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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)

  • rams1981 says:

    OT curve fees for Amex top ups. With the black card in the beta which is free, I believe you pay 0.65% to top up over £1k. With BA prem card underlying that works out 0.433p per mile. Most people I assume would buy at that price?

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Yep I would

    • Rob says:

      Unless you are paying HMRC or someone else who doesn’t take credit cards, you also need to factor in the value of the points lost on whatever Visa or MC you would have used.

      • rams1981 says:

        True. I’m trying to get to 10k spend for voucher too. And pretty much there now.

        I also have an hsbc premier so could have got 1 Avios for “free” I guess.

        • rams1981 says:

          And was for HMRC.

          Plus will cancel Ba card as soon as voucher posts.

        • Genghis says:

          So over and above the HSBC prem card, you’re getting 0.5 avios for your 0.65% over £1k top ups, or 1.3ppa, bit pricy.
          If within £1k top up or aiming for sign up / 241, the maths changes, of course.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        Same with hitting a sign up bonus or additional point bonus etc

        personally I wouldn’t be buying avios full stop right now as I have lots but if I was after some I’d buy at 0.4p

      • Mr Dee says:

        Never mind the 50k limit on curve which may mean your missing out on

    • Thomas Howard says:

      However, at 3-6 select retailers you might get 1% cash back so you potentially cover the 0.65% fee, or if you’re spending £1500 a month through the selected retailers you cover the fee for metal and unlimited Amex. I find Amazon, Sainsbury, John Lewis and TfL covers a huge amount of my day to day spend.

      • Rob says:

        No, that’s the way to go. However, let’s assume you have a free IHG Mastercard earning 1 IHG point (0.4p-worth) per £1.

        Using Curve linked to Amex means you are paying 0.65p Amex fee + 0.4p of foregone MC/Visa earnings, so 1.05p. This is still a good deal if you have a BAPP at 1.5 Avios per £1 or an SPG Amex at 3 Marriott points per £1, but less good if you have the free BA Amex earning just 1 Avios per £1.

        If you have a Visa/MC which is more generous than the IHG one then the maths gets more extreme.

        The real driver is to help you hit the £10k on the BAPP card (or perhaps allow you to hit 2 x £10k 241 vouchers per year instead of the usual one, with your partner getting their own).

      • Grant says:

        Yes, in my case I would be using Curve to help reach spending targets as I churn my way through the Amex cards.

      • Callum says:

        Faulty logic – you’d get that if you used a fee free MasterCard or Visa too so it doesn’t offset anything (except your piece of mind if you can fool your own brain I guess!).

  • James says:

    I personally would not touch Revolut. I have had 2 bad experiences with them and find there customer support is not as efficient than it should be when dealing with people’s money. Monzo and Curve in my opinion are the best 2 out there (FREE).

    • Additionally Revolut does not yet have a banking licence. This means that money held with Revolut is not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), leaving customers with no protection if something goes wrong.

  • WTL says:

    OT – Curve now appears to no longer be used as a debit card on Barclaycard (This is not a debit card number) or Revolut.
    Anyone else experiencing this?

    • Genghis says:

      Me

    • MD says:

      I just used it to top up Revolut twice.

      • Peter K says:

        Revolut tried to charge me today for using curve…maybe I’m still on the commercial version?

        • MD says:

          Not sure. Mine is the personal one so maybe you’re onto something. I did get sent the commercial version initially and had loads of failed transactions so requested it be changed. You know you can tell just by looking at the back of the card, right?

        • WTL says:

          Same – tried to charge me for topping up.

          Barclaycard doesn’t even let me use it any longer! Anyone with the personal version able to still use it on barclaycard?

        • MD says:

          Just as a data point for WTL, I wasn’t using it with Barclaycard. I just used it with IHG Premium and HSBC Premier World Elite, no charge.

        • WTL says:

          Thanks for the info MD! Will give it a try

  • Anna says:

    OT but cards – just applied for a supplementary card for my OH on my Amex gold and have been instantly awarded 6000 MR points! Might need to redeem them straight away for avios or HH points in case it’s a mistake…

  • Tom1 says:

    O/t IHG 2 Nights promo

    Has anyone triggered multiple free night vouchers by staying multiples of 2 nights ?

    And if anyone is at Leeds met this weekend and fancies a beer let me know!

  • SquaredCircle says:

    OT – does anyone know how to do a bank transfer but via a points card or curve? Got a large payment to make but they don’t accept card payment!

    • Peter K says:

      Revolut also. You can top up your revolut account fee free from certain credit cards and then send it to a bank account.

      • Alan says:

        Indeed you can, although I’ve always been a bit wary of doing that too much in case they had issues with it.

      • Clive Morris says:

        I have been doing that. And they blocked my account. Asked why I was doing top up then sending to my current account. I said thought it was okay to do.
        They warned me if I do again they would close account as recycling cash like that is against their t&cs
        I now top up and then pay credit card off instead. See how long that lasts. But revolut is not good with customer service.
        SHAME its the only card that allows top up as monzo used to.

  • Tom W says:

    OT- Is anybody still waiting for their Hilton transfers to go through from before Christmas when they were running an Amex transfer bonus? Already called Amex who told me it was a known issue but suspect I was fobbed off given the almost instantaneous response after being told they would look it up…

  • 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.