Nickel Account: Our Opinion on Online Banking

Nickel, ring a bell? No, nothing? Yet the French neobank is probably the oldest and most popular of all the solutions mentioned in this comparison. Created in 2012, it currently boasts more than 1,122,300 open accounts. A number that would bring it closer to a Boursorama Bank or ING Direct!

But then why aren’t we talking more about it? The answer is simple: it’s all about targeting and distribution. The particularity of Nickel (the “account” was dropped from the name in 2018) is that it is distributed only totobacconists. Currently, you can open your current account in five minutes from a terminal present in some 4,000 tobacconists in France. The opening can, of course, also be done online.

Secondly, the neobank, with its services, is primarily aimed at those who are banned from banking and those with very low incomes. As a result, in the third quarter of 2017, 60% of customers earned less than the minimum wage

In 2017, Nickel became part of BNP Paribas, which bought back 95% of its shares for around 200 million euros However, the management team has remained in place and ensures that the BNP Chair on the Board of Directors has no impact on the products offered by Nickel.

Moreover, as we shall see, Nickel suffers from many ills in the face of competition, led by very high prices, despite its poor target.

The Nickel current account

To open an account with Nickel, you just have to go to a partner tobacconist and use the terminal provided. A list of outlets is available at this address. You will then leave with your Nickel box, including your credit card which will be charged 20 €. You can also subscribe online, but you will then have to wait for your Credit card to be received.

In any case, the Nickel current account will cost you 20 €/year, to which are added innumerable other charges which we will come back to below. For this price, you therefore benefit from an account without overdraft authorisation and its systematically authorised debit card, a French RIB in your name, the possibility of setting up direct debits, and total control over your spending and withdrawal limits.

Nickel’s good idea is to allow its customers to deposit cash at partner tobacconists. The other side of the coin is that each cash deposit will give rise to a commission of about 2% of the amount. Same when you reload your Bank Account via a credit card from your customer area!

The printing of the RIB is also charged €1 and each withdrawal from a cash dispenser will cost you €1 (€0.50 if you do it at a Nickel tobacconist’s). In other words, the bill can quickly become salty.

Nickel also has the unfortunate tendency to charge for services that should be free. Example: over 60 alert SMS messages sent by Nickel per year, the pack of 10 additional SMS messages is charged €1. Inconceivable in 2019.

An account accessible from age 12

One of Nickel’s unique features is that it allows anyone to open an account. For example, it is possible for Young People to open an account from the age of 12. To do so, the minor must be accompanied by a legal guardian, who must provide a photocopy of the family record book.

Recently, Nickel also offers its Nickel Chromium account, which is billed at 30 € … more than the 20 € annual already requested by the neobank. A premium offer finally cheaper than any other we were talking about previously, since the cost is about €5 per month. It offers the following advantages:

  • A MasterCard card with your name and customizable color
  • No charge for payments abroad, but 1 € per withdrawal
  • A battery of MasterCard insurance + travel insurance + winter sports insurance + death + online shopping delivery + personal belongings protection

A service similar to what most other neobanks offer in a more expensive way. Indeed, there are also insurances present in the Black and Premium offers of N26 and Revolut, which cost €120 and €95 per year respectively.

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Nickel bank card

We said it: Nickel offers its customers the benefit of a MasterCard. In the classic offer (20 € per year), the customer benefits from a non-nominative card with systematic authorisation.

The Nickel card provides € ,300 withdrawal over seven days and €1,500 payment over 30 dayss by default. It is possible to increase this limit to €500/3,000 and €800/5,000 directly in the application, as required.

For a minor account, these ceilings are €150 withdrawal on 7 sliding days and €350 payments on 30 sliding days.

As with other neobanks, the reloading of the account can be done directly by bank card and thus be totally instantaneous, but as we said in the previous chapter, Nickel charges a commission equal to 2% of the amount of the reloading made. A fee that the Nickel Chrome account option doesn’t even allow you to blow. Regrettable.

Payments are free of charge within the euro zone, but withdrawals are charged €1. Outside the euro zone, Nickel charges a flat-rate €1 for each card payment and €2 per withdrawal.

All these details make Nickel an account for French residents who do not intend to travel with their credit card Note that Nickel cards do not have contactless and are not compatible withmobile payment.

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The Nickel application

Nickel fortunately catches up on the previous points mentioned thanks to an application perfectly in line with its time and its competitors.

With no fancy features, the Nickel application is rated 3.3 (165 ratings) and 4 stars (3,134 ratings) respectively on the App Store and Play Store However, a look at the update history shows that Nickel took some time to allow customers to add payees for transfers to the application (December 2018).

From the application, it is possible to temporarily block your card or Internetpayments, as well as to retrieve the PIN code of your bank card via SMS (service charged €1). Moreover, it is totally possible to manage one’s current account from a well-designed online interface. This is ideal for those most allergic to banking from a smartphone.

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Nickel Account: Clubic’s opinion

Nickel may be a pioneer and may have made a successful transition to a more premium service after its purchase by BNP in 2017, but in our opinion it does not represent a real danger for the other new banks mentioned in the comparison.

In particular, it is accused of a significant amount of fees on transactions that we believe it would be absurd to charge in 2019. The classic account alone will cost you €20 per year, which is significantly more than any other neobank mentioned above. Especially since at this rate, you don’t even have a nominative bank card.

However, Nickel must be recognized for its great openness, especially to the lowest income earners and to banking bans. The neobank is fulfilling its commitment to be a “bank for all” and will thus meet the expectations of people with a very special profile. However, they are well advised to find out more about the various fees and commissions that Nickel charges. Luckily, the bank’s website is very clear about its rates.

Finally, let’s end on a positive note in spite of everything: the Nickel Chromium account appears to us as a rather solid alternative to all the other premium offers of the banks in the comparison. For €50 per year (€4.16 per month), you benefit from a very interesting insurance package and reduced costs abroad. There is also an offer accessible from the age of 12, which is rare enough to be highlighted and applauded.

Note: 6/12

Is it really so advantageous to leave my traditional bank for a 100% online solution?

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