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N26

N26 is a Germany-based digital bank that offers services similar to that of most traditional banks but in an online-only format with no physical branches and ATMs. In this guide, I share my experience with N26 and explain how to open an account.

My experience with N26

I first heard of N26 back in 2016 when it was still known as Number 26. Peter Thiel, the co-founder of PayPal, had just invested a significant sum and the German regulators had just announced that they would soon grant N26 a banking license.

I had no need for an additional EUR account, however, so I did not give N26 a try. That changed in 2018 when Revolut started enforcing its punitive velocity limits. I decided to open a new EUR account and between N26, Bunq and Monzo, N26 won. I downloaded the app and went through the registration process in less than 10 minutes (including a video call to verify my ID). My debit card arrived in the mail a week later and had to be activated by making a POS purchase with the Chip & Pin.

I have since used the account intermittently and have yet to run into any issue. It is a polished product, with clever features such as a TransferWise integration for non-EUR transfers. It also is cheap, there are very few fees and they are easy to avoid by using Revolut or Curve (mainly for ATM withdrawals). Customer service is not fantastic but in my experience, it is not as bad as what was reported in the media recently.

Overall, I am very happy with N26 and can definitely recommend it. I do not recommend using a fintech as your primary bank account, however, so better think of N26 as a great spending account instead of a place to park your hard earned money.

How to open an account

To open an account, you must reside in one of the supported countries. It does not matter if you are the citizen of a supported country if you do not reside there. You must also have access to a postal address in that country.

If you meet both requirements, you can go ahead and download the N26 app on the App Store or Google Play. Have your passport ready and make sure you are in a brightly lit, quiet room as you may have to complete a video call.

 
Workaround for non-EU residents
If you do not reside in one of the supported countries, you can still open a N26 account by using an EU virtual address service. I recommend also signing up for Estonia’s e-Residency program so that you can add an EU tax ID to your account (as secondary tax ID). Do note that if you open an account using this hack, you will not be eligible for any of the bundled insurance products. You may also face issues if N26 ask for a proof of residency and you cannot provide one.

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