Our expert review rates the features of the Revolut app, card and current account.Revolut is a digital-only banking app and card that sets itself apart from traditional banks with a focus on technology, low fees and flexibility. It’s especially aimed at those who travel a lot, offering spending abroad and international money transfers with no hidden fees.
Launched in 2015, Revolut has more than 4 million customers who, according to Revolut, have completed more than 250 million transactions with a total value of over £25 billion.
This review goes through everything you can do with Revolut: how it works, what it costs and the pros and cons to help you establish whether it’s right for you.
What is Revolut?
Opening a standard free account with Revolut will give you a UK current account, a Euro IBAN account, and a blue-ish, pink-ish bank card. As well as all the usual things you can do with a current account like send money to friends, set up direct debits, and withdraw money from an ATM, you can use an impressive range of other features, including free international money transfers, fee-free global spending and access to cryptocurrency exchange. Revolut is aiming to break down the borders of banking.
Revolut card: Free delivery worth £5
- Spend abroad with no fees
- Great for international students
- Simple to set up
- Visualise your spending in real time
- Trusted by 2 million users
Looking for a business account? Get 3 months’ free trial and a free business card
Hold over 150 currencies, transfer money internationally, and issue employees with corporate cards for global fee free spending using Revolut’s business account.
What can you do with Revolut?
Once you’ve decided that Revolut is for you, signing up is simple. You just need to download the app and register – you won’t need a proof of address and there are no credit checks, which speeds up the process.
However, you will need to verify your identity by taking a picture of both yourself and a valid ID document.
After you sign up, you can request a contactless Revolut card. You have complete control over the card – you can freeze and unfreeze it at the touch of a button, a feature that provides added security and convenience.
The app is simple, easy to navigate and streamlined. With Revolut you can:
- Use it as a UK current account. You get a UK account number and sort code. You can set up recurring payments, withdraw cash at ATMs, make contactless payments, and use Apple Pay and Google Pay. You’ll be able to view your balance on a cool spending visualisations screen.
- Make international payments. The app enables you to transfer money to 25 countries, fee-free, at the interbank exchange rate (the same rates banks give each other).
- Spend globally fee-free. All spending abroad is charged at the interbank rate, which is as good as it gets for consumers.
- Hold different currencies. You can hold a balance on the app in 16 currencies.
- Pay friends. Pay other people with ease or use the split bill feature to divide a group spend.
- View spending habits. Using analytics, you can see your spending, categorised by type of transaction, by merchant or by country.
- Freeze your card and set spending limits. Freeze a card if you lose it, unfreeze it if you find it, set monthly spending limits and enable additional security.
- Save money. Put money aside through regular payments or round up your spare change with Revolut’s Vaults. It doesn’t pay any interest, but can be helpful for saving towards short-term goals.
- Add device insurance and medical insurance. At the touch of a button, you pay by the day, and the rates are low.
- Buy cryptocurrency. We explain more about crypto below.
How does the app look?
Using Revolut abroad
One of Revolut’s most appealing features is that it lets you spend fee-free at the interbank rate in 150 currencies.
When you’re spending abroad, you typically get hit with transaction fees or hidden charges. That’s because most financial institutions will either charge you extra fees to use your card abroad, or they change money at a less competitive rate, or both.
Revolut doesn’t do that, which is why it’s popular with those who have a global lifestyle. Using it abroad is much like using it in the UK. However, don’t forget that while there’s no spending limit for card payments, free ATM withdrawals are limited to £200 a month – after which you’ll be charged a 2% fee, whether you’re in the UK or abroad.
What is Revolut’s auto-exchange?
The app lets you switch from, say, sterling to euros with a couple of taps – and it does the exchange automatically for you. If you’re planning to go abroad, there’s a useful feature that tracks a rate for you to watch for a drop in your favour; use the app to select the currency you’re interested in changing your money into, and set a a target exchange rate. When it’s reached, Revolut will convert your money. If you use it correctly, you can get better value on your funds without making much effort.
You can also do it with cryptocurrencies. The only limitation Revolut imposes is that if the market is especially volatile, it’ll stop the conversion – it can move a maximum 0.75% over or below the target for regular currencies, and 5% for cryptocurrencies.
Revolut fees, limits and pricing
Revolut has three tiers: Standard, Premium and Metal. This review covers the Standard offering. We’ve also reviewed Premium (which costs £6.99 a month) and Metal (£12.99 a month) – they both essentially offer more features and benefits.
Here’s what you get with the Standard Revolut account:
- Card transactions. Free in 120 countries.
- Bank transfers. Fee-free, at the interbank rate, in 24 fiat currencies – although it charges 0.5% for transfers that exceed £5,000 a month.
- Withdrawals. Free ATM withdrawals of up to £200 per month. After this limit there is a 2% fee.
- No overdraft. You cannot go into the red. If a purchase exceeds your available funds the transaction will be declined.
- Card delivered. This is £4.99 with standard subscription – unless you use this link, in which case it’s free!
When will my Revolut card be delivered?
After you’ve signed up on your phone, your Revolut card should be dispatched the next working day. Standard delivery can take up to 9 days, while express delivery to the UK, US and Canada will get you your card in 2 working days. For all other countries, express delivery should take 3 business days.
Customers are warned, though, that these are estimated delivery times and it may take longer.
Card delivery is £4.99 unless you use this link, which will get you free delivery.
How to top up with Revolut
Linking your main bank account with your Revolut card lets you top up instantly. In the app, do the following:
- The first time you top up you have to link a main bank account with your Revolut card. Go into the app and put in your 16-digit card number, expiry date, CVC code, and billing postcode.
- Make sure the address is correct otherwise the payment might fail to go through.
- Press the ‘+’ symbol in the top left corner of the accounts screen.
- Add the card you want to top up from, and choose the amount you want to add into your Revolut account.
- Tap top up and the money will go into your account instantly.
Another top-up option Revolut offers is the automatic top-up feature. With this, you get the app to automatically top up your Revolut account from your main card if it drops below a certain amount.
What is Revolut’s virtual card?
The virtual card is for making online transactions – buying stuff from ASOS, a Netflix subscription, Deliveroo, UberEATS and things like that. It can’t be used for recurring payments like paying rent (though you can still set up a normal recurring payment in the app). So what’s the point of it this card? Can’t you just use your physical card for everything?
Well, the idea is that it’s safer. You can freeze your virtual card, and set monthly spending limits to keep within your budget. On top of this, you can delete the virtual card every few months, making it harder for fraudsters to steal your details and clone your card.
To use it, head to the “Cards” section in your app and scroll to your virtual card. Use the displayed card number and CVV at checkout.
However, Revolut’s real show pony is its “disposable” virtual card. They’re only available to Premium users, though. After every online transaction Revolut deletes your virtual card and gives you a new one. Revolut says this has reduced fraud by 30%.
Is Revolut a bank?
The truth is, Revolut isn’t officially a bank yet, but is well on the way to becoming one.
At the end of 2018, Revolut was granted a European banking licence by the European Central Bank. However, the licence isn’t fully operational yet, and depends on a series of tests and improvements Revolut is currently working on.
Once this phase is over, the UK regulator- the Financial Conduct Authority – will remove the restrictions on Revolut’s licence, and the company will be able to call itself a bank and potentially roll out a series of new features, such as overdrafts.
It’s also worth noting that it’s still uncertain what will happen after Brexit. At the moment, European banking licences are “passported” to the UK (which just means they are equally valid). If things were to change, Revolut has said that it will apply for a full UK banking licence as well.
Is Revolut safe?
Despite not being a bank yet, Revolut is regulated by the 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 users’ money is kept separate from Revolut’s finances and that Revolut cannot invest it. So, even if something were to happen to Revolut as a company, your money couldn’t be used to pay off its debts.
However, until it officially becomes a bank, funds held with Revolut aren’t protected by the FSCS (Financial Services Compensation Scheme, which protects deposits up to a maximum of £85,000), nor by its European equivalent.
When it comes to security, Revolut’s smartphone app is protected by a password or fingerprint ID. 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.
Revolut launched its disposable “virtual card”, which we explained above, to tackle online fraud. When a customer makes an online payment with a disposable card, Revolut will detect the transaction and automatically destroy those card details, generating new ones that will appear directly in the app.
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 cryptos in its app.
What’s more, it’s incredibly easy for anyone to use cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin with Revolut. Revolut’s aim is to make them accessible, so you don’t have to be a tech whizz to get your hands on them.
- Cryptocurrencies: Customers have access to 5 different cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash and XRP.
- Unlock: With a basic Revolut account you have to invite three friends to app before you can “unlock” the crypto feature in the app. Premium account holders get it automatically.
- Exchanges: Exchange one of the 25 base currencies in the app for one of its crypto options. So, change Pound Sterling into XRP, or change Euros into Bitcoin. The choice is yours.
- Real-time rates: Real-time cryptocurrency graphs show you current rates. Plus set up price alerts to hear when your cryptocurrency hits a certain value.
- Fees: Revolut do charge a 1.5% markup for the transaction. Revolut says it gives the best possible exchange rates, but it’s certainly worth taking a look at your other options if your looking at delving into cryptocurrencies.
- Send to friends: Transfer cryptocurrencies to other Revolut users for free.
- Risks: Revolut does still warn that the value of cryptocurrencies can rapidly increase or decrease at any time, so you the customer are at risk. As well as gains, you could make some serious losses.
Compare Revolut with other banking apps
Pros and cons of Revolut
- 24 currencies can be held on your account. Exchange between them is instant.
- Spend abroad with no fees.
- 24-hour customer service.
- User-friendly app with control over accounts and cards.
- Interbank exchange rate.
- Instant top ups from your main account.
- At weekends, when the markets are closed, Revolut applies a mark up of 0.5% on major currencies and 1% on other currencies on its rates.
- You are always charged at least a 1% markup for currencies like the Thai Baht, Russian Rubbles, Ukrainian Hryvnia and the Turkish Lira. This rises to 2% on weekends.
- Foreign exchanges over £5,000 a month come with a 0.5% fee.
- The card can take up to nine working days to arrive, so you need to be prepared if you’re travelling!
- Free cash withdrawals are limited to £200 a month.
- No branches, which can put off those who prefer face-to-face customer service.
Revolut isn’t the only digital banking app in the market, but it does stand out against the competition on some levels.
The main reason people get it is that it’s really good for travelling. If you’re planning an exotic holiday, or even if you travel often for business reasons, you can just move the cash you need to your Revolut account, and then basically forget about extra fees.
However, this feature isn’t as unique as it used to be – other challengers, such as Starling and Monzo, also offer fee-free card payments abroad. These two also have a banking licence, so they outweigh Revolut when it comes to safety.
On the other hand, Revolut has one of the widest range of features in the digital banking market – you won’t find cryptocurrency trading, auto-exchange, virtual cards or fee-free bank transfers in other currencies pretty much anywhere else.
So, as with most financial decisions, it really depends on your needs and what you’re planning to use Revolut for. If you travel a lot, habitually exchange different currencies and have a thing for crypto, Revolut is probably your best bet.
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