Banking

N26 vs Revolut: Which Challenger Bank is the Best Fit for You?

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Battle of the Challenger Banks

Two of the most prominent challenger banks or “neobanks” are N26 and Revolut, European fintech companies offering digital-only apps that are unique alternatives to conventional brick and mortar institutions.

Over the past few years, banking has started to transform its image, from the stately and conservative to the hip and trendy. Not content to be the dinosaur of industry, banking is now embracing innovative digital technology to appeal to the mobile generation who wants to command their worlds with the touch of a finger.

Naturally, when two competitors emerge on the same world stage, comparisons are expected, as consumers attempt to ascertain, which, if either, service is “for them”. Both of these companies offer unique services and deliver a fully-digital banking experience.

The apps from both companies have many great features, with subtle differences to distinguish them from each other. These differences may be key components for future customers to use when deciding upon a platform.

Let’s have a look at these two companies that are redefining the idea of a modern bank.

N26 vs Revolut—Who Delivers the Best Platform?

Please note that since both banks have no physical branches, there is no in-person service, which may be an inconvenience, but it does keep costs low and subsides the awesome free basic accounts.

It is also worth stating upfront that probably neither of these platforms will appeal to the non-tech savvy, or to anyone who harbors any doubts or discomfort about financial apps or with the idea of conducting business 100% digitally.

The good news is that the apps from both companies are well-reviewed, and seem to get the job done with ease. Revolut also offers its clients ‘Vaults’, which rounds up a purchase to the nearest round number, and stashes the rest away in a separate account.

Both N26 and Revolut give clients some great metrics that make budgeting a lot easier, and also some unique safety features that help to prevent losing money when a card is lost, or you are just out for a night on the town!

N26

N26 Review

N26 is a fully licensed German bank, which can be used by anyone in the UK, Europe, and the United States.

Established five years ago in Berlin, N26 has attracted more than three and a half million customers in over 27 countries. N26 has a UK banking license and provides customers with a UK account number and sort code, which facilitates direct deposits and payments.

Visit N26

N26 also has a European deposit guarantee scheme, meaning that should the company become insolvent, customers would be able to recoup their money. Although N26 offers two types of account, this article will focus on the free account, which is incredibly easy to open in eight minutes and in four steps.

All that it takes is a smartphone, but N26 also can be accessed on a PC and a tablet. The sleek metallic debit card will arrive within a week, and the customer is all set to start “loving their bank”.

N26 Account & App Features:

  • Send, receive and request money for free. Direct debits are accepted.
  • No monthly fee.
  • Free contactless/chip and pin fee.
  • Supports both Apple and Google Pay.
  • Up to minute push notifications.
  • Set up daily and monthly spending limits.
  • Generates spending statistics which automatically categorizes purchases into different groups.
  • “Spaces” which is a saving feature to help the customer save money for a particular goal, but there is no interest paid on savings.
  • “MoneyBeam” permits customers to send cash (up to 1000 Euro) instantly to other N26 users, or within two days to non-N26 users.
  • Five free ATM withdrawals per month. After the initial five, there is a two Euro fee per withdrawal.

In the foreign realm, N26 maintains its competitive edge. If someone travels extensively for work or pleasure, N26 is definitely international friendly. There is no foreign exchange purchase fee and the foreign exchange rate is linked to Mastercard.

N26 clients are charged a 1.7% withdrawal fee on Non-Euro ATM transactions (or non-UK ATMs if the account is held in the UK), which is substantially less than standard bank charges. For international payments, N26 has partnered with TransferWise and there are nineteen foreign currencies available for international transfers on the app.

If traveling at home or abroad, and a card is lost, stolen or simply misplaces, customers can lock or unlock the card, to enable or disable online or foreign payments, and to reset the account PIN.

N26 Website

Is N26 Safe?

One of the biggest concerns is security, particularly with rampant online fraud and constant data breaches. How can a purely digital bank provide the highest level of security for its on-the-go customers?

As noted in the above paragraph, N26 customers can freeze and unfreeze their card and disable online transactions, although the option to temporarily disable contactless is not yet available. An additional layer of security is a fingerprint login.

Depending on the nation you are in, N26 may offer the same deposit guarantee that a regular bank would offer. This may or may not be a selling point for younger people, who are using these platforms to manage money, and not to save.

N26—The Rundown

N26 is probably the closest thing to a true ‘challenger’ Neobank for people that don’t need access to debt, or advanced banking services (like an international business may require). For younger people who don’t want to get hit with high fees for basic banking services, N26 is a great option.

At the moment, N26 does not offer loans, overdrafts or credit cards, although they are constantly evolving, presenting new features and options to their customers. In addition to the free account, there is a premium or “metal” account and now Business accounts.

If you need a way to deposit your paycheck and make it work for you, N26 is worth your consideration. It is available in many places and has a reputation for providing good customer service, as well as an easy to use app.

N26 is also a good way to insulate your existing bank accounts from online fraud and identity theft.

Most people use the same credit or debit card for everything, but a digital account could be a better option. It is very easy (and probably free) to transfer money from a regular bank account to N26, and then use that account for everything online.

It would be nearly impossible to have your main account at a regular bank compromised, and serious financial damage done. N26 is an amazing banking tool for a new digital world, and it is very inexpensive to use.

For more information, Read our Full Review.

Visit N26


Revolut

Revolut App Review

Another strong member of the new generation of financial service providers is Revolut, a UK fintech company that offers a prepaid debit card, currency exchange and peer to peer payments.

Visit Revolut

Launched in 2015 and boasting seven million global customers, Revolut has an impressive array of investors and a Lithuanian banking license. However, it is important to note that Revolut has come under scrutiny of late and in April 2019, they were in danger of losing their license due to alleged ties to the Kremlin.

Other negative publicity has battered the company, when in February 2019, an undercover story about the toxic work culture at the company broke in Wired magazine.

The company has responded to the allegations, with a shift in the management team and promises to refine the work environment. As founder Nik Storonsky noted ‘We are not the same company we were nineteen months ago.”

Revolut is Working to Build a Unique Platform

Like N26, Revolut has two different kinds of accounts and for comparative purposes, the free account will be discussed, although the premium plan does offer more features. It too is incredibly easy to open an account with Revolut, as all that it takes is a smartphone.

After opening an account, a brightly colored debit card will arrive and allow “a better way to manage money”.

Revolut Accounts Features:

  • Send, receive and request money for free. Direct debits are accepted. Set up recurring payments.
  • No monthly fee
  • Initial card fee of six Euro.
  • Free contactless/chip and pin fee.
  • Up to minute push notifications.
  • Set up daily and monthly spending limits.
  • Online banking via smartphone only.
  • Supports Google and Apple Pay.
  • “Vaults”, a money-saving feature in which a transaction is rounded up to the nearest whole number and the difference goes into the vault.
  • “Donations”, a feature in which a transaction is rounded up to the nearest whole number and the difference is donated to the charity of choice.
  • Receipt uploads, a great paperless option.
  • Send money to phone contacts without providing bank details.
  • Split bill option with contacts.
  • Cryptocurrency functionality is available.
  • 200 Euro ATM withdrawal for free. Afterward, there is a 2% fee per withdrawal.

As CNN called Revolut, “….start up making business travel less stressful”, the app offers 29 different currencies, again including Bitcoin.

Revolut gives its customers plenty of options for international business and pleasure. The foreign exchange purchase fee is free up to 6000 Euro, and then there is a 0.5% fee. The foreign exchange rate is the interbank rate with 0.5% added on the weekends.

For non-Euro ATM withdrawals (or non-UK withdrawals, if the account is held in the UK), the equivalent of 200 Euro a month is free and then a 2% fee is incurred thereafter. International transfers are free up to 5000 Euro and above that amount, there is a 0.5% fee plus extra charges on the weekends and on certain currencies.

When compared to existing banks, the fees that Revolut charges are extremely fair. If you need to make international transfers on a regular basis or travel frequently, Revolut offers you some compelling options.

Revolut Website

Is Revolut Safe?

Since security is an essential aspect of the virtual world, Revolut users can lock and unlock the card in the app, disable online transactions, and temporarily disable contactless.

Location-based security, which tracks the phone and monitors transaction from any location different from the customer’s, provides the extra security needed to control how the card works and to travel and bank confidently. There is also a fingerprint login.

Revolut does not offer loans, overdrafts or credit cards, although they too are constantly expanding their services and experimenting with innovative ideas. With a new management team, Revolut’s could very well be entering into an incredibly bright future.

Revolut—The Rundown

Revolut is one of the most innovative ideas to hit to consumer financial services in a long time. The platform offers its users some truly unique features, like fully integrated crypto CFD trading that allows Revolut clients to hold cryptos as cash in their accounts.

The features that Revolut offers for people that are frequent travelers, or digital nomads, are worth a mention. The established banking system isn’t set up for people that are living and working abroad, which makes Revolut a standout for people that are tired of paying high fees for simple access to their cash.

While Revolut has experienced some growing pains over the last year, it appears to be getting itself back on track and making changes at the corporate level. It is worth remembering that the established financial system has its own laundry list of misdeeds, and start-ups often struggle to build a healthy corporate culture.

Revolut also seems to be working to expand its service area and pursuing banking licensees in other nations (like the UK). If you are looking for a platform that will help you cut costs on international living, or don’t mind the absence of a deposit guarantee scheme, Revolut is worth looking into.

For more information, Read our Full Review.

Visit Revolut


Which Platform is a Better fit for Your Needs?

What to do, what to do? Which service to choose?

It is difficult to declare a traditional “winner” in such a contest of equals offering amazing products for a modern global community.

While both N26 and Revolut don’t offer conventional banking services, such as loans, mortgages, money markets, and CDs, they allow a certain hassle-free level of flexibility, mobility, and convenience, particularly for a younger generation whose lives revolve around the smartphone.

For other generations, the apps might be of service for traveling, or as an introduction to the virtual world of money management. Either way, N26, and Revolut have definite perks, particularly the low costs.

The two companies are very similar in other ways, offering many of the same features, including budgeting, sending and receiving money, and their acceptance of Google and Apple Pay.

N26 and Revolut are Similar but Different

If a potential customer feels better knowing that the 100% digital bank has a UK banking license and European deposit guarantee scheme, then N26 would be the best choice in order to dissipate those lingering fears.

If cryptocurrency is of particular interest, then Revolut is clearly the way to go. Although Revolut’s fee scale on their foreign transactions seems excessive and/or complex, in the end, it is roughly the same as those charged by N26.

It is just a different fee structure, so for those who prefer things simple and straightforward with little or any surprises, then perhaps N26 edges past Revolut. However, if one does business globally in international markets, access to 29 currencies might be the deciding factor.

If a customer prefers ATM cash withdrawals, then the five free ones could be more appealing than a mere free 200 Euro withdrawal. It all truly depends upon how an individual person manages money and what he or she expects from their financial provider, even if they cannot actually see the banker or teller.

In this manner, both N26 and Revolut are like traditional banks, in that they seek to provide their customers with the best possible service and products, based on need and preference. N26 and Revolut have more than ten million global customers combined so they obviously are doing something quite well.

Time to Go Neobank?

Taking a leap into the digital-only world armed only with a sleek debit card and a smartphone may seem a bit surreal, but it is the wave of the future and both N26 and Revolut has demonstrated that they are not only up to the task, but that they can surpass the goals to give the world banks we really can like.

The established banking system’s aging business model is leaving more and more people out in the cold, and soaking the masses for undue profits. Both N26 and Revolut give people badly needed options when it comes to basic banking services, and both deliver a range of useful features at super low rates.

The idea of a digital-only bank may still put some people off, but they are likely the business model of the future.

Money, as we understand it today, is a totally digital system. The cash we use is simply a representation of data that is held in bank’s computers, and as digital systems become ever more ubiquitous in our society, banks like N26 and Revolut are likely to grow.

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Nicholas Say grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan with a father that would read him the Wall St. Journal along side of other bed-time fare. He has traveled extensively, and been lucky enough to study a changing global economy in person. Nicholas spent many years in the Southern Cone of South America, sometimes in the middle of the countryside where livestock starts its journey to all points of the globe. Today he is thoroughly bemused with the stance that Central Banks have taken in the wake of the 2008 meltdown. There is no telling what will come out of the global financial system next, but he is glad that he lives somewhere that gold can be bought and sold readily! nick@moneycheck.com


Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank or credit card issuer and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.


Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


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