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 – 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” banks.
(Note: N26 is a bank, Revolut and Monese are not. We give more details about Monese at the end of the article.)
A Comparison of N26 and 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 3.5million customers across Europe and about 100,000 in Ireland. They currently carry out transactions worth over €2 billion a month.
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. Joint accounts are not possible – 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 that here)
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 since July 2018 N26 has upgraded their 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 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.
In September – N26 launched an offer of 10% cashback on all bookings paid with an N26 card on Booking.com.
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 has to be done with a smartphone via a video call. (Make sure you have good coverage). You just need to fill in an online form and show yourself and your passport. (Over 18s only, no joint accounts). They’ll send out your Mastercard after a few days. Irish residents can Join N26 Here
Note: N26 is also available in the UK. More here about that.
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.)
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 29th 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 N26 and Revolut in Ireland:-
What are the differences?
|Delivery of First Debit Card||€6||Free|
|ATM Charges in Ireland||First €200 a month is free, then a 2% fee.||First 5 withdrawals a month in Ireland are free – then €2 each. (No limit on free Euro ATM withdrawals outside Ireland)|
|Non-Euro ATM Charges||2% fee on any amount over the equivalent of €200 in a month.||1.7% fee on all|
|Non Euro Spending||First €5000 worth of spending a month is free – then a 0.5% fee||No charges
|Accept Payments in Non Euro Currencies ?
|Pay in Salary
|Transfer or Loading Fees.
|Full EU Banking License||Not Yet||Yes|
|Can be used on Laptop/PC||No||Yes|
|Apple Pay||Yes on cards issued up to Sep 2018||Yes|
Note: the rules may differ slightly in other countries.
Overall – because of Revolut’s lack of a full deposit guarantee and 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 both a Revolut card as well as an N26 bank account.
Read about N26 and Joint Accounts here.
In Ireland, most N26 customers are probably just using it as a second bank account which they use mainly when travelling abroad or buying online from outside Ireland. But there is really nothing stopping you from using N26 as an alternative to your existing current bank account.
We think that gradually, more people will leave the expensive “pillar” banks and move over to N26 for day to day banking.
Just using the N26 card for purchases instead of, for example, an Allied Irish Bank debit card – would save you 20c each time in fees. Over a year that could easily mount up to €120 or more with just 12 purchases a week.
More about Irish Bank Charges Here
(For UK residents – N26 don’t currently have any fees for ATM withdrawals.)
With N26 in Ireland, you can opt for their “N26 You” account which costs €9.90 per month. The N26 You account comes with free travel insurance which also covers mobile phone theft, travel insurance and ATM theft protection. More importantly, it waives all the ATM-withdrawal fees abroad for every foreign currency. Only really useful for people who travel a lot.
Exchange Rates N26 vs Revolut
Revolut says they use the Interbank exchange rates when you use their card for non-Euro purchases.
N26 uses standard Mastercard exchange rates.
We did a quick 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 only 0.25% worse than the Interbank rate used by Revolut. On a spend of €1000, this would work out at a difference of 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 often 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 purchases such as a car over €5000 you should consider the online currency exchange marketplace Currency Fair. They are based in Dublin and are regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. You pay in your Euros, convert it to any one of 19 currencies and then transfer it out to the seller’s bank account.
Monese – An Alternative Prepaid Mastercard
Monese is a UK based app-based payment service linked to a prepaid card (similar to Revolut) and it is available in Ireland. (They don’t need proof of your address). Monese has over 1 million customers in Europe
With Monese – It is possible to get both a UK Sterling account and an EU Euro account with Monese regardless of where you live in the EU. Monese have a “Simple” account that has no monthly fees but it has some limits and usage charges on it. Joint accounts are possible with Monese.
Bunq is another smartphone app and prepaid payment card option available in Ireland. It has 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.