The N26 nightmare – part 9

… continuing the story.

Three months that I was trying to open a bank account with N26. Three months that I was struggling with this nightmare. My case had been escalated . . . “we’re unable to offer you an account due to legal requirements.”

Did I make the mistake of involving more than one person? Again (see The N26 nightmare – part 2)! I should not have contacted the chat on that fateful May 5 (see The N26 nightmare – part 6). Why did K. escalate my case anyway? There was no reason to do so; I just had to wait an extra 24 hours as M. instructed me. And what about the problem with my identity verification and the “Please contact our Customer Service for more information and so that we can help you”? I did not receive any answer to this question, H. just told me that my case had been escalated (see The N26 nightmare – part 8). As a matter of fact, I did not receive any answer at all, just a brush-off:

Please note that our Customer Service cannot help you any further or make an exception for you.K.

My email to K. also remained unanswered. I had nothing left to lose; I contacted the N26 chat to obtain some explanations.

The improbable chat

Once again, I told my story. Again, I had a new agent – N. as it was. Again, I received the same bla bla bla… Actually no, not this time. Something completely unexpected happened. During the whole time that I was explaining my issues, N. was trying to convince me to try another neobank. Let me specify that this was not because I could not get an N26 account. No, this started from the very beginning of our conversation (and, at no point, it was mentioned that I would not be able to have an N26 account).

It’s as if someone from Coca-Cola would recommend me to buy Pepsi instead!

By the end of the chat, N. had recommended me many online banks, but the following in particular: Revolut, Monzo, Bunq, and Starling. However, I received no answer to any of my questions. As for my situation – the verification of my identity failure and/or the impossibility to offer me an account – I had to wait…

My quick investigation

As alluded to in A “real” bank – N26, I had no time to “cogit…” – that is to investigate what could be the best online bank for my needs – at the time. My needs were straightforward: I had to find a way to pay my one-euro tax – forthwith – upon financial penalty (see When all the crap hits the fan at the same time…). Besides, there was no alternative (back then) and some people were praising N26 to the sky anyway. Fast forward three months – a time not matching the definition of “forthwith”, obviously – and I thought that I might have the time to check the aforementioned alternatives.

Beware; this is not a review about these neobanks. Moreover, the info and/or features described here might be outdated. Last, it is worth mentioning that I was looking for a free business bank account for freelancers (see A dedicated bank account).


One app, all things moneyRevolut

It didn’t take me long to scratch Revolut out of “my” list (N.’s list actually). Granted, they had free Business accounts; yet, something was wrong. Apparently, Revolut functions more as a prepaid, multi-currency card rather than a full bank account.1 My experience with PayPal was enough on that matter (see Easier said than done).

In addition, there were some minor issues with Revolut. For instance, as opposed to N26 that send your debit card for free – if you manage to reach step 4 (see N26 – this time, it’s for real, right?) – Revolut was charging 5.50 euros just for the delivery. However, there was also the elephant in the room: Revolut being headquartered in London. With Brexit looming, I was nowhere to take that risk!


Banking made easyMonzo

For the same reason, I stopped my search at this sentence: Monzo Bank Ltd is an online bank based in the United Kingdom. It was not even clear if they would be available in France2.


bank of The Freebunq

This online bank had been founded in 2012 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. That was the good news. The bad news was enough to stop me from investigating further: No free plan available! Their minimum plan was at 9.99 euros per month – way beyond my means.

Starling Bank

Britain’s Best BankStarling Bank

… but it didn’t last long. Once again, the Brexit shadow ruined my hopes; Starling Bank is based in the United Kingdom. Actually, Starling Bank is only available for residents of the UK. No need to add anything. Their tagline was saying it all!

Back to square one – N26

During my research, I stepped upon many reviews in which the aforementioned banks were compared to N26 (vs. N26). Accordingly, I could also assess whether N26 was a good call. In short, N26 was pictured as a fully-fledged bank account providing world-class money digital banking service.

The most complete digital bank account available in Europe.François Briod

The only concern I had – not mentioning the struggle to open an account with them – was with the DE IBAN. I already faced such an issue with PayPal and I was not a big fan of it. Still, the more I was looking at the N26 alternatives, the more I wanted to have an N26 account. However, as N. told me, I had to wait…

“But to wait for what?”

To be continued…

1 They applied for a UK banking license in January 2021. ^
2 For your information, if you don’t have a UK address, you can’t have a Monzo account. ^

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