Going abroad and in need of foreign currency? In this article, we'll explore where to exchange currency - from good deals to the places you should avoid.
N26 is a German challenger bank which offered US residents a free account through its online and mobile banking service. Accounts came with a linked debit card you could use with Google Pay and Apple Pay, free ATM withdrawals through the N26 network, and no foreign transaction fees.
N26 closed their US service on January 18, 2022. Use this guide to N26 alternatives to help you find a different digital banking provider. We’ll introduce our top N26 alternatives including the Wise account, which is free to open, and offers international money transfers to send money with the mid-market exchange rate.
|📝 Table of contents
Let’s look at a summary of some key features of the N26 alternatives we selected.
|Free to open, no monthly charge
|Free to open, no monthly charge
|Mid-market exchange rate and low, transparent fee
|Free standard plans - 9.99/month for Premium accounts and 16.99/month for Metal accounts
Exchange with the mid-market rate to 1,000 USD/month with standard plan
Standard plans can make 10 free transfers/month, with a 0.3% fee after that
|Free to open, no monthly charge
Choosing an alternative to N26 requires a little research. This N26 alternatives guide will give you some great places to start. However, deciding between our top picks will come down to exactly what you want from your account.
Here are some key questions to bear in mind as you go on:
- Are you prepared to pay a monthly fee to get more features?
- What are the charges for transactions you make frequently?
- Do you need to make international payments?
- Do you want an account which can be used when you travel?
- Are you looking for a personal or business account?
- Is the provider you prefer fully licensed and regulated?
Digital banks and similar financial technology companies offer convenient ways to manage your money online and through mobile apps. However, the focus and coverage of different providers does vary quite widely. In many cases, online providers offer a less extensive range of accounts and services compared to a traditional bank, which makes choosing the right one for your specific needs even more important.
N26¹ is a Berlin based bank which holds a European banking license. N26 accounts were previously available in mainland Europe, the UK and US. However, N26 has recently stopped account services in the US and UK to focus on building the brand in mainland Europe. N26 accounts in the US were free to open and had a limited range of fees, making them a convenient way to manage your money on the go. Get a full N26 review here.
- Online and mobile account services
- No monthly charges
- Early payday with direct deposit
- No foreign transaction fees
- No minimum balance
- N26 accounts are no longer available in the US
Now, let’s see the N26 alternatives!
Varo² online bank accounts are free to open and aim to help people who may otherwise struggle to open a regular account. There are no monthly fees and no minimum balance, and there’s no credit check before opening an account. You won’t be able to spend more than you have, which can help you to manage your money and build a credit score.
- No monthly fees
- No credit check to open your account
- Fee-free ATM withdrawals at 55,000 ATMs
- Visa debit card
- Early direct deposit payments
- International payments are not available
- No domestic wire payments
- Cash advance services are available, but fees apply
The Wise multi-currency account is a truly global account, allowing customers to hold and exchange 50+ currencies and send payments to 80+ countries. You can also get bank details to get paid from 30 countries for free, and a linked debit card to spend in 200+ countries around the world. Accounts are secured with 2-factor authentication and 24/7 anti-fraud technology.
- Free to open, no monthly fee and no minimum balance
- On average,6x cheaper than old school banks
- Direct Debits in 3 currencies (GBP, EUR, USD)
- Spend on your card in any currency and always convert with the lowest possible fee
- Regulated by 11 international financial authorities
- No cash transactions
- Some transaction fees apply – but Wise is on a mission to reduce them.
Revolut³ describes itself as a financial super-app. In the US, you can open a free Standard account, or choose to upgrade to one of 2 different fee paid account plans. The Premium account has a 9.99 USD/month charge, while Metal account holders pay 16.99 USD/month to unlock further features⁴. Hold and exchange 28 currencies in your Revolut account, and use your linked card to spend in 140 currencies. Get a full Revolut account review here.
- Choose the account plan that suits your requirements
- Currency exchange uses the mid-market exchange rate - limits and some fees may apply
- Hold and exchange 28 currencies
- Get a linked debit card for free in network ATM withdrawals and up to 1,200 USD/month of free out-of-network withdrawals⁴
- Budgeting and saving features available
- Relatively high monthly fees for Metal accounts
- Currency exchange costs more out of exchange hours (1%) and for currencies such as Ukrainian hryvnia and Thai baht (1% within and 2% outside exchange hours)⁵
- Account limits apply - fair usage and transaction fees apply beyond your account tier limit
Chime⁶ is an online bank which has accounts for day to day use and savings. You’ll get a linked debit card with your account for easy spending and free in network withdrawals at 60,000 ATMs. There are no foreign transaction fees when you’re spending abroad, either. Chime has a range of services to help people manage their money and build credit, including fee free overdrafts to cover small value payments.
- No monthly fees
- Early payments through direct deposit
- Fee free overdraft facilities
- Credit building options
- Budgeting and saving tools available
- 2.50 USD out of network ATM withdrawal fee⁷
- International transfers are not available
Choosing the best N26 alternative for your needs will take a bit of thought. The good news is that there are several great options out there if you’re looking for a digital account you can manage online and in an app, which also comes with a linked card and neat features to help you cut costs.
Take some time to think about how you’ll use your account, so you can find a provider which offers all the services you require for free, or with low fees. Some of the providers we’ve profiled like Chime and Varo stand out for their accessibility and credit building options. However, their international services are limited.
If you’re looking for an account which comes with no monthly fees and offers currency exchange with the mid-market exchange rate 24/7 take a look at the Wise account. You’ll be able to hold and manage 54 currencies, and use your debit card to spend with the mid-market rate when you travel.
N26 has announced that from 18th January 2022 it will no longer operate in the US. That’s because it is focusing on growing its operation in mainland Europe instead.
Bunq is based in the Netherlands and doesn’t offer accounts in the US. N26 is a German bank which offers accounts in mainland Europe only. Both offer great digital account services and low transaction fees - the best one for you may depend on availability in your country, and how you’ll use the account. If you’re US based and need an account you can use to receive, hold and send payments in euros, check out the Wise account as a smart alternative to N26 and Bunq.
All sources checked on 24 January 2022
This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.
We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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