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N26 and Revolut are digital banks with a focus on low currency exchange fees. They are both doing that well and are well-established. So, how can you choose between the two?
Which is best for you will ultimately depend on your needs.
But we can still compare their features and characteristics. In this article, I am going to compare in detail N26 vs Revolut.
I will start by introducing the two companies. And then I will go and compare them based on many different aspects: fees, limits, security… At the end of the article, you will be able to know which of N26 or Revolut is best for you!
If you want to know which of N26 vs Revolut is better for you, keep on reading!
I am going to focus on the free accounts of both N26 and Revolut. They also have premium options. But they are out of the scope of this article!
What is N26?
N26 is a German company, created in 2016. It started under the name Number 26, but it quickly changed the name to N26. Their main offering is digital bank accounts without any fees for converting currencies.
N26 is an official bank from the European Union. It is called a direct bank. They have no offices. They are available through a mobile application and a web application.
With your account, you can get either a Mastercard credit card or a Maestro card. However, only a few countries can get a Maestro card. You get a personal IBAN in EUR, and you can use this as your bank account. You can do bank transfers from your account, or you can directly transfer money to other people using N26.
Before they have been offering investment services, but currently, this service has been closed. They are focusing on their core business.
In early 2020, N26 claimed more than 3.5 million customers in 26 countries. They have more than 1300 employees. Their services are available in most of Europe and the United States.
If you want more detail, I have an entire article about N26.
What is Revolut?
Revolut is a company from the United Kingdom. It was created in 2015. Mostly, they offer digital money transfer services. Most of their services are based upon their cheap currency exchange systems. However, they have started having many offer money-related services.
With your account, you can get a Mastercard (sometimes a Visa) credit card or a Maestro card. It can be practical in some cases to have both.
It is also a kind of direct bank since they do not have offices. However, since they are not yet a real bank (they already have the license), they are not a direct bank per se.
Once you have deposited money on your account, you will be able to use it as a credit card. And you can also use it as a bank account and transfer money to other bank accounts or other Revolut users.
They also have started offering access to cryptocurrencies and stocks. They want to expand their money services over time. The features you can get from Revolut will depend on which country your account is registered.
In 2019, they announced that they have about four million users. To serve these employes, they employ about 600 people in many locations. It is currently only available in Europe. However, they recently partnered with Mastercard to start expansion in the U.S. Normally, people in the United States will be able to use Revolut in 2020.
I have been using Revolut for a long time now. You can learn more about it in my full review of Revolut.
What are their premium options?
Both companies offer free services. And we are going to focus on these free services for the rest of N26 vs Revolut comparison.
However, it is still interesting to talk about the different premium options that both companies offer.
Let’s start with Revolut. Revolut has three different account types:
- Revolut Standard account. It is the free account I am going to focus on in this article.
- Revolut Premium account. This account will cost you 6.99 EUR per month. It offers priority support, increases the higher withdrawal limits, removes the monthly restrictions, and adds some forms of insurance.
- Revolut Metal account. This account will cost you 12.99 EUR per month. On top of the Premium account, Metal will add a concierge service, a 0.1% cash back on purchases in Europe, and a 1% cashback outside of Europe.
As for N26, they also have three different accounts:
- N26 account. It is the free account that we are going to focus on in this article.
- N26 You account. This account will cost 9.90 EUR a month. It will give you free withdrawals in the world, an insurance package, and some discounts and offers from partners.
- N26 Metal account. This account will cost you 16.90 EUR a month. On top of the advantages of N26 You, it also offers dedicated customer support, many partner discounts, and a card in tungsten.
There are many advantages to each of these premium offerings. We can see that N26 premium accounts are more expensive than Revolut premium accounts. However, only N26 will offer free withdrawal worldwide. It can save a lot of money for people traveling a lot. On the other hand, the cashback from Revolut premium accounts can also be attractive.
On top of that, both companies also offer business services. But I am going to focus on standard accounts for this comparison.
So, let’s compare the free accounts of N26 and Revolut.
Which is more available – N26 or Revolut?
Let’s start by checking where are the two services available.
Both services are widely available in Europe. First, N26 is available in 23 countries in Europe. Then, Revolut is available to each country part of the European Economic Area (EEA). It means it is available for 31 countries. And it is also available in Switzerland.
On top of that, N26 is also available in the United States, where it is starting to be well developed. Revolut just launched in the U.S. in early 2020. However, they are still in the early stages.
Finally, Revolut is also available in Australia, Canada, and Singapore. N26 is not available in these countries.
Depending on where you live, you may have access to some extra features for both services. For instance, if you are German, you get access to real savings accounts with an interest rate at N26. And if you are French, you get access to stock trading on Revolut. In Switzerland, we do not get any extra fancy features, unfortunately. But we probably do not need them anyway.
There is one difference for people living in a country that they are not residents. N26 accept people living in countries that they support to open an account. But this is not the case for Revolut. With Revolut, your residence does not matter as much as your nationality.
Since Revolut is available in more countries than N26, Revolut is the winner for availability.
Which has better support in Switzerland?
Both services are available in Switzerland. It means that Swiss citizens can open an account with N26 and Revolut.
But there is a considerable difference between these two services in Switzerland.
With Revolut, you can withdraw some money for free in Switzerland (up to 200 euros a month). But you cannot do it with N26. I do not think this is a big deal if you live in Switzerland since you will probably keep a Swiss bank account.
And with Revolut, you will get a Swiss IBAN on which you can deposit CHF directly to your account. But you will only get EUR IBAN with N26. It means it is more complicated to deposit money for free on your N26 account.
Since neither of them offers a personal IBAN, you will not be able to use either service for your main bank account. So the fact that you cannot withdraw in CHF with N26 is not a big deal. However, it makes it complicated to send money to your account from Switzerland. You could use Revolut or Transferwise to send money to your N26 account. But then, it makes it more complicated.
Since Revolut has a Swiss IBAN, Revolut is the winner for availability in Switzerland.
Money Transfer Services
We can also compare the essential services of the two companies: their money transfer services.
Both services focus on offering cheap currency exchanges in many different currencies.
Both services offer a MasterCard (or Visa) card. You can mostly use it as a credit card. You can use it everywhere, like a credit card. But you need to have money charged on it. The transactions will appear in real-time on both services. It is an awesome advantage of debit cards compared to credit cards. Both services will execute payments extremely fast.
However, there is a slight difference with a real credit card. The two companies do not even provide the same kind of card. N26 provides a MasterCard Debit Card. And Revolut provides a MasterCard (or Visa) prepaid card.
Generally, a MasterCard Debit Card can be used in the same way as a credit card without the credit. On the other hand, a prepaid card has some limitations. Many companies do not accept prepaid cards for pre-authorization transactions. This is often the case when you rent a car or reserve a hotel. So there is a slight advantage with N26 here since they have a real Debit Card.
In that case, you could use your standard credit card for the reservation and then make the payment with Revolut. But obviously, this is not as practical.
Most of the time, you will probably use the card directly to pay purchases in other currencies. But you can also use the account to make transfers to other accounts directly. And you can also send money directly to other customers.
With Revolut, you will also be able to hold other fiat currencies directly in your account. So, you can have CHF, USD, and EUR at the same time in your account. Having multiple currencies on your account is a great thing. And you can also receive these currencies directly into your account. When you spend currencies with your card or with a bank transfer, the money from the specific account will first be used if there is enough. So these purchases will not result in currency exchange.
For N26, you will receive a real personal EUR IBAN. This IBAN is unique to you. However, with Revolut, you will not get unique IBAN. You will still get an IBAN where you can receive money as a beneficiary. But this IBAN is shared with many people. It is just a slight difference.
Both accounts are also usable from Apple Pay and Google Pay. So you can use their cards directly from your phone if you like this kind of service!
N26 has one usability advantage over Revolut. They also offer a web interface, where Revolut only provides a mobile application. For most people,t this will not matter. However, for people who do not like phones, this is a great thing!
For money transfer services, when we compared N26 vs Revolut, I would say that they are both at a draw. Their core services are the same, and are both great! However, only Revolut lets you hold different currencies in the account. This feature could be great if you need it!
Both companies offer different services as well. Let’s see how do they compare to each other.
N26 focus entirely on their core business. As a result, they do not have many other features. On the other hand, Revolut has many other features.
With N26 and Revolut, you can track your expenses. They will automatically categorize each of your expenses. With both products, you get access to purchase and travel insurance if you opt for their premium products. Also, both premium options give you access to some perks.
Revolut also has a system of Vaults where you do spare change savings. If you want to save a little on each purchase automatically, this could be interesting.
One very cool feature of Revolut is that you can have virtual cards. You can create a secondary card directly in the app. And then you can use this card on the internet. Once you do not need the car anymore, you can simply delete the card. Virtual cards are a great way to protect your online finances.
Revolut offers simple access to crypto-currencies. Keep in mind that this is not a free service (1.5% fee on buy and sell). And this is not a wallet. You will not be able to take your crypto coins outside of Revolut.
Finally, Revolut recently started offering trading access to stocks. This service is free up to a certain number of trades per month. However, it is only accessible to Metal customers.
Overall, Revolut has many more features than N26. Of course, it only matters if you want to use these features.
N26 vs Revolut – Who has higher limits?
We can also see what the limits of both companies are.
Let’s start with Revolut. They have a straightforward system for limits. You can withdraw up to 3000 GBP per day.
And you can also transfer a lot of money with Revolut. The daily limit on Revolut is 100’000 GBP. And the weekly limit is 250’000 GBP. If you are working with other currencies, the equivalent in GBP is taken into account. It is a straightforward system with high limits.
Let’s see how that compares to N26. With N26, you can withdraw up to 2500 EUR per day. And you can spend up to 5000 EUR per day in a store or online using your card.
You can transfer up to 50’000 EUR per day with N26. And you can transfer up to 100’000 EUR per month. It is also a straightforward system with relatively high limits.
Revolut has higher limits than N26. All their limits are significantly higher than N26.
Which is cheaper – Revolut or N26?
Price is probably what most people are interested in: how much fees they are going to pay with these services.
Let’s start with withdrawal in Euros. N26 allows you five withdrawal in euros per month. After this limit, you will pay 2 EUR per withdrawal. With Revolut, you will get 200 EUR withdrawal free per month. After this, you will pay a 2% fee on the total withdrawal.
For other currencies, N26 will make you pay a 1.7% fee on each withdrawal. For Revolut, you can get it for free up to the 200 EUR equivalent. After this, you will also pay a 2% fee.
So, for withdrawal, N26 is significantly better than Revolut.
N26 is free for paying and transferring in other currencies!
On the other hand, Revolut only offers transfers for free under some conditions! Indeed, there is a limit of 1000£ (GBP) per month. Once you reach this limit, you will have to pay a 0.5% fee on each transfer. Moreover, on the weekend, you will have to pay an extra charge of 1.0% for each transfer. And some currencies like Ukrainian hryvnias (UAH) and Thai Baht (TBH) are more expensive, with a 1% fee during the week and 2% during the weekend.
The limit for Revolut used to 5000 GBP. But in June 2020, they decreased it to 1000 GBP. And they also increased their weekend fees. These changes makes them less interesting compared to N26!
As for the exchange rates, N26 offers the Mastercard exchange rate while Revolut offers the Interbank exchange rates. Generally, the Interbank rate is slightly better than the Mastercard rate. But it depends on each currency and on the time of the day. It will only make a difference if you transfer a large amount of money.
Example of exchange fees for spending by card
Let’s directly compare the prices for a few examples of conversions when you pay by card:
|1000||CHF||EUR||0 CHF||0 CHF||10 CHF|
|5000||CHF||EUR||0 CHF||25 CHF||75 CHF|
|10000||CHF||EUR||0 CHF||50 CHF||150 CHF|
|1000||EUR||USD||0 CHF||0 CHF||10 EUR|
|5000||EUR||USD||0 CHF||25 EUR||75 EUR|
|1000||CHF||UAH||0 CHF||10 CHF||20 CHF|
|5000||CHF||UAH||0 CHF||75 CHF||125 CHF|
If you look at this table, it should be clear that N26 is the clear winner here! They are always at least as cheap as Revolut. And they are always free! Revolut has a much more complicated system for the fees.
If you plan to put money into a bank, it is good to check their reputation before.
Neither of them has an excellent reputation. Revolut and N26 both have generated quite the controversy at different times in their short history.
In 2016, N26 introduced a limit of 5 withdrawals per month. It made a lot of customers angry. Also, in the same year, there was a significant security breach at N26. Once again, it generated a lot of negative feedback about N26.
In 2019, both N26 and Revolut were accused of not doing enough to avoid money laundering.
Revolut has a bad reputation for its workplace. People have reported it as very toxic many times. Also, the customer service of Revolut has a terrible reputation. And some people think that the Kremlin controls Revolut. But for that, there has never been any trustworthy source. So I would not care about that fact.
Overall, I would say that both N26 and Revolut have the same bad reputation. They probably have both been growing too fast and cannot keep up.
Which is more secure? N26 or Revolut?
We also need to take a look at the security of both systems.
First, it is essential to know that your money at Revolut is not insured by anything! On the other hand, the money inside your N26 account is protected by European law up to 100’000 EUR! This protection is a great advantage of N26 over Revolut. If Revolut fails, you are very unlikely to see your money again.
As for pure security, both companies are using 3D Secure (3DS) for their transactions. It means that on some websites when you pay with your card, you will get a push notification on the app. And the transaction will only be validated once you confirm the transaction on the app. 3DS adds a second layer of security, and this is a great thing. It is interesting to note that Revolut offers 3DS only since August 2019, while N26 offers it since July 2017!
In 2016, there was a big security breach in N26. It is slightly scary. But since that point, they took security very seriously. And they are now much better. But of course, no service is 100% secure.
With both services, you can limit the account from the app. For instance, you could disable some swipe payments from your app.
Overall, I think that N26 offers greater security than Revolut. It is mainly due to the bank insurance of your money. However, for transactions, both companies should provide the same relative security.
If you care about security, I have an article on how to protect your online personal finances.
N26 vs Revolut Summary
Finally, let’s make a summary of what we have seen until now.
|Features||Many features||Few features|
Overall, we can see that both services have advantages and disadvantages.
However, I feel like N26 is superior to Revolut. It is because you can convert more money for free. With Revolut, you have to pay extra during the weekend. And you will have to pay extra for some currencies. N26, on the other hand, offers free currency exchanges!
Here are the main differences between N26 and Revolut:
- N26 currency exchanges are always free!
- Your money on N26 is insured up to 100’000 EUR!
- N26 offers a web application as well as a mobile application where Revolut only has a mobile app.
- N26 offers many more free withdrawals in euros than Revolut!
- Revolut has more features
- Revolut has higher limits than N26
- Revolut has a Swiss IBAN to transfer CHF directly
Is N26 cheaper than Revolut?
Yes! N26 offers free currency exchanges for all currencies and without limit. With Revolut, they are only free up to 5000 GBP a month. And Revolut charges you more during the weekend.
Is N26 better than Revolut?
It depends. They both have good features. N26 is cheaper but offers more features. And the premium options of N26 are more expensive than the premium options of Revolut.
Conclusion -N26 vs Revolut
N26 is a better fit than Revolut for Europe. You will get many free withdrawals. And all currency exchange will be free even during the weekend.
However, Revolut is a better fit in Switzerland. Since N26 has no Swiss bank account, it is difficult to top it up for free! Also, you cannot withdraw any CHF for free with N26. But this could change in the future. However, since Revolut reduced the total of free transaction exchanges to 1000 GBP (1250 CHF) in June 2020, they are becoming less interesting.
An awesome thing with N26 is that your money is insured! If they get bust, your money is safe. And I like the fact that all currency exchanges are free with N26. And five free withdrawals in Euros per month is a great thing!
Of course, nothing prevents you from having both! You could optimize your strategy to the maximum by having both cards. You could also use Revolut to top up N26 for free! It makes a lot of sense! But if you prefer simplicity, you choose Revolut or N26.
Another alternative is to use the Swiss bank Neon. They also offer free purchase abroad with their Mastercard. That way, your money stays in Switzerland, and you get insurance for your cash.
Regardless of whether you choose N26 or Revolut, having a travel card can save you a lot of money. And this should be an essential part of your credit card strategy. It is likely the thing that can save you the most money with your credit card usage.
Regardless of the N26 vs Revolut debate, you probably want to use your local credit card in your own country. That way, you will have more cashback. These two services are awesome when you work with other currencies. But they are not so great in Swiss francs, for instance.
To learn more about N26 vs Revolut, you can watch this comparison video: