At the moment, I have a personal credit card account. My wife has a second card on this account, and can spend using this card, but she has no access to check on the balance or manage the account.
So I was looking around to see if it was possible to get a joint credit card. And I haven’t had much luck.
Almost all the banks that offer credit cards allow me to get a second or third card for the account, but the liability for the debt and the management of the account still rests on one person.
I can go out and get a joint current account, a joint bank loan, or a joint mortgage, but it seems I can’t find any joint credit cards.
Here’s what I’m looking for:
A credit card account with shared liability for the debt
A separate credit card number for each person so that we can see whose card was used for a transaction
The ability for both people to access and manage the credit card account (including checking the balance, transactions, and making payments) under separate logins
I’ve been checking all the major Irish banks online, and I can’t find any mention of a product that comes close to my requirements. And I’m not sure whether any of the FinTech companies are innovating in this space yet.
With most transaction now taking place by card, the days of the paper-based receipts in shops are surely numbered.
Some shops now ask me whether or not I want a receipt – I suppose to avoid the environmental impact of printing something that will immediately be thrown away. And some shops offer email receipts, but that has data protection concerns because I’m handing over me email address that is then invariably used for email marketing.
The obvious solution to me is for the payment card processors to capture itemised receipt information, and pass it back to the bank for integration with my online bank statement.
When I check my transactions on my mobile app it would be great to be able to drill down into the transaction to see exactly what I bought – and perhaps remind me how I managed to spend €92 in Ikea when I popped in for just one thing.
Of course, this does mean entrusting my purchase information to banks, but they can be regulated to treat the data carefully and safely. And I’m sure that the banks would love to analyse the (hopefully anonymised) data to have more insight into our spending habits.
Use in the shop
Several fin-tech companies already provide the ability to notify you of transactions in near real-time. Both my N26 and Revolut cards display alerts on my phone as soon as I’ve paid for something. So it shouldn’t be too hard to expand that to included detailed receipt information as part of the alert.
I’d receive my receipt on my phone before I’d even stepped away from the till, and I would be able to check it over for accuracy.
Then, if I ever needed to return anything, I could maybe just pull up a bar-code representing the receipt on my phone, and let the retailer scan it to retrieve the purchase transaction details on their system.
Usage at home
I could also use the detailed information in the receipts to analyse my own spending habits, and see just exactly how much money a year I’m spending on takeaway coffees and shampoo.
I could also set up detailed budgets for certain products – for instance, to limit myself to spending €30 a month on beer – and check my spending against those budgets.
My wife lost her debit card for our joint current account just over 3 weeks ago, and she used the online banking facility to report it lost and request a new one.
New bank cards are meant to take around 4 working days to arrive. However around 10 days later there was no sign of it, and my debit card had also stopped working. It seems that Ulster Bank had cancelled both cards on our joint account.
So my wife phoned Ulster Bank to tell them that she had not received the replacement card, and asks for replacement cards to be sent for both of us. The customer service agent confirmed that cards would be sent out for both of us.
One week later (3 weeks after first reporting the card loss) my wife’s new debit card finally arrived in the post. But there’s no sign of my card, so I rang up Ulster Bank again, and found out that:
My debit card should not have been cancelled in the first place
There were two active cards on the account – both in my wife’s name – the one ordered online 3 weeks ago and a second one ordered on the phone a week ago
There were no active cards in my name listed on the account
So it seems there were some serious failings in process within Ulster Bank:
They wrongly cancelled my debit card – possibly a problem with their online card loss process
They failed to cancel the first replacement card that was reported lost – leaving it active on the account – a problem related to the customer care agent on the phone who order the replacement
They failed to issue a new card to me – leaving me without a card for 3 weeks – they didn’t send a new card when they originally cancelled my card, and again didn’t send a new card when asked 10 days later
I tried to point out these failings to the customer service agent, but she seemed unable or unwilling to capture the feedback. I asked if she could log a complaint or record my comments against our account, and get someone in authority to review them, and she said nobody reviews the account comments.
So it seems that Ulster Bank has no mechanism in place to learn from their mistakes and to correct them in the future. The biggest problem seems to be around the person that my wife spoke to after 10 days, who told her a number of things that turned out not to be true. That person clearly needs some training in order to perform their role correctly, but our feedback about their performance is clearly not going to be followed up.
I guess this is why people get so frustrated with call centres.
Anyway, it seems that a new debit card has eventually been ordered for me, and will arrive in 3-5 working days. So by the time it gets here, I’ll have been without a working card for a total of four weeks! The bank also insists that they need to send me a new PIN for the card, because I’ve been without an active card for so long!
I did ask if there’s any way that they could expedite the issue of the new card – based on the fact that they’ve made so many mistakes – and the answer to that was also no.
In fairness to Ulster Bank, they did resolve this situation to my satisfaction. They have an online complaint form on their website that I filled in, explaining what had happened and the impact upon me. And a couple of weeks later I was contacted by someone from their complaints department, and they offered me compensation for the inconvenience.
Ensure the form has your physical handwritten signature on it
Scan the form, and email to support(Replace with @)n26.com
N26 will then cancel the Direct Debit for you
There’s no help within the app or website that tells you the Creditor ID or Merchant Reference for an existing Direct Debit. Neither of these values are listed against a transaction, so you need to find them elsewhere.
I checked the website of the company that I was paying my Direct Debit to, and their Creditor ID was listed – so I was able to the get the value fairly easily.
The Creditor ID is a unique reference that identifies an organisation collecting payments through a SEPA Direct Debit, and is usually issued by the organisation’s bank. It reads a bit like an IBAN, but may be shorter, with a mixture of letters and numbers. The Direct Debit Mandate form – whether electronic or paper – should show the Creditor ID on it.
N26 is an innovative fintech providing mobile-first online banking, based in Berlin Germany, but serving customers from across Europe – and soon to launching in the UK and USA as well.
I’m based in Ireland and have been an N26 customer for over a year now, and I thought I’d share my experience for anyone considering signing up.
N26 pride themselves that you can open a new current account in just 8 minutes. All you need to do is download the app, sign up for a new account, gather some ID to prove who you are (for anti-money-laundering purposes), and then the account opening will be completed through an in-app video call with one of the N26 staff.
There’s no pieces of paper to sign or documents to post to them. It works pretty seamlessly, and they appear to have put a lot of work into this on-boarding process. It’s certainly a lot more convenient than having to spend a lot of time filling in forms in the branch of your local bank!
You get your new IBAN straight away, but you do have to wait a few days for your new Mastercard Debit card to arrive from Germany – but that happens with all banks.
Beyond the sign-up process, you use the mobile app to perform all your day-to-day banking operations – although you can also use a web portal on their site.
You login using either a password or your fingerprint – and there’s an additional security measure to bind your account to a specific mobile device.
In the app you can:
View your current balance and recent transactions
View a statistical breakdown of your transaction by month/type
Amend the security settings for your card, including resetting your PIN, locking the card if it’s lost or stolen (and ordering a replacement), and deciding whether your card can be used for payments abroad, online payments, and cash withdrawals
Setting up transfers to other bank accounts
View the location of ATMs on a map
The app will also send you an alert on your phone every time a transaction happens (unless you turn it off), or if the transaction needs an authorisation, so you can keep track of all payments in and out of your account.
Current account features
N26 will send you a Mastercard Debit cards depending on the account you have:
N26 Free (no monthly free) – a semi-translucent card
N26 Black (€9.90 / month) – a black card
N26 Business (no monthly fee) – a semi-translucent card (same design as N26 Free but with “Business” written on it)
In Germany, France, Austria and Italy (and coming soon to other countries) there is also an even more premium “metal” card! (yes it’s really made out of metal)
The premium account options attract a monthly fee, but have additional features such as travel and mobile phone insurance, and lower foreign currency transaction fees. All accounts have a set number of free ATM withdrawals (normally 5 per month) after which you get charged per withdrawal, so you should bear that in mind if you use ATMs a lot.
I use the free account, and I’ve got to say that the card design attracts many favourable comments. I like the fact that N26 also prints my BIC and IBAN on the back of the card – so I don’t need to login to the app to find that information.
All the accounts have chip-and-pin and NFC for tap-to-pay transactions. In Ireland there’s also support for Google Pay and Apple Pay.
N26 also partners with TransferWise to give you the best exchange rates for foreign-currency payments and transfers directly from within the N26 app.
Along with all the product innovation, there are some down-sides to having your current account entirely online and based in a different country:
There are no branches to visit. If you need help with something that’s not covered within the app then you can either use the in-app chat or telephone one of their support reps – but they don’t yet support video conferencing, despite using it for account signup. Also the support lines are only available 9am – 6pm (German time) Monday to Saturday.
There have no means to accept or issue cheques. Most of the time that’s not an issue, as most people have now moved to electronic payments – but some organisations still issue cheques in the post or demand payment by a cashier’s cheque.
There are some Irish companies that can’t accept (or have great difficulty with) direct debit transaction from overseas banks. That’s not the fault of N26. SEPA regulations should allow all companies to accept payment from any bank account in the EU, but not all Irish companies are SEPA compliant!
N26 aren’t that great in dealing with fraudulent transactions. It would be better if they had a 24 hour phone line to deal with fraud and emergencies, and a process for reporting fraud that didn’t involve filling in a 4-page document for each transaction.
As long as theses limitations aren’t show-stoppers for you then I’d recommend N26 to you. I don’t actually use it as my only bank account. I still have an account with one of Ireland’s more traditional banks that’s used to pay the mortgage and the main bills – but I use N26 for my disposable cash, and it works very well.
I like the idea that fintech companies are innovating and pushing the boundaries of banking all the time – and I think that traditional high street banks should be worried for the future, as it won’t be long before online banking becomes the norm rather than the exception.
In the interest of full transparency, this post contain affiliate links to N26 which have the potential to earn me referral fees from anyone that goes on to open an account. If you’d rather not line my pockets then you can visit N26 by typing their URL into your browser: n26.com
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