Why N26 Black is a Scam

N26 Black is the bank account aimed at Digital Nomads. However, it fails to deliver on its claims.

The claims N26 makes

The claims from their N26 Black product page:

N26 Black is a bank account with comprehensive travel and purchase coverage

The freedom to pack up and go without the extra weight

N26 Black provides comprehensive insurance for trips abroad and on qualified purchases, meaning you’re not weighed down by worries while out exploring the world.

Worldwide travel insurance you can actually use

N26 Black is always with you — start claims in the app and get support quickly when you need it. There’s no guesswork or extra fees.

Pay like a local — without exchange rate fees

Travel like you never left home. Your Mastercard lets you shop, eat, and explore. We show you the total in euros, so you always know what you’re spending.

Foreign medical expenses

Among others, reimbursement for doctor and hospital expenses in case of an acute medical emergency while you’re abroad.

Legal Notice

Mastercard offers a range of complimentary privileges as part of your N26 Black World Elite card status. Every N26 Black card holder is automatically entitled to enjoy these benefits, tailored to the needs of frequent travelers and globe-trotters.

The claims from their expansion blog post:

We launched N26 Black last year with one thing in mind — creating the perfect product for travelers to let them explore the world while leaving their worries at home. N26 Black is the perfect bank account for frequent travelers and comes with myriad benefits that pay for themselves over time. Since the initial launch, we’ve had thousands of customers sign up already.

Your Black card with worldwide travel insurance

Black comes as a sleek, redesigned matte card that is made to catch looks at the checkout. It’s also packed with a bunch of benefits. N26 Black features comprehensive insurance coverage from Allianz Global Assistance Europe,* which protects you from unforeseen costs. From luggage delays to ATM mugging protection and medical costs, N26 Black lets you leave your worries at home while abroad. Also, there are no foreign transaction fees with Black and we don’t charge on foreign currency withdrawals. Your money goes further with Black.

How do you get an N26 Black card?

Just sign up on our homepage at n26.com. Existing customers can upgrade at any time directly in the app. Open your control center and select My Cards. Tap and hold your current card and swipe to the left. Select order under the N26 Black card. Congrats! It’s on its way. We hope you enjoy the extra benefits that N26 Black brings. And as always, if you have any ideas or suggestions on how we can make things better shoot us an email at ideas@n26.com

I couldn’t find their original announcement blog post, perhaps they deleted it because they recognise they are offering a scam. However, I did find this:

Digital Nomad-Friendly Mobile Bank N26 Raises $160 Million

N26 has been embraced particularly strongly by travelers and digital nomads for its wide variety of traveler-friendly features, which include fee-free currency conversion powered by TransferWise and free ATM withdrawals worldwide. Its user growth has been extremely quick: while it reached the 500,000-customer milestone in August 2017, it’s already serving 850,000. N26 plans to process more than $16 billion in transaction volume in 2018, and hopes to reach 5 million customers by 2020.

What does this move mean for travelers and digital nomads thinking about opening an account with N26? For starters, expect the already-simple banking experience to get even simpler. While the N26 app is already silky smooth, new technology is constantly opening the door for updates and improvements.

The claims on their company homepage:

The Mobile Bank. The world at your fingertips

Travel like you never left

Spend anywhere without fees on foreign transactions. And get the freedom to get up and go, without telling us you’re leaving the country.

Get up and go

No need to tell us you’re leaving the country. Enable or disable foreign payments directly on your phone.

Chat us, tweet us, email us

With dedicated customer service teams for English, German, French, Spanish, and Italian, we speak what you prefer. Wherever you’d like to reach us.

The claims by N26 are lies

In short, N26 makes these claims:

  1. N26 Black is the perfect card for the frequent traveler / globe trotter / digital nomad.
  2. N26 provides international worldwide travel insurance that you can rely on.
  3. N26 support is good.

So let us look at the reasons for why they fail, in the order of annoying to egregious.

Signup Woes

The card ordering process is not catered towards frequent travellers / globe trotters / digital nomads.

  1. They initiate the monthly billing for the card as soon as you order it, not when it is activated.
  2. They do not ship the card internationally, even if you ask support and offer to cover all costs.
  3. They do not allow you to update your address to an international address.

This means, if you are living internationally, you must have the card mailed to a friend, who then mails it to you, which takes several weeks before it is activated.

This means you are incurring the monthly charge despite it not being activated and despite you not being able to use it (online or offline).

Screenshot of the non-translated error of how the international address is not accepted. And a support request that never actually completes, it just hangs indefinitely. Emailing them about it returns no response.

Support Woes

I’ve never had a good experience with N26 Support and Customer Service.

As seen in the previous screenshot, I tried to contact them but it just hanged indefinitely. I then emailed them with the above screenshot and to let them know of the support chat issue—but I never got a response.

If you try via their mobile phone app, you will find the support feature is completely broken.

Reporting the broken mobile support widget to their email, like nearly all the emails I’ve sent to them, returns no reply.

Sometimes the support widget doesn’t even need to be broken, sometimes they just disable it with no indication as to why.

If you ever do manage to get in touch with support, on the off chance the widget works and is available, they often don’t understand your issue, complain that you are the problem, show no empathy or compassion in their communication, and are just a general pain to deal with. These are all common complaints.

They also provide no ability to view your previous support chats. There appears no ticket system that they use. No ability to follow up on things or to reference previous issues. I guess this is all done to make their terrible support experience as hidden away as possible, so one cannot cite the chats in posts like these.

The poor service is a prominent review by other people too:

The level of service is not the same as what other same-colour cards offer.

The App is Buggy

As you may have noticed from earlier screenshots and videos. The Mobile Bank’s mobile app is buggy.

Be it support chat not working, or being disabled. To their newly announced Siri Shortcuts compatibly, which doesn’t actually work.

Other instances, which unfortunately I don’t have screenshots for, are:

  1. When your Touch ID login expires, you will get an alert to say enter your password despite the login button still saying “Login with TouchID”.
  2. Certain phone numbers don’t work with their verification system.
  3. For certain transactions, they must be manually approved via the app before the transaction can continue. Sometimes though, this functionality does not work. Support will then say logout of the app and log back in, to re-enable transaction approval abilities. What they don’t realise is that deleting the app, then logging in, sometimes requires verification, which as noted by point 2, isn’t always available to you — which also locks you out of further support. This resulted in me not being able to get a taxi home in Malaysia late at night this year.

The Insurance is Useless

This year I was in a motorbike accident in Bali, that required me to get debridement done in a Bali hospital, which developed into an infection, which required a flight and relocation to Perth, with follow up treatment of a tetanus vaccination, further debridement, and several weeks of outpatient clinic care and a large pharmacy bill, as well as cancelled return flights.

You would think that the all the claims made by N26 at the start of this post would have helped me, but nope, for the strangest reason possible. Here was the process.

Which I did, and received the following reply:

Notice the numerous spelling and grammar mistakes.

And my follow up:

Which resulted in this baffling response:

Notice the numerous spelling and grammar mistakes, even of my own name.

Which completely invalidates all of N26’s claims! Instead, the insurance only applies if you return every 3 months to the address that N26 believes is your residency address, despite it not being your actual residency address, and an address that as noted earlier, you are unable to change in the N26 system.

My response, of which I got no replies:

As noted in an earlier support woes link, other N26 Black users have found their insurance claims are denied for other reasons. Such as a single leg of a trip that is not paid for by your N26 Black card invalidates the entire trip for insurance. A requirement that is very difficult to accomplish in Asia, as detailed in the post, linked again here:

This means that their advertised market of frequent travellers, globe trotters, digital nomads—like myself—are operating with no safety net of dependable reliable insurance for their purposes, with no hope for resolution.

All in all.

Stay away from N26 Black!

For banking, digital nomads should use TransferWise Borderless instead, which has superb service, a reliable app, terrific support, and bank accounts in many countries that you can utilise.

For insurance, your guess is as good as mine.