Revolut is a challenger bank that has some great options for those who travel frequently, as it offers overseas spending and international payments and money transfers with no hidden fees. If you’re planning a holiday abroad, you can just move the cash you need to your Revolut account in the currency you need, and then forget about paying any extra fees.
These days there’s a lot of overlap between the various challenger banks. However, Revolut stands out as having one of the widest range of features in the mobile banking sector—including virtual cards, fee-free bank transfers in other currencies, an auto exchange feature and cryptocurrency trading. Launched in 2015, Revolut now has more than 7 million customers and has completed more than 350 million transactions totalling more than £40 billion. In addition to buying a travel insurance policy, sorting currency is one of the necessary pre-travel tasks—one that can be made easier with Revolut.
Revolut offers three types of personal account: Standard, Premium and Metal. The Standard account is free, the Premium account costs £6.99 a month and the Metal costs £12.99 per month. Here's what you get with each account:
|UK GBP account||Free||Free||Free|
|EUR account with IBAN||Free||Free||Free|
|ATM withdrawals||£200 free monthly, 2% after||£400 free monthly, 2% after||£600 free monthly, 2% after|
|Money transfers^||£5,000 free monthly, 0.5% after||Free||Free|
|Other hidden fees||None||None||None|
Quick Takeaway: As with all financial decisions, whether or not Revolut makes sense for you will depend on your needs and what you’re planning to use Revolut for. But if you travel a lot and regularly need different currencies, Revolut is definitely worth a look.
Summary of Revolut’s Personal Accounts
Revolut also offers a business account, which offers multi-currency current accounts and pre-paid business cards.
Key Features of Revolut’s Standard (Free) Account
Opening a Standard account with Revolut will give you a:
- UK GBP-denominated current account
- EUR-denominated account with an IBAN number
- ATM/contactless debit card
As well as the usual things you’d expect from a current account, like ATM cash withdrawals and making direct payments to other UK bank accounts, Revolut’s Standard account also offers other features such as free international money transfers, fee-free overseas spending and access to cryptocurrencies.
Getting Started with Revolut
Once you’ve decided you’d like to try Revolut, signing up is very simple. You just need to download the app and register. You don’t need a proof of address and there are no credit checks, which speeds up the process. It also means you don’t need to live in the UK to open an account, but you do need to register a UK address.
You will, however, need to verify your identity by taking a picture of both yourself and a valid ID document. And once you’ve signed up, you can then request a contactless Revolut card to use for ATM cash withdrawals and debit payments.
The Revolut app is simple and easy to use. Once your account is set up, you can:
- Use it as a UK current account: you’ll receive a UK account number and sort code. You can withdraw cash at ATMs, make contactless payments, set up recurring payments, and use both Apple Pay and Google Pay.
- Make international payments: with the Revolut app you can transfer money to 29 countries, without any fees, at the interbank market exchange rate (that’s the same rates banks give to each other).
- Spend overseas without fees: you can use your card to make purchases in over 150 currencies. All overseas spending is charged at the interbank market rate. No traditional bank offers this.
- Hold different currencies: you can hold balances in 29 currencies within the app.
- Pay friends: you can pay other people with ease or use the ‘split bill’ feature to divide a purchase between a group.
- View your spending habits: using analytics, you can see all of your spending, categorised by type of transaction, by merchant or by country.
- Freeze your card and set spending limits: you can easily lock a card if you lose it, unlock it if you find it again, set monthly spending limits and enable additional security.
- Save money: you can put money aside through regular payments or round up your spare change with Revolut’s Vaults. You won’t earn any interest, but this feature can be helpful for saving towards any short-term goals. You can also set up a Group Vault with your friends and family and save for a common goal, such as a holiday.
- Add phone and travel insurance: at the touch of a button, you pay by the day, and the rates are low.
- Buy cryptocurrency: customers have access to 5 different cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin and Ethereum. We’ll look at this in more detail below.
The Standard Revolut account comes with a few fees:
- Weekend currency mark-up: if you make an overseas card payment, money transfer or an ATM withdrawal during a weekend, you’ll be charged a mark-up of 0.5% for 15 major currencies and 1% for the others. The reason is that the interbank rate is always fluctuating and may not be the same on a Monday as it was on the previous Friday. Even though the 0.5% and 1% fees are quite low, there is an easy way to avoid having to pay them: if you know you’ll be travelling or will be sending money abroad or making an overseas payment over the weekend, then you can simply exchange the currency in advance on a week day and you’ll avoid the fee.
- Bank transfers: you can do this without any fees, at the interbank exchange rate, in 29 currencies – there is a charge of 0.5% once you exceed £5,000 a month in transfers.
- Cash withdrawals: you can make ATM withdrawals of up to £200 per month with no fee. After this limit there is a 2% fee.
- No overdraft: it’s not possible to go into the red. If a purchase exceeds your available funds, the transaction will be declined.
Using Revolut Overseas
One of Revolut’s most attractive features is that you can spend without any fees at the interbank exchange rate in more than 150 currencies.
We’ve all been hit with transaction fees or hidden charges when spending abroad, not to mention been given an uncompetitive exchange rate. That’s because most traditional banks will either charge you a fee to use your card abroad, or they give you a poor exchange rate, or both. When a bank advertises that they don’t charge for currency exchange, you can be sure they’ll still make money by giving you an uncompetitive rate.
Revolut doesn’t do this, which is why it’s a great feature for those who travel a lot. Using it abroad is much like using it in the UK. Don’t forget, though, that free ATM withdrawals are limited to £200 a month—after which you’ll be charged a 2% fee, no matter which country you’re in.
Revolut’s Auto-Exchange Feature
With Revolut you can convert Sterling into another currency very easily. Just a couple of taps and it’s done. If you’re planning to go abroad, there’s also a useful feature that tracks the exchange rate and waits for it move in your favour. So you can use the app to choose the currency you want to change your money into, then set a target exchange rate. Once it’s reached, Revolut will automatically convert your money. If you use it correctly (and assuming the market moves in your favour!), you may be able to get a better rate on your foreign currency without making much effort.
You can also do it the same thing with cryptocurrencies (see below). The only limitation Revolut imposes is that if the market is volatile, it will stop the conversion – it’s allowed to move by up to 0.75% above or below the target for regular currencies, and by up to 5% for cryptocurrencies.
How to Top Up Your Revolut Balance
Linking another bank account with your Revolut account lets you top up instantly and easily. The first time you do it, you’ll need to enter card details for your other bank account, including all the usual card details, including your address. Then you can top up your Revolut account without whatever amount you choose, and the funds will be transferred instantly.
Once you’ve linked your Revolut account to another bank account like this, you can then choose the automatic top-up feature. This means that the app will automatically top up your Revolut account balance from your main bank account whenever your Revolut balance drops below a certain amount.
Revolut’s Virtual Card
The virtual card is a great idea that Revolut offers to make making online transactions safer. Whether it’s buying from Amazon, Deliveroo or paying your monthly Netflix subscription, the idea is that it’s safer than using your physical card.
You can freeze your virtual card at any time, and you can also set monthly spending limits to stay within your budget and to prevent card fraud. In addition, you can delete the virtual card every few months, making it harder for fraudsters to steal your details and clone your card.
One of Revolut’s stand-out features is its “disposable” virtual card. It’s only available with Premium accounts, though. After every online transaction Revolut deletes your virtual card and gives you a new one. According to Revolut, this feature has reduced fraud by 30%.
Is Revolut safe?
Regulated by the FCA: Revolut is regulated by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). It is licensed as an institution that deals in electronic money and has to hold all client funds in a “segregated account”. This means that customer funds are kept separate from Revolut’s own finances and cannot be touched by Revolut. So, even if something were to happen to Revolut as a company, your money will be unaffected.
No FSCS Deposit protection: until Revolut receives a full UK banking licence (which it hopes to do soon), funds held are not protected by the UK’s Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), which protects deposits up to a maximum of £85,000. However, the fact that customer funds are segregated should provide comfort.
App is fingerprint or password protected: Revolut’s smartphone app is protected by a password or fingerprint ID. You can immediately freeze or unfreeze your card in the app if it’s been misplaced, lost or stolen. Add further control by turning online, ATM and contactless payments on or off according to your preferences.
What is Revolut Cryptocurrency?
When it comes to cryptocurrencies, Revolut stands out from its competitors. In 2017, it became the first challenger bank to let customers buy Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies from within its app.
With Revolut, customers have access to 5 different cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash and XRP/Ripple.
Premium account holders have access to this feature automatically. With a Standard Revolut account you’ll need to invite three friends to the app before you can unlock the cryptocurrency feature.
You can exchange one of the 25 base currencies in the app for one of its crypto options. Real-time cryptocurrency charts show you current rates and prices. Revolut does charge a 1.5% fee for crypto transactions. It says it gives the best possible rates, but it’s certainly worth taking a look at and comparing other options if you’re serious about buying and trading cryptocurrencies.
Does Revolut Have Good Reviews?
Reviews for Revolut seem to be excellent. Based on 25,395 Trustpilot reviews, 77% of them give it a top-ranked “Excellent” rating, with a further 10% ranking it “Great”.
At the lower end of the scale, the one-star reviews seem mostly to involve customer accounts being locked because of compliance checks on the source of funds being transferred into Revolut accounts. Of course, no one likes their money to be locked up, but there’s not much any of us can do when banks and financial institutions are required by law to complete these checks.
Revolut vs the Competition
Revolut vs. TransferWise
Revolut has a lot of similarities with money transfer specialist TransferWise, especially with the latter’s borderless account. Revolut has greater coverage in the number of currencies you can send money in and also hold in your account. However, one potential drawback with Revolut is that it cannot receive payments in USD. So if you receive payments in USD, you may be better off with TransferWise.
Revolut also allows much higher transfer limits than TransferWise (up to GBP 100,000 per day), so that may be important if you’re looking to transfer large amounts. The other key difference is that TransferWise is available on both its website and mobile app, while Revolut is only available through a mobile app.
Quick takeaway: if you receive payments in USD or use a website, you can only do this with TransferWise; if you need to transfer large amounts (larger than £4,000), then Revolut may be the better bet.
Revolut vs. Monese
Monese is another challenger bank, and there are many similarities with Revolut. Monese has recently changed its terms to make ATM withdrawals the same as Revolut’s. In fact, there’s very little to choose between their free services.
One key difference between the two is that Revolut requires a UK address to sign up, whereas Monese does not.
Quick takeaway: Revolut and Monese are quite similar. But you don’t have a UK address, Monese may be more suitable.