Do you live and/or work in Europe, an expat, or a freelancer planning to travel to Europe as a digital nomad?
If any of the above apply, you’ll know it’s essential to have access to your money and for your funds to be safe and secure while you’re on the go.
So, below, I'm looking at the best online banks in Europe, briefly summarizing what each offers so that, hopefully, by the end of this round-up, you'll have a better idea of which (if any) of these financial services best meet your needs.
What is an Online Bank?
In short, an online bank allows you to conduct financial transactions. It enables you to carry out the majority of functions that old-school high street banks do. For example, most online banking services permit you to pay and schedule your bill payments, transfer money, deposit money, withdraw money, and apply for a credit card, savings account, current account, checking account, etc.
Typically, users access their online bank via a mobile app or a website using a laptop or desktop.
Also, like traditional banks, online banks typically offer a mix of fee-free and paid-for banking-related services/accounts. But, of course, this varies depending on the service.
Why Use a Mobile Bank?
There are several advantages to using a mobile bank. For starters, there’s no need to make the time and effort to find and travel to a physical branch to conduct transactions. Instead, you can do your banking on the go, wherever you are, at whatever time you want, provided you have an internet connection.
What are the Best EU Mobile Banks in 2023?
With all the above in mind, let's turn our attention to some of the best digital banks in Europe:
Perhaps one of the best-known online banks, Revolut is London-based and was founded in 2015. It has 28m+ personal users and 500k+ business users across 200 countries and regions and supports 29 in-app currencies.
This fintech company offers personal and business banking via its app and website. Account opening for personal or business purposes is free, although paid accounts are available with both. Paid accounts start at £2.99/mo for the Plus personal account and range up to £25/mo for the Growth business account.
As you've probably guessed, paid accounts unlock more features. For instance, better interest rates on personal savings, a personalized card (fees apply), and other benefits, including medical and travel insurance.
When you open an account, you'll receive a debit card with which you can withdraw a fixed monthly amount depending on which account you have, the max being £200/mo or up to five withdrawals on the free and Plus plans, and £400/mo and £800/mo on the Premium and Metal plans respectively.
For more information on Revolut's different accounts, I recommend checking out their plan comparison page.
Further reading 📚
Wise is also a UK-based banking app (formerly TransferWise) and was set up in 2011. It supports 50 currencies across 175 countries and is used monthly by 16m+ people and businesses worldwide.
Wise's features fall into various categories:
- Money transfers, including international ones
- A Wise Card for domestic and international spending
- Money management
Registering for a Wise account is free, and you can withdraw up to £200/mo across two (or fewer withdrawals), again for free. After that amount, you're charged a 1.75% ATM fee. You can also receive money and hold 50+ currencies for free.
Lastly, regarding conversion fees, Wise has a handy calculator which shows you how much it will cost to use your Wise card online or in person. So, there are no pesky hidden fees! Also, if you go to use your card and you don’t have the foreign currency you need in your account, Wise auto-converts the fund, applying the lowest possible fee.
Further reading 📚
Launched in 2015, Monese is a UK-based company founded by Estonian entrepreneur Norris Koppel. This online bank is aimed mainly at the UK, EU, and Romanian markets. It's used by 2m+ people, across 31 countries, with 70% of bank deposits coming from people's salaries.
Online bank accounts for personal and business purposes are available to open. However, there's only one type of business account, which costs £9.95/mo and is restricted to UK-based, Companies House-registered enterprises.
There are two categories of personal accounts:
- Instant account
- Joint account
Setting up a personal account is free. However, there are also two paid account options (Classic and Premium) starting from £5.95/mo for the Classic account. If you pay yearly, you benefit from a 30% discount. Features include:
- Free Monese to Monese transfers.
- Free local transfers.
- Access to personal loans.
- Direct debit and recurring payment setup.
There’s a fee for international transfers. These vary from 0.5% to 2%, but on the Premium plan, international transfers are free.
Users can also save money in what Monese calls “Pots,” and some UK users may also benefit from cashback.
Further reading 📚
N26 is a mobile bank based in Germany. It's been operating since 2013 and has a full German banking license. It's used by 8m+ customers in 24 countries and offers four types of personal accounts and four types of business accounts.
The personal Standard account is free and comes with a virtual Mastercard.
Paid accounts come with a physical card in a range of colors. Paid accounts start from €4.90/mo for the N26 Smart personal account.
All personal accounts offer contactless payments, ATM withdrawals (with a set limit per account), 100% mobile banking, and the ability to receive payments worldwide in any currency with no transaction fees.
N26 also offers “Spaces,” which are sub-accounts. You can set up to ten to better manage your finances, which is great for budgeting – for example, you could have a holiday Space, a Savings Space, etc.
Business accounts offer features similar to personal accounts, and a free account option exists. Paid business accounts start from €4.90/mo for the N26 Smart account.
Further reading 📚
Calling itself “The Bank of the Free,” Bunq is a Netherlands-based bank that's been around since 2014. It's available to the EU, Norway, and Iceland markets. It states it's the only bank that lets you choose how your money is invested, and its commitment is to a green, diverse, and inclusive future.
This money institution doesn’t offer a free personal bank account, but it has a free 30-day trial of any of its three personal accounts, for which monthly fees start at €2.99 for the Easy Bank account. However, there's a free Easy Savings account.
Business account prices start at €6.99/mo for the Easy Bank business account. There's also a free Easy Savings business account.
Bunq benefits include ATM withdrawals, but only the two more expensive personal accounts permit up to six per mo; you're then charged €0.99 for up to five more withdrawals per month and €2.99 for anything above that.
All personal accounts offer instant payments and digital and physical cards.
My Final Thoughts on the Best Online Banks in Europe
So now you have my take on the best online banks in Europe. Hopefully, you have enough information to conduct more in-depth research about any of the financial institutions above before signing up for an account. Of course, there are other European banks you may wish to consider. For instance, providers such as Monzo or Starling Bank.
Whatever you decide, let me know what you think in the comments below!
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