Free European bank account with debit Mastercard at N26
N26 offers a free debit Mastercard with which you can pay without a fee in grocery stores, restaurants and most other places in the US where they accept credit and debit cards (look for the Mastercard logo). You will not be able to pay with this debit Mastercard in grocery stores in Europe, since most of them only accept Maestro card payments. Restaurants and other places that normally accept Mastercard credit cards should also accept the Mastercard debit card.
Drawing Euros from any ATM with this debit Mastercard is free of charge with a fair use policy in Germany (you start paying after 3 or 5 withdrawals). Drawing other currencies will cost 1.7% of the withdrawal and in the US, a fee of the ATM’s bank (usually between 2 and 5 dollars). You can wave this 1.7% fee by paying €5,90 a month for ‘N26 black’.
It is possible to order a free Maestro card (the regular standard for pin transactions in Europe) if you have 100 euros in the bank. With this card you can pay in grocery stores in Europe. However, drawing euros will cost 2 euros per withdrawal. Withdrawing other currencies will cost 2 euros plus 1.7% of the withdrawal. (If you use the debit Mastercard, you will not pay the 2 euro fee.) Paying in stores and restaurants in the US will most probably not work with a Maestro card.
You need: to be a citizen of the supported European countries, a smart phone and to be 18 years or older. The bank needs: your email address, postal address, mobile phone number, first name and surname, a valid and supported passport or ID card, your date of birth and your nationality and country of birth.
Open a free bank account at N26.
Read these articles about other alternatives to opening a US bank account. Since Transferwise now offers a debit Mastercard, it is even a better alternative than the N26 bank, and it is available for all nationalities.
Opening local US checking account for foreigners
Read this article about opening a free local US bank account for non USA citizens.
Transferring currencies with TransferWise
You can use TransferWise to send money in different currencies without high fees. You can even setup a Borderless account so that you have bank details in different countries without needing to going to a bank.
Interested in really innovative banking? Read about ‘The bank of joy’ in The Netherlands.
Cool social bank in the Netherlands
For people in the Netherlands, Germany and Austria: Bunq, the social bank. You can create multiple free bank accounts and even share your bank account with others, or give people a budget on your bank account.