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The 5 Best Digital Banks in Europe in 2022

Find out more about the five best digital banks in Europe through this article.

If you want to invest as an expat or high-net-worth individual, which is what i specialize in, you can email me (advice@adamfayed.com) or use WhatsApp (+44-7393-450-837).

Introduction

Digital banks have been gaining popularity over the past few years. What was once only available at a physical branch of a bank can now be accessed with just your phone and the internet. Though there may have been some hesitations with using such platforms, more users have become more at ease with them.

It is estimated that 398 million people are already using online and mobile banking in Europe this year. But it won’t stop there. In 2024, it is expected to increase to 435 million people. Because of this, the number of digital banks in Europe and the rest of the world has been similarly increasing, with each becoming more competitive than the other. As such, it is best to examine what they have to offer in order to determine which one will meet your needs.

A List of Digital Banks in Europe 

Let’s go over what each digital bank in Europe has to offer.

1. Wise

Wise initially established itself as an international money transfer service. And it did so successfully, especially with its use of the real, mid-market exchange rate and affordable fees. However, over the years, they have expanded their services. They now offer a multi-currency account, a debit card, and a business account.

When you live in Europe, you can opt to open a free virtual multi-currency account with them. This will allow you to keep 53 currencies in just one account. Converting between currencies can be easily done at the time of need. What’s more, the real exchange rate will be used when you do so. 

With this account, you can send (direct debit) and receive money for free. You can also get a Wise debit card, which you can use for in-store and online purchases. The card is accepted in over 200 countries and, at the same time, you can withdraw cash from 2.3 million ATMs worldwide. 

However, you only get two free withdrawals per month. Following that, each withdrawal will be charged 0.50 EUR. The amount withdrawn should not go beyond 200 EUR in total either. If it does, an additional 1.75% fee will be applied to the transaction.

Multi Currency Account Wise 1
The multi-currency account in Wise lets you keep up to 53 currencies in just one account.

To register for an account, you can initiate the process on their site or in the Wise app. You will just need an email address and a government ID for identity verification. Then, just deposit money into your Wise account from your bank account, Apple Pay, or credit or debit card. 

Only 21 currencies are accepted when you add money to your account. But as mentioned, you can keep up to 53 currencies in the account. This means that you have to add money in an accepted currency. Then, if that currency is different from what the transaction requires, you can just convert it to the one you intend to use. 

You will also receive a bank code (SWIFT/BIC) and an international bank account number (IBAN) at no cost. As an expat in Europe, this allows you to get paid just like the locals in their respective countries.

This, however, is not exactly a bank account. It is more aptly called an electronic money account. Because of this, your account at Wise does not fall under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). Instead, it is safeguarded. Wise does this by depositing your money at banks and investing it in liquid assets such as government bonds. Should Wise fall into bankruptcy, there is a possibility that not all of your money will be returned to you.

Having a balance of more than 3,000 EUR in your account0.07% per year
Ordering a Wise debit card7 EUR
Withdrawing more than 200 EUR in a month at an ATM1.75%
Withdrawing more than twice in a month at an ATM0.50 EUR per transaction
Receiving USD wire transfers4.14 USD
Fees Charged when Using a Multi-Currency Account

Final Thoughts on the Wise Multi-Currency Account

A multi-currency account at Wise is suitable for individuals who frequently perform transactions involving different currencies. This allows you to send and receive money at no cost if no exchange of currency is involved. But if currency conversion is needed, the fees are still relatively lower and you can enjoy the mid-market exchange rate.

This is not suitable as a savings account because you won’t earn interest and, should Wise become insolvent, you are not guaranteed to receive the full amount in your account. You will also be charged a fee if you keep a certain amount of money in your account. Moreover, you cannot take on a loan or earn interest with this account.

2. N26

N26 was founded in 2013 and eventually received their full European banking license from the European Central Bank in 2016. As of last year, more than 7 million customers have been using the “bank for the 21st century.” To open an N26 account, you must be at least 18 years old and have a valid ID

They offer four different plans for personal banking, with features suited for everyday banking needs or traveling. Specifically, they are as follows: N26 Standard, N26 Smart, N26 Metal, and N26 You. Individuals can open an N26 Standard online bank account for free. Other plans have a fee that ranges between 4.90 EUR and 16.90 EUR per month. 

All of the accounts come with a free debit card, either virtual or physical, that can be used anywhere in the world. At the same time, you can make contactless and mobile payments for in-store and online purchases. All payments, regardless of their currency and location, are free of charge.

N26
The N26 Standard is a free account.

You can also withdraw cash inside and outside the Eurozone. ATM withdrawals in the Eurozone often have limits on the number of free withdrawals, ranging from 3 to 8. However, ATM withdrawals done worldwide are free for customers with an N26 You or Metal account.

Transfers and debits in the EUR currency to and from EEA states and Switzerland are free. There are also no minimum balance fees, maintenance fees, or foreign transaction fees charged by N26.

More features can be enjoyed when you subscribe to a paid N26 account. Some of them are the ability to create sub-accounts, use round-ups, get discounts at partner establishments, and travel insurance. 

Given that N26 is a fully-licensed mobile bank, up to 100,000 EUR of your deposits are insured by the German Deposit Protection Scheme. Currently, N26 is limiting the number of new bank accounts issued. You can head to their site to see if you’re eligible to do so at this time.

Having a balance of more than 50.000 EUR in your account0,5% per year
Physical Mastercard for non-premium account holders10,00 EUR
Additional ATM Mastercard withdrawals within the Eurozone2.00 EUR per transaction
General Fees Charged on an N26 Account

Final Thoughts on N26

Opening an account with N26 gives you the security that you need from a bank, especially because it is a licensed one. The N26 Standard plan is suitable for all your everyday banking needs. However, to use more of its features, such as those for money management and increased maximum free ATM withdrawals, you will have to pay a monthly fee. Also, you would have to wait before you could open an account. With many individuals wanting to do the same, it can get competitive. You should sign up as fast as you can when slots do become available. 

3. Bunq

Bunq is a fully licensed bank that received its permit from the Dutch Central Bank (DNB) in 2014.

They have four different bank accounts, not just for personal banking needs, but also for businesses. Namely, they are as follows: Easy Green, Easy Money, Easy Bank, and Easy Savings. Among those accounts, only Easy Savings comes at no cost. Others are priced from 2.99 EUR to 17.99 EUR per month.

Though the Easy Savings Account may be free, it is intended mainly for that purpose. Many of the services and transactions for everyday banking, such as card issuance, ATM withdrawals, and payment, are not available. It has an interest rate of 0.09% per annum, which may still not be competitive. 

bunw 1
You have to pay a monthly fee to use the services of Bunq.

The paid accounts expectedly have more features. To see if they’re worth the fee you’ll pay, you can find out more about them in this Bunq review.   

However, it is important to note that Bunq is not open to all individuals residing in Europe. Only residents from Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, and Spain can open a Bunq account.

Final Thoughts on Bunq

Opening an account at Bunq does have its advantages in terms of getting an international bank account number (IBAN), the ability to use Wise for international money transfers, and access to money management features. Also, even those who have not reached legal age can open a Bunq account. If the insurance of your deposit is a priority, which obviously comes as no surprise, then up to 100,000 EUR of your money in Bunq is protected by the Deposit Guarantee Scheme (DGS).

However, they do not offer a free account. This makes it unsuitable for individuals who intend to save more of what they earn. Similarly, they do not operate in most of the EU states. You might be able to avail their services through other digital banks in Europe that offer free plans and have a wider market.

4. Revolut 

Revolut has around 18 million personal users and 500k business users. It supports more than 30 currencies from over 200 countries across the globe. 

What was once an electronic money institution has eventually operationalized its European specialized banking license in 10 more countries across Europe this year. This means that customers can take their Revolut account one step further by upgrading to a Revolut Bank. Doing so gives them the advantage of keeping their deposits safe. Up to 100,000 EUR of their money in Revolut is insured by the Deposit and Investment Insurance Company based in Lithuania. Revolut bank is offered in 28 countries

They have four different plans, each with a respective price and set of features. Specifically, they are the Standard Plan, Plus Plan, Premium Plan, and Metal Plan. Only the Standard Plan can be availed for free. The other plans range from 2.99 EUR to 13.99 EUR per month.

Signing up for any of the aforementioned plans, whether free or paid, will entitle you to a free UK account, a free Euro IBAN, unlimited disposable virtual cards, and a physical Revolut Card. You can also make use of your Revolut account for both domestic and international purchases. The interbank rate will be used when spending abroad.

revolut
You will get virtual and physical cards when you sign up for an account with Revolut.

Adding money to your account with an EEA-issued card can be done for free. Sending money to another Revolut user also comes at no cost.

However, they have limits on the amount of money that you can withdraw from an ATM for free. They range between 200 EUR and 800 EUR per month, depending on the account that you have. Additional withdrawals will be charged 2% of the amount withdrawn, with a minimum of 1 GBP per withdrawal. 

Similarly, they offer a no fee currency exchange. But the amount shouldn’t go beyond 1,000 GBP per month if you have a Standard or Plus account. There is no limit for the Premium and Metal plans. One of the features that you should wait for is the daily interest on savings. It is expected to become available this year. 

To open an account, make sure that you are a legal resident of the European Economic Area (EEA). When this is out of the way, you just have to download the app to start the application. 

Final Thoughts on Revolut

Revolut offers the services you can expect from an electronic money institution. Because of this, you can receive and send money in different currencies. Take advantage of their fee-free currency exchange when making payments on weekdays. It can help save you some money lost to fees. 

On top of that, you get security from a bank. This means that another institution is there to catch you should Revolut fail to do so. They also have services for investing in stocks, crypto, commodities, and vaults.

5. Vivid Money

Vivid is the youngest of all the listed digital banks in this article. It was only launched in June 2020 in Berlin. However, this doesn’t mean that your money isn’t safe with them. Up to 100,000 EUR of your deposits are protected under the German Deposit Guarantee Scheme (DGS). 

Similarly, your investments are guaranteed under the German Investor Compensation Scheme. You can file a compensation claim for up to 20,000 EUR of your investments. Yes, you read that right. Vivid also allows you to invest in stocks and ETFs, crypto, and precious metals such as gold and silver. Just open an investment account for free and trade away. You will also not be charged a commission per trade when you invest in EUR underlying ETFs or shares.

vivid
You can create “pockets” within your main account, which allows you to organize your money.

For checking accounts, they offer the Vivid Standard for free and the Vivid Prime for 9.90 EUR per month. Both accounts will entitle you to the following:

  • Free local banking account
  • Fifteen (15) free pocket accounts, each with its own SEPA-eligible IBAN  
  • One (1) free extra-secure card
  • Cashback of up to 20 EUR or 100 EUR per month 
  • Access to trading crypto currencies 
  • Global payments, money transfers, and direct debits without fees

The Vivid Standard allows you to keep up to 40 currencies in your pocket accounts. You can also withdraw cash at an ATM without incurring fees as long as the total amount per month does not go beyond 200 EUR. In comparison, when you use the Vivid Prime, you can keep up to 107 currencies in your pocket accounts. Your free cash withdrawals also increase to a total of 1,000 EUR per month.

The exchange rate for a non-EURO currency is the base exchange rate plus a mark-up of 0.5% to 1%.

Additional physical Vivid card9.90 EUR 
Additional virtual Vivid card1.00 EUR
Additional cash withdrawals at an ATM3% of withdrawal amount
Withdrawing less than 50 EUR3% of withdrawal amount
General Fees Charged on a Vivid Account

Final Thoughts on Vivid

The ability to invest in various assets, earn cashback, keep many currencies in one account, and make fee-free local and international transactions, all in all, creates an attractive offer.

However, you will not be able to deposit cash into your Vivid Money account. Only SEPA transfers are the way to go about funding your account. Similarly, you can only transfer money to another party who has a bank account that supports SEPA transfers. SWIFT transfers and other networks are not supported by Vivid Money. Transferring money to another Vivid customer is the most accessible option there is. 

Conclusion

With this, we have seen five of the many more digital banks in Europe. There are others worth noting, such as Tomorrow, Nuri, and Curve. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. But ultimately, it is up to you to decide which one is the perfect fit for you. 

Pained by financial indecision? Want to invest with Adam?

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Adam is an internationally recognised author on financial matters, with over 760.2 million answer views on Quora.com, a widely sold book on Amazon, and a contributor on Forbes.

This website is not designed for American resident readers, or for people from any country where buying investments or distributing such information is illegal. This website is not a solicitation to invest, nor tax, legal, financial or investment advice. We only deal with investors who are expats or high-net-worth/self-certified  individuals, on a non-solicitation basis. Not for the retail market.

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