Challenger banks are gaining popularity across both personal and business finance sectors. Companies such as Monzo, Revolut, and Starling offer an agile way of managing your money with their app-driven experiences. Previously, we’ve reviewed some more business-focused products such as Coconut’s service, aimed at freelancers and SMEs. Another company that’s turning its focus to business users is N26. We look at the products they offer and assess how beneficial they could be for you.
Quick Look – Pros & Cons
To give you a top-level look at whether N26 is a suitable choice for your needs, we’ve outlined some of the positives and negatives of the service. Very few financial products are without their downsides, so we recommend that customers weigh up the details that are relevant to them.
A convenient way of managing and staying on top of your money and expenditure.
0.1% cash back on all purchases made using your card.
Good security features on the mobile app.
No exchange rate mark-up or foreign transaction fees.
Not yet available in the UK.
The best features are only available on accounts with a monthly fee.
You can’t put your company’s name on your Mastercard.
Charges for foreign currency withdrawals on the free account.
As we’ll see, there are a few options available when it comes to accounts and fees, meaning you can choose the service that best reflects your business needs.
What is N26 Business?
N26 is a business banking service aimed at freelancers and small and medium-sized companies. The challenger bank has been around since 2013, longer than companies such as Starling, Monzo, and Revolut. However, they only launched their personal accounts in the UK in late 2018, with business accounts set to follow soon. They offer two different accounts for businesses – a free one and a premium one that costs €9.90 per month.
As with many other challenger banks, N26 is primarily an app-based product. Users can sign up for an account and Mastercard using their smartphone and then manage their finances and spending using the app. However, you can use the desktop site to do everything, if you prefer.
How Does N26 Work?
Like many challenger banks, N26 takes a practical approach to getting you up and running with a business account. Through the signup page on their website, it takes around eight minutes to open an account. You need to fill out various pieces of information about yourself and your business, but it’s only the standard details you’d need to supply anyway. It’s also possible to sign up using the app, which is equally effortless.
Once you’ve registered for an account and it’s been approved, N26 will send out your new Mastercard. In the meantime, you can start using the app to manage your money. Customers in Germany, Austria, and the Netherlands are also eligible for a Maestro card.
There are a few requirements you have to meet in order to sign up for an N26 business account:
You’re opening it primarily for business use.
You don’t already have an N26 account (which may be frustrating to existing customers).
You live in one of the countries where they operate: Germany, Austria, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Greece, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Finland, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Slovakia, or Slovenia.
Once you have your card, you can use the N26 business account as you would any other bank account. You can make purchases and transfers, manage your transactions, and get real-time notifications of your spending.
What Features Does N26 Have?
There are two services that N26 offer to business users. Depending on which one you choose, you’ll get a slightly different set of features. Either way, there’s plenty here that makes this business account an attractive one.
Below, we’ve outlined the key features that the free and premium accounts offer:
Free Business Mastercard. One of the most versatile cards out there, ideal for businesses and freelancers. However, you can only have your personal name on the card, not your company’s.
0.1% Cashback. All N26 business customers are eligible to 0.1% cashback on all purchases. This feature is activated and applied automatically.
Notifications and Categorisation. Every time a transaction is made on your account, you’ll get a notification through the app. It will also automatically place these transactions into categories to help you track your spending. You can also add personal tags to your account activity.
Free ATM Withdrawals in Euros. As N26 is currently only available in Europe, customers can withdraw money from an ATM in Euros for free. Payments in any other currency are also free of charge and benefit from the Mastercard exchange rate.
N26 Business Black
The business black account benefits from all of the features listed above, as well as:
Free Withdrawals Worldwide. You won’t be charged for using an ATM anywhere else in the world.
Allianz Insurance Package. A comprehensive insurance service that keeps you protected when you’re travelling.
What Are the Fees for Using N26?
The answer to this question depends a little on the type of account you open. The standard N26 Business Account is free to open. However, there are some fees associated with using it. For example, cash withdrawals using your Mastercard in currencies other than Euros, you’ll incur a fee of 1.7% of the amount withdrawn. If you lose your card, you’ll be charged €6 for a replacement.
For the N26 Business Black account, there is a monthly fee of €9.90. Although this seems steep compared to the free account, the 1.7% foreign transaction fee is waived, which could save you money in the long-run. The €6 replacement fee still applies to this account, which is a little disappointing.
There are several other fees associated with the admin side of both accounts. A full list of these charges can be found on their website.
Who is N26 For?
The target market for N26 business accounts is fairly evident. Sole traders, freelancers, and small business owners can all make use of the features available on either account. Because the bank card is registered in your personal name rather than your business, it’s not a product that’s as well suited to larger companies.
The 0.1% cashback on purchases is clearly aimed at those businesses that make a lot of transactions by card. It’s a really useful incentive that is sure to attract interest when it launches in the UK. Because you can’t have a separate business and personal N26 account, the Business and Business Black options will benefit those independent traders who make occasional personal purchases on their business card.
What are the Drawbacks of Using N26?
We’ve yet to find the perfect business account, and N26 is no exception. There are a few niggling problems that count against the service:
You can’t have your business name on the card. If you want to truly separate your personal and business expenses, it will be frustrating not to be able to have a card that reflects that.
The paid version needs more features. Although the fee-free foreign transaction perk is useful for some users, not everyone will feel the benefit of it. For many, it’s unlikely the saving will outweigh the €9.90 monthly fee.
You can’t send money in foreign currencies in the app. This seems counter-intuitive, as those who will benefit most from the premium account are those who often deal with companies abroad.
How Safe is N26 Business?
Overall, the service that N26 is providing is very safe. Money you deposit is protected, up to a value of €100,000 (about £85,000). The Mastercard you’re provided with is protected by 3D Secure, meaning that your online transactions are safe from fraud. The app itself is also incredibly secure, although if you lose your smartphone that safety could be compromised.
One really interesting feature of N26’s service is that they use a Bug Bounty programme. This offers cash incentives to users for finding security flaws or bugs in the app. Overall, it contributes to a more secure experience.
We’re intrigued to see what the future holds for N26 when it launches in the UK. The service seems like it could be a really useful one for freelancers and smaller business owners. The cashback rate on all purchases is small, but definitely a welcome bonus.
The €9.90 fee for the premium Business Black account could be justified for some, but for those who don’t deal with clients from abroad, it might not be necessary. However, overall there’s a lot to like here, and we’ll update our review upon the UK release.