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.


Meet the group building bridges between Danes and foreign residents

Moving to Denmark as an expat often turns out to be more difficult than you would expect. Snigdha Bansal, a student at Aarhus University's Mundus Journalism program, writes about the Facebook group trying to build bridges with Danes.

Meet the group building bridges between Danes and foreign residents
The group has six active admins, from both Denmark and elsewhere. Photo: Tine H. Jorgensen
Moving to Denmark as an expat, one looks forward to embracing Danish culture and getting integrated into one of the world’s happiest societies. However, it often turns out to be more difficult than you would expect. 
Established in 2019, ‘Beyond Stereotypes: Danes & Internationals’ seeks to facilitate interactions between expats and locals in Denmark
‘Difficult to integrate with the Danes’
Poulomi Deb Bose, 33, moved to Denmark from India with her husband in June 2019. She says Danes have been very helpful in everyday interactions – at supermarkets, or at bus stops, helping her find her way in English. However, it has been integrating with them that has proved difficult.
“My interaction with Danes is limited to my landlord or people at the local kommune. It’s even difficult to spot them around, unless at the gym, where it never goes beyond a smile. It is a lot easier to talk to other internationals”, she says.
A couple months ago, a friend told her about a Facebook group with not just internationals but also Danes. Up until then, she had only been part of the groups with Internationals and this was the first of its kind where both communities were encouraged to interact with each other.
‘Building bridges’
Beyond Stereotypes: Danes & Internationals is a Facebook group with over 2,400 members.
The group was formed by Tine H. Jorgensen, a 56-year old academic and practitioner. While it acts as a meeting point for expats in Denmark and Danes, members are also invited to share their own unique experiences of interactions within the community to inspire and help others.
The idea of the group was sparked in early 2019 by a conversation Jorgensen had after a radio show in Aarhus where she was performing clairvoyance on air. The host of the show, Houda Naji from Morocco, and Enas Elgarhy, another invitee from Egypt, told her of their experiences of getting married to Danes and settling in Denmark.
“They talked about how difficult it was to make Danish friends, how long it took to get a CPR number which was needed for basic things like going to the gym, and other issues that made me realise how ridiculous it was for internationals. I asked myself what I could do about this.”
She decided the least she could do was to start a Facebook group, and invited both Naji and Elgarhy to join her as admins.
As the group has grown, its “bridge-building” role has become clearer, says Jorgensen, as more International and Danish admins come on board. 
The group organises monthly meet-ups for members to interact. Photo: Tine H. Jorgensen
‘Challenging our own biases’
Marta Gabriela Rodriguez-Karpowicz is a 38-year old life coach from Poland who recently started her own practice after working at the Danish corporation Vestas for almost 10 years.
She recently became a Danish citizen after 12 years of living in the country and is also an admin of the group. She took on the role because she believed that it would be “a worthwhile effort to build bridges between Danes and Internationals, which doesn’t appear to be happening naturally.” She wanted to be a part of this initiative owing to her own struggles to integrate and her experience of having grown past that phase, using which she could help others. 
“I also wanted to identify which biases I still had myself, so I could challenge them and grow beyond stereotypes”, she says.
‘Overcoming challenges’
The group connects people across Denmark by organising hobby-based meet-ups, providing a platform to discuss travel stories around Denmark as well as social issues such as racism. Job postings and job-seeking posts are also welcome, which some would say is the biggest challenge. 
Both Bose and Rodriguez-Karpowicz accompanied their husbands who found jobs in Denmark, and did not expect the difficulties they would face while finding jobs for themselves.
Bose associates it with the trust factor that is deeply ingrained in Danes. “I have realised they can be quite rigid in trusting outsiders for jobs or with references”, she says. 
This is also an area Rodriguez-Karpowicz believes she can help members with, since she found it difficult to get a job despite being “highly educated and experienced”, but eventually managed.
Integration in a new country can be difficult, but expats shouldn’t give up, according to Jorgensen. 
She acknowledges that racism does exist in Denmark, but at the same time, there are a lot of Danes who are very welcoming, and that’s the Danish attitude she wanted to highlight.
“I wanted to do my little bit to bring that forward, and connect people in a practical way.”