We have been on the road for 6 months. We use our international credit card N26 Black everywhere where we are going. So is this bank miraculous? Really free of charge? What about the professionalism of a startup Bank? Mister takes the pen and share our feedback. The article is also available on his 1d-digital blog, if you are interested.
During those 6 months, you can imagine we often use the card, otherwise we wouldn’t write a feedback about it! We had activated and tested the card before we left. This seems obvious but not so much actually. With N26, you decide the code you want for your card. It runs directly on the mobile app and it’s very simple. Think about synchronizing your card with your new (or first) code. Nothing more simple, just withdraw money in any ATM. For novices, the transaction will appeal to the Mastercard network and encrypt the new code in your credit card. You can then use your card as you want.
Everything started the Japan. We attempted our 1st withdrawal in a konbini (convenience store). The card is declined… We wonder a few questions, and were not reassured. After a ticket sent to the customer support without response and some internet research, I discovered that all banks do not accept all kind of credit cards. This does apply to N26. The safest solution, withdraw in a 7-Eleven, these miraculous convenience stores found anywhere throughout Asia. Good thing there are some everywhere in the Japan. Our 2nd try in a 7-Eleven is conclusive. Here we are finally with Yen in our pockets!
Throughout our trip, we use the card to pay as much as possible, so we do not have too much cash on us. It’s a kind of security for us. We do not like to have too much cash on us (we met a French guys who was almost proud of himself to have forgotten 1500€ in a hostel, hidden under his mattress…).
First question, when I check my account, some transactions are doubles, including one with a blue point. Duplicate transaction said double flow… We do not understand and we are not very happy…
This time, I do not send a ticket to the support which is rather slow through this channel. There are 2 other ways to contact the customer support:
- call a phone number
- reach support via instant messaging, that we choose to use.
Very responsive, I put in contact directly with someone (during french office hours). He explains me that for duplicate transactions, the blue transaction will be refunded in a few days and I don’t have to worry about it.
In fact, unlike other credit cards, the No26 displays absolutely all the transactions on your account. When we do a transaction, payment or withdrawal, we get a notification to pre-pay. The transaction is then in blue. A few days later the blue dot disappears and the transaction is completed. Sometimes, the value of the final transaction may differ from the pre-pay transaction (for example updated exchange rate). In this case we are left with 2 transactions, and one will be refunded within a few days. In all cases, it is the summary you receive by the end of the month that matters, and it includes only the final transactions. It may seem a bit complicated, but I’m assuming that I need to know how my card works.
We are going through China, Vietnam, Lao, Malaysia and Singapore safely. Some countries (Vietnam, Lao) add 3% to payments by credit card. In these countries, we mainly used cash, taking care to withdraw only what we needed.
Pirate when you hold us
We are now in Indonesia. After a few days in Jakarta to celebrate my birthday in a hostel, we take the road to Jogjakarta. One morning where we put our alarm clock early enough to catch a bus, I take my phone (first move in the morning, some will say it’s wrong, but it saved us), 3 notifications of payment N26 with our credit card, every time a high amount with three numbers. Transactions have just been made. No time to think, I run the N26 mobile app and immediately block the card. This maneuver is reversible. 2 other transactions (more expensive) arrive but these are immediately blocked.
I do not appreciate our breakfast and I do not really want to talk with our host who comes to say goodbye, after spending a wonderful evening at his invitation to celebrate the end of ramadan (but this will be the subject of another article of Madam). It is 7 a.m. It’s still night time in Europe. N26 support is not reachable before noon local time.
I call the support as soon as possible (at 12:01 on a highway rest “area”). I speak with a very receptive French person. After a little research, she tells me these are payments for a Pakistani flight agency. She confirms that 3 transactions are passed and 2 others have been blocked. I am a little upset because 3D Secure protection that requires a code sms for payments abroad is not enabled on the N26 credit cards because considered not enough secure (between the time we had our problems and today, the 3D secure was activated by N26. For online payments considered to be at risk, a confirmation is requested on the mobile application)… A shame! The operator tells me that he’ll send me a chargeback (refund) form that I will have to send back to them so they can transfer it to Mastercard. The funds will be back within 2 weeks.
I fill in and return the form. I have a return of support a few days later, a Saturday (good point), but we are hiking at 3500 m altitude (bad point for us). After a few exchanges, the customer support is very reactive and efficient. The funds pop up on my account 1 week later.
The support has been very responsive and exceptionally professional. Incomparable with my physical Bank. They have been listening and understood the urgency of the situation. They sought solutions rather than looking for whose fault it was.
Everything can’t be perfect. No26 is a good online bank, however it is sorely lacking in partnerships with other international banks. In a way, it’s a strength but in another, a big lack. What for? With “La Caisse d’Epargne”, if I lose my credit card and I’m on a trip, they send me a new one in the country I am via a partner bank, and this, anywhere in the world. In the N26 case, the new credit card is sent to my address in France and it is my problem to find a way to send it to the other side of the world. So far, as I have a N26 Black account (premium), I find this process quite unacceptable.
Thus, we have several options:
- send the new card via diplomatic case in an Ambassy.
- deliver it to someone you trust.
- forward it to our hostel.
All this is complicated for travelers like us who move almost every day.
It costs us a little more than a hundred euros to send the new card via UPS in Australia (we waited to leave Indonesia, matter of trust). The small security tip was to put the sealed credit card in a fairly thick magazine, so that it goes unnoticed. We sent it to our hostel, but it is also possible to send it to an Australian Post Office (General delivery) and to get the mail with your identity card.
Small tip: always leave with several credit cards, and take the time to call your banks to inform them of your trip, so that your cards are not blocked to any payment abroad. We met backpackers in this case and they were stuck.
Everything is now in order. We have added some extra security in order to avoid that from happening again or at least on a smaller scale. We have disabled online payments with the card via the mobile application. We re-activate these when we have to use the card. We have also considerably lowered amounts of payment and withdrawals per day. This guarantees us that if the card is hacked again, hackers will not be able to use it online and we will not be charged thousands of dollars. 😉
We now continue our trip the heart much lighter.