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Detailed Review of The N26 Online Bank Account For Spain. What are the benefits, how to open it and why you should consider it over a regular Spanish Bank

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We’re writing this review based on using the service for over 2 years so we can give you a realistic review of the service.

N26 is a new generation of virtual bank account, similar to Revolut, that offers you banking through a smartphone app which you download to your mobile phone. You can also login to their online website using the same login details as the app. Note that to login to the website you will receive a 2 factor authenticator notice on your phone before you can login online. In addition you will receive a physical card – a Mastercard that is linked to your account and sent to your home within a few days of opening the account.

So why would you want to choose N26 over a regular bricks and mortar bank? I will cover each of the benefits of N26 over a normal bank below and towards the end of this page I will also cover some potential drawbacks of using this type of account.

N26 Metal Card
The N26 Metal Card

Benefits of the N26 service

The N26 service specializes in mobile banking. Unlike traditional banks the N26 app gives you many features that can’t be found with traditional banks. N26 does not have any physical offices however most of the time you don’t need to visit an office and most of what you need can be done more conveniently with the N26 mobile app. The app is available for both IOS and Android devices. What I liked most about the N26 service is that it makes banking simple and efficient to use without the usual hassels from dealing with a traditional Spanish high street bank.

Operating hours for N26 Customer support via the app
Monday - Sunday: 07:00 - 23:00.

N26 customer service operating hands down beats a regular Spanish bank that operate typically from Monday - Friday: 08:00 -14:00.

You can either post your enquiries directly in the app support chat window or you can call the operator via a phone call. You can also check your balances and transactions in the app, make transfers or setup direct debits all from the app. If you lose your card you can instantly freeze it from the app, and if you find it later you can unfreeze it right away. If you cannot find your card you can simply order a new card from the app and it will be delivered to you in a few days.

Try doing a card cancellation with a conventional Spanish bank which usually involves a visit to the bank, waiting in a queue and then filling out a cancellation form. N26 makes many of the mundane banking tasks simple, all from the app, 24 hours/ day, 365 days/year. You can review, reset, or change your card PIN from within the N26 app at any time and as often as you want. There is an ATM locator built into the app which makes it easy for your to find the nearest cash point from where you are. The other benefits of N26 include automatic travel insurance, which also now covers you for certain COVID related travel issues. N26 also offers incentives schemes however there are terms for these incentives schemes which I will cover later on in this page.

Transparent fees and charges with N26

Probably the top benefit of the N26 account is there are no hidden charges to use their service.

The standard monthly charges are shown below for the different cards you can choose.

N26 Account card options

There are 4 card account options. Which are given below.

N26 Standard: €0.00/month / 3 free ATM withdrawls/ month
N26 Smart: €4.90/month 5 free ATM withdrawls / month
N26 You: €9.90/month 5 free ATM withdrawls / month
N26 Metal: €16.90/month 5 free ATM withdrawls/ month – this is a metal card that looks very cool.

Each card account option gives you increasing perks and benefits as you go up the tiers.

The N26 You and N26 Metal accounts give you medical travel insurance. The travel medical insurance is also the main perk for these N26 accounts. With the N26 Metal account you also get dedicated customer support via phone.

There are no additional fees if you do not use your N26 account and there are also no minimum transaction requirements.

Note that although N26 do not charge for ATM withdrawls the bank from which you use the ATM will charge you a small withdrawl fee for using their ATM, typically around 2 euros per transaction.

If you are withdrawing money from an ATM oversees i.e. outside of Spain then you would pay a 1.7% fee on the total amount taken out from the oversees ATM machine.

There is no charge for receiving money with N26.

Charges for international transfers with N26

N26 have partnered with TransferWise to enable you to make transfers to oversees countries and in different currencies. TransferWise is a company that specialise in making transfers as low cost as possible. The TransferWise service is intergrated into the N26 app and you cannot tell that you are using the service. You don't need to create a separate account to make an international transfer. The features I really like about making an international transfer is that the fees are clearly shown upfront before you make the transation so you know exactly how much you will pay in advance. The international transfer fees are also often considerably lower compared to traditional Spanish banks. International transfers can be made directly from within the N26 app which makes it easy and convenient to use.


Eligibility to open a Spanish N26 account

In order to open the N26 account you must be 18 or over and currently be a resident of one of the following countries:

Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the US.

If you are a UK citizen and want to open a N26 account for your life in Spain you will need to prove you are resident in Spain and have a Spanish tax identification number. However after Brexit, N26 closed down its UK division and accounts that service the UK.


Opening your N26 bank account with a Spanish IBAN

It is much quicker and easier to open an N26 account than with a regular Spanish bank. It will take you about 5 minutes to fill the online application form or you can download their app and do the application directly from the app. Then you will have a video call which with an N26 representative which will take about 10 minutes. The video call can take place anywhere you have an internet connection.

Compare that to opening a conventional bank in Spain were you have to visit the branch, stand in the queue and answer a barrage of KYC (know your customer) questions. KYC questions can be very intrusive such as what do you intend to use the account for? What is your source of money? What you profession? these types of questions can be a real pain and feel like an invasion of privacy. The reasons given for KYC are to protect against money laundering and financing terrorism however those reasons seem more an excuse to control people in general than for the reasons given.

To open an N26 account you simply go to the N26 website, choose which account level you want and book your online video appointment. An N26 representative will then call you at the appointed time and go through the validation procedure. The validation procedure involves activating the camera on your smartphone so that a video conference can be set up with the representative. The representative then asks you to hold your passport at many different angles so that they can validate it is a genuine document. They ask you a few basic questions like are you the account opener? etc but the N26 questions are not that intrusive – unlike the conventional Spanish banks. The whole account opening process takes about 10 to 15 minutes.

Our Insider Tip

I recommend you are in a room with plenty of natural light when the N26 representative calls you because it makes it much easier to validate your passport. If you have artificial light it can cause a few issues because they need to clearly see the holograms in your ID from different angles.

Does N26 offer you a Spanish IBAN?

Yes, you can get a Spanish IBAN. If you are looking to open an account with a Spanish IBAN then you will need to prove residency in Spain with a Spanish NIE number or equivalent. If you will be living in Spain then it is also highly recommended that you have a Spanish IBAN with your N26 account because many establishments in Spain still insist on a Spanish IBAN to make payments – even though this is strictly not correct under EU law – I will go into this point in more detail later in this article.

What you will need for opening your Spanish N26 account

A smartphone that is compatible with the N26 services which is any of these:

1. iPhone with at least 5s and IOS 11 or better or Android phone version 6.0 or better
2. Download and installed the N26 app on your phone
3. A Spanish mobile phone number and SIM installed in your mobile phone that will have the N26 app.
4. Passport (or in some cases a resident ID card from an EU country)
5. Your Tax identification number (TIN) for Spain e.g. NIE
6 . You! You are not permitted to open the N26 account for someone else.

You can setup your Spanish N26 account in any of the following languages:

English, German, Spanish Italian or French

You will also need an email address and a delivery address where you want your N26 Mastercard sent to.

N26 will undertake a background check to make sure that you are credit worthy. The credit checks are undertaken in an automated manner so you won’t have to answers specific questions on your credit rating. The minimum age for opening an N26 account is 18 years or higher.


Advanced Security Features With N26

You can select the features that are active on your card from within the N26 App
You can select the features that are active on your card from within the N26 app
The N26 app offers you many advanced security features which give you complete control over access to your card. e.g. you can choose to instantly lock your N26 card directly from the app for any of the following services:

  • Online Payments
  • ATM Withdrawals
  • Payments Abroad
  • Contactless Payments
  • Magnetic Stripe
  • Setting daily ATM and spending limits for your card

You can select one, or all of the above, to be locked or unlocked at an instant simply by toggling a button next to each of the services you want to activate or deactivate.

 

You have full control to set your daily spending limits on your card from within the N26 app
You have full control to set your daily spending limits on your card from within the N26 app

I found these security features particularly useful as it has been known in Spain for some unscrupulous merchants to clone your card when you make payment through their terminal.

With the N26 App you can unlock a feature of the card only when you need. An example of when to use this feature might be after you have made a cash withdrawl at an ATM. You can activate your card for cash withdrawl, then make your withdrawal, and then turn off the feature right away. This makes your card and account extra safe because you can only use the service once you've activated it within the N26 App. The same can be done for contactless payments and any magnetic stripe transactions e.g. where you need to swipe your card to make a payment. You can also set both the daily ATM withdrawal limit and separately the daily card payment limit for added security. If for any reason you know that you need a higher limit for that day you can change it instantly from within the App.


Online purchases are protected with 2 Factor authentification

When you purchase a product online with your N26 card and the amount is over a specified amount you will receive a notification on your N26 App with a summary of the details of the purchase along with two buttons. These buttons are an Accept button or a Decline button. This 2 factor authentification step makes purchasing products online with your card extra safe. The threshold amount where you will get the 2 Factor authentication notice is decreasing with time. Eventually it will be for purchase of 30 euros or over but currently it is for expenditure online for 250 euros or more.

The N26 App makes setting up and controlling all of these security features instant and easy to manage.

100,000 Euro protection
N26 gives you 100,000 euros protection against a possible bank failure which is the same as other EU banks.

Is N26 a Spanish Bank?
Yes it is a fully registered Spanish Bank. When you setup your account you can choose which country you will be residing in. If this is Spain you would be issued with a Spanish IBAN from the N26 Spanish bank.


Address for the N26 Bank in Spain:

N26 operates a virtual banking service so they do not have any physical branches that you can visit. However the head office address of the bank in Spain is:

N26 Bank GmbH, Sucursal en España
Calle Manzanares, 4
28005, Madrid, España

N26 company itself is headquartered in Germany.


What happens if a Spanish organization does not accept your N26 account?

On a few rare occasions I’ve had a few difficulties with some Spanish organizations not willing to accept the N26 account for direct debit payments. One of these was a Spanish telecoms company. They would not accept the account for over 8 months however I found a solution to this. If you visit the office of the organization that will not accept your N26 account then request a “Denuncia” and ask them to assist you to fill this out.

A Denuncia is a formal complaint form that is registered with a consumer department run by the government. Once a Denunica is raised it requires a formal resolution within 72 hours. When you fill our your Denuncia make sure to explain that the company will not accept your valid payment with N26 and explain that this is in violation of the following EU law which obliges companies to accept a valid EU bank account such as your N26 account. Also make sure to request that the company writes the Denuncia reference number on your copy of the complaint. You may need to refer to this number later on so it is important you ask for this number.

Merchants or employers who do not accept the N26 bank account for payments or direct debits in Spain, or, indeed, from any other member state of the European Economic Area are violating the European Law as of 1 February 2016 (Article 9 of Regulations No 260/2012) which you can read here:

https://ec.europa.eu/transparency/regdoc/rep/1/2017/EN/COM-2017-683-F1-EN-ANNEX-1-PART-1.PDF

If you experience a Spanish entity refusing your IBAN you can also report it to the relevant authority. You can find more information including the list of authorities for raising your complaint for each country here:

https://support.n26.com/en-es/payments-transfers-and-withdrawals/direct-debits-and-standing-orders/what-to-do-if-my-n26-iban-is-not-accepted

By simply quoting the above EU law they are violating most Spanish organizations will magically start accepting your N26 account when you’ve issued a Denuncia.


Can I pay my Taxes with N26?

In short, currently, no. There is one important exception to the above ruling on accepting N26 accounts for payments and that is for Spanish Taxes. Currently you cannot pay your taxes using an N26 account. The reason for this is that the Hacienda (Spanish Tax Office) have a list of banks which co-operate with them on the payment of taxes. Therefore if you are self-employed or if you run a company and you need to pay taxes you cannot use N26 and you will need to use one of the co-operating banks that work with the Spanish Tax office. If however you are not normally resident in Spain and you have to pay tax on your apartment a new law passed in 2021 will allow you to pay your Spanish apartment or Spanish home taxes with any EU bank account.

If you are employed by a company they will pay your taxes for you so you don't have to worry about this. Your employer can also pay your salary into your N26 account. However if you are self employed you will need to open up an account with a bank that is co-operating with the Spanish tax office. That is the only way currently you can pay your income tax bills.


Insurance with N26 (only available for the N26 You account and N26 Metal account)

The insurance policy that comes with the N26 account gives you cover for medical emergencies when travelling, luggage delays, luggage loss & theft, flight delay, travel cancellation, rental car abroad (metal plan only) winter sports accidents, mobile phone cover damage and theft (metal plan only). However please note that there are limitations and specific terms and conditions under which you can make a claim e.g. you can claim up to 1000 euros for theft or damage to your mobile but it must be less than 12 months old and you must have proof of ownership. It is important, therefore, that you thoroughly review the small print on this insurance policy to be certain you will be getting the coverage that you need when you need it.

The Medical insurance also includes pandemic travel coverage – although terms and conditions also apply to this so make sure to read the small print of the policy.


How to fund your N26 Account

There are number of ways to get funds into your N26 account. One of these is simply to make a transfer from another bank account to your N26. There is no charge for receiving money via a bank transfer, however the bank from which you are making the transfer might impost a transfer fee.

If you are employed then you can ask your employer to send funds to your N26 account.

If you are paid in cash and want to pay in the Cash into your N26 account there is a new N26 scheme called CASH26 which will enable you to do this. There are over 500 retail stores in Spain that are now colloborating with N26. To pay in cash you can go to any one of these stores with your phone that has your N26 App. You can then use the CASH26 feature in the N26 app to pay in funds into your account. You simply choose DEPOSIT in the App, your App will create a QR code which the merchant will scan. You hand over your cash to the CASH26 merchant and your account will be credited with the cash you have given the merchant minus a 1.5% input fee.

The process is similar when withdrawing cash. If you wish to withdraw cash from a participating CASH26 merchant you would choose WITHDRAW inside the app - once again a QR code is generated which the merchant scans and they will then hand over the cash to you. There is no charge for a cash withdrawl using CASH26. You can only withdraw 200 euros each time however you can make multiple cash withdrawls in a day up to a maximum of 900 euros every 24 hours.

You can find a list of all the retail merchants that are colloborating with N26 from within the N26 app.


Problems I've had with traditional Spanish banks

One of the things I really like about N26 is that I don’t have to deal with bureaucracy and hassle that I used to get from traditional Spanish banks. This section will list just a few of the problems I've had with the regular Spanish banks over the years. I've never had any of the following problems with N26.

When I opened an account at a regular Spanish highstreet bank they asked me a lot of validating questions about what my occupation was, what was the source of my money, how did I make money, etc. These types of questions were quite intrusive, and I felt were not justified.

With my traditional Spanish bank I was also locked out of my online account on several occasions. Each time I had to make a visit to the branch to release the lockout. This was not due to an incorrect username or password but because they wanted to do another KYC (know your customer). They also asked me again to go through another KYC on a second occasion even though I had been with the bank for 15 years, and paid my taxes through the same bank.

With the bank I was with (I won’t mention them here) they would not allow me to change my mobile number from the online account. I had to go in to their branch with photo ID and mobile to change the number. Since I travel a lot this was not convenient to do.

Another problem I had with my traditional Spanish bank was on occassions they blocked incoming transfers so they could do investigations on it. On one occassions they froze my transfer funds for 7 days whilst they undertook an investigation on it. This caused me a lot of problems because I needed to make payments for services I had contracted. This incident was the last straw for me and in the end I just closed down the traditional Spanish bank account because it was causing me too many problems. Even closing the account was a problem. There were a few euros left in the account and the bank would not close the account until there was a zero balance. I made the transfer to clear the balance in the bank however they said I needed to return again in 3 days after the transfer was cleared. I went back to the same branch however they said I had to go to another branch to close down the account – the reason given was I had to go the my original branch and they could not close it from their branch. So, why didn't they tell me this when I was in there the first time? I eventually managed to close the account but I still kept receiving email SMS messages from them. I had to make another visit to the branch and requested that all my data be deleted under the GDPR regulations. However they said they could not do it because the person that deals with that was not present on that day. I then spoke to the branch manager and he found agreed to find someone else who could do it for me.

With my previous traditional high street Spanish bank they would spontaneously increase the charges without giving me notice. I would have to go into the bank to complain and they would remove the excess charges but then after a few months they would once again increase the charges again. I found this frustrating and time consuming to deal with however with N26 there are no problems like this, the charges are clearly laid out - and there are not many of them and, most importantly they don't just spontaneously appear on your account like they did with the traditional Spanish banks.

I have never had any of the above problems with my N26 bank account. In my experience you setup the account and they leave you alone, fees are clearly laid out and you know where you stand. If you need assistance you can speak to someone on their in-app tech support. I've found N26 to be a really good service and it has eliminated all the issues I was having with my traditional Spanish bank accounts.

Traditional Spanish banks need to realise that unless they improve the quality of their services they are going to lose business to new modern mobile banks like N26.


Conclusion

The N26 mobile banking solution gives you reliable, low-cost, and hassle-free banking. The main things you can’t do with it are pay taxes in Spain and get a mortgage. Pretty much everything else I need a bank account for N26 will do. I can highly recommend N26 mobile banking and it has saved me a lot of frustrations dealing with the traditional Spanish banks. It’s so good to have options nowadays!


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