Revolut is a low-fee banking option aimed at frequent travelers and digital nomads.
However, Revolut’s withdrawal limits (just £200/month for most users) and lack of compelling premium benefits make it both inconvenient and expensive to travel with. If you’re looking for a bank and credit card designed for frequent travelers, we highly recommend N26.
What is Revolut?
Founded in London in 2015, Revolut is one of the world’s newest “alternative banks”. It offers many of the services of a traditional bank–offline and online payments, foreign transactions converted at the interbank rate, etc.–as well as services most banks don’t offer, like its own cryptocurrency exchange.
Revolut users can hold more than two dozen currencies in their account, and access them directly from the Revolut app.
Revolut has more than 3 million customers today with monthly transaction volume in excess of $1.5 billion. Currently, Revolut is only available to users living in the EU and UK, though it will launch in the US and Canada in 2019.
Read our in-depth comparison of N26 vs. Revolut here.
The Top 5 Features Of Revolut
#1 Hold Multiple Currencies:
Hold and use more than a dozen currencies in a single account, including GBP, EUR, USD, AUD, CAD, CHF, CZK, DKK, HKD, JPY, NOK, PLN, RON, SEK, and ZAR. You can top up your account with a debit card or credit card using any of these currencies.
#2 Zero-Fee Money Transfers:
Transfer money between 25 nations at the inter-bank exchange rate (very similar to TransferWise).
#3 Group Payment Functionality:
Divide group bills or send free transfers to friends with ease.
#4 Transaction Analytics:
Segregate transactions by type, region or retailer. Examine your spending habits and set alerts when pre-set limits are approaching.
#5 Robust Security:
Freeze and unfreeze your card and set spending and withdrawal limits all within the Revolut app. Read more about virtual and virtual disposable cards below.
Pros & Cons Of Revolut
- User-friendly app: The app is intuitive and very easy to use, allowing for a wide array of functions for card usage and account control.
- Fair currency exchange: Weekday foreign currency transactions and ATM withdrawals are processed at the inter-bank exchange rate. Weekend transactions and withdrawals incur an additional 0.5%-1% fee (see the Cons section below).
- Robust control: Setting up automatic money transfers and other financial movements is easy.
- Multiple currency support: Cardholders can hold as many as two dozen currencies in their account at any time, and can exchange them in seconds.
- Excellent customer support: Revolut offers 24/7 in-app customer service in multiple languages all over the world.
- Fee-free spending: Revolut allows for no-fee spending in 150 nations.
- Expensive ATM withdrawals: Unlike N26, which offers free ATM withdrawals, taking out more than £200 per month from an ATM (£400 for Revolut Premium members, £600 for Revolut Metal members) results in a 2% fee.
- Foreign exchange fees: Revolut imposes a 0.5% fee on all foreign exchange exceeding £5,000 in a given calendar month.
- Weekend exchange rates: Expect to pay 0.5%-1% more on foreign transactions on the weekends.
- Some currencies are expensive: Though most currency exchange is done at the inter-bank rate, some less common currencies like the Thai baht, Turkish lira and Russian ruble always carry an added fee of 1-2%.
- Card delivery: There is a £4.99 fee for card delivery for holders of standard subscriptions, while Revolut Premium and Revolut Metal members get free card delivery.
- Account overdraft: Not available. It’s currently impossible to create an overdraft because when an account doesn’t have enough funds for a transaction, the transaction is denied.
- Bank transfers: No fees for the most part. Users pay the inter-bank rate but are charged 0.5% for any transfer in excess of £5,000 in one calendar month.
- All card transactions: In more than 150 nations, all card transactions are free of charge.
- Standard withdrawals: Users can take out up to £200 each month but must pay a 2% fee for anything over that amount.
- Cryptocurrency transactions: Revolut charges a 1.5% fee for cryptocurrency transactions completed in the Revolut app (including users buying and selling crypto for fiat currency). Users can send crypto to other Revolut members at no fee.
- Revolut Premium: Revolut Premium costs £7/month or £72/year. (More details on Revolut Premium below.)
- Revolut Metal: Revolut Premium costs £13/month or £120/year. (More details on Revolut Metal below.)
At a cost of £7/month or £72/year, Revolut Premium doesn’t offer nearly as many features and benefits as other premium card offerings like the American Express Platinum or N26 Black, which are no-brainers.
This is because if you go to the Revolut page, most of the “features” you find are things other banks don’t even feel the need to mention. These are the sorts of things I’m talking about:
- Free card delivery (instead of £4.99 for regular cardholders)
- International medical insurance (we recommend SafetyWing)
- £400 of free ATM withdrawals per month (instead of £200 for regular cardholders). Withdrawals cost 2% after the free £400 limit.
- 24/7 Priority Customer Support
- Virtual disposable cards for heightened security (see below)
In fact, Revolut only received its banking license in December, 2018, which is why many of its “features” are so underwhelming. I expect they’ll make some serious improvements to things like withdrawal limits in 2019, but for now, they’re severely behind the likes of N26.
Revolut Metal is Revolut’s super-premium offering, designed to compete with N26 Metal.
But if you thought Revolut Premium was underwhelming, Revolut Metal will be a real disappointment.
That’s because unlike N26 Metal, which offers an abundance of benefits over and above those offered to N26 Black and standard members, there are only three real benefits Revolut Metal members get over Revolut Premium:
- £600 of free ATM withdrawals per month (instead of £400 for Revolut Premium and £200 for regular cardholders). Withdrawals cost 2% after the free £600 limit.
- 24/7 concierge for hotel bookings, restaurant reservations, etc.
- Up to 0.1% cashback within Europe and up to 1% cashback outside of Europe
At £13/month or £120/year, Revolut Metal seems more like a gimmick for the metal card than anything else. I can’t recommend Revolut Metal in any capacity.
Revolut & Cryptocurrencies
Revolut was the first financial entity among the “challenger banks” to let users buy and sell cryptocurrency. The company says that one of its goals is to make crypto easy to use.
Revolut charges a 1.5% fee for cryptocurrency transactions completed in the Revolut app. Users can send crypto to other Revolut members at no fee.
The app also lets crypto enthusiasts create charts displaying current exchange rates or set alarms for when a pre-set currency value is reached. Users can trade any of the Revolut card’s 25 currencies for one of five cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Ripple (XRP), Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and Litecoin (LTC).
This video explains Revolut’s cryptocurrency offering in more detail:
What is Revolut’s “virtual card”?
Revolut has three types of cards: standard, virtual and “virtual disposable,” each offering a different level of security. Virtual cards allow you to change your card number and CVV to prevent fraud, unlike physical cards, whose credentials stay the same for years. The virtual disposable card is only for Revolut Premium and Revolut Metal members.
Let’s assume your card is compromised after making an online transaction, a situation that happens more than we’d like to expect. Here’s how things would go with each of Revolut’s three card types:
- Standard card: You have one card number and one CVV. If your card is compromised, Revolut will cancel your card and reverse the fraudulent charges. Your account will be frozen until a new card arrives to you in the mail.
- Virtual card: You can issue a new card number and CVV every 90 days. If your card is compromised, Revolut will cancel your virtual card number and reverse the fraudulent charges. You do not need to receive a new physical card, since its card number and CVV have not been compromised.
- Virtual disposable card (Revolut Premium/Metal users only): You are issued a new card number and CVV for every transaction, making your card virtually impossible to defraud.
Exchanging Currency With Revolut
Most people normally run into currency exchange situations in one of two scenarios: they’re either a) buying something in a foreign currency (online or in-person) or b) withdrawing foreign currency at an ATM.
Let’s look at how Revolut treats both of these scenarios.
Foreign Currency Transactions
- All foreign currency transactions are processed at the inter-bank exchange rate. Weekend transactions made in foreign currency incur an additional charge of 0.5%-1%.
- Revolut imposes a 0.5% fee on all foreign exchange exceeding £5,000 in a given calendar month.
- Some less common currencies like the Thai baht, Turkish lira and Russian ruble always carry an added fee of 1-2%.
Foreign ATM Withdrawals
- Most foreign currency ATM withdrawals are processed at the inter-bank exchange rate, with the exception of weekend withdrawals, which incur an additional charge of 0.5%-1%.
How To Sign Up For Revolut
- Go to the Revolut website here and click Get the app in the top-right. You don’t need any coupon/promo code or invitation code to join – Revolut is open to everyone.
- Enter your phone number and email address to sign up. Then enter the basic personal information (name, country of residence) and you’re all set! You’ve successfully signed up for Revolut.
We can recommend Revolut for transacting, online and in-person, both at home and abroad. However, if you’re looking for a card that allows you to withdraw currency at the world’s best rates, and offers quite a few more benefits than Revolut, we highly recommend N26.
How soon is the card delivered once I order it?
Revolut will mail your card within 1 business day of signing up, though it can take up to 3 days to arrive with express shipping and 9 days with standard shipping. You can track the shipping status of your card in the Revolut app.
Is it safe and easy to use while traveling abroad?
Yes! Revolut lets users spend, fee-free, in more than 150 different countries.
It’s also backed the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority), and the app can be password- or fingerprint-protected. Users can instantly freeze spending on their accounts within the app if they believe their card has been lost or stolen.
How do I top up my Revolut card?
Cardholders can top up their accounts automatically or manually. The app lets users draw funds from a linked bank account and place them into their Revolut account, either on a one-time basis or automatically when the Revolut account balance dips below a designated level.
Topping up your Revolut card with your credit card appears on your credit card statement as a regular transaction, not a cash advance, so you won’t be charged any additional or unexpected fees.
How does Revolut make money?
Revolut makes money by charging monthly fees to Revolut Premium and Revolut Metal members, as well as from merchants each time a cardholder makes a purchases, just like MasterCard and American Express do.
How does Revolut verify my identity?
New account holders verify their identity when signing up for Revolut by submitting a photograph of their face alongside an official identification card issued by a national government.
Also, since so many of you have been asking us for them, here's our full list of country-specific posts outlining how to ship anything from Amazon to any country in the world. Our 2-step method makes it as simple as humanly possible, and takes about 3 minutes total: Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, China, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Indonesia, Israel, Kuwait, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Asia as a whole, Europe as a whole and the United Arab Emirates.
While you're at it, international travelers should read our N26 review for the best way to get free ATM withdrawals the best rates on currency conversion - anywhere in the world.