N26: best online bank for internationals in the Netherlands?

During your hunt for the best bank as an international in the Netherlands, you might have come across the digital bank, N26. If not, then allow us to introduce you. 

Forbes ranked N26 as one of the World’s Best Banks in 2021 — but how does a 100% digital bank work? And how does it compare with opening a regular Dutch bank account

From signing up to using the N26 app, features, paying by card, and more — here’s our impression of using N26 as an international in the Netherlands.

✨ We only recommend products we love and that we think are great for expats in the Netherlands. We may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article, which will help us buy cheese to power the DutchReview engine.

First things first: what is N26?

N26 is a completely digital bank that operates across several European countries and the US. While it may not have physical branches like a traditional bank, it holds a European banking licence and has some of the best (and most aesthetic) online features we’ve seen. 

N26 offers accounts in 24 countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxemburg, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the US, and most importantly: the Netherlands!

It’s important to know that opening an account with N26 gives you a German IBAN, not a Dutch one. However, there’s no need to worry — same-day transfers to and from Dutch banks mean you’ll never miss a payment deadline. N26 accounts are available for individuals, freelancers, and self-employed business owners.

If you’ll be using the bank account for your personal finances, you can use N26’s free account option, N26 Standard. If you need more features, there are three paid options: the Smart, You, and Metal accounts — but much more on this below.

Top features of N26 for internationals in the Netherlands

Branding themselves as “a bank as mobile as you,” N26 makes life easier for internationals by offering easy-to-set-up accounts, multilingual customer service, and cheap transactions across the world. 

Here are some of the top features for expats in the Netherlands:

Free Maestro card to transact with AND a Debit Mastercard

With each of the N26 accounts, you receive a free digital Mastercard. Technically, they call it a “Mastercard debit card” since it doesn’t allow you to borrow money, just to use your own.

The best benefit here is that you can add the digital Mastercard to your mobile wallet immediately after registering with N26 so there’s no need to wait for a card to arrive in the mail!

(Of course, if you like the sleek, plasticky feel of a brand new bank card, you can order one for a €10 delivery fee 😉).

So far so good, but since most internationals have been traumatised by seeing their foreign cards declined in the Netherlands, the all-important question remains “can I get a Maestro card?

With N26, the answer is yes! You can order a Maestro card via the banking app as soon as you have €100 in your account. Delivery takes 4 to 14 days, so make sure to order it ASAP to avoid any awkward check-outs at Albert Heijn. 

Transact in any country with no foreign exchange fees

One of the things we liked most about N26 is that they don’t charge additional fees for transactions in foreign countries — which is great as an international who is always jumping between countries. 

Many traditional banks add a surcharge on payments abroad and if you’re a frequent traveller, these can quickly add up. With N26, you pay for what you’re buying and that’s it. Pretty sweet, right? 

Easy foreign currency transfers with great exchange rates

In addition, N26 provides some of the most favourable exchange rates out there. Powered by TransferWise, N26 lets you transfer money in 19 different currencies — directly from the banking app.

Within the Eurozone, you also benefit from a number of free ATM withdrawals when using the N26 Mastercard. Just make sure that the ATM is NFC enabled if using the digital card (there’s a handy ATM locator in the N26 app). Outside the Eurozone, you pay 1.7% in fees when withdrawing other currencies.

Let op! Make sure you are using the N26 Mastercard and not the Maestro Card to withdraw money from ATMs. If you are using the N26 Maestro Card for cash withdrawals, you’ll be charged €2 per transaction in the Eurozone, and €2 plus 1.7% outside if withdrawing other currencies.   

No need for a BSN number

You heard that right! As opposed to basically any other bank in the Netherlands, N26 doesn’t require you to have a BSN number to open an account with them. When opening an account online, you simply enter your nationality and residency details (i.e. passport and address in the Netherlands).

While you do need a registered address in the Netherlands for them to send you your snazzy Maestro card, you can essentially open an account the moment you’ve signed a lease — rather than wait till after your BSN appointment at the municipality office. 

Spending habit insights

Wondering where all your money is going? (Bike repairs and bitterballen maybe?) To help you stay on track with your financial goals, N26 has a number of nifty budgeting tools.

One is the Statistics feature in the N26 app which categorises your payments in real-time, giving you an overview of all in-and outgoing activity on your account. With a quick glance, you can see exactly how much money you’re spending on borrelen, groceries, shopping, etc.

Sub-spaces to save for the important things

Another money managing feature is N26 Spaces. These are sub-accounts that allow you to separate your savings from your daily spendings. With a standard N26 account, you can create two spaces, but if you have a premium account you can get up to 10.

Jam-packed with partner-offers

One of the unique things about N26 is that they offer “perks” when holding an account with them — yup, even the free standard account! 

Perks are essentially partner offers so you can get discounts on everything from hotels and home decor to mental health and fitness offers — and who doesn’t love a good deal! 

Downsides of N26 for internationals in the Netherlands

Alright alright — let’s change gears a little bit before getting too excited. While N26 offers a lot of useful features for internationals living in the Netherlands, there are also things we’re less impressed with.

Slightly more expensive than other bank accounts (but with more features)

If you’re not opting for the free N26 Standard account, then you’ll be paying a higher monthly fee than you would with a traditional bank. This is where lifestyle and personal preferences come into the mix, so you’ll need to weigh up how much you’ll use the additional premium features — and what you’re willing to pay for them.

No iDEAL (and therefore no Tikkie)

In the Netherlands, the name of the game when it comes to shopping online is iDEAL. From paying your rent to buying you and your cat matching pyjamas, iDEAL is one of the essential digital tools for life in the Netherlands. So the fact that N26 doesn’t have an iDEAL license is…inconvenient.

Not being able to use iDEAL won’t isolate you financially but it’ll cost you a few more clicks when shopping online. Without iDEAL though, you’ll lose out on the Dutch social phenomenon of ‘Tikkie-ing.’ Tikkie is THE payment system in the Netherlands, so not being able to send or receive a Tikkie can be awkward. 

Instead of Tikkie, N26 uses a similar system called MoneyBeam which lets you do same-day transfers to other N26 account holders, and send money to non-N26 accounts within two days. 

No credit cards on offer

N26 don’t offer credit cards with any of their accounts. For a bank that caters to frequent travellers, this seems positively weird. If you normally book plane tickets, hotels, rental cars etc. with a credit card, and usually earn rewards when doing so, then N26 might not suit you in this respect.

With this aversion towards building debt, you’d almost think they are Dutch! Of course, you can still use your N26 Mastercard debit for all of this, you just don’t earn points and can only use the money present in your account.

Types of N26 accounts

As mentioned, N26 offer four different account types. Standard, Smart, You, and Metal. Here’s a breakdown of what each account includes.

  • A virtual debit card, compatible with Apple and Google Pay.
  • Three free cash withdrawals from Euro-Zone NFC-enabled ATMs per month.
  • 0% currency conversion fee.
  • N26 MoneyBeam.
  • Two sub-accounts for savings.
  • A physical debit card (available in five colours).
  • Five free cash withdrawals from Euro-Zone NFC-enabled ATMs per month.
  • 0% currency conversion fee.
  • N26 MoneyBeam.
  • 10 sub-accounts for savings (with additional sharing features.)
  • Extra discounts with Perks.
  • A physical debit card (available in five colours).
  • Five free cash withdrawals from Euro-Zone NFC-enabled ATMs.
  • Unlimited free cash withdrawals in any currency.
  • 0% currency conversion fee.
  • N26 MoneyBeam.
  • 10 sub-accounts for savings (with additional sharing features).
  • Extra discounts with Perks.
  • Ability to order an additional Mastercard for €10. 
  • Lifestyle, mobility, trip, and travel health insurance by Allianz Assistance.
  • A physical, engraved stainless steel, debit card (available in three metallic colours).
  • Eight free cash withdrawals from Euro-Zone NFC-enabled ATMs.
  • Unlimited free cash withdrawals in any currency.
  • 0% currency conversion fee.
  • N26 MoneyBeam.
  • 10 sub-accounts for savings (with additional sharing features).
  • Extra discounts with Perks.
  • Ability to order an additional Mastercard for €10. 
  • Increased coverage lifestyle, mobility, trip, and travel health insurance by Allianz Assistance.
  • Mobile phone insurance.
  • Car rental insurance.
  • Priority customer service.

How much does N26 cost?

The N26 Standard account is gratis, baby! For N26 Plus, you pay €4.90 per month while N26 You costs €9.90 per month and N26 Metal €16.90 per month.

Other costs to consider include:

  • The one-off €10 shipping fee for an additional card (or to receive any physical card with the standard account). 
  • An 8% overdraft fee.
  • A 1.70% fee for ATM withdrawals outside of what’s included in the account type.

Let op! With an N26 Standard account, you can have up to €50,000 in your accounts. After that, which a yearly 0.5% fee may apply.  

The bottom line: is N26 good for internationals in the Netherlands?

Functionality for expats in the Netherlands
Features
Online banking
Customer service

Summary

We’d call N26 one of the best banks for an international in the Netherlands if it wasn’t for the lack of iDEAL, which can make it difficult to shop online. However, if you’re not a frequent Tikkie sender or receiver, then N26 is definitely a solid option. 

Some of our favourite features are the no-extra-costs-foreign payments, easy-peasy currency transfers, and the nifty budgeting tools. (And, of course, all-important Maestro card). 

In the end, it comes down to personal preferences and needs, but if you’re looking for a fully digital, easy-to-set-up bank with a sleek interface, then N26 might be the bank for you!

4.3

Frequently asked questions

Anyone above the age of 18 can open an N26 bank account if they are a resident of one of the 24 supported countries (such as the Netherlands), have a smartphone, and hold a relevant ID. 

You cannot open a new N26 account if you already have one with them (meaning they don’t offer joint accounts). However, the ‘Shared Spaces’ feature of N26’s paid account options allows an almost similar experience to a joint account.

It only takes eight minutes to open a bank account with N26! And since you receive a digital card that’s compatible with your mobile wallet, you can start spending right away.

N26 gives you a German IBAN number and is protected under the European deposit guarantee scheme with up to €100,000. The app uses fingerprint identification and applies 3D secure technology to ensure your safety when you’re shopping online.

You can only set up an N26 bank account using identification documents from one of the 24 supported countries. However, your card is accepted worldwide.

All you need to open an N26 account in the Netherlands is your passport or ID card and a compatible smartphone. (For iPhone, you need a 5S or newer with at least iOS 11 and for Android, you need 6.0 or newer).

While they are both online banks, there are two major differences between N26 and bunq.

The first is that N26 doesn’t require you to have a BSN number whereas bunq will ask you to provide one within 90 days after setting up your account.

The second is that N26 doesn’t hold an iDEAL license (and therefore isn’t compatible with Tikkie), whereas you can Tikkie away if you have an account with bunq.

Will you be signing up with N26? Tell us in the comments below!

Feature Image: SmartMockup

Christine Stein Hededam 🇩🇰
A Dane with a special place in her heart for Minnesota, Christine is now falling in love with everything Dutch. Between finishing her bachelor’s degree, learning Dutch, and doing yoga teacher training, you will find her wandering about the Hague. Always up for visiting new places, she loves to explore the Netherlands with friends and takes pride in scoping out cute cafés (wherein to discuss books, big plans, and food).

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11 COMMENTS

  1. Hi, something missed off the article which can be quite important is they automatically issue you a MasterCard, when I opened my ING account I was issued a vpay card which was fine for Netherlands transactions but not conptitable with all foreign websites( I’m from the uk, we don’t have the ideal pay system) and I’d prefare not to have a credit card

  2. Another disadvantage that should be considered is that you will get a German IBAN. While legally all businesses are required to accept EU IBANs since 2014, this is not always the case. Our Wifi provider, for example, does only (and illegally) accept Dutch IBANs in its online form! So N26 is great – but you still might run into this annoyance for the coming years.

  3. Are you able to make cash deposits into you N26 account using the branch of a Dutch bank? If so which ones?

    I have a Deutsche Bank account held in Berlin. I need to make a cash deposit into this account in Utrecht or at Schipol airport and I have no idea if I can or where I can – any tips?

    • I’m in the Netherlands and want to receive money into my N26 account, what bank details do I provide with my account having German IBAN? Any tips?

    • Why are you leaving out the fact that the card is a MasterCard as opposed to a Maestro and does not support iDEAL so you cannot use it for day-to-day Dutch expenses?

      Pretty important downside, if you ask me.

  4. I’m in the Netherlands and want to receive money into my N26 account from the USA, what bank details do I provide with my account having German IBAN? Any tips?

  5. The deal-braking problem is that N26 is useless in the Netherlands. You can’t pay in Albert Hijn (groceries, etc) or almost anywhere else. N25 is MasterCard, and in NL you need Maestro.

    • Hi Andrew, quite a late reply but still…sometimes they don’t except the N26 (debit) creditcard so what you need to do is make sure your N26 account is topped up with at least € 100,- and then apply for a N26 Maestro card in the app. You should receive it within a week I think. By the way, nearly every store or shop in the Netherlands that accepts creditcards also supports the N26 debit creditcard. I use the creditcard quite often in the Aldi en LiDl supermarkets.

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