Revolut Compared to N26
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 licenced bank in Ireland.)
A Comparison of N26 Vs Revolut in Ireland (The Free Accounts)
A Summary of N26
N26 Bank first launched in Ireland in December 2015 and now has more than 5 million customers across Europe and the USA, with almost 200,000 in Ireland. The Chief Operating Officer at N26 is an Irish woman, Adrienne Gormley.
N26 has 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. N26 customers can also pay money into 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.
You will need a smartphone to register and set up an N26 account. However, most of the N26 banking functions can also be carried out on laptops, tablets and PCs .
N26 , being branchless, does not deal with cash or cheques – (but how often do you need to do that these days?)
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 )
The N26 app also allows cheap international money transfers in more than 30 currencies. (They use WISE).
You can also send money instantly to other N26 users from your phone without knowing their account details. N26 call this feature “MoneyBeam“. You can send up to €1000 to other N26 customers within a 24-hour period.
N26 also has a feature called Spaces – which allows you to have sub-accounts for savings or separate spending pots. This is available on the “Smart Account” (€4.90 fee per month). You get a free two month trial of 2 Spaces on the free Standard account.
Apple Pay and Google Pay are supported by N26.
N26 pays interest on savings in Germany – so that might be available in Ireland in the near future also.
N26 Debit Card
You get a free virtual debit card which you can use with Apple Pay or Google Pay . Since Feb 16th 2021 – if you also want a physical card, N26 will charge €10 for delivery. Many people can do without a physical card these days.
The only fee on the debit card is a €2 ATM withdrawal fee IF you make more than 3 ATM withdrawals in Euros in a month.
The €2 ATM fee does not apply to ATM withdrawals outside the Eurozone – but instead, there is a 1.7% fee on 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.
N26 Sign Up
You can sign up to N26 for free with a smartphone . You just need to fill in an online form and take a selfie and send a picture of your passport. (Over 18s only) . You need to add some money to your account to activate it. The first top-up payment by debit card is free.
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||Partial|
|Foreign Currency Spending||No Charges , no limits.||First €1000 worth of spending a month is free – then a 0.5% fee.|
|Account Currency||Euro||Euro / GBP|
|ATM Withdrawals in Euros||First 3 withdrawals a month are free then €2 each.||First 5 or upto €200 per month is free then a 2% charge min €1.|
|Non Euro ATM withdrawals outside Ireland||1.7% Charge||First 5 or upto €200 per month is free then a 2% charge min €1.|
|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)|
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.
In Ireland , Revolut is NOT a bank – it is an “Electronic Money Institution”.
It is not covered by any banking guarantee in Ireland.
Revolut has a banking license in Lithuania Poland , Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Greece, Latvia, Malta, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.
Since Brexit, all Irish customer accounts at Revolut are held in Lithuania.
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.
Revolut has no joining fee – but you will usually need to pay £4.99 or more for delivery of the physical debit card .
Revolut supports Apple Pay and
Google pay .
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 the first €1000).
Only the first €200 of ATM withdrawals per month are free, after that, they charge a fee of 2% .
There is now also a limit of 5 free withdrawals a month. After 5 withdrawals a month , Revolut will charge you €1 each time. If you have also gone over the €200 limit – the charge will be the higher of 2% or €1 per withdrawal.
Direct Debits are also possible with Revolut – and as with N26, they don’t cater for paying in cash or cheques.
Since Dec 2020 , customers can access the Revolut app on a PC/L laptop. You can view transactions and account balances , add money and Freeze or unfreeze your card . (But all the functions are not available.)
Like N26 – a joint account is not possible with Revolut – but they will issue a spare card. The second 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.
Which is better N26 or Revolut?
Overall we prefer the free version of N26 to the free version of Revolut for the following reasons :-
- Revolut’s lack of a full banking licence and deposit guarantee.
- Fees of 0.5% on currency conversion over €1000 a month with Revolut but no fees with N26.
- The lack of an option to fully operate the Revolut account from a laptop/PC.
Read about N26 and Joint Accounts here.
N26 and Revolut Exchange Rates Compared
Revolut say they use the Interbank exchange rates when you use their card for non-Euro purchases. But they will add a 1% markup to the exchange rate at weekends.
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, used by N26, was just 0.25% worse than the Interbank rate used by Revolut. On a €1000 equivalent spend, you would be €2.50 worse off with N26 compared to Revolut.
However it’s important to note that 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 – if you convert more than €1000 in a month they will charge 0.5% fee. So N26 is definitely better if you are going to hit the €1000 limit in a month.
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 N26 and Revolut cards and use them wisely to reduce fees.
Large Purchases Abroad
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 options. 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. Also – Revolut will charge 0.5% currency conversion on spending of over €1000.
For larger purchases in other currencies – such as a car- you should consider the online currency exchange marketplace Currency Fair.
CurrencyFair is based in Dublin and regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland. You can transfer your Euros to CurrencyFair , then convert it to any of 19 currencies and then transfer it out to the seller’s bank account.
Alternatives to N26 and Revolut
bunq is a Dutch bank that has smartphone app with a prepaid Mastercard that is available in Ireland. The bunq “Easy Travel Card” comes with a massive daily spending limit of up to €50,000 and no foreign currency fees. The Dutch Banking Guarantee covers all funds held in bunq.
You won’t be able to use the bunq easy travel card as a replacement bank account. However , it’s a useful card to have because it is treated as a credit card which will be handy for hotel and car hire reservations. (Most debit cards are not accepted for these.)
With WISE (Formerly Transferwise), you get a “Multi-Currency Account ” with a UK account and sort code plus a Euro account with an IBAN and a USD account. (Other account currencies are also available). A WISE account can accept payments in multiple currencies.
It is not a full-blown banking app – so the features won’t be as good as Revolut or N26.
The Transferwise Multi-Currency Account also comes with an optional debit card for spending in different currencies with very low fees. (£5 delivery charge).
You get the interbank rate on currency conversions plus a fee that will depend on the currency. For example
EUR to GBP or USD or AUD was 0.41% ; EUR to PLN (Zloty) was 0.48% when we checked.
ATM withdrawals are free for the first 2 a month if you withdraw less than €200. After €200 in a month, it’s 1.75% fee .After 2 withdrawals in a month its a 50p per withdrawal. Just use ATMs rarely .
UK Banking Apps
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 Bank has previously said they will be coming to Ireland – but they have not yet announced a launch date.