Neon Bank Review: Free Swiss Digital Bank

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Neon Bank: Free Swiss Digital Bank

Neon is one of the newest Swiss Digital Banks! It offers an entirely free bank account. Having a free bank is very important if you want to save money for managing your money. Swiss Banks are becoming more and more expensive. It is great to see some free alternatives!

Neon is a digital bank. It has no offices. So, you can manage your money entirely from your phone. With your bank account, you will receive a Mastercard that you can use for your payments. And you can use the mobile application to pay your bills and transfer money to other bank accounts.

One of the great things with Neon, compared to other digital alternatives, is that your funds are insured! If it goes bankrupt, you are insured up to 100’000 CHF! You have the same security as if you had a class bank account.

We are going to see precisely what is Neon! Should you use it? How does it compare to other Swiss banks? And what about Revolut?

If you keep reading to the end, I will have a special offer for you!

Neon

Great Swiss Digital Bank
Neon
Free

Neon is the best digital bank in Switzerland. And it is free!

Use the F9YMGT code to receive 10CHF for free!

Neon is a brand new player in the Swiss banking industry. It is an entirely digital bank. You will do everything with your smartphone. They do not have any office you can do business at.

Neon was started in 2019, so it is only one year old. But it already got more than 20’000 users.

Their main point is to provide free banking to everybody in Switzerland. Since they do not have big offices, not many employes and they do not pay huge bonuses to their managers, they can afford to have excellent prices. Most large banks in Switzerland are not free anymore!

There are some limitations as to who can open a Neon account. You need to be over 16, which is the same limitations as for most Swiss banks. But you need a Swiss domicile, and you need to pay your taxes exclusively in Switzerland to open a Neon account. But you can be a foreigner living in Switzerland as long as you are declared here!

Do not pay for a bank account, use Neon, the new Free Digital Bank

Neon uses two-factor security to make your account more secure. You need to activate this feature. And you need to use a strong password to make sure nobody can access your account.

Is Neon a Bank?

Your balance on the Neon Application
Your balance on the Neon Application

Interestingly Neon is not a bank! They do not have a banking license. However, they do not have to be. Your accounts are directly managed by a bank Hypothekarbank Lenzburg.

The most significant advantage is that, contrary to other digital banks, your money is fully insured according to Swiss laws. That means that 100’000 CHF of your account will be protected by law!

Moreover, this also means that Neon can focus on what they do best: their mobile application and its products. And the official bank can focus on what they do best: manage money!

Neon Fees

Neon Mobile Application
Neon Mobile Application

The Fees of Neon is where they are shining! Almost everything is entirely free! If you follow a few rules, it will be entirely free for you!

First of all, opening an account is free. And there is no management fee! And all your payments in CHF will be free as well. It is a great start, I believe!

Your Neon MasterCard will be free as well. A free credit card is very important because the essential feature of a credit card is to be free! You can also withdraw twice per month for free. After that, you will have to pay 2 CHF per withdrawal.

The card is also very interesting abroad! For any transaction with the card outside of Switzerland, you will not pay any fee. Free transactions in foreign currencies and abroad make Neon an alternative to Revolut.

If you withdraw money abroad, you will pay a 1.5% fee. Generally, you should avoid withdrawing money abroad with any card.

If you only use your Neon card in Switzerland, it will be entirely free! Neon is much better than most Swiss bank accounts!

Neon Bank Advantages

Let’s summarize the advantages of Neon Bank:

  • Extremely cheap bank. If you use it correctly, your account will be entirely free
  • Free purchases abroad and in foreign currencies! Neon is the only Swiss bank with this feature!
  • Support of ebill. Neon is the only digital bank with the support for ebills.
  • Protection of your assets up to 100’000 CHF

Neon Bank Disadvantages

Let’s summarize the disadvantages of Neon Bank:

  • No offices. If you have an issue, you have to call support.
  • The account takes a few days to be activated. Creating an account is very quick. But then, you need to wait for a mail to come to you to get the access codes.
  • Cannot deposit cash for free in your account.
  • Neon bank does not offer a Maestro card.

Neon vs Migros Bank

I am using Migros as my Swiss bank. I think it is the best Swiss bank currently. Let’s see how they compare with Neon.

Neon is entirely digital, while Migros is still a mortar bank. However, it does not matter much these days. You can do everything on both banks with your smartphone. Migros has a few more options like broker account and mortgage. But these are not options that you should generally take with your bank anyway.

They are both free for most users. However, Migros Bank is only free if you have more than 7500 CHF in your account. Otherwise, it is expensive at 3 CHF per month. If you do not hold 7500 CHF in your bank account, Neon is an excellent bank!

There is a big difference between the cards offered by Migros and Neon. Migros card is a Maestro, while Neon’s is a Mastercard. Sometimes it is quite practical to have a Maestro in Switzerland. Many administration offices only take Maestro cards and not Mastercard. But you can also almost always pay cash. You will not be entirely blocked with only a Mastercard, either.

Another advantage of Migros is that you have no limits on withdrawals. If you use a lot of cash, you should use Migros over Neon.

I think that both banks are equivalent. The most significant advantage of Neon is that its mobile application is much better than the app from Migros. I have had many issues with the app from Migros. I do not like it. For now, this is not worth the trouble of changing to a new bank account. But I will probably start using my Neon account more and more. And I would rather keep a Maestro separate to my credit cards for some cases.

Neon vs Revolut

Another option I have talked about before is using Revolut Credit Card. Revolut allows you to do transactions in foreign currencies with no transaction fees.

Since 2020, Neon offers free payment abroad with the card in any currency. Free payment abroad is an awesome thing! Neon is cheaper than Revolut since they do not have weekend fees, for instance.

Neon has one big advantage over Revolut. Your assets are insured up to 100’000 CHF. Assets on Revolut are not insured by law. It is because Revolut is not a bank. But Revolut may become a bank later.

Another advantage of Neon over Revolut is that you have no limit for free withdrawals in Switzerland. You can only withdraw twice a month with Neon but with no limit. With Revolut, you can only withdraw 200 CHF per month for free.

On the other hand, with Revolut, you can receive money in other currencies. And you can also keep money in foreign currencies in your account. Finally, with Revolut you can do bank transfers in other currencies. For the time being, you cannot do that yet with Neon.

For now, it is still good to have a real bank in Switzerland for monthly payments and a small emergency fund. And in Switzerland, it is still necessary to get some cash from time to time. And Neon is an excellent alternative to other mortar banks.

So you need both a Swiss bank account and a free foreign currency card to minimize your fees!

To learn more, I have made an in-depth comparison of Neon and Revolut.

Neon as a Credit Card

While it is a very good bank account, it is a bad option for a credit card. You should not use your Neon Mastercard to make any payment in Switzerland!

The reason is simple: there is no cashback using the Neon credit card. It is free, but that is not enough to make a good credit card.

In my credit card strategy, I am using two credit cards:

  • Swisscard Cashback American Express with 1% cashback. I am using this card every time it is possible.
  • Cumulus Mastercard with 0.33% cashback. When American Express is not supported, I use this second card.

Both these cards are free, and both these cards have higher cashback.

So, you may use it as your bank account. But you should not use Neon as a credit card!

FAQ

Is Neon entirely free?

It is almost entirely free. You will only pay if you withdraw more than the allowed free limit.

What is Neon?

Neon is a new Swiss digital bank. It is an entirely mobile bank that provides modern banking features with no account management fees.

Is Neon a Bank?

Neon is not a registered bank in Switzerland. However, your assets are held by Hypothekarbank Lenzburg. So you have the same security as with any other Swiss bank!

Conclusion

Great Swiss Digital Bank
Neon
Free

Neon is the best digital bank in Switzerland. And it is free!

Use the F9YMGT code to receive 10CHF for free!

Neon is an excellent bank for Swiss people. If you use it correctly, it is one of the best Swiss banks. You will not have any fees to pay. Neon is currently the best Swiss digital bank. And now that they offer free payment with the card abroad, it is even better!

If you are still using an expensive bank such as PostFinance, UBS, or Credit Suisse, you should consider changing to a cheaper bank such as Neon! And if you do not want a digital bank, Migros Bank is the next best alternative, but you will pay a bit more.

Now, you need to be careful not to use it too much. First of all, you do not want to use it as a credit card for your payment. You need a credit card with some cashback for this. I am personally not going to open an account at Neon. However, it is an excellent alternative to typical Swiss banks. Indeed, it is free and already has a good reputation from its clients. But it is still relatively new. We will see how this reputation stands. If I had to open a new bank account now, I would probably go with Neon.

If you want to open a Neon account, please use the code “F9YMGT” during the registration process, and you will receive 10 CHF for free. And I will also receive 10 CHF.

What do you think about Neon? Do you use this bank?

Neon Bank Review: Free Swiss Digital Bank

Neon is one of the newest Swiss Digital Banks! It offers an entirely free bank account. Having a free bank is very important if you want to save money for managing your money. Swiss Banks are becoming more and more expensive. It is great to see some free alternatives!

Price Currency: CHF

Operating System: Android, OSX

Application Category: Banking app

Editor's Rating:
5

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.

34 thoughts on “Neon Bank Review: Free Swiss Digital Bank”

    1. Hi Thomas,

      To be honest, I do not know for sure. I have never seen this feature mentioned anywhere. I would be surprised if they had such a feature already.
      If this is important for you, I would ask them directly either on their site or on Twitter.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  1. I’m looking for a new Swiss bank and Neon “looks” attractive – but 2 issues for me are: No ApplyPay (yet) and slow updates on transactions – on their own web site is says, they are “trying” to get updates (ie. transactions on your account history/status/statement) down to “2 days” [they are trying for 2! The average is 5-7!]. With Revolut it’s instant – actually “quicker” than instant. I get a Push notification from Revolut, BEFORE the SSB app shows me the QR code for the ticket I just paid for. To me – this is the new wave of banking. So far, Neon just looks like a slick (but slow) wrapper on an incumbent mortar bank. Nothing new but some marketing and design. I know they are working on all the extras – but as yet, they still have a long way to go.

    1. Hi MountainAsh,

      I may ask a dumb question but here it is: what is applypay? I never heard of that.
      I did not know about this limitation. For me, it is not really an issue since I only do my bills once a month and I almost never use my debit card to pay for my purchases.
      Revolut is impressive for that I agree! It’s instant, as soon as the page is confirming, the confirmation pops on Revolut before the page finishes :) It’s quite cool.

      I honestly think this is not a big deal for Neon since most Swiss banks are like this. It is much faster for me to make a transfer from Revolut than from my bank account. Swiss banks are slow, and slow to evolve. It’s just the way it is :)

      Swiss people don’t like change (I am one of them)!

      Thanks for stopping by!

      1. “ApplyPay” – is a typo of “ApplePay” (I’m pretty sure you know what that is – Apple’s contactless payment wallet (like Google/Samsung Pay), that Swiss banks are adverse to including in their products (but that’s slowly changing).

        Every “neo” bank I’ve looked at includes ApplePay and all the other “x”Pay providers – but Neon says in their FAQs (as at 23 Jul 2019):

        How do I use Apple/Google Pay with neon?
        We’re not quite ready for that yet, but we’re working hard on making it possible soon, because we believe in being digital.

        1. Haha, I didn’t even think of ApplePay :(

          Yes, I know what it is. But I never used it. I know that Swiss banks are fighting against it and against Google Pay. That’s why they are trying to push Twint as much as possible.

          If you rely on this, I guess, you will have to wait for a while before you could switch.

          1. Not true – all shops that allow “tap to pay” (Paypass) also allow mobile phone NFC payments (ApplePay/GooglePay). One Swiss bank of interest to me is Cler with their “neo” offering called “Zak”. They support “device”Pay, have an app, 0 account keeping and join fees. They seem to have what Neon has but with a real bank directly connected (with branches and ATMs] – I’ve also seen referral codes offering 100 CHF starter bonus – which is very decent.

            Another one to look out for in this space is called Yapeal from Zurich, but it hasn’t launched to the public yet.

            I’m in the market for a Swiss account now which is why I’m looking. I’m very surprised that a country known for its banking (and insurance) is so far behind the rest of the world now – and they’ve lost that lustre of anonymity, have lots of fees, next to 0 interest on my money and old-skool technology. What went wrong?

          2. Hi MoutainAsh,

            Zak is also a good option. My biggest issue with them is that they do not offer an English version of their application. But that is not a big deal for many people. I still prefer Neon for their openness and their philosophy. But that’s subjective.

            I didn’t know about Yapeal, I will check it out.

            Yeah, the offer in Switzerland is pretty bad. I think it was always only good for rich people. It has never been really good for common people like us. I do not know what went wrong. But the Swiss bonds are negative, so the banks are following this movement. 20 years ago Swiss bonds were really good and banks were offering obligations at more than 6%. Today, everything is at 0%.

            Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Hello,
    I think you forgot to mention the fact that you can use the Sonect App together with your neon-free bank account and this way you can withdraw money for free as many times as you want. There is a withdraw maximum limit but you no longer have the twice per month limitation that you have with the card.

    1. Hi Tiago,

      Actually, I had no idea this app existed! This looks really interesting, I didn’t know this was a think. There are not many places where I can withdraw cash with Sonect around me, but this can become bigger.

      Are you using Sonect yourself?

      Thanks for sharing!

  3. Thanks to your blog I learned about Neon! I wanted to open an account but unfortunately they currently only offer accounts for users based and taxable exclusively in Switzerland (Americans living here at not eligible).

    1. Hi Ellie,

      Sorry to hear that, I didn’t think about that. It’s more and more difficult to get a bank account in Switzerland if you are not Swiss. I know several expats that had to close their bank accounts in some banks.

      Hopefully, this will change in the future and you will be able to get a good bank.

      Thanks for stopping by!

    1. Do you care to elaborate? Just saying it’s better without any other points adds nothing.

      Many of my readers speak only English and Zak is not available in English. For me, that’s enough of a blocker.

    2. ZAK is good and i like the way you can create “spaces” the same as you have on N26. This is awesome. But the fact is, depends how you use it, that Neon can a lot cheaper, especially with their new 2020 fees. Speaking of fees Neon is now side by side with Revolut and N26.

      If you want what Neon offers when you use ZAK you need to pay 8.-/month for the plus plan. Can’t wait for Yapeal to be released to the public very soon to see what they offer ;-)

      1. Hi Lemon,

        Thanks for sharing your point of view on Zak, this is very interesting!

        I am not a fan of Zak plus either. I will take a look a Yapeal, it looks interesting but it really lacks details so far.

        Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Hello!
    What do you mean is not good for monthly payments income? If i give it to my job for my salary, do i need to pay fees? I wanna leave ubs and was looking to use neon

    1. Hi Daniel,

      Neon will be fine for monthly payment incomes. You will not pay fees for getting your salary into Neon.
      Where did I say that? If it’s in the part with Revolut, I just meant to say that you need a Swiss bank (like Neon) for your salary, for which Revolut is not great.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  5. You said its free for for transactions and withdrawals abroad, then you say you have to pay 2 CHF?
    is it free or do you have to pay for withdrawals abroad??

  6. I have accounts with Zak, N26, Revolut, Bunq, Monzo,… and I tried to open an account with Neon.
    The app states it will be opened in 1-2 days. The next day you receive an email saying it will take another week…
    I’m not impressed so far: the look and feel suggests you’ll get a product like N26, but they fail upfront with a really slow opening process, while – funny enough – they use the same IDcheck provider as N26.
    Also reading that you don’t get instant notification is another issue: this is what iPhone banks are good at.
    Zak, so far looks much better

    1. Hi Philippe,

      Thanks a lot for sharing your review :)
      It’s true that it takes some time to get fully opened. It’s a bit disappointing indeed for a digital bank.
      But if I remember correctly, it’s the same with Zak. You can use the app directly, but most features will have to wait until you receive the letter in the mail, no?

      Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Thank you for the article!

    Is Zak better than Neon now, after introducing no fx fee prepaid card? What is your opinion? Also, do you know what is Zak exchange rate for currencies that are not traded on Corner Trader, i.e. UAH?

    1. Hi Dmytro,

      I would think that now Zak is as good as Neon. Some people prefer the Zak interface to Neon’s, but unless you use it every day, it should not matter too much.
      Some people also like that Zak is from Bank Cler and not a startup.
      On the other hand, now Neon started offering transfers in other currencies with TransferWise at a very good price.

      Regarding the exchange rate, I do not know the rate, no. You may want to contact them if you want details.

      I will soon have a review of Zak, this could help :)

      Thanks for stopping by!

  8. I’m just wondering, whether anyone is actually reading contractual texts they’re agreeing to. Neon just froze on me when trying to open 5th pdf in a row from the list “I am confirming that I read and agree to everything is written there” (and I was just trying to assess, how many pages of PDFs are they throwing at me at a time). And ZAK is not allowing me to do video ID confirmation. So much for opening bank account on my mobile ;-/

    1. Hi Lukasz,

      Does it freeze every time? It would really suck, try to contact their support they are quite reactive.
      And did you found it why Zak is not allowing you to video ID? I had issues with another service (Mintos I believe), where the photo ID would not work on my phone and I had to use my wife’s phone.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  9. How about one of the cantonal banks? For example, Cantonal bank of Fribourg seem to offer free account and the fees for debit card is 30 CHF / year (I think).

    I agree Neon is the most cost-effective bank. For a traditional bank do you have any recommendation?

    1. Hi Manohar,

      It’s not really free if you have to pay 30 CHF per year for the card :)
      But the BCF account is one of the good accounts.

      For Traditional Banks, I prefer Migros Bank. They are almost free if you have 7500 CHF with them.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  10. I tried to subscribe to Neon but they need you to check a box saying you are only paying taxes in Switzerland…

    Is that so for every online bank or just Neon ?
    If not, do you have an advice on which bank to choose plz ? As I pay taxes in France.

    I have a Revolut account but if I want to be paid in Switzerland, I may need an actual swiss account as Revolut is GB.

    1. Hi Dev,

      Indeed, with Neon, you will need to be exclusively taxed in Switzerland. It’s probably not the only one with this restriction. But I think that other banks should accept you as long as you are domiciled in Switzerland. But most of them will you to pay your taxes in Switzerland (can’t open if you are only paying in France for instance).
      You can maybe try Zak. Or then, go in-person to a larger Swiss bank like Migros bank and ask them.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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