobile application. This is great for old-school people like me who do not like phones.

A small advantage of Revolut is that you are allowed to withdraw 200 EUR for free abroad. This is not much, but this can help. N26 will charge you 1.7% for this. After the first 200 EUR free, you will have to pay 2% at Revolut. So it is a bit more expensive than N26 if you withdraw more than 200 EUR a month.

The biggest advantage of Revolut over N26 is that they have better support in Switzerland. In fact, Revolut is quite better in its accessibility, supporting many more countries. But new countries have been announced for N26. So we will have to wait and see!

N26 may improve its support in Switzerland. For me, a Swiss IBAN would be necessary before I use N26.

Controversy

There has been quite some controversy about N26 over the years.

In 2016, there has been a lot of talk about N26. First, many accounts have been terminated, and some customers could not do anything about that. The reason was that they were making too many withdrawals. Since that point, the company changed its policy on ATM withdrawals. They added the maximum of five free ATM withdrawals at this time.

Later that same year, researches found several vulnerabilities issues within N26. An attacker could use these vulnerabilities to access accounts from the users. Since that time, they all have been fixed, and apparently, no account has been compromised.

But there was some also more recent controversy about N26. In 2019, many users had issues contacting the bank after their credentials were stolen! It took up to two weeks for certain people to get back access to their accounts.

And in April 2019, German Bank Regulators ordered them to make changes to its process to avoid money laundering. Apparently, they did not make enough effort for that before. And they have been too slow to close money laundering accounts. Since then, they have acknowledged this and apparently started to take action.

I think every banking startup has seen some controversy since its inception. Personally, I would not worry about it too much unless I was storing a lot of money on the account. I never had more than 1000 EUR on my Revolut account, and I would not want to store more than 1000 EUR on N26 either at this time.

Conclusion

N26 N26 offers a free Euro bank account, with very low-fees foreign currency exchanges! Sign up Now! N26

Overall, I think that N26 is a really great product! It can save you a ton of money on foreign exchange transactions. This is not only for when you are traveling but also when you are buying things online in other currencies. Compared to most standard banks that charge from 1.5% to 2.5% fees on these transactions.

And it does not only provide a great travel card, but it also provides an excellent free bank account. It is an official bank, and your money will be insured for up to 100’000 EUR!

Now, while it is a great bank account and travel card, you should not use its credit card too much in your currency. You should opt for a credit card that gives you some cash back! If you do not know where to start, read about my credit card strategy.

Overall, I think that N26 is better than Revolut. I am especially impressed by the fees. For instance, there is no such thing as weekend fees. And there is no limit after which foreign transactions are not free anymore. It is much simpler. I have not yet compared their mobile applications. But for my little usage, I do not think it matters much.

However, I think that it still needs a few more features in Switzerland. Before it gets a real CH IBAN, I do not plan to use it. However, once it does, it will become very competitive with services such as Revolut and TransferWise.

What about you? What do you think of N26? Are you waiting for its arrival?

Mr. The Poor Swiss

Mr. The Poor Swiss is the author behind thepoorswiss.com. In 2017, he realized that he was falling into the trap of lifestyle inflation. He decided to cut on his expenses and increase his income. This blog is relating his story and findings. In 2019, he is saving more than 50% of his income. He made it a goal to reach Financial Independence. You can send Mr. The Poor Swiss a message here.

27 thoughts on “N26 is available in Switzerland – Save on Foreign Currency Fees”

  1. Actually, you can already have N26, you just need to provide a German address, like a delivery address in Konstanz would do it, where they can send your Master card (this is how I did it). After transferring at least 150 EUR you can also ask for an EC card, for free of charge. As n26 is already available in the UK, they use there GBP as a base currency with UK IBAN so I suppose CH will get also a local IBAN and CHF as a default currency.

    1. Hi Andras!

      Thanks a lot for the tip!
      That’s a nice idea indeed. I am not desperate to get a N26 card yet. But this would be a great way to go to have it.

      How is your experience with N26?

      Thanks for sharing!

    1. I dont think it is possible to have a swiss IBAN with DKB.de . At least I could not read it out from the FAQ. It means you have to send EUR only with sepa to your account, and that is not good = unnecessary costs

  2. Hello, thanks for the great blog overall. I live in Switzerland and I’m thinking of switching my extremely expensive zkb account for a free one. Would you say N26 compares to Neon? Neon would be my preferred choice at the moment but i was also considering to wait for n26..
    Thanks for the help

    1. Hi Trippi,

      Yes, as a bank, they are both equivalents. I would not wait for N26. I would use Neon. You can always get an N26 card later on when they become available in Switzerland!
      If I had to choose a bank right now, I would use Neon.

      Thanks for stopping by :)

  3. Happy N26 user here as well. The app is extremely intuitive and you can manage every aspect of your account from there (temporary block, withdrawal limits, e-commerce access etc.). Bank transfers are also quicker than with regular banks.

    I would stick with the basic (free) plan however, since I’ve heard about quite a few issues with the travel insurance coverage provided by the premium plans – you’re not covered unless you have paid for the full travel with the card itself (flight tickets, accomodation etc.)

    1. Hi The Young Investor,

      Thanks for your review! It’s very helpful!

      Yes, I have also heard a lot of complaints about their travel insurance. If you buy a single thing on the travel with another credit card, they will simply cancel the whole insurance package for this trip. It seems a bit more extreme.

      Thanks for stopping by :)

  4. Hi,

    I’ve been using N26 for a while and works very well, just some tips..
    I used a personal (my sister) address in Europe and I had to give a TIN from the country… already 2 “lies”..
    N26 close the account from one day to other without giving you any reason.. just be careful about where you use your card, where are you doing mainly your bank activity, etc… they always return your money but they had booked accounts for months ..

    1. Hi Tino,

      Thanks for your review :) That’s awesome.

      That’s very good to know. And that’s a bit alarming. At least they return the money. But I would not feel comfortable holding a lot of money on this account knowing that.

      Thanks for stopping by :)

  5. Hi,
    as you, I don’t think N26 is “ready for swiss” yet. But comparing to revolut, N26 offers two advantages:
    – even with the controversys (check revoluts community once in a while, it just doesn’t get reported so often ;) N26 seems more trustworthy than revolut (why getting a bank-license when not using it?)
    – N26 offers a real DEBIT card. Revolut only prepaids. With prepaid cards, you always have the risk that it can not be used (eg. when wanting to rent a car, trying to refuel your car (happened to me both in CH and germany!), aso). Debit-Cards have the same acceptance as credit-cards, IF offered by a bank (had issues with the TW-debit, too, while another customer with the N26-card didn’t had any problems…

    Also I read about a dkb.de-recommendation:
    issue with DKB (or ING or any other “free” german bank): they offer a dispo-credit (if you want it or not, you get one), so you’ll have a credit-check. People with lower (or no) income can’t get an account with them. Especially when having a swiss credit-card (cumulus or supercard plus) AND a bank-account in CH… (applied with DKB, so i found out about this).

    ALSO, time for a little update of the article ;-) N26 now also offers Google Pay and Apple Pay in CH, so even with “EUR only”, it’s a better altrnative for swiss users than getting an expensive (but x-Pay supported) prepaid-card (or one of the “real” but expensive credit cards) in Switzerland…

    1. Hi Grenzgänger,

      I agree that N26 seems to have a better reputation than Revolut. I would probably still not move too much money to N26 either.

      I didn’t know that you could use N26 cards for things like rent a car. That’s good to know. I don’t do that often in EUR, but that could be really useful.

      I didn’t know either that DKB was doing a credit check. This is a bit inconvenient. Another thing that is better to do before retirement. Thanks for letting me know.

      I learned about Google Pay and Apple Pay support in CH. But I do not use any of these services and I do not think they are really useful. What do you use them for?

      Thanks a lot for all this information!

      1. For the card: i had the luck to find out, that the revolut-card, due to its prepaid-nature, can cause issues A LOT. Personally, i was lucky to have my Supercard with me, otherwhise I couldn’t have payed for the fuel at that gas station near the border to CH (they didn’t accept prepaid cards) OR the one automatic gas station in CH (also not accepting prepaid cards)…

        As for Google Pay: other than Twitch, it’s very easy to use, and I often do so (thanks to revolut) when possible; one card less i need to cary around, everywhere they accept NFC-payments, you can use Google Pay, too (don’t have an iPhone ;) Thanks to revolut, I don’t even have to worry about currency exchange rates when using it abroad.

        But granted: getting the card out of the briefcase and holding it to the scanner might be faster than activating the phones display or unlock (for amounts higher than the “no need to enter pin”-one), depending on your cellphone. But for not wanting to have all the cards with you, it’s great…

        1. That’s really good to know. I never knew that gas stations were refusing prepaid cards. I always use my other credit cards for this. But I would definitely have used it if I needed gas abroad.

          I guess it makes sense to use it as NFC indeed. But if you use it in Switzerland, won’t you use on the cashback from an actual credit card?

          That’s a great solution for people who like phones. But I really don’t, so I like my cards better than my phone!

          Thanks a lot for sharing!

          1. As for Prepaids:
            it does depend. Some gas stations do accept them, some don’t; some “automats” (unmanned gas stations) do, some don’t. It’s a lottery.
            That’s why I’m disappointed with neon – the maestro was accepted everywhere. With the Prepaid Mastercard, I face the same issues as with revolut. And there’d been the possibility to be the first swiss bank issueing a real debit-mastercard (solving the prepaid-issue, while “no dispo needed”)…

            As for GPAY: depends on the cards conditions; as the only card i (was given) can use with google pay is the one from revolut, i don’t have any cashback anyway; but if online-shopping does not exclude you from getting the cashback-option, then you don’t have an issue – a google pay-payment shoes up on the invoice as “online payment”…

  6. What are your thoughts on N26 Business account?

    I reckon combining Revolut with N26 Business (charging in Revolut and send Euro to your N26 Euro account) would bring some synergies for following reasons.

    1) 0.1% cashback
    2) 5 Free withdrawal in Euro Zone
    3) Weekend Transactions in currencies where Revolut does not support to hold (No weekend fee with N26)

    1. Hi Simon,

      If it’s easy to get the N26 Business account, then, yes, this makes sense.

      However, the eligibility requirements include “You will use the account primarily for business purposes.” and “as long as you use the Mastercard for business spending and the Maestro card for personal spending, you can continue to enjoy the many advantages of the account.” For me, this means that you will only get the cashback on the Mastercard and you are not supposed to use it for personal purposes.

      And for only 0.1% cashback, it does not feel worth it. The 5 free withdrawal is nice but we almost don’t use cash already. Weekend transactions is a good thing. But I think they can be better avoided by converting the balance in advance.

      What do you think?

      Thanks a lot for sharing!

  7. Hi,
    Here is a little thing to do to avoid SEPA fees to put money on your N26 account. Just hold a Revolut AND a N26 account.
    You can then transfer CHF from your swiss account to Revolut with no fees and then transfer from Revolut € balance to N26 without any fees either.
    Just make sure you also use a bit your Revolut account and do not just transfer “blindly” the amount received on Revolut straight to N26 as it might be seen as money laundering.

    1. Hi Gilles,

      Yes, that is a good technique to transfer money for free. But if you already have a Revolut account, there are few advantages of also having a N26 account. The biggest advantage is to have money insured. Having so many accounts, in the end, makes it quite complicated.

      Now, are you use about the money laundering part? This is the same as moving money between several of your accounts. I do not think this would qualify as money laundering. This is the same we used to do with TransferWise to transfer money for free to Revolut before the had a Swiss IBAN.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      1. Hi,
        this is true that it is a bit complicated and I would not do this JUST for € account.
        But I mainly use Revolut for other balances, like GBP or USD but I still prefer N26 for my € account.
        For the balance insurance at first and I also prefer their app and Support, also the fact they have a Web interface. But these are more personal preferences than real points about the product itself.
        It is also good to have a real and personal IBAN in € in order to manage crypto operations on trading plateforms.

        1. Hi again Gilles,

          Yes, having a personal IBAN in EUR can be a really convenient thing! I guess for some people it’s enough to get Revolut + N26.

          I would think indeed that this comes from the “fair use” system of Revolut. Maybe it even comes from their money-laundering prevention system. But I do not think this would qualify as money laundering in front of the law. But if your money gets blocked, it is extremely inconvenient indeed!

          Thanks for sharing :)

      2. Oh and about that laundering thing, I don’t know if it would be considered as real money laundering, but there are quite a few cases where people got there Revolut access blocked for sometimes many weeks because they were just transferring money to Revolut and transferring it out straight away, even on the same holder’s name.
        Maybe a matter of internal “fair use” policy of Revolut though… not sure.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *