Revolut Compared to N26
(Updated with Revolut fee changes from August 2020)
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, fintech banks that are an alternative to the “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 Vs Revolut.
(Note: N26 is a bank, Revolut is not a bank.)
A Comparison of N26 Vs Revolut in Ireland
A Summary of N26
N26 first launched in Germany in January 2015 and has been available in Ireland since December 2015. N26 now has more than 5 million customers across Europe and the USA, with over 160,000 in Ireland.
The European Central Bank gave N26 a full European banking licence and funds are covered by the German Bank guarantee (up to €100,000).
The Central Bank of Ireland regulates N26 for the conduct of business rules in Ireland.
An account with N26 has a bank account number and IBAN – the same as any “mainstream” bank.
Customers can pay in their salary and set up Direct Debits. Customers can also pay money in to N26 by bank transfer. Top up by debit card is also possible but there is a 3% charge – so it is best to avoid it.
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 customers can make international money transfers – directly within the N26 app – in more than 30 currencies. (They use Transferwise)
Apple Pay and Google Pay are supported by N26
N26 , being branchless, does not deal with cash or cheques – (but how often do you need to do that these days?)
You can use N26 on a smartphone but most of the N26 banking functions can also be carried out on laptops, tablets 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 Euros in a month. If N26 is not your “main” account then they will charge you €2 per withdrawal after 3 ATM withdrawals a month.
(To be classed as your main account , customers must deposit at least €1000 a month.)
The €2 ATM fee does not apply to ATM withdrawals outside the Euro zone – 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.
You can sign up to N26 for free 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.
Summary of Revolut Vs N26 in Ireland:-
What are the differences?
|Full Banking Licence?||Yes||No|
|Can be operated from PC/Laptop as well as Smartphone ?||Yes||No|
|Foreign Currency Spending||No Charges||First €1000 worth of spending a month is free – then a 0.5% fee.|
|Account Currency||Euro||Euro / GBP|
|ATM Withdrawals in Euros||First 5 withdrawals a month are free then €2 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|
|Instant Transfers to other Users||Yes||Yes|
|International Money |
|Yes - 40+ currencies||Yes - 31 currencies|
|Top up with another debit card?||Yes - first one is free then a 3% charge.||Yes|
|Debit Card Type||Mastercard||Visa or Mastercard|
|Daily Spending Limit||€/£5000||£/€5000 (in 96hours)|
** ATM fee : If N26 is not your “main” account then you will be charged €2 per withdrawal after 3 ATM withdrawals a month. (To be classed as your main account N26 say you need to have regular monthly income paid into the account, which can be verified for two consecutive months. These payments may be salary or regular pension or welfare support. They may also be any other type of regular payments of at least EUR 1,000.00 per month..)
Revolut is based in the UK and has been running since July 2015. They have over 4 million users and about 1,000,000 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 you get an EU IBAN as well as 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 will usually need to pay £4.99 to get the 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 in another currency or exchange up to €1,000 in total every month without any foreign conversion fees. (A 0.5% fee applies after this). This €1000 limit takes effect from Aug 12th 2020, prior to that it was €5000.
The first €200 of ATM withdrawals in a month are free, 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.
Note: the rules may differ slightly in other countries.
Summary – N26 Vs Revolut
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.
But – there’s no harm in having an N26 account. as well as a Revolut card. Having spare cards and accounts with some money on them can be useful if there are problems with one of them.
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. But they add a 1% markup to the exchange rate at weekends. (Effective from Aug 12 2020 – before that it was 0.5%)
N26 uses 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 worked out as being just €2.50 worse off with N26 compared to Revolut.
But – Revolut adds a 1% markup to the interbank rate at weekends on 14 major currencies and a 2% markup for all others. So this would make the Revolut exchange rate 0.75% worse than N26 at weekends.
With Revolut – you do have the option of doing the currency conversion on a weekday and then spending that currency at the weekend to avoid the extra markup (if you remember) . Or you could get both cards and use them wisely to reduce fees.
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 is Dublin based and are regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. You transfer your Euros to CurrencyFair , 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. Bunq 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 say they will come to Ireland – but no launch date has yet been given.