I have just opened an account with N26, and it's a Brilliant Bank with free foreign currency exchange and a free MasterCard! The app is very easy to use and perfect for tracking how and where you spend your money because the app has categories that you can assign to payments or income.
The proccess for opening the account is entirely online and takes about 10minutes, maybe less and because of this you can open it from anywhere in the world.
You can do this on their app or via your computer, the verification is a skype call and all you need is your passport and an address in one of the accepted countries (I'm sure you have friends in one of them). However application will only be successful with certain passports and ID cards, I do think that is will be expanded shortly to more countries.
Here is an article with the information you need:
Number26 with MasterCard – for free!
Number26 revolutionizes the way we deal with banks and current accounts. This leads to many benefits for us bank customers.
First of all, find the exceptional conditions summarized below:
most modern current account specifically for Smartphone use
free account management
free Girocard (in planning)
free cash supply worldwide (!)
more than 6.000 possibilities to deposit cash through Partnershop
free foreign currency exchange (= no international service fee)
banking app available in German and English
easy account opening, as the account is on a credit base
account application currently possible with an address in Germany, Austria, France, Spain, Italy, Greece, Slovakia and Ireland (soon, the credit card can also be sent to other countries)
How do I use Number26?
[*]As a main current account
Number26 is a modern current account, which can be easily controlled using your Smartphone as well as with a desktop computer.
It is perfectly suited for payments in the SEPA area, including standing orders and electronic bank statements. It can be used as a salary account, but this is not a condition for not paying costs.
Editorial addition in May 2016: Due to the current development, we do not recommend to use it as the main current account or as the only current account. Who is looking for a new main current account, may find the solution here: The 3 best current accounts in Germany
The MasterCard is partially transparent. A unique eye-catcher!
[*]As a credit card
Although the MasterCard is linked to an account on a credit base, it is embossed. Normally, one can recognize prepaid cards because the card is completely flat.
The account and credit card can not be overdrawn.
You can use the card with the limit being your balance just like a real credit card within Germany and abroad, as well as for purchases on the Internet. The transactions are immediately debited from the current account.
[*]As a travel credit card, travel funds
Since withdrawing cash is free of charge worldwide, Number26 is the ideal account-card-combination for the holidays or for travelling. You can save money for the “most beautiful days of the year” (e.g. by standing order) and spend it then abroad.
In order to remain free of charge, you are not forced to withdraw cash in the foreign currency country first, as with the DKB, because Number26 does not even charge the international service fee when paying with the credit card abroad!
[*]As an emergency account
As the account opening is not bound to conditions (except that it must be connected to a Smartphone), one can use Number26 perfectly as an emergency account.
You open the account and transfer an amount that you want to have at your disposal in an emergency – for example, if your other credit card should be blocked. This can be interesting for all life circumstances.
[*]As a money transfer account
The option of withdrawing cash free of charge worldwide at any ATM that accepts MasterCard (without exchange fees) enables you to use Number26 in different variations for the transfer of funds across national borders.
For example, the family of a migrant worker can use the credit card in the home country to withdraw a part of the salary at the ATM …
Further great and unique features
Intuitive use of the banking app
Number26 automatically registers for what you spend money and provides you with this information in evaluating graphics. You have the opportunity to make individual settings.
This means for you that you can get very conveniently an excellent overview of your financial life and optimize it on that base. Everything is optional!
Money Beam is the feature that allows you to “beam” (transfer) money within seconds from one account to the other. For this, you do not even have to know the account number – which is nowadays the complicated and long IBAN.
The banking app of Number26 accesses your internal phone book in the Smartphone and transfers then.
This may be useful, e.g. if a colleague borrowed you money for the lunch. If the colleague is also a customer at Number26, then the money will be transferred immediately to his account. Virtually beamed!
If the other person is not (yet) a customer, he/she can enter his/her bank information and will then receive the transfer to his/her account. Automatically. This will save you the typing of the complicated IBAN.
Control Center on the App at Number26
You can block, un-block and partially block your credit card via the app.
Your possibilities in the Control Center are particularly interesting, because you can control the features of your MasterCard from anywhere in the world with an internet connection and Smartphone.
This means that you can do the following with your MasterCard:
block and un-block it by yourself
(interesting, if one has misplaced it – at other credit cards, one has to call the customer service and will receive a new credit card days later (and paying a charge)),
activate or deactivate payments abroad by yourself,
activate or deactivate payments on the Internet by yourself,
block and un-block cash withdrawals by yourself
(if you like, you can do this directly in front of the ATM, as the setting is implemented immediately).
In the Control Center, you can choose the language too. Currently, only German and English are available. More languages will be added.
This is particularly nice for those people, who would like to have a nice combination of numbers: you can choose your PIN at account opening. For security reasons, a PIN consisting of the own date of birth is made impossible, however, almost all other popular combinations are.
You will find it easier to remember the secret number having the option of a desired PIN, as this is asked for at every card payment or withdrawal at the ATM.
Revolution of banking
Yes, Number26 has arrived to change the banking world in Germany – later in Europe – for the better.
When one looks at the best German direct banks, like DKB or Comdirect, one may think that we live in a paradise for bank customers.
However, one may overlook that
… not everyone can become a customer at such a good direct bank, as there is always a precise creditworthiness check.
Number26 does not make a creditworthiness check, because it is an account on a credit base.
… many people are customers of banks that had their last big evolution at the beginnings of online banking more than 15 years ago and did not quite change since that.
Account opening at Number26
In order to open an account at Number26, one does not need a computer anymore. The Smartphone is enough. Even the legitimating can be completed via an integrated camera and video chat. Alternatively, the PostIdent-procedure is offered.
Account opening in 8 minutes including legitimating via webcam
With this, Number26 is the bank with the fastest mobile account opening.
Almost as fast is the shipping of the MasterCard. The embossing order is given directly after the video legitimating and the card is shipped on the same day or the next.
Depending on the mail delivery time, you will receive your credit card only two days after the account opening.
Additionally, there are modern features of the banking app. There will be many further developments that will make your (financial) life easier. This is always optional. You decide what features of the account you want to use or not.
I will report about these developments and how you can use them best on this special portal for smart bank customers. To not miss any important information, it is recommended to register as a fan.
How does Number26 earn money?
If account and credit card are absolutely free of charge, then one may ask how Number26 will be able to earn money!
Number26 uses two possibilities:
[*]Payments with the MasterCard
Whenever you pay cashless with the MasterCard, a revenue-based interchange fee applies. You do not pay it, but the payee (merchant, hotel, car rental agency, etc.) to the payment service.
According to the current legal situation, Number26 earns about 1.8% of the transaction (as of 7/2015).
If you want to support Number26, then you should pay often with the MasterCard.
No interest on account balances (interest margin business)
The current account is managed – like almost all current accounts – interest free. Whether your account is empty or it has one million Euros.
Although the margin is extremely little during the current low interest phase, but it is the future plan of Number26 to earn some money through the account balances (German deposit protection).
In further expansion stages of the account, there will probably be even further possibilities for Number26 to earn from its customers. This is normal for a bank.
However, the account and the bank cards will remain permanently free of charge. Also the withdrawing of cash worldwide.
I've made transfers online and recieved payments so far, my MasterCard is on it's way to me and I should have it in the next few days.
Let me know if you have any questions and I'll be happy to share my experiences