Last updated: Oct 18, 2019


3 reasons why N26 is becoming very popular among backpackers

It probably doesn’t come as a surprise if I tell you that banks charge high fees on transactions in foreign currency. However, many travellers don’t realize that these fees can easily count up to more than 50 euro on a single trip.

As I travel quite frequently, I started to search for possible ways to avoid those extra fees charged by banks.

I found a few cards that were running promotions or charged slightly less fees than my current bank, but none of those options were very attractive.

This changed when a German friend told me about his N26 debit card. He explained me why the three main reasons why he used the N26 Mastercard for all his travels:

  1. The N26 Mastercard is completely free
  2. Official exchange rates without extra fees
  3. The N26 app sends a push notification with the costs of the payment in your home currency

Gone are those days that you have to pay 3%-5% fee to your bank or loose even more when using a shady local money exchanger.

With the N26 Mastercard, you get the real value from your currency without paying extra fees.

official exchange rate with N26

How the N26 Mastercard saved me over 60 euro during my trip to the Philippines

I was very happy to hear that this card was also available for citizen from my country (the Netherlands), so 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 on time to receive this card before I would leave on my trip to the Philippines.

During this trip, I 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 and was sure that I didn’t pay any extra fees.

When booking accommodations, flights, buses, activities, buying souvenirs or paying in restaurants, I made it a habit of using my N26 card.

In those 2 months, I spend about 2.000 euros with my N26 card, which saved me more than 60 euro’s in fees!


My former bank charges approximately 3% fee on every transaction in a foreign currency, what would have cost me 60 euro on fees. And this amount doesn’t even include the savings on ATM transactions or savings on the costs of holding a bank account.

Pros of the N26 Mastercard

  • The basic account is completely free
  • Official exchange rates, without fees
  • Low ATM fees of max 1.7% (Most credit cards charge 3%-5%)
  • No salary requirements (even students can sign-up)

Cons of the N26 Mastercard

  • At the moment exclusive to Europeans
  • No interest on your balance

More info about the free N26 debit card 


How to use the N26 Mastercard


The debit card is completely free to use and works exactly like all other credit cards. It has an account number and a security code on the back to verify the payment, just like any other credit card.

As a matter of fact, it is actually a Mastercard issued by N26 Bank. This means you can use it at every ATM or payment terminal worldwide that is connected to Mastercard.

To good to be true?

No. N26 keeps the costs low by operating online and make profit from business users who upgrade their accounts to include insurance or unlimited free ATM withdrawals.

The only difference is that you first need to transfer money on your account to use it.

This way, the bank doesn’t have to pre-fund your payments, so they can offer this card with more benefits than traditional credit cards.


How to sign up for a free N26 Mastercard

Follow these 4 simple steps to sign up for your account:

  1. Sign-up for a free account (takes less than 8 minutes)
  2. Download the N26 app and continue the registration process
  3. Transfer an x amount to your new Mastercard and you’re ready to go!

Order your free N26 Mastercard in less than 8 minutes

*At the moment, N26 is available to most European countries, but not for people leaving outside of Europe (yet). 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.

See the advantages of the N26 Black card