The Best Online Banks in Europe for EU Citizens and Foreign Nationals

The rise of online banking in Europe is not limited to individual clients. In the digital world, entrepreneurs are also embracing its popularity. Certain financial institutions now provide a comprehensive package, merging a bank account, a physical card, and seamless access to an online platform, all conveniently accessible through a dedicated application on smartphones.

online banks europe

There is a growing presence of 100% digital banks in Europe that operate without physical branches, conducting all transactions exclusively online. These digital banks do not have physical offices for customers to visit, and any inquiries are addressed through their customer support service or with the assistance of bank representatives.

Both traditional financial institutions including the largest European banks and the best EU online banks are highly sought after by both European and international clients. In 2023, digital banks and decentralized payment systems (DeFi) offer an enhanced and previously unattainable level of service to investors, tourists, freelancers, and small businesses.

The below International Wealth article highlights top-notch online banks in Europe, allowing you to assess their merits and demerits before you open an EU online bank account for personal or business use.

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What are the criteria for selecting an online bank in Europe for a foreigner?

Before opening an account with a neobank, digital bank, or any other financial institution in Europe, be sure to thoroughly consider the following 5 essential points:

  1. Reputation: Research the bank’s reputation in the European digital bank market and review client feedback. Consider the availability of insurance coverage that safeguards your assets in crises, bankruptcy, and other circumstances.
  2. Security: A digital bank should come with robust security measures. Examples include client verification, identity authentication, transaction confirmation, authorization protocols, and a valid financial license for digital banking.
  3. Tariffs: The tariff plan is of significant importance. Many European banks require non-residents to maintain a minimum account balance or pay certain fees to open an account. Traditional banks in Europe tend to impose such conditions more frequently, while digital banks offer a more customer-friendly service due to lower operational expenses.
  4. Service offerings: Online banking services for private and corporate clients in Europe vary, so it is crucial to thoroughly examine them before creating an account. This may include features like international debit cards, multi-currency accounts, investment management, international incoming and outgoing transactions (with varying processing times and requirements), and more.
  5. Limitations: Be aware of any limitations that may apply based on your country of origin or occupation. Currently, many European digital banks do not serve residents of sanctioned jurisdictions. However, they may freely open accounts for individuals with residency permits or citizenship from other countries. With this in mind, your goal is to find out where the digital bank is licensed and which country’s laws it adheres to.

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Discover the insider secrets to opening a bank account in Europe as a non-resident without the hassle of visiting a physical branch in the International Wealth exclusive article. For personalized guidance and expert consultations, feel free to reach out to our specialists or leave your contact details with them. Rest assured, we’ll provide you with prompt assistance and valuable insights to streamline account opening procedures.

The best online and digital banks in Europe in 2023

Discover a brief overview of the top online banks in Europe from International Wealth. Based on customer reviews and extensive research, they are acclaimed as the top choices in 2023.

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Bunq

Established in 2012 with headquarters in the Netherlands, the digital bank has gained prominence as a financial institution. It caters to a diverse clientele including freelancers, European residents, foreigners, and entrepreneurs. Bunq facilitates seamless SEPA and SWIFT transfers, distinguishing itself with its array of noteworthy features:

  • multiple European IBANs for enhanced convenience
  • free trial version to experience their services
  • 24/7 online support for immediate assistance
  • interest accrual on savings accounts to optimize financial growth.

Cons of the Bunq bank:

  • Limited currency support: The Bunq bank only supports EUR transactions, which may be inconvenient for customers requiring multi-currency capabilities.
  • Fees for incoming Swift transfers: There is a fee associated with incoming Swift transfers, starting from EUR 5. This additional cost may impact customers who frequently receive international payments.
  • Commission fees: The Bunq bank may charge commission fees for certain services or transactions, which should be taken into consideration when you evaluate the overall cost of banking with them.

Bunq comes with a mobile application that enables fast payments and transactions for users thereof.

Curve

The London-based fintech company was founded in 2015, providing e-money services to customers in the United Kingdom and throughout Europe. Their mobile app is accessible on iOS and Android devices, offering a straightforward, user-friendly interface that has garnered highly positive reviews from users.

Here’s what key features of Curve, the online bank in Europe, include:

  • up to 20% cashback
  • free account with a maximum of two supported cards (Amex, Maestro, and Diners cards not included)
  • seamless card-switching for transactions.

This digital bank is an excellent choice for individuals with multiple cards who reside in Europe.

Holvi

Holvi is a leading digital bank that has obtained a license from the Finnish Financial Supervisory Authority (FIN-FSA) and SEPA for conducting operations across the European Union. Catering primarily to freelancers, individual entrepreneurs, and small business owners, the Holvi digital bank offers innovative financial solutions tailored to the needs of modern professionals. 

Discover the pros and cons of the European online bank Holvi below:

Pros:

  • free debit card
  • easy online account opening
  • simple bookkeeping
  • up to 500 free SEPA transfers per month
  • reporting and analytics features.

Cons:

  • all accounts have fees
  • unavailable in many countries outside the European Union
  • no API integration.

Headquartered in Helsinki, Holvi operates in Finland, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Ireland, and the Netherlands.

N26

N26, a European online bank designed for travelers and expatriates, was established in Berlin, Germany, in 2015.

Here’s what the benefits of N26 bank include:

  • foreigners can easily open an account with them
  • low fees for international transactions
  • health insurance coverage for customers
  • 24/7 technical support.

This digital bank provides a diverse range of services, comes with a user-friendly mobile application, and offers free cash withdrawals worldwide.

Revolut

Revolut, a prominent digital bank with British and Lithuanian roots, has established itself as a global player, boasting an impressive customer base of over 25 million and catering to more than 500,000 businesses. Since its inception in 2015, the fintech digital powerhouse has been dedicated to serving clients from diverse corners of the world, with children and travelers among them.

Revolut’s online banking platform offers a range of compelling features:

  • free account access
  • multi-currency functionality
  • instantaneous international money transfers
  • daily discounts and cashback opportunities
  • robust trading options for stocks, cryptocurrencies, and commodities
  • customizable debit cards.

The British digital bank stands out as an exceptional choice for individuals seeking seamless travel experiences and convenient remote payment solutions for goods and services across Europe and beyond.

Vivid Money

Headquartered in Germany, Vivid Money is the top European online bank targeting individuals across European countries. This fintech company was founded in 2019, focusing entirely on digital banking.

Vivid Money offers both free and paid account options for residents of Italy, Spain, France, and Germany. Upon registration, clients are automatically provided with a free debit card.

Here’s what the digital bank’s services and tariffs include:

  • monthly service fee starting from EUR 9.90 in Vivid Money
  • cashback rewards of up to EUR 20 per month
  • access to 15 no-fee accounts.
  • separate accounts supporting 40 currencies
  • free international money transfers
  • convenient direct debits at no additional cost
  • unlimited currency exchange transactions
  • free cash withdrawals from ATMs worldwide, up to EUR 200 per month, and more.

Based in Berlin, Vivid has rapidly made a name for itself in Germany’s banking sector, recently securing the funding of EUR 15 million for product development and expansion.

Wise

Wise stands out as the top-tier free digital bank in the EU and across the globe. Initially established as Transferwise in 2010 by 2 friends, its primary mission was to revolutionize the landscape of cross-border money transfers, offering a seamless, cost-effective, and user-friendly experience.

Today, Wise enjoys widespread popularity among a diverse community of international digital bank users, thanks to its unmatched advantages:

  • no monthly fees, with a nominal commission of 1.75% + EUR 0.5 applicable only for withdrawals exceeding EUR 200 at ATMs.
  • transparent money transfers that ensure clarity and fairness
  • option to obtain a debit card, based on the customer’s preference
  • exceptional exchange rates
  • hassle-free registration process to swiftly onboard new users
  • IBAN availability from 10 different countries, facilitating efficient banking operations.
  • over 50 currencies supported, accompanied by multi-currency accounts and transactions.

Wise prides itself on offering an intuitive mobile application interface that enhances user experience. However, please note that certain country-specific restrictions may apply. 

Lunar

Digital Challenger Lunar, a Danish digital bank, was established in 2015 and has amassed a customer base of over 300,000 spanning Sweden, Denmark, and Norway.

Lunar is a cutting-edge digital banking and investment application that empowers users to delve into stocks, cryptocurrencies, and NFTs. It extends its services to the European Economic Area (EEA) and the United Kingdom. Here are the noteworthy aspects of the digital platform and services rendered:

  • hassle-free account opening
  • non-availability of EUR transactions
  • elevated overdraft fees
  • joint account functionality
  • competitive exchange rates
  • free-of-charge payments and transfers
  • abundance of investment opportunities: stocks, ETFs, and cryptocurrencies.

The company adeptly directs its marketing efforts towards millennials, catering to their distinctive needs. The absence of minimum initial deposits or trade thresholds makes it accessible to all, while the application goes above and beyond by generating automated tax reports.

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Explore other renowned digital banks and digital bank accounts in the EU

In addition to the previously mentioned digital banks, several other European institutions on the list of challenger banks cater to both residents and non-residents seeking to open personal or corporate accounts:

  • Nuri, a newcomer in the world of cryptocurrencies. In 2018, Nuri formed a partnership with Solarisbank, one of Germany’s most esteemed banks. Nuri’s primary goal is to create the world’s first genuine cryptocurrency bank by seamlessly integrating traditional national currency. Support for Bitcoin and Ethereum is to be provided for. Currently, Nuri offers its users EUR-denominated accounts and wallet services, along with the ability opportunity to purchase the 2 most popular cryptocurrencies. NB: their website is not yet optimized for international users, and the services are exclusively available in German and English. 
  • Bnext, an online bank exclusive to Spain, offers more than just banking accounts. They have established collaborations with partner companies to provide a comprehensive range of financial services and products. These include offerings like mortgages, insurance, loans, savings, investments, and more. Bnext features a cryptocurrency trading platform where users acquire well-known tokens such as Bitcoin, Polygon, Cardano, Ethereum, XRP, Solarium, and numerous others.
  • Fidor, a well-established German bank founded in 2009, is a prominent player in the European online banking arena. They provide personal and corporate accounts, accompanied by transaction bonuses and a user-friendly interface. Fidor has even delved into the realm of crypto banks, allowing users to seamlessly integrate cryptocurrency wallets directly into their Fidor accounts through the API.
  • Monese, a digital bank accessible in the European Economic Area (EEA), sets itself apart by offering unique customer services. One notable advantage of digital banking with Monese is that they do not require proof of actual residential address, utility bills, or credit history for account opening. Users may conveniently link their personal MasterCard debit card, open a multi-currency account in EUR or GBP, and benefit from free cash withdrawals. The above enticing package distinguishes Monese from traditional banking options.
  • Orange Bank, a subsidiary of a prominent French telecommunications company, provides a diverse range of account options, including a free account, catering to individuals. The bank extends its services to freelancers as well as small and medium-sized enterprises, offering business accounts, loans, savings, and more.
  • Established in 2017, Paysend is a digital banking institution that specializes in card payments and banking accounts. Its extensive coverage spans over 100 countries, providing convenient money transfers and digital wallets for both personal and business purposes. With fixed transparent transfer fees and competitive currency exchange rates, Paysend stands out among other money transfer services.
  • Penta emerges as an ideal solution for freelancers and small business owners in Germany. Its streamlined account setup procedure allows users to get started within 48 hours, facilitating online account opening with a German IBAN. Penta offers VISA debit cards for all employees while assuring deposit insurance of up to EUR 100,000 and maintaining a commitment to transparency with no hidden fees.
  • Qonto operates as a fully digital neobank, serving the French market exclusively. Since its launch in 2017, it has garnered acclaim for comprehensive expense control and automated bookkeeping solutions. Qonto proves to be an excellent choice for companies and freelancers seeking simplified financial reporting procedures.
  • Targeting the younger Generation Z and millennials in Spain, Rebellion presents a diverse array of banking products and services. Alongside traditional offerings, this European bank features a cryptocurrency wallet for the seamless trading of popular digital assets such as Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, Polkadot, Dogecoin, and more. Account creation is effortless and comes at no cost, with no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements.
  • Wirex serves as an international digital online bank across Europe and various countries worldwide. Its mission revolves around enhancing the accessibility and inclusivity of cryptocurrency for all users. With Wirex, individuals swiftly open accounts, engage in instant crypto transactions, effortlessly send and receive funds, and benefit from free ATM withdrawals of up to EUR 400 per month, all with no maintenance fees.
  • Headquartered in Las Vegas, Wittix operates as a licensed bank in Lithuania. This online platform excels in providing multi-currency IBAN accounts, catering to a broad spectrum of users. It offers both free and premium personal account options, supports 75 currencies, and facilitates transactions through debit and virtual cards. Wittix extends its services to residents of EEA countries, ensuring accessibility across the region.

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Which option is preferable: an online bank or a traditional financial institution in Europe?

Digital-only banks have gained a reputation for their efficient and hassle-free account opening procedures. With minimal documentation requirements, you can easily open most online accounts within 5 to 10 minutes. All it takes is a valid ID.

These types of accounts are particularly well-suited for freelancers, digital nomads, and travelers in need of convenient access to their funds in multiple currencies who prioritize fast and secure international transactions.

Some neobanks and payment systems across Europe cater to the needs of large corporate clients, including international companies and high-risk businesses such as gambling, Forex, and brokerage firms. In this situation, it is crucial to carefully select the right online bank that aligns with your specific requirements, preferred currencies, offered services, and tariffs. The International Wealth team of experts is readily available to guide and assist you in making an informed decision on the matter.

European banks with branches and representative offices in various countries are highly sought after for asset storage, asset protection, and financial transactions. Such financial institutions cater to the needs of both global and local companies, as well as individual clients.

Determining whether an online bank in Europe or a traditional institution with physical branches is a better option, is no mean feat. The choice depends on individual circumstances. The younger generation tends to prefer digital banking, while affluent investors are more comfortable with traditional bank accounts that provide a tangible presence and personal interaction.

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Reach out to the International Wealth team of experts for a customized consultation and seize the chance to unlock the doors to a European account soon, with account terms tailored to your advantage.

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