Revolut Compared to N26
A few years ago – if someone mentioned “mobile banking” in Ireland they were probably talking about a van from Allied Irish Bank or Bank of Ireland visiting rural villages.
Today, in 2020, Mobile Banking or Digital Banking – refers to the new wave of branchless, online-only, banks that are providing an alternative to the mainstream “old school” bricks and mortar banks.
The two digital banking providers that have the most customers in Ireland are N26 and Revolut. This is a review of the features and the pros and cons of N26 and Revolut.
(Note: N26 is a bank, Revolut is not a bank.)
A Comparison of N26 Vs Revolut in Ireland
N26 bank was launched in Germany in January 2015 and has been available to Irish residents since December 2015.
N26 has more than 5 million customers across Europe and the USA, with over 150,000 in Ireland.
They announced they are no longer operating UK accounts from 15th April 2020 – this will have no effect on N26 customers in Ireland or on the use of N26 cards in the UK by Irish N26 account holders.
N26 has had a full European banking licence since 2016 – so any funds you have with it are covered by the German Bank guarantee (up to €100,000).
N26 Bank is licensed by the European Central Bank and is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland for the conduct of business rules in Ireland.
With N26 you get a bank account number (IBAN) – the same as any mainstream bank – so you can get your salary etc. paid in and you can also set up Direct Debits. You can pay in money by bank transfer – and top up by debit card is on the way in 2020.
Joint accounts are not possible yet with N26 – but there are ways that couples can share an N26 card by using Google Pay or Apple Pay on separate phones (it works). (More about N26 and Joint Accounts )
You can send money instantly to other N26 users from your phone without knowing their account details . N26 call this MoneyBeam. You can send up to €1000 to other N26 customers within a 24-hour period.
N26 supports Apple Pay and Google Pay but, being branchless, N26 does not deal with cash or cheques – (but how often do you need to do that these days?)
N26 started off as just a smartphone-based app – but also has a web-based app so that most of their banking functions can also be carried out on tablets, laptops and PCs.
N26 Debit Card
The N26 bank account comes with a Mastercard debit card (not a prepaid card). The only fees on this are a €2 ATM withdrawal fee if you make more than 5 ATM withdrawals in Ireland in a month.
The €2 ATM fee does not apply to ATM withdrawals outside Ireland – but there is a 1.7% fee for all non-euro withdrawals. This 1.7% fee is lower than the “main” Irish banks – who all charge around 3.5% for non-euro cash withdrawals.
Unlike all the other Irish banks – there are no conversion or processing fees for using the N26 debit card to make purchases in currencies other than Euro. (See what the other banks charge here)
The N26 Mastercard also has no fees for contactless payments.
Signing up to N26 is free and needs to be done with a smartphone via a video call. You just need to fill in an online form and show yourself and send a picture of your passport. (Over 18s only) They’ll send out your Mastercard after a few days.
New N26 announced a new feature on April 6th where customers can add a digital version of their card to their mobile wallet to start using their account immediately before their physical card arrives.
Revolut is based in the UK and was set up in July 2015. Revolut say they have over 4 million users and about 500,000 in Ireland. It is more popular than N26 in Ireland – probably because it launched here before N26.
Revolut is NOT a bank – it is an “Electronic Money Institution”.
Revolut is authorised in the UK by the Financial Conduct Authority under their Electronic Money Regulations. This means that any customer’s money must be ring-fenced, so if there are any problems with Revolut, the money should be safe.
Revolut was granted a banking license by Lithuania on Dec 12th 2018 but this is not yet operational.
With Revolut, as with N26, you get an EU IBAN , so you can get Euro bank transfers paid in. You also get a UK GBP account. (Revolut can accept incoming payments in several currencies.)
Instant transfers between Revolut customers is also possible.
There is no joining fee – but you have to pay €6 to get your debit card delivered to Ireland. (This is free with N26) .
Since May 2019 Revolut now supports Apple Pay – but only on Mastercards issued before Sept 2018 for now.
Google pay is also supported on Revolut.
Revolut Debit Card
Using the Revolut prepaid debit card you can spend, transfer or exchange up to €5,000 in total every month without any fees. (a 0.5% fee applies after this).
Free ATM withdrawals are limited to the first €200 each month, after that a charge of 2% is added.
Direct Debits are also possible with Revolut – and as with N26, they don’t cater for paying in cash or cheques.
Unlike N26 – the Revolut app will only work on a smartphone – you cannot currently use it from a PC or Laptop.
Like N26 – a joint account is not possible with Revolut – but they will issue a spare card. So the spare card could be used by one half of a couple in the absence of a proper joint account.
With Revolut you can receive transfers from your employer, family, and friends directly into your Revolut account in a number of currencies: including- USD, GBP, EUR, AUD, NZD, JPY, MAD, CZK, QAR, THB, and ZAR. and more.
You can sign up for Revolut here .
Summary of Revolut Vs N26 in Ireland:-
What are the differences?
|Full Banking Licence?||Yes||No|
|Account Currency||Euro||Euro / GBP|
|ATM Withdrawals in Ireland||First 5 withdrawals a month are free then €2 fee each.||First €200 each month is free then a 2% charge|
|Non Euro ATM withdrawals outside Ireland||1.7% Charge||First €200 each month is free then a 2% charge|
|Foreign Currency Spending||No Charges||First €5000 worth of spending a month is free – then a 0.5% fee|
|Instant Transfers to other Users||Yes||Yes|
|Can be operated from PC/Laptop as well as Smartphone ?||Yes||No|
|Top up with another debit card?||No||Yes|
|Debit Card Type||Mastercard||Visa|
|Daily Spending Limit||€/£5000||£/€5000 (in 96hours)|
Note: the rules may differ slightly in other countries.
Overall – because of Revolut’s lack of a full banking licence and deposit guarantee and also the lack of an option to operate the account from a laptop/PC , N26 is our preferred option.
Read about N26 and Joint Accounts here.
N26 and Revolut Exchange Rates Compared
Revolut says they use the Interbank exchange rates when you use their card for non-Euro purchases.
N26 uses the standard Mastercard exchange rates.
We did a small comparison of USD/EUR rates, Interbank versus Mastercard, over a 2 week period in late 2017.
On average – the Mastercard rate, which is used by N26, was just 0.25% worse than the Interbank rate used by Revolut. On a spend of €1000, this would work out as being just €2.50 worse off with N26 compared to Revolut.
But – Revolut adds a 0.5% markup to the interbank rate at weekends on 14 major currencies and a 1% markup for all others. So this would make the Revolut exchange rate worse than N26 at weekends. So overall – there is not much of a difference between them.
If you are looking to make a large purchase (over €5000 worth) outside Ireland – i.e a car – N26 or Revolut might not be the best option. The free versions of both cards have daily spending limits. N26 card has a daily spending limit of €5000 and Revolut’s limit is £5000 in 96 hours.
For larger purchases in other currencies – such as a car- you should consider the online currency exchange marketplace Currency Fair.
CurrencyFair are based in Dublin and are regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. You transfer them your Euros, then convert it to any of 19 currencies and then transfer it out to the seller’s bank account.
Bunq is another new smartphone app with a prepaid Mastercard that is available in Ireland. The Bunq Travel Card comes with a massive €50,000 daily spending limit and no foreign currency fees. It is covered by the Dutch Bank Guarantee.
Read more about the bunq travel card here.
Other mobile banking apps that are currently only available in the UK and other EU countries include Monzo, Starling and Atom. Some of these may be available in Ireland in the future.
Monzo has a licence to operate in Ireland – but it looks like they currently have no plans to start offering services here in the near future.
Starling have been saying the will come to Ireland – but no launch date has yet been given.