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Europe's Best Online Banks in 2022: Fees, Exchange Rates, Usability, Features, and More

Byron Mühlberg, writer at Monito.com
Jan 3, 2022

By offering low fees, easy application, and convenient web and mobile apps, online banks have risen rapidly in prominence across the EU in recent years, going even so far so to challenge traditional banks for a new tech-savvy generation of customers.

In 2022 — as both the popularity and the market share of Europe's online banks continues to rise — you might find yourself wondering which one of the many options available offers the best all-round service to suit your needs. In this guide, we whittle down the top online banks in the EU/EEA fintech scene to the major contenders and explore which one might make sense for you.

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Monito's Recommendation

Among the cheapest banking options available to EU residents, N26 shines when it comes to fee-free everyday use and we recommend the bank if you're looking for a smart, digital-only alternative to traditional banks in Europe (especially if you don't withdraw frequently at the ATM).

How Monito Scores Online Banks

To determine which online banks scored better than others within the EU/EEA market, we used a consumer-first framework to analyse several key factors. To begin with, we weighed a number of concrete metrics relating to factors such as fees and rates, ease of use, credibility, service and coverage, transparency, and customer satisfaction to piece together a reliable all-round picture of which top digital banks offer the savviest solutions to EU residents.

Next, we explored these results and presented our findings in the form of a series of key takeaways that we believe you should know about the three digital banks ranked highest.

While we ranked these online banks on an overall list, bear in mind that this list does not mean that our choice for the EU's best digital bank is necessarily the best choice for you. As you'll see, each online bank comes with its own unique set of pros and cons that may impact its overall relevance to you.

Furthermore, in our definition of "online bank," we only considered the following:

  1. Digital banks that are widely admissible across all or most EU/EEA countries and not just in specific countries.
  2. Online-first banks and not traditional legacy banks that have merely pivoted to digital banking in recent years while still maintaining an extensive brick-and-mortar infrastructure.

So, without further ado, let's go through our rankings for the top online banks in Europe in 2022 —

N26 — Best Free Current Account

Arguably the best-known mobile bank, N26 is a widely-used and much-loved German online bank with around seven million customers across the EU. N26 is also partnered with Wise's money transfer service, allowing in-app international money transfers at some of the best exchange rates on the market.

A fully licensed and regulated bank in Germany and across the EU, N26 is an excellent option all around. Here's what our experts find particularly interesting about its free account and its product in general:

  • Integrated with Wise for international money transfers;
  • A secure current account with a licensed bank;
  • Instant transfers to most other SEPA bank accounts;
  • The standard plan is practically free for everyday use.

On the other hand, a few drawbacks of N26 include its rather expensive foreign currency withdrawals and a lack of standard banking services that some may be looking for:

  • A 1.70% fee for foreign currency ATM withdrawals;
  • No interest, loans, joint account, or multi-currency functionality;
  • Upgrade needed for unlimited, fee-free cash withdrawals.

Revolut — Best All-Rounder

A major name in the digital banking sphere, Revolut has stood at the forefront of Europe's low-cost online financial services sector in recent years. With over 12 million users, the London-based fintech is not only available in the EU and EEA but across the world, including the UK, Australia, Canada, Singapore, Switzerland, Japan, and the US.

What stands out about Revolut, in our opinion, is the sheer scope of its services — most of which come at a low or no cost. Here are some highlights:

  • An extensive range of bank-like and multi-currency options;
  • Debit card is well-priced for international spending;
  • Includes investment functionality;
  • Slick mobile app with many features;
  • Foreign transactions up to £1,000 (or equivalent) exempt from FX fees.

Revolut does come with the following drawbacks, however:

  • Access to some interesting perks is restricted to 'Standard' users;
  • Many foreign currency transactions incur a fee;
  • Higher currency conversion costs on weekends.

Wise — Best Multi-Currency Account

Wise is not a bank but a money transfer operator well-known for offering some of the cheapest international transfers globally. (In fact, according to our rankings, Wise is indeed the best money transfer service of all.) However, money transfers aren't Wise's only game; they also offer the Wise Multi-Currency Account — a low-cost foreign currency spending account and card product that's best in class on the market.

While not a formal bank account, the Wise Multi-Currency Account is a capable and impressive account product in its own right. Here are a few of the key perks, in our opinion:

  • Account details in as many as 10 currencies;
  • Hold money in 50+ currencies;
  • Send money to 80+ countries from your account;
  • Some of the lowest money transfer fees available on the market;
  • Pricing is accessible and transparent;
  • Mid-market exchange rate offered for currency transfers;
  • Wise card can be used to avoid foreign transaction fees;
  • No setup fees or monthly charges.

However, Wise isn't necessarily perfect for everyone, and some of its most obvious limitations include:

  • Cash or cheque payments aren't supported;
  • Overdraft and loans aren't available;
  • Negative interest on large Euro account balances;
  • Fees to top up the account via debit and credit card;
  • Tight limits and conditions to fee-free ATM withdrawals.

Bunq — Best Paid Current Account

Dutch neobank bunq doesn't really lift a candle to some of the other contenders on this list in terms of affordability. That's because bunq doesn't offer a free account, and many of its services come with additional fees. However, for those who don't mind paying higher fees every month for an online bank account, then bunq comes packed with many interesting features and perks to take advantage of.

Despite being a costlier option than most, bunq is still quite a bit cheaper than most legacy banks and offers a unique product that deserves attention. A few aspects we found noteworthy include:

  • The choice between a Spanish, German, French, or Dutch IBAN;
  • Partnered with Wise for international money transfers;
  • A licensed bank in the Netherlands;
  • Notifications and sub-accounts to manage spending;
  • Built-in savings with interest.

On the other hand, bunq comes with several drawbacks which pretty much entirely concern its affordability and value:

  • No free plan is available;
  • Climate contribution on 'Easy Green' plan is usually not worth it;
  • Relatively expensive premium tiers;
  • ATM withdrawals are pricey on all plans.

Vivid Money — Best Cashback

A partner of German bank Solarisbank AG, Vivid Money isn't a bank in and of itself but a fintech company offering a digital account and card. By combining a checking account with cashback features, Vivid Money users can save up to 25% on everyday purchases and easily refinance the account management fees of €9.90 per month that comes with the premium tier (although there is a free tier too offering less cashback).

Vivid Money is truly a one-of-a-kind online banking platform that offers a product so unique that we hesitate to compare it directly to some of the other providers explored in this article. A few of the highlights include:

  • Lucrative cashback on payments;
  • Free payments at home and abroad;
  • The first €200 withdrawn per month is free worldwide;
  • Handy in-app tools (e.g. investment, bill splitting, etc.);
  • Up to 15 free sub-accounts in up to 100 different currencies;
  • Free metal Visa debit card.

However, Vivid Money might cause you frustration for any one of the following two reasons:

  • No phone support;
  • No international transfers or cash deposits.

Tomorrow — Best for Sustainability

Tomorrow is a fintech company affiliated with German bank Solarisbank striving for positive impact and claiming to put sustainability before profit. Customers can choose between three sustainable current accounts, both of which come with a Visa debit card.

Tomorrow offers the following interesting functionality and features to users:

  • Customer money is invested in sustainable projects;
  • Good checking account for everyday use;
  • Attractive pricing for foreign currency transactions;
  • Interesting perks, including community pockets and Tomorrow Funds;
  • Stylish debit card in an artistic design.

On the other hand, we didn't like these aspects in our review:

  • Starts at €3 per month in account management fees;
  • Cash withdrawals can be pricey;
  • Missing cash deposits, international transfers and other core features.

Nuri — Best For Crypto

Nuri is a neobank created to merge blockchain and banking to enable a "New Reality Banking". To this end, Nuri's primary focus is neither on its crypto trading platform nor its debit card per se, but on combining cryptocurrencies (e.g Bitcoin, Ethereum, etc.) and fiat currencies (e.g. the Euro, US dollar, British pound, etc.) into a single, durable solution.

We were particularly impressed by the following aspects of Nuri's product:

  • One of the EU's cheapest neobanks, with zero fees for top-ups, withdrawals, and card spending at home and abroad;
  • Comes with a German IBAN;
  • Account opening is fast and straightforward.

On the other hand, some users might not enjoy the following aspects of Nuri:

  • No bill splitting functionality;
  • Card spend isn't integrated with Apple Pay or Google Pay;
  • No joint account, overdraft, or interest on Euro balances'
  • Customer service is reachable only by email.

The Best EU Online Banks Compared

To wrap things up, let's take a look at how the product, service, and pricing of a few of the online banks we explored compare to one another in the EU/EEA. We've chosen to compare the standard plan of Vivid Money, Tomorrow, bunqNuri, and N26 because of their similar all-round product offerings:

N26

Vivid

Nuri

Tomorrow

Bunq

Account

Standard

Standard

-

Free

Easy Bank

Monthly Fee

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€2.99

Intl. Withdrawal Fee

1.70%

3.00% (after €200 p/m)

0.00%

1.50%

1.50% + €0.99

Intl. Payment Fee

0.00%

0.00%

0.00%

0.00%

1.50%

Intl.Transfer Fee

0.35%-2.85%¹

N/A

N/A

N/A

0.35%-2.85%¹

Card Delivery Fee²

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

€0.00

Contactless

Google Pay

Apple Pay

3D Secure

Deposit Options

SEPA transfer, cash, debit/credit card

SEPA transfer, debit/credit card

SEPA transfer, crypto

SEPA transfer

SEPAtransfer, cash³, debit/credit card

Overdraft

Platforms

Mobile, internet banking

Mobile

Mobile, internet banking

Mobile

Mobile, internet banking

Deposit Insurance

€100,000

€100,000

€100,000

€100,000

€100,000

No. of Customers

7 million

100,000+

250,000+

Approx. 70,000

Approx. 150,000

Trustpilot

3.7/5 (16K Reviews)

4.4/5 (2.5K Reviews)

3.4/5 (1.5K Reviews)

3.9/5 (200 Reviews)

3.1/5 (2.5K Reviews)

Customer Service

Email, live chat

Email

Email

Email, live chat, telephone

Email, live chat

Go to N26Go to VividGo to NuriGo to TomorrowGo to bunq

Last updated: 26/11/2021
¹ Uses Wise's platform for international money transfers
² First card only
³ Germany, Austria and Italy only

Frequently Asked Questions About Online Banks in the EU

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