Credit cards make it very easy to make payment in foreign currencies, but this comes at a price.
Whether you make an ATM withdrawal or pay with your credit card, your bank will likely charge high fees. Did you know that most credit cards charge 3%-5% fee when you paying in foreign currencies?
Many people are not aware of this, because it’s not visible when you make the transaction. Only after inspecting your monthly bank statements you will find out about the extra charges from your bank.
The Pros and Cons of the N26 Mastercard
Low ATM fees (1,7% vs average of 3%-5%)
No fees on foreign transactions
No salary requirements (even students can apply)
Exclusive to Europeans
No interest on your balance
How the N26 debit card saved me over 50 euro in one trip
As I travel quite frequently, I started to search for a way to avoid the extra fees charged by banks. I find a few cards that were running promotions or charged slightly less fees than my current bank, but none that would consistently save me money.
However, this changed when a German friend told me about his N26 debit card. He told me that he didn’t pay any fees on foreign payments and had a clear overview of all his expenses with mobile app of the N26.
Luckily, the card was also available for citizen from my country (the Netherlands). I quickly signed up for a free account with N26. This didn’t take me more than 5 minutes and within a week, I had my own N26 bankcard in my postbox. Just a few weeks before I would leave on my trip to the Philippines for two months.
During this trip, I tried to limited my payments with cash and used my N26 card whenever possible. This way I had a clear overview of my expenses in the N26 app which directly showed me the amount in my own currency. And of course, all without any extra fees.
When booking accommodations or flights, paying for transport, activities, souvenirs or in the modern restaurants, I always used the N26 card. I spend about 2.000 euro with my N26 card for which I didn’t need to pay any fee. This saved me 60 euro on fees compared to my traditional bank that charges 3% currency fee.
This amount doesn’t even include the savings on ATM transactions and the savings from not having to pay an annual contribution fee.
How it works
The debit card is completely free to use and works exactly like all other credit cards. It has the same number and a security code, you need to use verify the payment as a credit card.
The only difference is that you first need to transfer money on your account. Because the bank doesn’t have to pre-fund your payments, they can offer this card with more benefits than traditional credit cards.
See here the steps you have to take to start saving with this card:
- Apply for an account in less than 8 minutes
- Your credit card will be send to your home within a few days
- Download the N26 app and continue the registration process
- Transfer an x amount to your debit card and start saving lots of money!
*At the moment, N26 is available to most European countries, but not yet for people leaving outside of Europe. You can check the N26 website to see if your country is included.
How can this card be completely free?
When you sign up for the basic plan, you don’t need to pay any contribution fees. And even better, they send you the card within a few days to your home address, completely free.
To good to be true?
No… By keeping everything online, they keep the costs low.
Also does it make a big difference that this is not a credit card, but a debit card. That means you have to put a deposit on the card before you can use it. Credit cards charge higher fees, because they need to fund your payment in advance.
So how do they earn money?
The basic plan is the one that is completely free, but for the N26 Black or Metal card, you need to pay a fee. This comes with extra’s like insurance, free withdrawals worldwide and other exclusive offers. A nice extra, but if you are not travelling as frequent, the basic plan will be fine for you. If you are interested to see the many extra’s check the button below.