The Best Bank Accounts in Belgium in just one more click

Compare the best options on the market and choose the one which best adapts to your day to day needs.

Our Rating: 9.5/10

Best Overall Bank for Expats

✔️ Free standard account
✔️ Free Mastercard debit card
Up to €10,000 overdraft allowance
Free Unlimited Payments in any currency
Free ATM cash withdrawals in Euros

N26 Bank Review

One of the real upcoming giants in the digital world of banking is N26. Launched in 2015, it now has a full European Banking license, operating in 25 markets worldwide with over 5 million customers. 

Your money is safe as can be in this digital bank since it is supervised by the Financial Markets Regulator. This means that clients’ funds are guaranteed up to €100,000 by the Deposit Protection Fund. 

What does N26 offer and how do its different tiers work?

N26 offers “zero exchange fees on card payments in any currency” which is really useful for any of you who like to travel. 

Since the bank account comes along with a free Mastercard Debit card (and an optional Maestro Card), your ability to pay should be accepted pretty much everywhere.

The sign-up process is short and can be easily be done completely in English, as well as French, German, Italian and Spanish. Which is a huge bonus over other banks if you struggle with the local languages in Belgium. 

It is important to note though, that you will need some form of EU/EFTA residence to open an account.

To give you a quick rundown on the 3 tiers N26 offers, here it goes.

The Basic N26 Bank account

The standard N26 bank account, with all its basic functions, is free and doesn’t charge any opening or maintenance fees at all. 

With it, you can gain access to its online and mobile banking with a super easy-to-use app. And make unlimited payments in any currency anywhere in the world with your card or phone. Also, you can withdraw cash for free from ATMs up to 3 times per month. 

 The interface is honestly great, along with fantastic customer support to help you with everything.

You can even set up 2 sub-accounts with features to help you budget and manage your money to meet your financial goals. 

It also uses artificial intelligence to “automatically categorize your spending”. So you can see the total amount you’re spending in each category. You can even create your own #tags categories – “#gifts # friends #eatingout, you name it.” 

N26 also makes it pretty simple and easy to use in exporting your transaction information and downloading it as a CSV or PDF file to make your tax returns and invoicing easier.

N26 You

For higher levels of features, you can upgrade to an N26 You account for €9.90 per month. 

This increases your free cash withdrawals in the Eurozone to 5 times per month. Also, you now can have unlimited free ATM cash withdrawals worldwide in any currency outside the Eurozone. You also get some extra-poppy debit card colors to choose from. 

N26 You gives you a whole travel insurance package to protect you with Medical insurance, Trip insurance, Flight insurance and Luggage coverage. 

This definitely helps for people who like to travel by giving you peace of mind that you’re covered against any unpleasant surprises. 

If you thought you weren’t insured enough, it also provides Mobility insurance for shared vehicles, covering you for damages of up to €20,000. There’s also Winter sport insurance in case of accidents on trips to the mountains.

N26 You also increases the number of sub-accounts you can create. From the basic 2 to up to 10 sub-accounts so that you can better organize your money and save for different goals and projects. 

Finally, N26 You grants you premium partner offers and discounts with world-class brands. Which is a huge bonus for those who like to buy things from those partners anyways. 

You might even end up saving more through the discounts than what you actually pay in the monthly fee. So, this is definitely a great option to consider.

N26 Metal

Then, if you want to upgrade to the highest level of N26 Metal for €16,90 per month, you get to choose from 3 metallic shades to get a stainless-steel Debit card.  

Now on top of the N26 You benefits, your Eurozone withdrawals increase to 8 per month.  Also, you’re given Car rental insurance for your rental care hires away from home of up to €20,000 as well as Phone insurance of up to €1,000 against theft and damages if the event and phone are eligible. 

N26 Metal expands on the previous offers and discounts with their partners to bring Metal customers “access benefits and bespoke rewards” to complement your everyday, “from hard-to-find tickets, VIP passes to private events, unique workshops and memorable days out”. 

You’re also given a dedicated priority phone line so you can call them to sort out any questions you have immediately. 

Whilst some people might think N26 Metal is a bit ‘extra’ for most normal people above the N26 You, given the relatively cheap price tag versus the benefits, its actually a very attractive bank account tier to go for. 

Of course, which one of the 3 tiers of accounts best fits you personally is up to you decide. 

If you want the most basic version there is, the standard N26 account works best. 

For more dedicated features, offers and support for those who might like to travel with extra perks and benefits, N26 You and N26 Metal are definitely the best for you. 

N26 Bottom line: 

N26 is definitely the best digital bank to use for foreigners and people who aren’t super comfortable with the local languages. 

It’s very simple to use and has the best digital app interface there is. And with the higher tiers, it can offer some of the best packages of perks and services that you would want. 

The only possible downside is that since it is fully online and there aren’t any physical branches you can visit in Belgium, you don’t have anyone you can talk to face-to-face to help sort out any questions you might have. 

But since they always have online chat support and even a dedicated phone line for Metal customers, you should have no real problems getting your questions sorted out. They are well known for their high customer satisfaction and service.

Our Rating: 9.1/10

Best for Sustainable Investing

✔️ Great for choosing to invest your money sustainably
✔️ Excellent money management features
Really worth it if you go for the higher tiers that aren’t free
Choice of Mastercard and Maestro debit cards, as well as a Mastercard credit card

Bunq Bank Review

Bunq is another one of the up-and-coming digital banks. Founded in 2015, this Dutch Bank is similar to N26 with its 3 tiers of accounts (Travel, Premium, and SuperGreen) and helpful interface and support. 

Besides online banking, it has extra unique features in creating sub-accounts and budgeting. 

It automates a lot of things like its auto-save feature that rounds up payments to the nearest euro and deposits that money into specific sub-accounts. Or other things like automatic payment of invoices via scanning, making life a lot easier for you. 

You also have the choice of having up to 3 cards of Maestro and Mastercard Debit cards, as well as a Mastercard credit card.

But what really sets apart from the rest is the “Freedom of Choice” in allowing you to choose if and how your money is invested. 

Unlike other traditional big banks that might invest in funds and industries that might conduct unsustainable practices, with Bunq you can have more say in where your money is invested. 

If you go for the highest tier of the SuperGreen card, on top of its advanced money management features, you also make the world greener by planting a tree every time you spend €100.

Bunq Bottom Line: 

Bunq is a great option for those who want advanced features in the management of your money and how it is used sustainably. It also has some of the best ratings in customer service and satisfaction. 

It is worth noting the downside that if you use the most basic free Travel Card plan, the number of features you have access to is really restricted. There are even fees for services such as a €0.99 fee for ATM withdrawals using the basic Travel Card plan. 

So to really bring out the best of Bunq and its free great features, you will need to upgrade to one of the higher tiers and have to pay a monthly fee.

Our Rating: 8.9/10

Best Traditional Brick & Mortar Bank

✔️ Massive ATM and physical branch network
✔️ Great Customer Service
Free accounts for those aged 18 to 28
“Premium Bonus” scheme allows you to keep the premium account free even after the first year.
Very attractive offers for expats

BNP Paribas Fortis Bank Review

If you’re not totally comfortable with handling all your banking online and would prefer to have access to a physical branch for face-to-face contact, then BNP Paribas Fortis is the best choice.

With a massive network of over 700 branches and 3,700 ATMs in Belgium, finding this bank will be pretty easy for you. 

What makes BNP Paribas Fortis interesting are the various different accounts and offers they have. One example is that their premium account is free for the first year. The premium account includes having up to 3 accounts that you can have your spouse and child use alongside other benefits. 

You can even hold up to 3 different currencies in the current account. This is very useful for those who like to travel a lot or receive and send payments in different currencies. Their Mastercard debit  

They even have a “Premium Bonus” scheme where even after the first year, you can keep your account free from monthly maintenance fees if you meet certain loyalty requirements.

If you’re between the ages of 18 and 28, then BNP Paribas Fortis has an amazing “Hello4You” package which gives you both a completely free current account and savings account. 

Overall, they offer great introductory packages and services for new customers, especially if you’re an expat. Their customer support and banking advisors offer their services in many languages. Which is great if you’re not too comfortable with the local languages.

Their mobile app is also pretty simple to use and allows you to manage all your finances from your phone. So you’re not forced to have to go to a physical branch every time you want to manage your transactions.

Also, since it is a traditional bank, you’ll have access to all the more complex financial services that the mobile banks can’t offer such as savings accounts, loans, mortgages, etc. So if you’re looking for an all-in-one bank for all your financial needs, then BNP Paribas Fortis is a great candidate.

BNP Paribas Fortis Bottom Line:

BNP Paribas Fortis is a fantastic option for a traditional bank in Belgium and it is especially friendly to foreigners and non-residents. 

It provides a great combination of rates and services that can even come completely free if you meet certain requirements. And even if you don’t fit the criteria, the fees are extremely low given the services and benefits offered.

Since it is a traditional bank, you also have the option of handling all your financial needs in one bank. Which saves you the headache of dealing with multiple banks.

The only downside could be that if you’re above the age of 28, then the current accounts usually aren’t free unless you meet the “Premium Bonus” requirements. Which, its best to read on the website exactly what it entails but the requirements are quite extensive. 

But if you’re above the age of 28 and can easily fit the requirements, then there is no real downside at all.

Things to know about Belgian bank accounts

Just a quick 2 min read about the most common issues we see with our readers:

What are “Bancontact” or “Mister Cash” cards?

If you’ve arrived in Belgium, then you’ve likely come across someone asking for your “Bancontact” or “Mister Cash” when you want to pay with a card. Most people who come to Belgium get confused by this.

Basically, Mister Cash is the predecessor to the Bancontact card, and it is the most used debit card in Belgium with over 15 million cards in circulation. Yet many still commonly refer to Bancontact as Mister Cash.

There is no real difference between them so don’t be alarmed. They are both referring to the most used Belgian debit card system, where payments or cash withdrawals are directly linked to your current/checking account.

How do I open a checking account at these banks or any other bank in Belgium?

Opening a checking account with a bank in Belgium is relatively simple to do and can be done relatively quickly (in 30 minutes or so) if you do their sign-up process in person and even shorter if done online.

Digital Banks like N26 or Bunq offer sign-up processes that are usually much shorter. And they can be done from the comfort of your phone or laptop where you can scan your documents using your webcam or phone camera.

But usually, there are some information or document requirements which may vary from bank to bank. If you follow this list, you should be pretty safe.

Usual requirements for opening checking accounts in Belgium:

  • Completed application form with Name, Address, Nationality, Income, etc
  • Valid Passport or ID (if you are opening a joint account with another person, make sure they have their documents too)
  • Proof of address or registration (like a recent utility bill, but not all banks need this)
  • Initial Deposit (depends on your bank how much they will require as a minimum)
  • Proof of income or employment (usually only required by more strict banks)

Whether you are a Belgian resident or not will also affect what type of current account you can have (“resident” or “non-resident” account) and which banks you can sign up with.

It’s best to check out their websites or speak with them directly to find out. They’re usually very helpful in giving you the information you need.

International online banks like N26 or Bunq usually tend to be the easiest and most open to non-residents, but it’s also worth checking out traditional ones like BNP Paribas Fortis.

How to close or change bank accounts in Belgium

Closing or switching bank accounts is pretty simple to do in Belgium as long as you don’t owe the bank any money.

Usually, there tends to be a “closing account order” application or letter you need to complete and sign. Or, you can either visit a physical branch or call them and they’re usually very friendly in helping you out in closing your account.

Make sure to ask that you’re following all the correct requirements and don’t have any fees that you have not paid off yet.

Things you have to make sure to do are:

  • Make sure you don’t get charged any penalty fees for closing the account before a specified “minimum” time has elapsed since you opened the account.
  • Get written confirmation in the form of a letter or email that the account has officially been closed
  • If you’re switching over to a new account, transfer over all future incoming and outgoing payments such as direct debits, salaries, or standing orders. Usually, either the old bank or the new bank that your switching to will take care of this if you ask.
  • Make sure you’ve transferred all your money out of the old account and into the new account.
  • Let your employer and, others who would transfer money to you, know that your old account will no longer work.

Wrapping up

So overall you can see, choosing a bank account can be hard at first, but becomes easier if you know what exactly that you want. So try to make a list of the things that are important to you such as language or having physical branches, etc.

Then, try visiting their websites or even physical branches if they have any, to check out the different accounts (if they have more than one) and other products that they offer. You should be able to get a feeling for the banks pretty quickly and which one suits you.

If you feel comfortable with these banks you may even want to get more products from them like a savings account to earn interest on your money.

Once you’ve developed a relationship with your bank, later on, you might even get a business account, loan or mortgage from them once you develop a bit of credit history that they can evaluate you on.

But don’t worry too much about it if you end up opening an account with a bank which you don’t end up liking later. Banks in Belgium allow you to close an account and switch over to another pretty easily and without a hassle.

Keep in mind though that I personally find it very useful to have two checking accounts instead of just one. So that in case there is ever an issue with one, you can still access your money in the other, so you’re not left stranded with no money.

Personally, I’ve become a fan of the online digital banks because of how simple and easy it is to do everything with banks like N26 or Bunq from the comfort of my phone or laptop. But of course, you should only do so if you’re comfortable with doing all your banking online.

On the other hand, online banks tend to not offer more complex financial management services like loans, health insurance or mortgages that would find at a traditional bank. So if you want some of those more complex products, you might need to look at more traditional banks like BNP Paribas Fortis.

But don’t worry. You can easily have a checking account at an online bank and still have other more complex products from other banks.

If you’re arriving in Belgium soon, make sure to sort out your bank account sooner rather than later in case there are any delays, depending on the bank you sign up with. Life will be a lot more difficult if you don’t have one.

In the end, it is up to you and what you need that will decide which is the best bank for you. Hopefully, this article will have helped you with it.

Good luck with opening a bank account in Belgium. If you have any questions or want us to write another post on something else too, let us know here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a foreigner or non-resident open a bank account in Belgium?

A person of any nationality can open a bank account in Belgium, but some banks might require at least a residence in Belgium or in the EU/EFTA region depending on the accounts available.

If you are a non-resident, you will only be able to open a non-resident account and you might be subject to higher interest rates and might be limited in some services at Belgian banks. Traditional banks usually have a dedicated department for setting up non-resident/international accounts.

Usually, it tends to be the online banks that are the most open with residence requirements and some even allow residence from pretty much anywhere in the world.

But it is important to check with a bank yourself if they accept your country of residence. You can usually do so on the website or during the sign-up process.

Can I have two bank accounts in Belgium?

Yes, you can have as many bank accounts as you like in Belgium. Just be aware of the extra hassle and possibly extra cost if you go for accounts that charge monthly fees.

Even if you go with a “free” account as the extra one, check that you keep meeting the minimum flow of income if it is required to keep them from charging you a fee. Some banks tend to do this, so check in case.

Can I keep my Belgian bank accounts even after I leave Belgium?

Yes, you can keep your Belgian bank accounts even after you leave Belgium. But be aware of some changes that might happen with how you handle your account.

Some banks might charge you fees if you have a resident account but are no longer a resident in Belgium.

Also, your tax status may change, or some banks may not be able to send you important notifications and PIN numbers if you change to a foreign number.

But these things vary a lot from bank to bank and its best to ask them and they should be happy to help. Overall, it is usually very helpful to keep your account since it might come in handy later.

If it’s a resident account at a traditional bank that charges a lot of fees if you are no longer a resident, then it might be better to close the account. In this sense, N26 or Bunq are known to be very friendly since they don’t require Belgian residency.

How long do applications for bank accounts in Belgium take?

Once you’ve booked and arrived at the appointment made at the physical branch, standard traditional banks usually take a day, or a few days at most, to approve and open a new bank account.

They usually tend to take longer than digital banks since they sometimes need to send you documents to your address.

Online digital banks instead usually approve and open your bank account for you within 24 hours if not immediately.

How can I set up an overdraft?

The process to set up an overdraft will depend on the bank itself and will often have very different policies and requirements. Usually, you have to complete an overdraft application form in order to set up the facility for an overdraft in case you might need it.

Digital banks tend to reply and approve/reject your application within a few days or even within the same day. On the other end, traditional banks can sometimes take weeks to process your application.

Be aware that some banks tend to be quite strict with their overdrafts and may require months of credit history before accepting an application.

Banks will also differ in the amount they allow for you to have on your overdraft. Some will allow a fixed amount (such as up to €10,000 for an N26 overdraft) or an amount relative to your average net monthly income.

But be careful with your overdraft and make sure to pay it off as quickly as possible to avoid the interest charges (which vary from bank to bank).

What is the minimum age to open a bank account in Belgium?

Usually, banks require a minimum age of 18 in order to open your own bank account, but this can vary from bank to bank in their process and requirements, especially for digital banks.

Normally, banks tend to allow parents or legal guardians to open bank accounts for their children if they are under the age of 18.

Can I open a bank account for my children?

Yes, you can open a bank account for your child if they are under the age of 18.

Remember that you will need to provide the ID or Passport for both you and your child. Some banks might require that the parent needs to already have an account with the same bank too.