An honest review of N26

An honest review of N26

In 2016, I switched to N26. I wanted to leave like Commerzbank, because they charged fees for everything. 6€ for using another bank's ATM, 40€ a year for a basic credit card, 7€ a month for an account and so on.

N26 is free. No withdrawal fees, no account fees, no credit card fees. Free! I can get money from the sketchiest ATMs in Berlin, and I do not pay any fees.

I've been an N26 customer for 4 years. N26 has improved a lot since 2016, so I had to rewrite this entire review. This is my experience as an N26 customer in 2020.

What are the benefits of N26?

I switched to N26 because I wanted to stop paying fees to access my own money. I found many other reasons to like this bank. I listed them in order of importance below.

There are no ATM withdrawal fees

With N26, you get 5 free withdrawals every month1. After that, you pay 2€ per withdrawal1. Most German banks charge 5-7€ to use another bank's ATM. With N26, I haven't paid ATM fees in 4 years. I can use any ATM, even the sketchy ones in Spätis and U-Bahn stations.

There are no monthly fees

The standard N26 account is free. It comes with a free MasterCard and a free Maestro card. Many banks charge a yearly fee for their credit cards, but N26 doesn't. If you look at their price list, almost everything is free.

The exchange rates are low

The N26 MasterCard is amazing for travelling. There are no transaction fees and no currency conversion fees. You pay the real exchange rate1. You only pay a fee if you withdraw money in other currencies1. You can also get the travel card to pay less fees and get free travel insurance. This summer, I used my N26 card in over 30 countries without any problems.

It's a 100% online bank

You will never need to go to a bank. Everything is done through the app. With Commerzbank, I had to take the train from Pankow to Charlottenburg just to sign some papers at my old branch. If you lose your credit card, you can block it and order a new one in a few minutes. You also get a push notification for every transaction.

No Anmeldung needed to open an account

Some banks require an Anmeldebestätigung to open an account. This means that you need an official address in Germany to open a bank account... but you can't find an apartment without a bank account! N26 doesn't need that. They let you open a bank account even if you don't have a place to live.

Support is available in English

N26 is still the only German bank that operates 100% in English. Most German banks don't even have an English website. If you don't speak German, N26 is one of the best options. The app is also available in 5 languages.

It takes 10 minutes to sign up

Opening an N26 account takes 10 minutes. You can open an account from anywhere in the world. All you need is a phone with a camera. You open the app, start a video chat, take pictures of your document and you are done. The signup process doesn't always work perfectly, but when it does, it's super quick. You get your credit card only a few days later.

...but there are other options!

N26 is not the only bank to offer those benefits. ING DiBa, DKB, Comdirect and bunq don't have ATM fees. Many banks let you open an account without an Anmeldung. Deutsche Bank offers limited English support. N26 is a great bank, but you should still look at the other options.

Related guides:

What do I dislike about N26?

There are also a few things I dislike with N26. Online banks have their disadvantages, and N26 itself has.

It's hard to deposit money

N26 offers no easy way to deposit cash in your account. In Germany, you often need to pay with cash, so you will have a lot of coins at home. If you want to get rid of your coins, you must go to the Bundesbank. The Bundesbank has very inconvenient opening hours.

Some passports are not supported

When you create your account, you must start a video chat and verify your passport. Some passport types are not supported. If video ID doesn't work, you must print a document and bring it to the post office. The person at the post office will verify your identity, and you will get your N26 card a few days later. The post office does not support all passport types either1, 2, 3.

If you can't open an N26 account with your passport, bunq supports more passport types. They offer similar features to N26.

Account creation issues

When everything goes well, you can open an account in 10 minutes. You open the app, start a video chat, show your passport to the customer service agent, and you're done! A few days later, you receive your bank card in the mail.

It doesn't always go well. Many readers had problems when verifying their ID, or had to wait a long time for their new card. Others have to go to the post office to validate their ID. If you need a bank account right now, it's very annoying.

Two-factor authentication issues

If you lose access to your phone, you lost access to your bank account. If you want to use the desktop website, you must confirm the login on your phone. If you want to transfer money from the desktop website, you must confirm the transfer on your phone. If your phone is lost or stolen, you can't pay the rent. Other banks have the same problem, but you can always go to a local branch. N26 doesn't have a local branch.

Bugs in the app

The N26 app works well in general, but it has bugs. Sometimes, the app shows an error message when you sign in, but everything works fine. Sometimes, the app doesn't let you approve a transfer. It doesn't show any error; the "confirm" button just doesn't work. It apparently happens when you have poor cellphone reception, even if you are on Wi-Fi. The app normally works well, but those bugs can be very frustrating.

Slow customer support

The N26 support is not that good. I find the online chat very useful, but the agents take a long time to answer. Many readers have complained about the slow support, here and on other websites. It's still nice to have support in English, especially if you don't speak German.

Limited services

N26 is great for everyday banking, but it offers very limited investing options. If you want to invest your money, get a fancy credit card or get a mortgage, you need a traditional bank. This is why I also have an account at Commerzbank.

The N26 app

The N26 app has lots of nifty features that make it easier to budget and save money. Unfortunately, it also has a few bugs.

Here are a few things I love about the N26 app:

Here are things I don't like about it:

Conclusion

Would I recommend N26? Yep. All of my day-to-day transactions go through N26. My paycheque is deposited on my N26 account. I am overall very satisfied with the experience. I had 4 years to switch to another bank, and I never did. I convinced many of my friends to use N26.

If you just moved to Germany, N26 is a good bank to start with. You don't need an Anmeldung, and you don't need to speak German. The fees are low, and the N26 app is also pretty cool (especially the push notifications and the spaces). The biggest negative is the slow customer support and the occasional bugs in the app.

Visit the N26 website

If N26 is not for you, take a look at DKB or ING DiBa. Both are great online banks with low fees. You might also prefer a traditional bank like Sparkasse or Deutsche Bank. If N26 doesn't support your passport, bunq supports more passport types. Just look at our comparison of German banks to find the right one for you.

Updates

2017-09-25: Added corrections from commenters

2017-10-05: Added that Postident only supports a limited list of ID documents

2017-12-13: Corrected some facts, adjusted some parts to match my current opinion.

2018-08-01: Corrected section about supported countries. Added details about Anmeldung.

2019-11-25: Rewrote the entire article to be easier to read, and to match my current experience.