Full Review of N26 and Why It Is Europe’s Best Bank

There is one product in the consumer banking universe that I discovered around 2016 and it has not ceased to amaze me ever since. N26 made my life so much easier and saved me hundreds of Euros in transaction, conversion and BS fees your normal bank charges every day. Usually customers are not informed enough about the options that they have and sometimes the barrier to switch from the account you always had is just too high. While I understand that, I also know that this is the reason why banks can charge those ridiculous fees in the first place, making them rich and allowing them to have a mediocre product on the market. So if you like high fees, old technology, low transparency and poor service when something fails (especially while abroad) you should stop reading here!

What is N26?

N26 is the most valuable German start-up in 2019, so if you haven’t heard about them yet, here is a small summary. N26 is now a fully licensed bank that found a perfect balance between great functionality, modern and beautiful design and technology. They allow you to withdraw money worldwide, send money to your friends instantly, pay contactless without fees in foreign currency and benefit from the best FX-rates out there.

FREE ATM withdrawals. Worldwide.

When people travel abroad they usually face two options to get foreign currency:

  • Withdraw large amounts of cash at home and exchange that money either at home or at local banks abroad. This certainly is an option but carrying several hundred Euros of cash in countries with an above average crime rate might not always be the best idea.
  • Just get cash with your debit/credit card when you are abroad. This is also an option but over the years banks have perfected their system to rip you off in multiple ways. Foreign currency exchange fee, ATM withdrawal fee (from your bank), ATM withdrawal fee (from the ATM operator), etc. 

With the power traditional banks have over you they can invent and justify all the fees they want, someone has to pay their employees right? If you like it or not, with these two options you end up paying 5% to handle cash abroad. So everything is basically 5% more expensive. Spending 1000€ will cost an additional 50€. Do that 6 times a year and you lose 300€ and you get nothing in return. For the basic N26 account you get 5 withdrawals a month for free (in EUR). Other currencies are charged with only 1.7%. N26 Black will give you 0% and absolutely free withdrawals here.

N26 is partnering with TransferWise to offer foreign currency withdrawals around the globe for free. So what? For you this means you can withdraw cash at the real exchange rate, which is the exchange rate that banks use when sending money back and forth between each other. (Why are they only screwing customers and not other banks along the way?) But anyway, it’s the most accurate and for you the most favorable exchange rate you can possibly get. For you this is available at any ATM accepting MasterCard, from a worldwide perspective that is a lot of ATMs. Speaking of those places that accept MasterCard, you might think about skipping the cumbersome cash and pay with your N26 Card straight away because they won’t charge you a fee on foreign purchases and still give you the same rate. So you will pay exactly the same amount as your local friends with their local cards. Everywhere in the world, isn’t that just amazing?

More features for a banking experience of the 21st century

All of those features are nice but the N26 team has worked on it’s great app and included so many great features. Here is a list of the most important ones: 

  • Notifications In real-time.Whenever money moves in or out of your account, whether it is a transfer you’ve approved or a pre-authorized payment, you’ll get a notification on your phone.
  • PIN resets.Resetting your PIN at any time is as simple as logging into the app and changing it. No calling N26, no trips to the ATM. 30 seconds and done. The way it’s supposed to be.
  • Locking your card.Just like resetting your PIN, locking your card to block it for a period of time is simple. Log in and press the right button. Easy.
  • Payments abroad, online payments and cash withdrawals. For your security, you can turn these on and off at any time.
  • Spending and withdrawal limits. Another security feature that you can set and change in the app at any time.
  • Transaction categories. When a banking app is made by coders, as opposed to tech by bankers you get things like this. Every transaction is labelled and sorted in a category like “Bars & Restaurants” or “Travel & Holidays”. Makes life easy by keeping track of your expenses this way.
  • Apple Pay/Google Pay. Apple Pay is (finally) live in Germany and N26 is an early adopter. Add your N26 and pay anywhere in Germany that accepts Apple Pay, the same goes for Google Pay.

How to handle cash?

Cash26 is only available in Germany as of 2019 so I won’t spend much time on it. The idea however is smart and it is worth mentioning for those who are not ready to go 100% cashless just yet. Any time you visit one of N26’s 7,000+ retail partners across Germany (DM, Rossmann, REWE, petrol stations,…), you can select to either withdraw or deposit cash from the app. No need to buy anything. There is just a barcode that’s generated, it get’s scanned by the cashier and then they serve as an ATM. Giving you cash or accepting it as a deposit into your account. Again, once you tried it you’ll see just how easy and smooth it is. Cash26 withdrawals are always free, while for deposits the first €100 per month is free, for anything above there is a 1.5% fee.

How to send cash instantly – N26 MoneyBeam

N26 has built their own rival to PayPal or Venmo. It’s called MoneyBeam and allows you to send money to other people without knowing their bank details. Just knowing their phone number or email address will suffice. Of course some of your friends are N26 users and some are not. If the recipient is a fellow N26 user, they’ll receive the money immediately. Hit send and see a notification on your friend’s screen pop up. If they’re not using N26 yet, you haven’t been convincing enough yet and should work on your sales pitch. Just kidding, but they get a link to put in their details and it will take 1-2 business days for the money to arrive. So no hassle at the dinner table when spitting the bill. You can send the money you own down their way, they just need to accept it. If they don’t accept the MoneyBeam within 7 days, the transfer will be returned to your account. Of course, MoneyBeam is 100% free to both groups of friends.

How to invest money using Invest26

I am not using INVEST26 myself, there are better options like DeGiro for this. But again, it is a nice feature they built in and it is worth mentioning. If investing seems to complex for you initially this is a great way to start and you don’t need to leave the app. You can invest money straight into an investment fund with a few taps. This is interesting for two reasons. First, it’s dummy proof and set up in a way that you just need your N26 account for investing and getting the returns. You won’t need an additional investing account. Second, the close integration allows you to deposit and withdraw money at any time with no delays. Usually this is not so easy at other places like a brick and mortar bank where you would probably need to make an appointment first. I don’t recommend jumping in and out of investments every day though. To keep a peaceful mind your investments should have a long term horizon. N26 tries to help and visualize your opportunities with little diagram that shows what you can expect from your investment depending on whether you choose their pre-set boldbalancedor cautiousplan.

N26 Black and N26 Metal – is it worth it?

As mentioned before N26 Black will waive the 1.7% fee for foreign currency withdrawals. But it also comes with some pretty impressive insurance coverage:

-Medical expenses up to an unlimited amount if you have a medical emergency while abroad (No deductible).

-Expenses you incur due to a flight delay of 4 hours or longer, up to a maximum of €400 (No deductible).

-Expenses you incur if your luggage arrives more than 6 hours late, up to a maximum of €400 (No deductible).

-Reimbursement for a stolen mobile phone that was purchased with your N26 Black account, up to a maximum of €300 (€50 deductible).

  • Reimbursement for stolen cash if you get mugged up to 4 hours after withdrawing with your N26 Black card, up to a maximum of €500 (No deductible).
  • Extended warranty of up to one additional year on items purchased directly with your card and all payment methods associated with your card, such as a linked PayPal account, up to a maximum of €500 (€50 deductible)
  • Travel cancellation insurance on every trip before the trip commences, up to a maximum of €5,000 per trip (10-20% deductible).
  • Car rental insurance and public transportation accident insurance.

Unlimited medical insurance policies are almost unheard of, and they never come without a hefty, hefty price tag, except with N26: here it is alongside everything else for €9.90 per month. And in case you don’t already see the value in all of this, hear this: medical expenses, flight delays and luggage delays are covered for the first 90 days of your trip. Most credit cards cover up to maximum of 30 days if you have a premium card, so 90 days is an absolutely incredible coverage period.

From a purely quantitative standpoint, there is a clear breaking point: when you withdraw €582 of a foreign currency in a given month. Why €582? It’s simple. N26 Black saves money for everyone withdrawing €582 or more of a foreign currency in any given month. If you are a regular N26 user, you pay 1.7% on foreign cash withdrawals, which is a withdrawal of any currency other than Euros. If you’re an N26 Black user, you don’t pay any fee for those foreign withdrawals, but you do pay €9.90/month. So, if we divide €9.90 by 1.7%, you get €582, the monthly breakeven point that makes it financially worth it to you to get N26 Black. Of course, there are a lot of other factors that play in here as well, most notably the travel, medical and purchase insurance coverage that comes with N26 Black. That’s a bit tougher to quantify, though, since you can’t predict when you’ll need to use it, so this €582 breakeven point is a good reference.

N26 Metal, the bank’s ultra-premium offering, was launched in late 2017. All things considered, it’s fairly similar to the Black with a few additional perks, my two favorites being dedicated customer support for Metal members and partner offerings for special discounts with companies like WeWork, Hotels.com, IHG, Outfittery and more. That said, though, I haven’t yet felt the impulse to try Metal. The biggest perk of the card, of course, is the shock factor that your friends and others have when they see/hear you drop a metal credit card on the table to pay. The ego boost sounds appealing to some, but I don’t think it’s for me – from an economic/pragmatic perspective, the N26 Black is still the big winner here, so the rest of the post will be about that. If you do want to try N26 Metal, you can always try N26 Black first and then upgrade to N26 Metal within the N26 app.

N26: How To Open A Bank Account

With its impressive insurance policy, fee-free foreign cash withdrawals, and the app’s ease of use, I really couldn’t be happier as a member of N26 Black. It’s made banking a lot easier and cheaper for me, and solving a lot of the messy problems I had before, mainly expensive and vague travel/medical insurance policies plus spending nearly $100/month in subtle ATM and currency exchange fees.

To sign up, you just need to provide standard personal information (name, date of birth, etc.), a valid ID or passport, and an address within one of N26’s supported European countries. As I write this, the list includes Germany, Austria, Ireland, France, Spain, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, Luxemburg, Slovenia, Estonia, Greece and Slovakia. Once you’ve signed up, verified your ID in the app and paired your smartphone, they’ll send you your free MasterCard in the mail. Mine took just 2 days to arrive, and it comes in a pretty sleek package.

How the American Express Platinum Credit Card Changed My Life

In the German market the most expensive, most exclusive and most elite credit card you can apply for is the American Express Platinum Card with an annual fee of 600€. This might look like a lot of money initially (and don’t get me wrong, there are cheaper credit cards on the market) but considering all the perks it is definitely worth an investment. And if you know how to max out the benefits, it is (to a certain degree) free. A good alternative for those who want to start slowly is the American Express Gold Card which is always free in the 1styear and still offers decent benefits.

Sharing is caring – you are not playing the miles game alone

The American Express Platinum Card offers a wide and advanced array of benefits in a lot of areas which is what you would expect from such a premium product. In order to break down all the benefits I am going to categorize them here and give you explanations and recommendations on how to make the most of it. The first thing to consider before your application is how many cards you are going to use. The good thing about the Platinum Card is that you don’t just get one but actually two Platinum Cards, and up to four American Express Gold Cards for those 600€! All that for no extra cost. So whether you get one for your significant other, your twin brother, your aunt or just any of your friends, you can share the cost as well as the benefits with almost anybody. The two Platinum Cards come with one Priority Pass each and you double your power to collect Membership Rewards. Be aware that American Express collects the money from the main cardholder’s account, so at the end of the day you are responsible that whoever spends on the other cards pays you back in one way or another. But once you have that settled you can literally set up a system that collects points for you while you sleep. I handed out Gold Cards to my family members for instance and told them to use the American Express for expenses such as groceries, petrol and anything that accepts credit cards. So with expenses of 400€ on the credit card each month you can easily get 4800 Membership Rewards per year without lifting your finger or paying for anything you wouldn’t need anyway.

Membership Rewards and how to activate the boost

Membership Rewards is the loyalty program of American Express. Except for the Blue Card all credit cards qualify for participation. And since we advise you on how to live a free life collecting Membership Rewards should be a no-brainer. The beautiful thing about Membership Rewards (as opposed to e.g. Miles&More) is the versatility. Membership Rewards can only be collected with American Express but it’s a currency that freely converts into a lot of other bonus-points or miles. Delta, Iberia, British Air, Asia Miles, Emirates Skywards, Flying Blue, KrisFlyer, HiltonHonors, Payback and many more are among the transfer partners that will convert you Membership Rewards into their system. The calculated value of 1 MR varies between 0.005€ (half a cent) or approx. 0.04€ (4 cents) and depends on the conversion rate into the airline’s system and the award you want to use them for. And the good thing is you don’t have to start from scratch. Using this link will give you a head start with 30.000 Membership Rewards in your Account. Spending them with an average value of only 2 cents will help you to break even with this strategy alone! And we just got started with the benefits. Usually you get Membership Rewards for normal spending on the card (1 € = 1 MR), that is the same for all American Express cards. But one life hack you won’t even find on the Amex website is the Amex Turbo. You actually need to call customer service (one of the friendliest and most professional hotlines you will ever call in your life!) and request to switch on the Turbo to get you 50% more points per € spent (1.5 MR per €). This will cost 15€ but trust me, once you start using your Amex the way it’s supposed to be used, this will be a great investment and actually give you 7200 points from your family’s groceries.

Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer

This statement is actually true when you look at the Platinum Card because you won’t notice a lot it’s perks. Talking about the whole insurance pack will take a while but again, there is so much in it that you just needto know.

Amex has the perfect Health Insurance for you while abroad. Around the clock the premium hotline is waiting for your call to get you the best assistance worldwide. Even if you like to ski they won’t hesitate to cover your cost in the hospital. If you don’t want to go through the fine print: they even fly in loved ones to visit you (in Economy) for max. 10 days and 200€ per night. That’s 2000€ right there in an emergency when you need your family to support you. This is the most generous policy I have come across so far. And it doesn’t stop there. If you need to cancel your trip for medical reasons, Amex has your back. If your luggage is delayed by 4 or more hours, Amex will cover you and you don’t have to argue with the Airline. If you rent a car you’ll never need to worry about insurance again because as long as you booked with Amex, they probably give you better conditions than the rental company. And the best thing? It’s already included and free! If you need assistance on the road, there is a special hotline for that, too. That doesn’t just sound nice on paper like with other companies, the conditions are actually very good and super helpful when you travel.

Free money? Yes, please!

You heard that right, with your Platinum Card you actually get free money to spend on flights, hotels or anything related to travel. You literally get 200€ of travel credit for Amex’ own travel agent. So effectively you broke even on 600€ already but now you realize you actually only paid 400€! In 90% of the cases it is the same price that you pay compared to other websites, but you can only use it for anything above 200€. So for two separate 100€ flights this credit is not applicable.

Lounge is where you are 

Waiting in airports is usually not a very enjoyable experience. At least there is WiFi in most places but the seats are rarely comfortable, it’s crowded and food or drinks are double the price or more. Well, the good thing is that your American Express Platinum comes with a Priority Pass Membership. Actually not just one but two for the second Platinum Card. Usually this would cost 399€ per membership if bought directly from Priority Pass but with your new Amex it’s free. Now in the world of Lounges there is two categories: Airline lounges and so-called 3rdparty Lounges. The former are only accessible for status holders or Business Class/First Class passengers. Lufthansa for example even has an entire First Class terminal dedicated to it’s wealthy customers who have spent a lot of money on flights with LH over their lifetime or for at least one First Class flight. And we have seen herethat legacy carriers make the most profit from those premium customers so they should feel special with complimentary food and beverages in lounges. Your Priority Pass won’t get you in most of those lounges because airlines would not want to dilute the exclusivity and there are other ways to get your status to be eligible. However, Priority Pass does partner with over 1000 3rdparty lounges in almost every airport of the world. Small ones with maybe only one lounge operated by the major airline (like BRE) are not on the list but usually no matter where you fly, you will find a Priority Pass lounge there. Even tiny airports like IGR at the Iguazu Falls offered a surprisingly good lounge experience for me. But I have to be honest, 3rdparty lounges are a hit or miss whereas Airline lounges are fairly consistent and usually a bit more upscale. 

Aspire Lounges are usually the better ones around Europe but especially in Latin America such as MEX or MVD Priority Pass offers a lot with hot food and even the opportunity to sleep in the quiet zone. A regular Priority Pass lounge will still be better than the option to wait at the gate like the 90% of passengers on your flight. Usually you will get a decent selection of soft drinks, coffee, biscuits and other snacks, fruit and cold food. 

And of course there are a couple brands of beer, wine and spirits. Together with a quiet atmosphere, decent chairs and speedy WiFi the pain of waiting at the airport is drastically reduced. I actually show up at the airport ahead of schedule now to enjoy a meal and drinks before take-off. 

Over the time have visited 36 Priority Pass lounges (April ’19) all over the world which definitely saved me some money along the way. Another great point about Priority Pass is the fact that any boarding pass will get you in during your membership. 

That means booking class or airline are completely irrelevant. You could be flying on a 10€ Ryanair flight from Valencia to Porto and still you can get into the lounge. With a status you are limited to your airline or your alliance network which might not offer you lounge access everywhere you fly. Plus you would need to stick to your alliance allthe time which is definitely not the most cost-efficient thing to do. 

Unfortunately, unlike with the Priority Pass Select membership bringing a guest into the lounge costs 28€. Personally I think that is overpriced, it just gives you an idea of how much it is valued by some parties. For your personal bottom line even an estimation of 10€ will still save basically what you paid for one Platinum Card. 

And that doesn’t even take into account yet that you can do lounge-hopping within an airport (so visit multiple lounges before the flight) and the American Express Centurion lounges. Most of them are located in the US with some Latin American airports and Hong Kong on the list, too. Those are fancy with high-end food and facilities and showing your Platinum (or Centurion) Card along with a boarding pass is enough to enter with up to 2 guests free of charge. 

Interestingly, via a partnership with Delta Amex gives you access to all SkyClubs worldwide as well, so watch out for those next time you fly SkyTeam. I have also discovered that sometimes you get lucky and you find a lounge that welcomes Platinum members but doesn’t advertise it. Happened to me in GRU and PVG before, so always watch out for those local lounges and sometimes hidden gems.

Nice to have and Amex keeps giving

As if this wasn’t enough, there are still some are perks that can be useful. As an American Express Platinum member you instantly qualify for a good status hotels and rental car companies:

  • Discovery Platinum Status
  • Hinton Honors Gold
  • Marriot Bonvoy Gold Elite
  • MeliáRewards Gold
  • Radisson Rewards Gold
  • Shangri-La Golden Circle
  • Sixt Platinum
  • Avis Preferred
  • Hertz Gold Plus

If you are using one of those a lot your status via Amex can really jumpstart your way to upgrades and benefits within the particular programs. American Express even gives you exclusive access to the American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts Collection. A lot of Luxury Hotels as well as Leading Hotels of the Worldare listed there and you are entitled to a free upgrade, free breakfast, late check-out, early check-in and sometimes even vouchers worth 100 USD even if you only stay one night. A double room for 150 $ might give you all the benefits above plus money to spend on food, spa or massages which is a great combination especially with your hotel status.

And if you need a friendly voice to book it all for you there is the almost legendary hotline which serves as a concierge as well. They are committed to grant every wish whether reservation in a restaurant, tickets for concerts or sorts events or just flowers for your loved ones. Of course this won’t be free but as a service this is a massive upgrade compared to any other bank. Plus if there is something wrong with your account or you need a new card in 24h they will provide the best service in the industry.

American Express Platinum Card – Conclusion

All in all, yes the American Express Platinum card is expensive but worth every cent and pays back the more you travel. It comes with multiple partner cards, , insurance policies, lounge access everywhere, a very competitive loyalty program as well as a great look and feel of the card. You should know for yourself if you take enough advantage of it’s benefits but in this segment the card is unrivalled in Germany. 

What Is Venmo and How Can I Use It?

„Cash is king“, „There is never enough cash“. This used to be true and still is in some countries at least to a certain extent. But the world has changed and consumers are driving this change. One can pay for almost anything by swiping a card or clicking a button, and most importantly payments are moving online. Especially in the US you might have heard “Venmo me!”. Venmo is taking the peer to peer payments market by storm and if you haven’t used it yet it’s sheer abundance gives me the impression that you will soon. It managed to become industry leader for convenience in only a few years and has a younger brand than big players such as PayPal (ironically Venmo is owned by PayPal). The best thing about Venmo, it’s free! The app also adopted traits of social networks and allows you to comment on payments and see what your friends are spending money on. And it does all that in a sleek design and without effort directly from your phone. 

Now you might think, what actually happens under the hood and who is using all the data? FYI it’s a real concern. It has a very strong social network and it might freak some people out that others know who they paid and who paid me. The majority of the millennial customer base does not seem to care too much. Venmo is not a bank, it does not generate a profit from it’s operations yet and investors are waiting to see if it can really become a profitable for its parent company. To understand Venmo let’s take a look at the history. It was founded in 2009 by two former University of Pennsylvania students who were trying to solve the painful experience of paying back friends who covered for them for example on a trip together. Instead of writing a check, this should be done using a smartphone. The start-up ws bought by Braintree for 26 million USD. And Braintree was subsequently bought by PayPal. The name Venmocomes from the Latin vendere for selling and mobile which basically says it all. The platform of Braintree helped PayPal dive deeper into mobile which is now about 40 percent of its business. 

Venmo has come a long way and it was betting on mobile payments before banks knew how to spell digital or customer experience. Taking a look at the company nowit processed 19 billion dollars in volume in Q1 2019 alone which represents a plus of 80 percent year on year. That makes the 26 million dollar deal look like a bargain. The app has since evolved into a bright star in PayPal’s digital payments empire. For all of 2018, the app processed 62 billion USD in payments – again an almost 80 percent increase from the previous year with the 100 billion dollar line to be crossed by the end of 2019. Acquisition of new users on the platform has also been a straight line up. One estimate says Venmo has attracted 27.4 million people in the US. Each user convinces other new users and becomes more engaged over time.

What about profitability though?

Venmo is now one of the largest mobile payment apps in the world and among the leaders in the American market. The focus has been on growth of market share and keeping up with modernization and not necessarily trying to get to profits today. So Venmo is still not breaking even and it won’t be for a while. But how do they plan to make money eventually? The company does charge for certain events. Also if you want to use a credit card instead of a debit card on Venmo there is a 3% fee. And if you want money in your account faster than the typical 1-2 day period you could pay for that, too. The company also partners with Uber, Chipotle, GrubHub and others which is actually the primary way that Venmo makes money. The idea is that merchants pay for the acceptance of Venmo which is the same way that PayPal makes money. Merchants that choose to accept Venmo know they pay a small fee to accept payments from a large, young and increasingly wealthy customer segment. 

But Venmo is not a bank, PayPal on the other hand has licenses to transmit money. The money in your Venmo account is actually held at a partner bank, which is a common setup for Fintech companies that don’t have a bank charter. The tech company handles the front end and it may appear as though the money is sitting in an account on your phone to make things look easier. But it actually is the partner bank that is processing your money behind the scenes. It also means that money you keep on Venmo’s platform is not insured by the federal government – like it would be in a standard checking or savings account. Venmo is not the (retail-)banking business and is not trying to be. They’re not paying you interest when you keep your money there. They’re also not lending it out like a bank can but they’re making a little bit of money. PayPal for example holds balances in some investment grade securities considered very safe- like government treasuries and earns some money from that. And the more money you hold the more profits you can keep which represents a great opportunity for Venmo. 

But how does Venmo actually work? You link your bank account, type in someone’s phone number, the USD amount and send it right? But it’s not all that easy. Think of it as a duck going across water. It looks very smooth to the consumer but below is their feet moving very quickly. You send money to your friend and it shows up on his Venmo account in real time but the money is really not in bank account (yet). Your friend could not go spend it or go to the ATM and use it. Until then the money has to go into the traditional bank system (ACA or the Automated Clearinghouse) and that’s when all the friction happens. Just like our roads and bridges are broken, our payment infrastructure is old and broken. All the transactions are batched up, sent to the Federal Reserve and it is sent overnight to your bank. So it’s very inefficient and it really only shows up the next day between the banks. Venmo is hardly the only game in town for digital payments. Square’s popular peer to peer cash app has similar features, starts to support crypto and according to one report is growing even faster than Venmo. The Square Cash app downloads have actually exceeded Venmo’s and every month that passes by the gap between the two keeps widening. So literally Square Cash adds about 2 million users every month (which equals the population of Nebraska). If you check Google Trends for Square Cash you’ll notice that along the Southeast is where most people search for Square Cash. You don’t see it as much in the Northeast and parts of the Pacific West. It turns out that interestingly this is a socioeconomic factor around the Square Cash app. It has become the go to app for the underbanked whereas Venmo is still being used a lot but it is a different socioeconomic group of people (urban and coastal Millennials). 

Banks are also getting into the P2P payment game. The big banks JP Morgan, Bank of America, Citi, Wells Fargo and others launched Zellein 2017 and it differs from Venmo. There’s no middleman so it’s directly integrated with the banks. There is more security around it because there’s more compliance in the relatively highly regulated banking sector. According to a Wall Street Journal report, Venmo was hit by a wave of payment frauds in 2013 that helped push losses higher than the company previously expected. They recorded an operating loss of about 40 million USD (nearly 40 percent higher than budgeted). In a statement to CNBC, PayPal said Venmo loss levels are lower than the overall average for PayPal and compare favorably to the industry. When introducing new features it is not unusual to see short periods of elevated losses and preventing fraud is one reason why they collect data which is seen more critical today than it was when companies like Facebook were still smaller. Venmo says they are not selling data and they only leverage things about the device and other things for fraud protection purposes. In terms of the user’s information being shared, the user is in full control of what they share. Fintech has a higher bar for regulation and Venmo has run into issues with the FTC but it settled.

The industry watchdog accused Venmo of misleading customers when it came to privacy disclosures and some information being automatically displayed on Venmo’s social news feed. The FTC also alleged that Venmo misrepresented the extent to which consumers financial accounts were protected by quote bank grade security systems. Still, Venmo has revolutionized the way we think about cash. But Wall Street is still watching to see whether or not it can really become profitable for its parent company PayPal. Like any Fintech company there are plenty of challenges. The bar for regulation is very high. There are data and privacy concerns. And of course they’ve got tons and tons of competition.

N26: How To Open A Bank Account – An Extensive Guide

N26, a Berlin-based financial technology startup is on the run to revolutionize global consumer banking. With its state-of-the-art banking app, its unique user interface and its wide service portfolio, they are catapulting consumer banking into a new time age. Open your N26 Bank Account via Free Life Consultantsit’s 100% free.

Wait, you don’t have an account yet? The following article will guide you through all steps when applying for your account at N26. Most noteworthy is to point out that the application process takes only around 10 minutes and can be done simply via a smartphone.

  1. Who can open an N26 Bank Account?
  2. Step-by-Step Guide to Register for an N26 Bank Account
  3. Wire Money to Your N26 Account

Open N26 Bank Account – Who qualifies?

In order to qualify to open an N26 bank account, you simply need to be a resident in the European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area (EEA). Please note that a mailing address in one of these countries is necessary to receive the N26 bank account’s Mastercard.

Currently, you can set up your personal N26 account in the following countries: Ireland, Luxembourg, France, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Austria, Greece, Italy, Slovakia, Belgium, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Portugal, and Slovenia. Further, EUR dominated accounts are available in countries such asNorway, Sweden, Denmark, Poland, Iceland, and Liechtenstein.

Residents of the United Kingdom can now use a local GBP account when opening an account with N26.

As for the United States of America, N26 has not yet been launched but is expected to make its debut in the second half of 2019. To read more about how to open an N26 bank account in the US, read Free Life Consultant’s N26 US Guide here.

Open N26 Bank Account – Step-by-Step Guide

To open an N26 bank account is easy and can be done within 10 minutes. The following 5 steps will guide you to the process:

1. Online Registration on N26’s Website

To start with the registration process of your personal N26 account visit the following page: N26 Bank Account Registration. As a result, you will be asked to provide the following standard personal information:

  • Full Name;
  • Nationality;
  • E-Mail;
  • Country of residence / Tax residency;
  • Date of birth;
  • Phone number;
  • Postal address – Important: Your personal MasterCard will be sent to this address;
  • Promo code, if available.

Besides providing your basic personal information, European banking laws require you to give additional details:

  • Gender;
  • Job title;
  • City of birth;
  • Tax residency (the country in which you are required to pay tax) & Tax ID number.

Once you have confirmed your N26 account via your e-mail inbox, you will be able to login on N26 website and select a plan of your choice. Keep in mind that not all plans might be available in all countries. For example, the new Metal card is only available in Germany, France, Italy and Austria while the other plans are available in all countries. Details about each plan are listed below (as of April 2019).

  • N26
    • Free ATM withdrawals in EUR;
    • Free payments in any currency.
  • N26 Black
    • Free ATM withdrawals in euros;
    • Free payments in any currency;
    • Free withdrawals worldwide;
    • Allianz insurance package.
  • N26 Metal
    • Free ATM withdrawals in euros;
    • Free payments in any currency;
    • Free withdrawals worldwide;
    • Allianz insurance package;
    • Dedicated customer support;
    • Exclusive N26 partner offers (WeWork, Zalando, Fitness First, etc.).

2. Verify ID

Once the standard information collection has been completed, you will be required to confirm your identification in order to open an N26 bank account.

In case you do not reside in Germany, you will only need to take a selfie as well as take a picture of your ID document within the N26 application. Simply follow the instructions given in the app.

Please note that the verification call can only be made between 8 am and 12 am, Central European Time (German time).

3. Setup the N26 App

The last step to activating your N26 account is to connect your smartphone with the official application.

Simply download the N26 app and log into your account, in case you haven’t done this already.

If you have not yet downloaded the app, simply download the official N26 app. The app can be downloaded for major smartphone devices.

5. Start Banking – Transfer Funds to Your Account

Your N26 account can be used right when the registration has been completed. Simply transfer any amount to your account in order to start banking with N26. Note that you can always transfer money back to other accounts after, without any limits or costs involved.

Open N26 Bank Account – Conclusion

To put it simple, N26 seems like the future of banking. It’s incredbly easy to use and will change the way you have been thinking of handling your personal finances.

N26: US Consumer Banking Ready for Disruption

When you ask a group of millennials when the last time was they physically entered a bank outlet, you often get confused looks. Nowadays, going to the bank is considered as popular as going to the dentist. Actually, it’s even worse. Why should anyone take time out of their day to visit a place that is associated with painful experiences, terribly slow customer service and opening hours only until noon? Even an industry as omnipresent and powerful as the banking industry will not persevere if they avoid digitalization, lean operations and the focus on customer experience. These are exactly the forces N26 was used to constantly improve their product since the launch in February 2013.

The small fintech came a long way, now valued at 2.7 bn $ with backing from big names e.g. Insight Ventures, Tencent Holdings, Peter Thiel and Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC. This makes it the most valuable German start-up to date! They closed 2018 with 2.3 M customers and they are among the fastest growing banks in Europe attracting around 2000 customers per day. But what is the hype all about, what does N26 do what traditional players do not?N26 was designed as a mobile bank using a smartphone as the platform for everything they do. It also means that there are no brick and mortar retail branches. This helps them operate with a dramatically lower fixed cost base than other banks. And the solution to the expressed fear of having nobody at your bank you can talk to is simple: User Experience, simply great User Experience. And with a regular banking license, they are working towards serving the customers as a full replacement for any other bank, without the traditional headaches. 

Get started – Opening your account

Even opening your bank account is a breeze. Everything is done from your smartphone app and you can literally open your account in 10 minutes. All it takes a valid ID, an address and a video identification, that’s it, no paperwork. And the best: it is absolutely FREE. After the registration process, they’ll send you classic Mastercard debit in a fancy transparent design which is guaranteed to catch the attention of your friends. Once you receive the card you’ll be asked to pair it with your account on your phone. Follow the instructions and after another 2 minutes you are good to go. The card obviously comes with up to date contactless payments as well as support for Apple/Google pay. This, together with your IBAN and BIC gives you all the tools you need to start your journey into banking of the 21st century and you start to wonder why it usually takes weeks and what you actually pay those ridiculous fees for.Speaking of those fees: You’ll save a lot of money once you start to never pay them again. One of the unique selling points of the N26 debit card is the non-existence of fees when paying at home and abroad. So whether I pay for a beer in Munich, a coffee in New York, a steak in Buenos Aires or a late-night snack at 7-eleven in Hong Kong I won’t be charged the usual fee of 1.25-2.25%. You heard that right, 0% fees all around the globe. But wait, then they surely get their money with unfavourable conversion rates. And yes, while banks usually do both, N26 does none of those things. Looking up the exchange rate on the date of the transaction will reveal that you get the exact interbank rate you’ll find on Google. Again, it is the real, fair exchange rate. No artificially altered rate to profit the bank that provides nothing but a bad service, no foreign exchange fee. The customer is able to spend his hard-earned money at a fair rate and with no fees in a foreign country like a local. It might be hard to believe (especially for your parents) but this is how banking looks like when it is transparent, simple and easy to use. 
The app and what makes you fall in love with N26 over and over again

What makes an app great, what differentiates a decent app from a great one? Design matters, and ultimately the best mobile apps offer an unbeatable mix of usability, simplicity, and personalization. The next time you’re scrolling through your favourite app, you may find yourself noticing these particular qualities that make the app so enjoyable to use. In the N26 app everything moves smoothly, it’s intuitive and has great yet simple looks and feels nice. A nice feature is the automatic classification of all your transactions. It recognizes categories such as dining, transport, entertainment and at the end you can see exactly where all your money went. It’s like having your own personal bookkeeper. 

Functionalities & Features – how N26 makes your daily life easy

After adding funds to your N26 account you are finally ready to fully take advantage of it’s perks. But how do you add funds? There are multiple ways to do this. One of the easiest way is certainly to let your employer know and receive salary onto your N26 account. You will get a notification on your phone once the money is deposited into the account and trust me, seeing that your salary arrived is a really good feeling at the end of the month. In addition your balance is always live, you are not lagging 1-2 days behind. And even the bloggers, expats and digital nomads of the world are covered. Basically, it doesn’t matter anymore in what currency you are getting paid. 

A partnership with TransferWise allows you to have it’s features already built into your account. Transferring money from any account to your N26 account has never been easier. And the same goes for sending money to friends in their home currency. If you want to learn more about TransferWise (click here). The DNA of N26 is digital, so the handling of cash is not what it is best at. Every month you can deposit 100€ at the register of partnering shops displayed on a map within the app but that’s it. After that you pay 1.5% of handling fee meaning that 98.50€ will be shown on your balance for every following 100€ you want to deposit. Other banks often has similar pricing structures which is simply explained with the nature of cash handling being expensive. The same goes for withdrawals. Within Germany you have 5 free withdrawals a month, in the Eurozone there no such limit exists. Withdrawals worldwide will cost you 1.7% markup at the ATM. Given the fact that a contactless payment abroad is free you should think wisely and use N26 to your advantage. Get into the habit of paying by card which will help you unlock the full potential of your N26 account. A showcase for this potential is security when losing your card. A nightmare for every traveller was to lose their credit card or have it stolen. This would usually be followed by painful phone calls to block your card asap. After that you could try to get your card back only to find that once your card is blocked you can’t just un-block it. So you would end up ordering a new one and by the time you get it the trip is usually over. Yes, there are credit card like the American Express Platinum Card that offer worldwide 24h service for a new card, but N26 found an even more elegant solution. With the tap of a button you just block your card in the app. From this moment it can’t be used to pay for anything anymore. And the best thing, if you panicked and blocked your card but found it 5 minutes later under your pillow, you just un-block your card again as if nothing happened. This is again a masterpiece of customer experience adding another layer of security on your trip at home or abroad.The US is an exciting new market which offers a massive opportunity for N26. Though the fintech environment is well advanced there, serving US customers comprises primarily niche and individual solutions. As of yet, we do not see any genuinely mobile bank which is a potential full replacement of any other bank account. The US market comes with it’s own challenges and opportunities. Bank fees are often unreasonable and targeting financially vulnerable households, cheques are more common but also associated with extra cost for cashing them in and the debit cards on the market are often poorly designed systems.(https://www.economist.com/united-states/2015/09/03/its-expensive-to-be-poor) The features inherently built into N26’s mobile banking ecosystem are poised to take the pain out of financial services for many consumers in the US. A majority will enjoy benefits such as:

  • No FX fees! While the account is in euros only, everything is converted at the real exchange rate, with no conversion fee. This means it’s just like using your card in your home currency.
  • You can use it everywhere! It’s just like a regular debit Mastercard, so wherever Mastercard is accepted, your N26 card is accepted.
  • Free ATM withdrawals all throughout Europe is awesome and perfect for travellers. You can easily block/unblock the card and activate other options from within your app. And since everything is done in the app, there’s no need to worry about getting flagged when logging in to internet banking from overseas like you do with regular banks.
  • Support is amazing. They even run support over Twitter – so you can tweet them and get support in real time. If you’ve ever sat on hold with a bank while travelling, you’ll understand how awesome this is.
  • It’s free! Most travel debit cards drown you in fees and loaded rates, including a monthly fee just to keep the card open. With N26 it’s completely free, so even if you never use it you’ve got nothing to worry about.

But most of all, it just removes so many banking headaches that you have while travelling. There are enough things to worry about when you’re roaming the world, and in the past banking and money has been one of the biggest headaches of them all.N26 removes so many of these problems – it really is the perfect card for travellers.

Signing up for an N26 Account

N26 is for EU residents, so to sign up for an account you need to have access to an EU mailing address. If you do, simply head to the N26 sign up page here and fill in your details. The process is all very straightforward and is done completely online. All you need is your smartphone.