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N26 review: we look at their new metal card. Do the benefits stack up?

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EDIT:  Unfortunately, N26 closed its UK operation in February 2020 and it is no longer possible to open an account

This is our updated review of N26, the online bank, focusing on its new metal premium card.  Is N26 worth joining?  Is it worth paying for the N26 metal card?

You will be reading quite a bit about metal payment cards on Head for Points over the next couple of weeks.  Metal credit and debit cards have been very rare in the UK to date but they are about to take off in a big way – if you are prepared to pay the fees they ask.

The standard N26 card is FREE.  What is more interesting about N26 is the travel and other benefits that come with its paid metal version.  In particular, you get free WeWork membership which gives you one day per month of free hot desking and access to the WeWork member network.  This benefit immediately got my interest as I used the WeWork hot desk plan for a year before we took a full time office, and we were paying $45 per month for the privilege.

The N26 website is here.  You can find out about the travel and other benefits of its metal card here.

We have covered Monzo, Revolut and Starling on Head for Points in the past few months.  These are all ‘online only’ ‘challenger’ banks, aimed at a generation used to running their entire life via a smartphone app.  They are morphing into identical businesses offering app-driven current accounts, 0% FX fee debit card transactions, money transfers at interbank rates and analytical spending tools.

N26 is older than Monzo, Revolut and Starling, having launched in Germany in 2013.  It was only in October 2018 that it launched in the UK and a lot of HFP readers may never have heard of it.  It is also active in Ireland, France, Italy, Spain, Austria and Belgium.  (Our review of Starling Bank is here for comparison.)

Review N26 mobile bank app

What does the free version of N26 offer?

Let’s review the standard N26 card first.

A standard N26 account is FREE for life.  The website claims that you can open an account in just 8 minutes.

N26 offers a range of benefits that will be familiar from other online banks.  You sign up via the website here and then:

You receive a Mastercard debit card – which comes in funky clear plastic, as you can just about tell from the photo above – in the post (free, which is £4.99 cheaper than Revolut)

You get a sort code and account number, allowing you to use N26 as you would a traditional current account

All of your banking is done via the app, including locking and unlocking your card, changing your PIN etc

You receive push notifications of all transactions in and out

You can send and receive money from friends via the app

You pay 0% FX fees on overseas transactions (with no monthly limit and no weekend surcharges, unlike Revolut)

You can pay with Google Pay and Apple Pay

You can set up direct debits against your N26 account

You can withdraw cash for free from UK ATMs

The only charges you are likely to pay are:

Withdrawals from non-UK cash machines: 1.7% fee (Revolut allows one free £200 monthly overseas withdrawal)

14.9% interest rate if you go overdrawn

N26 does offer international money transfers but this is done via a partnership with TransferWise.  If this is important to you then Revolut is probably a better option as it offers £5,000 per month of transfers for free.

There is a £20,000 limit on monthly card payments and a £5,000 daily limit.  These are unlikely to trouble 99% of cardholders.

The full fees list is here (PDF).

Review N26 bank account

More interesting for Head for Points readers, however, is the metal version and its travel benefits.

What does the metal version of the N26 card offer?

Let’s move on to review the premium metal N26 card which is potentially of more interest to Head for Points readers due to its travel benefits.

Whilst a standard N26 account is totally free, the metal version of N26 offers a number of premium benefits.  Whether they justify the £14.90 monthly fee is a different question.

The card comes in three different metallic colours.  My favourite is probably the coral version:

Review N26 metal card

….. which I can imagine looks good in the flesh.  There is also a slate version pictured below and a black version.

This is what you get:

Unlimited free cash withdrawals outside the UK

Travel and purchase protection insurance

LoungeKey airport lounge access (not free, you pay £15 per visit – see more details here)

FREE WeWork hot desk membership, allowing you to work from one of their offices anywhere in the world for one day per month (you can come and visit us at Moorgate!) – this is usually $45 per month as you can see here 

10% off hotels.com bookings

20%-30% off IHG bookings (I think this is the standard partner discount which can also be accessed via various other routes)

World Elite Mastercard benefits

There are other partner benefits – see the N26 metal website – but I have just focused on the travel ones above.

This is an odd package to value.  One thing is clear – if you can use the WeWork membership, and especially if you are already paying $45 per month for WeWork hot desk membership – this is great value.  You are swapping your $45 fee for N26’s £14.90 fee, which is a big saving.

How would I value the rest of the package?

Value of a cool metal card in your wallet – up to you!

Unlimited free overseas ATM withdrawals – value depends on your travel patterns

LoungeKey membership – this is equivalent to a basic pay-as-you-go Priority Pass which costs £69 per year

Travel insurance – I haven’t seen the policy document so it is difficult to say how ‘strong’ it is, although many HFP readers will be covered via other sources

Hotels.com / IHG benefits – no real value as these can be found via other sources

For me, the package is driven by the WeWork benefit but obviously that is only relevant to a segment of our readers.

N26 metal card reviewed uk

Conclusion – should you get the N26 metal card?

N26 is an interesting addition to Monzo, Starling, Revolut etc, all of which have launched very similar products in recent years.  N26 gives the impression of being a slightly more grown-up and simpler package than some of its competitors, but at the end of the day the features are similar.

If I was still using WeWork on a hot desking basis I would have jumped on N26 Metal.  For everyone else, £14.90 seems steep – even if the travel insurance is suitable for your needs – and I think I’d want to try the free version for a few months before I thought about upgrading.  As it is free to sign up with N26, there is no harm in trialling it.

Of course, if you have always wanted a metal payment card for your wallet then this is an easy way of getting hold of one.  The only question is whether coral, grey or black is slicker …..

You can find out more about N26, and sign up, on its website here.

Comments (195)

  • N says:

    Just to confirm a hunch, you can’t use monzo, n26, etc to pay off an Amex bill can you?

  • MKB says:

    I am completely lost. What is a “metal credit card”. Could someone please define?

    It’s clearly not simply a card made of metal, as that would be impractical and pointless. So presumably a name for a new class of cards that is unique is some way?

    • Lumma says:

      No, it’s a credit card made out of metal. The trend began with the Centurion American Express but the USA platinum amex now comes as a metal card, along with the rival premium cards from over there.

      Completely pointless but seen as a status symbol by many.

      • RussellH says:

        Which metal? Presumably not Pt 🙂

        Can you put expired cards in the metal recycling?

        As to status symbols, apart from the USA, one does not hand over one’s card to anyone else anyway!

    • Rob says:

      It is a card made out of metal.

      Apparently young males believe that carrying a payment card made out of metal increases their chances of a successful romantic liaison.

      They do work perfectly fine in ATMs etc, I am trialling one at the moment. I have not noticed any extra attention in the romantic liaison department however ….

      • Jim Jones says:

        Rob – do you know if / when the Amex plat will become metal in the UK?

        • Alex Dickinson says:

          +1

        • Lumma says:

          It would be interesting to see how many would pay a higher annual fee for a metal platinum card.

          I remember seeing a 24 carat gold plated MasterCard advertised on Instagram a couple of years ago for an astronomical fee

      • Brian says:

        Fingers crosssed for an AMEX Plat metal card. The ones in the US look great. All personal details are on the back, which Virgina and Curve are also now doing. Super for #instaFacing.

        • David says:

          Presumably not so handy to scrape the ice from your car windscreeen though….

          • Rob says:

            If you’ve seen The Equalizer 2 you’ll remember that a metal credit card is also good for fending off attackers …

        • Russ says:

          Agree. Loved the rose gold card. Finally amex would have been in serious danger of actually making money from us if released to the UK.

      • Anna says:

        Maybe it’s because you have a pink one?!!

        • Anna says:

          That was to Rob re his romantic card failure…

        • Rob says:

          Blue! The problem is that the Curve Metal card in Blue doesn’t look like it is metal. I have been promised the limited edition Red version which apparently is likely to result in the women in Pret attempting to rip off my clothing whilst I am trying to pay for my sarnie.

    • Alan says:

      I imagine its a bit of a bugger to cut up whenever you get a replacement.

    • the_real_a says:

      I can report that the bright Monzo card does create a lot of attention in the states…

  • Mark2 says:

    I believe that the benefit of a metal card is in the owner’s head, like the latest iPhone. But surely there is a dilemma: to flash the latest iPhone or the metal card?
    Life is so difficult, unless you are old like me!

    • Anna says:

      That’s easy, you keep the card inside your clear plastic iPhone cover so it can be easily viewed by casually turning your phone over.

  • Bernadette Headd-Williams says:

    Although the metal card comes labelled World Elite, unfortunately the World Elite benefits are not those listed on the Mastercard website as available for all UK holders. I know this as I upgraded my account thinking that it would do, and was unable to register on the Mastercard site.

    Instead N26 confirmed that “we have a ceratin World Elite package which does not include the benefits listed on the Mastercard page” and instead referred me to the Metal page.

    • Rob says:

      I flagged this with Curve last week as their metal card is also World Elite and that also cannot get you onto the WE benefits website.

  • Stephen says:

    OT-ish.

    Is there any information on when Virgin Money will release a mobile app for the VA cards? And support Apple Pay?

    Equally, do Curve have plans to support a Apple Pay at some point?

  • James says:

    Worth noting that the travel insurance only applies if you’ve purchased your travel on their non-miles-earning Mastercard, so there is an opportunity cost involved to insure any trip.

  • James says:

    OT – Those who have the Platinum Additional card (AC), what is your member since date? Just got mine and it says since 19 and not the actual member since date.

    • james says:

      It also doesn’t have AC at the end of the name, which I’ve heard it should have?

    • Mark Wheeler says:

      That number resets frequently. I had my first Amex Gold card in the 1980s (when it was difficult to get) and my Platinum card shows 19.

    • James M says:

      Just got a new Platinum account, the main card shows my original membership year, the additional card shows 19

      I wanted a green card to be clearer which was which (to use the green one for reimbursable expenses); they sent another Platinum one so requested a green one again – I now have 3 cards and 2 “1st supplementary card” 5000 point bonuses.

      • James says:

        Yeah mine says 19, it also doesn’t say AC.. Is it possible to view the Amex offers on the same account online on a web browser? I can’t access the card as it just says ‘Additional Cardholders’ and I can’t actually access the offers, but I can access it on the app. Any ideas?

        • Peter King says:

          If it doesn’t show AC after your name they’ve probably messed up and issued it as a supplementary cardholder.

          Your AC will show up in the app automatically, you need to add it to your online account manually if you want to view it on your PC.

        • James says:

          @Peter, they did this in the beginning, it was issued as a supplementary, called them and a week later it was changed to an additional card on the app. Got a new card but it still didn’t say AC on it. I’ve manually added it to the online web account but it doesnt show still. Live chat advised creating a new online account – doesnt seem to make sense doing this though..

  • Nick M says:

    OT – when travelling for work but adding an extra day before/after, is it usually best to book as (e.g.) 3 separate 1-night stays? Or are most happy to split the bill up? (Although it could be an excuse to hotel-hop to hit some Accelerate targets!)

    My wife’s new company have asked for a separate bill for the night that is to be covered by expenses (whereas when we’ve done this for my work trips before, I’ve been self-employed so it hasn’t really mattered too much)

    • Lady London says:

      I would say it’s best to split. You can add a note to the reservations about staying adjacent nights but you will still need separate bill for each booking.