Easier for expats: Danish digital bank opens to non-citizens

Expat life is full of challenges and those living in Denmark often struggle with the language and the weather. You are also required to get a Danish bank account – which can prove more challenging than it sounds.

Easier for expats: Danish digital bank opens to non-citizens
Photo: Lunar

Many Danish banks charge for accounts, debit cards, transfers and more, which can make it difficult for expats to understand and compare the fees.

Now Lunar, a digital bank, is open for the first time to EU citizens living, working and studying in Denmark. You can get a free account and card, as well as doing all your banking in one free app – in English.

Easy onboarding

Setting up a bank account can sometimes feel more difficult than you would expect in today’s digital world. Denmark’s strict recent ‘nedlukning’ (lockdown) has made it even trickier to get many things done.  

Download and try out Lunar’s app today – all you need is a Danish mobile number

Digital banking is designed to make life easier – now and in the future. To get a Lunar account, you can apply directly on your mobile without the inconvenience of having to go to a branch.

If you’re over 18, an EU citizen (still including British passport holders in 2020) and have a Danish personal registration number and NemID, you can apply. You’ll get a Visa card without annual fees and join 150,000 people who already hold Lunar bank accounts.

If you’re new to Denmark and just learned you need a NemKonto (an account that public authorities can transfer benefits, tax refunds, pensions and so on into), you can relax. You can simply choose in the Lunar app to make your new account your NemKonto.

Photo: Lunar

Track spending – and saving

To keep track of personal finances, it helps to break things down into categories. In the Lunar app, you can just tap ‘Spend’ to see your outgoings divided into groceries, entertainment, personal care and more.

Keep track of all your spending and saving goals by signing up with Lunar

Find it hard to resist compulsive purchases? You can also set category spending limits, for example, a maximum of DKK 2,000 per month on food and drinks.

Choosing to get instant notifications for each purchase can make it even easier to ensure you know how much of your monthly limits you have remaining. You can also pay a bill just by taking a photo.

Digital tracking in real-time can help you control what you spend – and therefore also help you to focus on savings. Whether you are putting money away for gifts, travel or a rainy day, Lunar’s personalised Goals feature allows you to set your own targets and savings rules.

Special features

Virtual cards – which only exist digitally – are a new way of reducing the risk of fraud. They use dynamic security codes that are updated hourly and can be easily deleted whenever you want.

Get a virtual card and much more for free with Lunar’s English language app

All Lunar users get a virtual card in the app for free. If you upgrade to Lunar Premium, you can get up to five virtual cards. Other Premium benefits include three bank accounts to help manage your personal finances, as well as worldwide travel and luggage insurance.

Lunar’s other standard features include Benefits, which rewards users with treats, perks and deals from brands covering everything from transport to kitchen equipment. Lunar is also looking to partner with start-ups needing support during the coronavirus pandemic to offer new rewards.

You may have an eye on the future and want a bank that can help you make and manage investments. With Lunar Invest, you can buy and sell stocks with clear fees and no minimum expenditure.

For members


REVEALED: Danish banks’ policies on non-Danish speaking customers

We asked Denmark’s largest banks about their policies towards customers who don’t speak Danish. Here’s what they told us.

REVEALED: Danish banks’ policies on non-Danish speaking customers

Anyone with legal residence in Denmark or another EU country has the right to a bank account and banks are obliged to offer basic accounts within 10 days of application.

But rules are not always complied with when the potential customer does not speak Danish, according to a recent report by newspaper Politiken.

One bank in Denmark, Coop Bank, has turned away customers who don’t speak Danish, Politiken reported, citing the case of a Malaysian man who was told that he could not have an account because he didn’t speak Danish. 

READ ALSO: Danish bank Coop refuses to open accounts for non-Danish speakers

A reader of The Local contacted us to say they had also experienced being turned down for an account by Coop Bank.

“They refuse to open the account for me too. They didn’t ask if I have some one that could translate, they directly decided not to open the account,” they said in an email.

A second person said they had opened an account at Coop before it was later closed.

The reader told us in an email that the bank had begun to monitor their account “the moment they noticed I am from Africa”.

The person said that Coop Bank repeatedly asked them to provide explanations for withdrawals and deposits.

“When I told them this was becoming too much, they blocked my account,” they said, adding that they had since opened an account with a different bank.

The CEO of Coop Bank, Allan Nørholm, told Politiken that Coop would change its practice if it found it to be against the law. He also said that the bank should not refuse accounts to customers on the basis of their lack of Danish.

“We should naturally not generally turn away a customer who cannot speak Danish if we can confirm that the customer has access to someone who can help with translation. We will correct this,” he told Politiken.

Responding to a comment request from The Local, Nørholm did not confirm the report that Coop had turned down customers in the past for being unable to speak Danish.

“Everyone is welcome as a customer with us,” the Coop Bank CEO said in a written response.

“We have many customers who don’t speak or understand Danish. But we cannot guarantee being able to give precise advice in languages other than Danish,” he said.

“We no longer contact non-Danish speaking customers to ensure that they understand or can get help with understanding our agreements, available services and so on,” he added.

The Local contacted seven of Denmark’s largest banks to ask about their policies on customers who don’t speak Danish.

Of the seven, one bank, Spar Nord, didn’t get back to us. A second, Sydbank, has promised to get back to us with an answer. We’ll update this article to include it once we hear from them.

We asked each of the banks whether they accepted customers who don’t speak Danish, provided they have legal residence in Denmark, an address in the country and a personal registration (CPR) number.

All five banks to have provided answers – Arbejdernes Landsbank, Danske Bank, Jyske Bank, Nordea and Nykredit– said yes, they do offer accounts to such customers.

We also asked the banks whether they have information on their products and services in languages other than Danish, whether their website has an English version, and whether non-Danish speaking customers should be aware of anything in particular when opening accounts with them.

“Nordea communicates in Danish and English. If there’s anything you need further to this, you should get help from a friend or family member or an interpreter,” Nordea’s head of communication Javier Lopez Garrido said via email.

Nordea offers guidelines for new customers in English and an English version of both its app and online banking. Its main landing page is not available in English but does include English-language information pages.

It also has English translations of several elements of its terms and conditions, including general T&Cs for private customers, data policies, loan and credit terms and conditions and rules relating to Denmark’s direct debit system, betalingsservice.

“We have an English-language version of our daily banking products and we also have an English-language application flow,” Danske Bank chief communications consultant Mads Sixhøj wrote.

Danske Bank, which has an English version of its website, accepts all customers with a Danish address and legal residence provided they meet with general legal requirements, he said.

“We generally have good options for giving service and advising our customers in English. We can also mention that you can select English as the language on our mobile and online banking,” he added.

Jyske Bank’s director of communications and marketing Erik Qvirin Hansen said “you can open an account at Jyske Bank if you reside in Denmark and have a MitID [digital ID, ed.], regardless of whether or not you speak Danish.”

“We will typically be able to offer to speak Danish and English with our customers,” he said.

Although Jyske Bank does not have an English website, its contact form for opening an account has an English version. Once this is submitted, an advisor who can speak English will contact the potential customer, he said.

Jyske Bank has an English version of its online banking and has English versions of selected documents.

To open an account at Nykredit, a customer must bring proof of address in Denmark but there is no language requirement, press consultant Peter Klaaborg said.

“Non-Danish speaking customers can get information about our products by contacting our advisors,” he said.

People who don’t speak Danish are “naturally” accepted to open accounts at Arbejdernes Landsbank, director of branding and communications Peter Froulund told The Local.

“You are welcome like everyone else,” he wrote.

The bank has an English version of its website, he noted.

According to information provided by the Danish Financial Supervisory Authority (Finanstilsynet) to Politiken, banks cannot refuse to open a basic current account for customers if they do not speak Danish.

However, banks are not obliged to communicate with customers in a language they understand.

As such, a customer who does not speak Danish may risk being unable to understand communications from a bank which chooses only to use Danish.