(Disclosure: Some of the links below may be affiliate links)
Do you want to save money on your bank fees?
Neon is a great Swiss digital bank that offers an entirely free bank account. As Swiss banks are becoming increasingly expensive, switching to a free bank account is a great move.
You can easily save money on your banking fees with a free bank account from Neon. You will not find a better deal anywhere else!
Sign up for a free bank account with Neon today!
I have been using Neon for several years. So, I want to share my experience in this Neon review.
One of the great things about Neon, compared to other digital alternatives, is that your funds are insured! If it goes bankrupt, your money is insured for up to 100’000 CHF! You have the same security as if you had a classical bank account.
In this article, we see what Neon is! And whether you should use it? How does it compare to other Swiss banks and neo-banks?
If you keep reading to the end, I even have a special Neon code for you!
Neon is one of the earliest digital banks 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 started in 2019. But even though the company is only three years old, Neon has reached 100’000 customers in 2022. And they are expanding features very quickly. The company founders are Simon Youssef and Michael Noorlander.
Their main point is to provide free banking to everybody in Switzerland. They can afford excellent prices since they do not have big offices, not many employees, and do not pay huge bonuses to their managers. Unfortunately, most large banks in Switzerland are not free anymore!
There are some limitations as to who can open a Neon account:
- Only Swiss residents can open an account. The identity check system supports people from 19 different countries!
- Foreigners need a B or C permit to open an account. You will need to present your residency card to open an account.
- You need to be over 16, which is the same limitations as most Swiss banks.
- You need to pay taxes exclusively in Switzerland.
- You cannot be an American citizen
These limitations are very reasonable. Neon is an account for people living in Switzerland, and most people in this category can open an account!
The limitation for American citizens is, unfortunately, in effect with many small banks that do not want to deal with the complicated regulations for these clients.
Do not pay for a bank account. Use Neon, the new Free Digital Bank
So, let’s take a look at the features of the Neon bank account.
Neon is a digital bank account, so you must access it with a smartphone. It is available on Android, iPhone, and Huawei.
You can see your balance and make payments and transfers from the application. In addition, you will get some basic information on how your account is doing (expenses versus earnings). And all these features work pretty well. I use Neon monthly to pay my bills, and I am pretty satisfied with their system.
With Neon, you can also send money directly to other Neon users. So, if you have people in your contacts with a Neon account, you can send them money directly.
With your Neon account, you will get a Neon Mastercard prepaid. With this card, you can pay in Switzerland and abroad and withdraw money. And as we will see later, the fees on this card are outstanding!
Neon was the first digital bank to introduce support for electronic bills (e-bills). The support is simple since they simply use the SIX portal for e-bills. But it works well.
The application also lets you freeze your card temporarily. This feature is great if your card is lost or stolen.
Since May 2022, you can have Spaces in your account. It means you can create sub-accounts dedicated to your needs. For instance, many people want to save money for holidays in a different account.
You can also use Neon with Google Pay and Apple Pay if you want to pay from your phone! And you can also use Neon with TWINT. That way, you will not even need a physical card to do your groceries!
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 ensure nobody can access your account.
A great thing about Neon is that they are available in English and the three National Swiss languages: French, German, and Italian. These languages make Neon an excellent option for expatriates in Switzerland.
Overall, Neon has more than enough features for any bank user. I do not think anything is missing to make it an excellent bank account.
Is Neon a Bank?
Interestingly Neon is not a bank! Indeed, they do not have a banking license. However, they do not need one! An official bank, the Hypothekarbank Lenzburg, manages your accounts.
The most significant advantage is that your money is fully insured according to Swiss laws, contrary to other digital banks. So, 100’000 CHF of your account will be protected by law!
Moreover, this also means Neon can focus on what they do best: its mobile application and products. And the official bank can focus on what they do best: manage money!
So, there is no disadvantage to Neon not being a licensed bank.
The Fees of Neon are where they are shining! Almost everything is entirely free! If you follow a few rules, it will be completely 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.
Your Neon MasterCard has no yearly fees either. A free payment card is essential because the essential feature of a payment card is to be free! However, you will need to pay 10 CHF to deliver your card (unless you get a Neon Green account).
You can also withdraw twice per month for free at any ATM. You will have to pay 2 CHF per withdrawal from the third withdrawal.
The card is also very interesting abroad! You will not pay any fee for any transaction with the Neon card outside Switzerland or in foreign currencies online. 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.
Neon also has a partnership with Wise for outgoing foreign payments. So, you can profit from very cheap transfers in foreign currencies with Neon. This partnership makes Neon the best Swiss bank account for foreign transfers.
If you only use your card in Switzerland, it will be entirely free! Neon is much better than most Swiss bank accounts!
Like with most bank accounts, there are some limits with your Neon Bank account.
Most of the limits are related to the card itself. Here are the limits of the card:
- You can withdraw 1000 CHF per day at most
- You can spend 5000 CHF per day online and in stores
- You can only spend 10’000 CHF per month
These limits are acceptable since they are similar to most payment cards. I have never been over these limits with any of my cards.
There is also a daily transaction limit of 30’000 CHF. In most cases, this will not be an issue. In my life, I only had to do a larger transaction once (for the downpayment of our house). So, it should be fine for most people. But it is still important to know this limit.
Neon Green – Carbon-Neutral account
Neon Green is the second bank account from Neon. It started in May 2021. The idea of Neon is to be carbon-neutral. And to achieve that idea, Neon will plant trees for all Neon Green users.
For each Neon Green user, they will plant five trees every month! On top of that, they will plant one more tree for every 100 CHF spent with this account. So a user spending 3000 CHF monthly on this card would result in 35 trees planted per month!
Finally, you also get an extended warranty of 3 years for your electric and electronic devices.
The Neon green account has all the features of the basic Neon Free account, but it costs 5 CHF per month. And you will receive the Mastercard for free (10 CHF for Neon Free).
Neon Green is an interesting approach for people wanting to affect the climate positively. And even at 5 CHF per month, Neon is still an interesting bank account!
Neon Metal – Extra insurance
In April 2022, Neon introduced a new account: Neon Metal. As its name indicates, the card you will get is in metal, 22g of stainless steel, to be precise.
Neon Metal has all the features of the standard account with extra advantages on top. You can withdraw cash for free in the entire world (except in Switzerland, where you only have five free withdrawals per month).
With Neon Metal, you get several insurances included:
- Three years warranty on electronic devices
- mobile-phone insurance
- ticket insurance
- best-price guarantee insurance
On top of that, you will get also get extra insurance as you use your card more:
- Shopping insurance if you spend more than 500 CHF with your card
- Insurance if what you received is not what was advertised, for instance
- Cyber insurance if you spend more than 5000 CHF with your card
- Insurance if one of your online accounts gets hacked, for instance
- Travel insurance if you spend more than 15’000 CHF with your card
- Insurance for your luggage, for instance
These packages cover many more areas I did not cite here and are well covered on the Neon Metal website.
Compared to the basic account, this account is not free. You will pay 15 CHF per month.
Given the amount of insurance you can get with this price, 15 CHF per month is a fair price. However, many people do not need it. Several of these points will already be covered if you have legal protection insurance, for instance.
And medical care outside of Switzerland will also be covered by complementary insurance. Household insurance may cover some issues with your phone, and it is generally possible to get travel insurance on your travels should you decide to.
So, if you are interested in this account, you should check exactly what you need coverage for and see whether 15 CHF per month is a good deal for it.
For our case, I am not thinking of using Neon Metal. Neon Free is good enough for me.
Extra features of Neon
Neon does not have any extra features. But you do not need any additional features!
Nevertheless, Neon has several partnerships with interesting digital companies. You can access these deals directly from the application:
- Cheap car insurance with smile.direct
- Cheap Robo-Advisor with Selma (more information here)
- Cheap Third Pillar with Frankly (my review here)
- Withdraw cash in many shops with Sonect
- Sustainable investing with Inyova (my review here)
It is great that Neon is partnering with innovative companies caring about their customers. This strategy is much better than reinventing the wheel and doing everything. I like Neon’s approach there.
If you want more points of view than my own, we can take a look at online reviews for Neon.
The positive reviews talk about several points:
- Low fees
- Very easy to use
- Nice looking app
The negative reviews are also mentioning several specific points:
- It takes a few days to activate the app since you will receive the code by mail
- People complain they cannot open an account while being out of Switzerland (but this is well explained on the website)
- The app is sometimes a little slow (with many users).
Given the excellent ratings and the number of positive reviews, I would not worry too much about these negative ratings. Most negative reviewers do not read the conditions and complain they cannot open an account.
So, overall, users are extremely satisfied with Neon! And so am I!
We should also compare Neon against some alternatives.
Neon Bank vs Migros Bank
Before Neon, I was using Migros Bank. Now, I am using both accounts. I think Migros Bank is the best traditional bank account available in Switzerland. Let’s see how they compare with Neon.
Neon is entirely digital, while Migros is still a traditional bank with offices. 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 accounts. But these are not services you should generally take with your bank anyway.
Both accounts are free. 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!
Another disadvantage of Migros is that you will pay 0.20 CHF for each incoming payment. However, at Neon, it is free to receive money in your account (as it should be for any bank!).
The cards offered by Migros and Neon are very similar. Neon has a Mastercard, while Migros has a Visa. Both cards are free and have the same features. None of these two offer a Maestro.
You will not be entirely blocked with only a Mastercard, either. And with Neon’s Mastercard, you can pay abroad for free, while it would be costly with Migros Bank.
I keep Migros Bank as my primary bank account these days because it has higher daily limits, and I have my mortgage there. Without my mortgage, I would probably make Neon my main account.
Another advantage of Migros is that you have no limits on withdrawals. So if you use a lot of cash, you should use Migros over Neon.
Neon is superior to Migros bank. The most significant advantage of Neon is that Neon’s 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. And with Neon, you only need a single card, and you can use it abroad! This is why I am using Neon for almost everything these days.
If you want to learn more, you can read my review of Migros Bank.
Neon vs Zak
Best Swiss Bank
2 free withdrawals per month
Free withdrawals at Bank Cler ATMs
- Pay abroad for free
- Can deposit cash in account
- Support for e-bills
- Not very transparent fees
- Low limits
- Expensive international transfers
- Expensive withdrawals abroad
- No Maestro card
- No physical card for abroad
- No English support
Another popular digital bank in Switzerland is Zak, from Bank Cler. Let’s quickly compare both banks.
Both banks are fully digital, and both banks are Swiss. That means they have the same features, more or less, and they have the same security. However, Neon is available in English, which may be an important point for expatriates.
Neon is much better to pay abroad thanks to its great exchange rate. Indeed, Neon has about a 0.5% surcharge on the interbank rate, while Zak has about a 2% surcharge.
And Neon has an extra advantage for fees. Indeed, by partnering with Wise, Neon can offer affordable international bank transfers.
On the other hand, it is difficult to deposit cash in a Neon account. With Zak, it is easy since you can deposit it at some Bank Cler ATMs.
For me, Neon is significantly better than Zak. If you want to learn more, you can read my comparison of Zak vs Neon.
Neon vs Revolut
Another option I have talked about before is using Revolut Card. Revolut allows you to do transactions in foreign currencies with no transaction fees.
Since 2020, Neon has offered free payment abroad with the card in any currency. Free payment abroad is an awesome thing! Furthermore, 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 for up to 100’000 CHF. Assets on Revolut are not insured by law. It is because Revolut is not a bank.
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 for free. And you can also hold money in foreign currencies in your account. However, for the time being, you can only keep CHF on your Neon account. And receiving foreign currencies will not be free.
For now, it is still good to have a traditional bank in Switzerland for monthly payments and a small emergency fund. And in Switzerland, getting some cash from time to time is still necessary. And Neon is an excellent alternative to other traditional banks.
So you need both a Swiss bank account and a free foreign currency card to minimize your fees! With Neon, I feel you have all the advantages. I will probably close my Revolut account in the future to simply my accounts.
To learn more, I have made an in-depth comparison of Neon and Revolut.
Neon as a Payment Card
While it is an excellent bank account, it is not the best option as a payment card. If you want to optimize your cashback, you should avoid this card for payments in Switzerland.
The reason is simple: there is no cashback using the Neon card. It is free, but it 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.
- Certo One Mastercard with 1% cashback in three shops. 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 using Neon as a payment card is not optimal!
Now, will it change your life? No! It is a small optimization. If you are not using payment cards often, you will be fine with Neon only. And if you do not want to carry several cards, Neon is the perfect card for you.
How to open a Neon account?
Opening a Neon account is very easy. You can start by downloading the app from the App Store (search Neon in any app store!). Then, you can go through the entire process step by step.
At some point, it will require you to do a video chat to authenticate yourself. This process is quite seamless and will allow you to open an account in about 10 minutes. Neon will then send you the card by mail.
If you need more information, you can read my guide on opening and using a Neon account.
What is Neon?
Neon is a great Swiss digital bank. It is an entirely mobile bank providing modern banking features with no account management fees.
What is Neon Green?
Neon Green is an alternative to the Neon Free account. With Neon Green, Neon will plant trees each month for each user. On top of that, every time you spend money, Neon will plant more trees. This advantage makes Neon Green a carbon-neutral account.
Who can open a Neon account?
Swiss residents at least 16 years old can open an account with Neon. Foreigners from 19 countries with a B or C permit can create accounts.
Is Neon entirely free?
It is almost entirely free. You will only pay if you withdraw more than the allowed free limit or withdraw money abroad. Also, if you send foreign money abroad, you must pay some currency exchange fees.
Is Neon a Bank?
Technically, Neon is not a registered bank in Switzerland. However, your assets are held by Hypothekarbank Lenzburg, a licensed bank. So you have the same security as with any other Swiss bank!
Neon Bank Summary
Neon is a free digital bank in Switzerland. It is entirely free, is used from your smartphone and is an extremely attractive Swiss Bank!
Product Brand: Neon
Neon Bank Pros
Let's summarize the main advantages of Neon Bank:
- Extremely cheap bank.
- Free purchases abroad and in foreign currencies!
- Cheap transfers in foreign currencies
- Support of ebills.
- Neon was the first digital bank supporting ebills.
- Protection of your assets up to 100'000 CHF
- Excellent reviews
- Excellent reputation
- Fast-growing company
- Carbon-neutral option with Neon Green
- You can freeze the card from the app
Neon Bank Cons
Let's summarize the main disadvantages of Neon Bank:
- The account takes a few days to be fully activated.
- You cannot deposit cash (bank notes) for free in your account.
- You need to wire funds to your account
- Neon does not offer a Maestro card.
- No offices. If you have an issue, you have to call support.
- Mastercard Prepaid is slightly worse than Mastercard Debit
Neon is an excellent bank for Swiss people. Using it correctly, it is one of the best Swiss banks. You will not have to pay any fees. Neon is currently the best Swiss digital bank. Since 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.
I opened a Neon account several years ago and am entirely pleased with it. It replaced my Revolut account for usage in foreign currencies. And since the mobile application is so much better than the applications at Migros, I am paying all my bills with Neon! In the future, I would like to keep Neon as my only bank account.
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.
If you want more digital bank alternatives, you can look at my comparison of Zak vs Neon.
If you want to learn more about Neon, you can also take a look at Neon’s blog. It is worth reading!
What do you think about Neon? Do you use this bank?