Banking in Portugal typically comes with a monthly fee of around €5-€10 per month, but German bank account N26 is completely free and available in Portugal. It doesn’t have Multibanco functionality, which you may well need if you have bills to pay, but if you just need a Euro bank account to save and withdraw cash from it could be a good card to have in your pocket.
Initially N26 was only available in Germany, but it’s now available across the EU in places like Ireland, Spain, France, Italy, the UK, and most importantly Portugal.
Not everybody is comfortable with the idea of an online-only bank account, of course, and many people prefer to pay the fees and bank with a household name like Santander, Banco Popular, Novo Banco, or Deutsche Bank. Others are happy to use it for withdrawing cash, but aren’t willing to put all of their savings in, while others are happy to use it for everything.
N26 isn’t the only digital bank account in Portugal. Revolut is also very popular, along with Activo Bank as well.
What you decide is up to you. N26 has a banking licence, and is regulated by the German financial regulatory authority. Deposits of up to €100,000 are also protected under the German Deposit Protection Scheme. This cover EU countries including Portugal.
You can open an N26 bank account here. According to their website, the process should take less than 8 minutes. Your card should take 1-3 weeks to arrive to your address in Portugal (deliveries to places like Madeira and The Azores are likely to take longer).
Pros & Cons of N26
App Notifications (pro)
Everytime you take money out of your N26 account, you get a notification through the app. This is a really nice feature and it means that if your bank card is ever stolen, you’ll know about it straight away. You can also cancel it and order a new card through the app, then and there.
Limited withdrawals per month (con)
N26 has different pricing tiers and the free card only gives you 5 withdrawals per month. This isn’t a huge deal, as you can withdraw €1000+ per month, which should be more than enough for most people.to another
After you’ve used your free withdrawals, you then have to pay a small fee (€2) per withdrawal.
English-language customer service (pro)
If you need to phone N26, they have a special line for customer service in English. This is great news for those who are worried that they’ll have to learn German. Portuguese isn’t an option just yet, but you’ll be fine if you can speak English.
Poor customer service (con)
Most of the N26’s negative reviews are about its customer service, although this probably applies to most banks. Customer service also isn’t available 24 hours, which could be a problem if you’re planning to use it travelling.
Free SEPA transfers (pro)
Transfers to other SEPA (Single Euro Payments Area) bank accounts are free. You will pay a fee if you transfer to a non-Euro currency like British Pounds Sterling, however.
Transferring money to your N26 account
The cheapest way to transfer money to your N26 account, especially from another currency, is to use an online currency transfer service like Wise (previously Transferwise). Sites like Wise typically offer a better exchange rate than the banks, and much lower fees as well.
Do you have an N26 bank account? Have you used it in Portugal? Let us know your thoughts and reviews by leaving a comment below.