Penta bank review: the business bank account to rule them all?

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Germany. The land of glorious SMEs, praised by all for their efficiency & success. A crown jewel of the German economy. One would think that the banking infrastructure supporting it would reflect this appetite for efficiency.

Wrong. Business bank accounts offered by traditional banks are notoriously bureaucracy-heavy, costly, unflexible & not fit for the digital age. And that’s not mentioning their lack of support for first-time founders or newcomers in Germany.

Penta bank is the challenger that aims to disrupt business banking in Germany, just like N26 disrupted personal banking a few years back. This Penta bank review provides an in-depth look – what it is, what makes it different, who it’s suitable for, and who should not consider this option for business banking in Germany.

What’s different about Penta

Penta is a fintech startup based in Berlin. It was started by a team of entrepreneurs who were frustrated by the services offered by traditional German banks. In an effort to improve banking for businesses, they decided to build a system that was intuitive, accessible, and easy to set up.

Penta’s offering is tailored to smaller companies who want a digital first, customer oriented business account. A prerequisite of signing up is that your company is headquartered in Germany. It easily fits into your business & accounting routine, saving you and your team valuable time.

Penta bank review: too long, didn’t read

I get it. A super long review is not everyone’s cup of tea. If you want to have a quick glance at the main findings, simply read the following bullet point list. You can then read the particular points that interest you in this detail Penta bank review.

  • Penta is a business account for small to medium companies, and for first-time founders.
  • Sign-up process is super easy, service 100% in English. 1 Month free trial, no strings attached. The first tier will be enough for most businesses (9€/month).
  • Fees are much lower than in traditional banks, flexibility a lot higher.
  • It syncs well with the other accounting & controlling tools you work with. Handling company/employee expenses is a breeze.
  • Penta is not recommended for freelancers as the feature set is not right for them (Prefer N26 or Kontist instead).
  • Penta is not recommended for businesses handling a lot of cash. Penta was clearly not designed with cash in mind.
  • As usual with Neobanks, users love the user interface and the low fees, but customer support can sometimes be a hit or miss. However, there is phone supports for all users regardless of plans.
  • No overdraft possible.
  • Penta can help with setting up an a company in Germany for an extra (fair) fee.
  • USPs are truly unique: cash flow forecast & loan applications right from the app.

Penta’s main features at a glance

Let’s take a look at the list of features associated with each plan:

Starter (9€/month + VAT)

  • German IBAN and current account
  • Mobile App (iOS & Android)
  • 2 Penta account users
  • 2 Penta business debit cards 
  • 1 Sub Account 
  • 2 Free cash withdrawals
  • 100 outgoing SEPA-Transfers/mo *
  • Direct Debit payments
  • International payments – 1%
  • Batch payments**
  • User preparing payments***
  • Unlimited transactions history
  • Loan application right from the app
  • Google Pay

Comfort (19€/month + VAT)

  • German IBAN and current account
  • Mobile App (iOS & Android)
  • 5 Penta account users 
  • 5 Penta business debit cards 
  • 4 Sub accounts 
  • 3 Free cash withdrawals
  • 300 outgoing SEPA-Transfers/mo*
  • Direct Debit payments & collections 
  • International payments – 0.5% 
  • Batch payments**
  • User preparing payments***
  • Unlimited transactions history
  • Loan application right from the app
  • Google Pay

Premium users also enjoy the following:

  • Point-of-sale banking 
  • Chat Support
  • Virtual Cards
  • Penta Rewards
  • Cashflow forecast

Ultimate (for companies bigger than 60 employees, bespoke pricing)

  • German IBAN and current account
  • Mobile App (iOS & Android)
  • Penta account users
  • Penta business debit cards
  • 4 Sub accounts
  • Cash withdrawals
  • Unlimited Outgoing SEPA-Transfers/mo*
  • Direct Debit payments & collections
  • International payments
  • Batch payments**
  • User preparing payments***
  • Unlimited transactions history
  • Loan application right from the app
  • Google Pay

Ultimate users also enjoy the following:

  • Point-of-sale banking
  • Chat Support
  • Virtual Cards
  • Penta Rewards
  • Cashflow forecast
  • API access
  • Exclusive Penta Founders & Business Club

*SEPA outgoing transfers refer to any payment made from your account to another account in the SEPA zone. An incoming transfer is money received from an SEPA zone account.

**Batch Payments allow you to make numerous individual transfers at once. Instead of confirming each payment with an individual authorization SMS, you confirm multiple payments with just one.

*** Users can grant “Prepare Payments” permission so that payments can be prepared ahead of time.

Penta’s unique strengths & features

This Penta bank review also highlight the features that truly sets it apart from the competition:

Employee cards

Employee cards are great if you have multiple employees and really want to streamline spending. They allow you to equip your team with business debit cards and to easily control your team’s spending with limits and digital receipts. 

Kompass

There is one really cool feature that deserves a big spotlight in any Penta bank review – Kompass. If you’re thinking about starting a business but not sure how, then this service is for you. With Kompass you will receive advice on how to form your company from a lawyer, notary and tax advisor, and have everything coordinated by a dedicated Penta agent.

Penta Kompass is offered in two different packages – Express and Advisory. The main difference, other than the price, is that with Advisory you will get additional legal support.

The Express package costs a one-time fee of €239, while the Advisory costs €349.

Sub-accounts

Sub-accounts are essentially additional accounts on top of your existing main Penta account. Each of these accounts has an individual IBAN, allowing you to receive and send payments, view transactions and download bank statements just as you would from your main account. 

This is actually a very useful feature for businesses.

DATEV & accounting software integration

Another special feature of Penta is its integrated accounting features. Penta allows you to easily integrate external accounting software such as lexoffice or Debitoor, so you can upload receipts and assign transactions really easily. You can also set spending limits and export your entire transaction history in DATEV format.

Another godsend is that you can also give your accountant or tax advisor access rights to your account directly. Any freelancer who has ever dug out a shoebox full of receipts and tried to put together a comprehensive tax return will know the struggle, and how much time this will save.

Kfw Instaloan

Penta also allows you to easily apply for loans using their web app. Once you’ve created an account you can find and submit the loan application form. Once that is submitted it gets checked by the Vereinigte Volksbank Raiffeisenbank eG partner bank. This type of loan allows to lend up 300 000€ with a fixed 3% interest rate over 10 years, with an inital 2 year grace period, as part of the Corona-related aid packages.

Penta Slack community

Another unique feature that Penta offers is their Slack community. It’s a way of connecting with peers, learning about new Penta developments, chatting with the Penta team or just asking support related questions. Follow this link to join the Slack community.

Penta roadmap

Penta is still a work in progress in some respects – and the company is completely open about this fact. If you feel like there’s a feature missing, you can easily check out Penta’s Roadmap to see if it’s in the developmental pipeline. The Roadmap shows exactly what Penta has planned, how it’s going, and gives a rough idea of how close to ready it is. It’s this complete transparency which other banks lack, and it’s promising that Penta has integrated this into their business model. 

Cashflow forecasts

Based on the data at hand & analyzing ingoing & outgoing transactions, Penta lets you to see into the future of your bank balance, so you can plan investments and spending with peace of mind. Every Penta bank review will tell you: this is super unique on the market, even if it doesn’t replace a financial advisor.

Penta rewards

Penta premium & ultimate users have access to a list of curated deals for SMEs. Things like AWS credits, Stripe preferential conditions or DriveNow deals for their employees.

With Penta, you say bye bye to the old school business banking of brick and mortar banks

What are Penta’s weaknesses?

A Penta bank review should also mention the areas that are still lacking.

No cash deposits possible

For starters, it’s impossible to make cash deposits at this time. This problem isn’t unique to Penta and it’s something that all digital banks struggle with, however some have already figured out how to make this accessible to customers. If your business is cash-heavy or cash-dependent. Penta won’t be the right choice for you.

No overdraft

There is no overdraft facility, so Penta doesn’t offer overdrafts. This might not be a complete deal breaker for most businesses, but it’s a nice safety net to have if you need it.

Inequal access to customer support

In terms of support, Starter account holders don’t have the same access to chat support that Premium and Ultimate account holders do. Phone support is also limited to working hours (9:00 – 18:00), so if you have an emergency outside of these times you will have to wait until the next day to get in contact with someone. 

How much does Penta cost?

Penta offers three different account options – Starter, Comfort and Enterprise. The first two have fixed prices per month while the Ultimate package depends on the size of your company and your usage. The more you pay, the more features you get.

  • Starter Account – €9/month (+VAT)
  • Comfort Account – €19/month (+VAT)
  • Enterprise Account – €49/month (+VAT)

The Ultimate package is recommended for bigger companies with more than 60 employees that require a tailored solution rather than a fixed one. Since companies of this size will more than likely exceed the transaction limits of the other plans, the number of features, withdrawals and fees are planned according to the size and needs of the company. To find out exactly how much it will cost, you first have to email a Penta representative. 

Other fees may include:

  • International payments are made via Penta Global Money and cost between 0.5% and 1.0% of the transferred amount, depending on the plan, plus a fee of €6.00 for each payment via the fast SWIFT network, or €0.50 per local transfer.
  • Any additional cash withdrawals over the free limit will cost €2 each.
  • Kompass services: The Express package costs a one-time fee of €239, while the Advisory costs €349.
  • Additional out-going SEPA transfer beyond the monthy limit: €0.30
  • Additional user: €2
  • Additional VISA card: €2
  • Additional subaccount: €4

While these prices give an overview of how much a monthly membership with Penta will cost, they don’t quite tell the full story. Our Penta bank review does: since withdrawals, international transfers and SEPA transfers quickly become expensive once the free limit is reached, bigger businesses that make many transactions will likely be paying much more than €19 per month. Users who exceed the free transaction limit pay significantly more at Penta than at many other digital banks. However, as long as the bookings remain within the limits, it’s a good and cost-effective option.

Full list of fees available here.

Penta App screenshots

How do I open a Penta bank account?

Registering for a Penta account takes about 15 minutes. 

  1. Select your pricing plan.
    Choose between Starter (9€/month), Comfort (19€/month) and Enterprise (49€/month). There is one month free trial, no strings attached.
  2. Enter your email address, the country your business is based and its legal form.
    Businesses, freelancers and self-employed workers are all eligible for an account. If you’re in the process of incorporating your business (GmbH in Gründung and UG in Gründung), you can also apply. German businesses with the following classifications can apply:
    • UG
    • GmbH
    • AG
    • GbR
    • OHG
    • PartG
    • KG
    • e.K.
    • eG.
  3. Provide information about your business and yourself.
    This includes your trading name, the industry it belongs to, the purpose of the business, the date it was formed and expected monthly revenue. You will also be asked for the physical address of the business, and some personal information such as your country of birth and tax identification number.
  4. Upload any relevant documents.
    If you have any tax certificates relevant to your company’s formation, you can upload them here. More about that here after.
  5. Verify your identity.
    In the next step, all legal representatives of your company must identify themselves via video identification with IDnow. This involves presenting your face next to your passport/ID card, filming certain details on the document and answering a few questions. This whole process happens in real-time so you’ll know immediately if the verification is successful.
  6. Answer compliance questions.
    You will need to answer a number of compliance questions about your company from Solarisbank AG.
  7. Wait for confirmation.
    Once you’ve entered all of your information and answered the compliance questions, the account will be opened within two banking days. In some cases, if the structure of a business is particularly complex, the account opening might take a few extra days.

Penta bank review: additional documents required to open an account

Because different business forms have different requirements, you’ll need to have the relevant documents for your particular business form when opening an account.

  • In the case of a GmbH or UG in formation, you will need the sample protocol (the roll of deeds) which must be certified and dated with a stamp or seal and the articles of association or shareholder list.
  • In the case of a GbR, you need to provide the articles of association dated and signed by all partners, which clearly show the rights of representation and ownership.
  • If a legal entity is one of the legal representatives of the company, you also require the list of shareholders or the articles of association of the legal entity (of the associated company) from which the rights of representation and ownership can be seen
  • In the case of a GmbH, UG, GmbH & Co. KG, KG or OHG, AG the extract from the commercial register and the list of shareholders.
  • In case of an eG the extract from the register of cooperatives and the statutes.
  • For registered traders (e.K.) and PartG the register excerpt

You will also need to present additional documents if any of the following apply to your company:

  • Your company or a parent company is registered outside Germany.
  • Your company is a stock corporation that is not listed on the stock exchange.
  • The voting rights of your company differ from the information in the register extract (the shareholders or general partners are not the beneficial owners).

Penta review: What do customers say?

Trustpilot

Based on over 500 Penta bank reviews, the consensus on Trustpilot was overwhelmingly positive. 78% of reviewers gave Penta the highest rating – excellent. The most popular features of Penta seem to be the comprehensive support system as well as the easy-to-use interface of both the web and mobile apps. Others, however, complained about the lack of support and the lengthy waiting times to open an account.

Apple Store

The Apple store has considerably less Penta bank reviews with 130. Keep in mind this is for the mobile app only and it’s totally reflective of the web app. That being said, it received an average of 3.7 out of 5. Many of the top reviewers praised the app’s functionality and intuitiveness, whereas negative reviews highlighted some problems with logging in and the app crashing on newer iPhone models.

Playstore

Android users gave the app an average of 4.1 on the Playstore. Of the 129 reviews, most rated the app 5 stars while a small number gave it 1. Those who liked the app praised it for its ease of use and great customer service. Those who were more critical complained about accounts taking up to 5 days to open, and not being able to access their funds in blocked accounts. 

Penta bank review: who should consider it?

If your business handles a lot of cash, Penta won’t be for you as it currently cannot handle cash deposits. Solo-freelancers should also look elsewhere as there are solutions better tailored to them (like Kontist or N26). Large companies with a lot of outgoing SEPA transfers might also look elsewhere since fees can accumulate beyond the limits in the different plans.

However, if you are just starting out an UG or a GmbH or about to, Penta is a great option that can grow with you, sync with the accounting tools you already use. For first time founders, or newcomers to Germany, the Penta Kompass services is particularly compelling as it also removes a lot of the headaches that comes with German bureaucracy.

While still new, they are making promising headway, and their roadmap lays bare their plans for future development and expansion. So while there might be one or two things that are not up to scratch, it’s still a good time to jump on board, as things are only getting better from here.

I hope this Penta bank review was useful if you were looking into a business bank account in Germany among all bank accounts in Germany. Don’t hesitate to ask questions in the comments’ section. I answer all of them myself.

Bastien

Penta bank review – FAQ

Who can open a Penta bank account?

Anyone who operates a company located in Germany can use Penta business account. Freelancers too. Your ID document must be eligible to webcam check.

How do I open a Penta bank account?

Pick your Penta plan (1 month free trial, no strings attached) on this page, download the app, enter your personal details, verify your device, submit your documents & verify your ID document via camera.

Is Penta a real bank?

Penta doesn’t have a banking license. Similar to other fintech startups like Kontist, Penta makes use of Solarisbank’s services and banking licence. When you sign up with Penta, you’re actually getting a Solarisbank account, complete with essential functions, BaFin-approved security, and up to 100,000 Euros insurance against your money. Penta just provides the agile interface to use, access, and manage this account.

Can I use Penta in English?

Yes. Both the app & customer service is fully accessible in English.

Can I open a Penta account from abroad?

If your company is incorporated in Germany but you reside abroad, you can open a bank account for your company. If you wish to open a Penta bank account as a freelancer, you need to be a German resident.

How much does Penta costs?

Penta’s basic account (Starter) costs 9€/month. It mid-tier account (Comfort) costs 19€/month. Large companies have access to a bespoke price of 49€/month.

Which company types does Penta support?

The following company forms are supporter: UG, GmbH, AG, GbR, OHG, KG, PartG, eG, e.K., freelancers.