Finder expert rating
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 8 million customers who, according to Revolut, have completed more than 350 million transactions with a total value of over £40 billion.
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 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.
If you’re a small business you can read our Revolut Business review to find out more.
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.
The app is simple, easy to navigate and streamlined. With Revolut you can:
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.
The Standard Revolut account comes with a few fees:
A bit more on the weekend markup: keep in mind that card payments, ATM withdrawals and money transfers abroad all imply a currency exchange, so the weekend markup applies in all these cases. There’s an easy way around it though: if you know you’ll be travelling or sending money abroad over the weekend, exchange the currency in advance on a weekday and you’ll avoid the fee. This will be possible with all the 29 currencies that Revolut lets you hold.
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.
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 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.
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.
Linking your main bank account with your Revolut card lets you top up instantly. In the app, do the following:
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.
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%.
Revolut isn’t officially a bank yet, but is well on the way to becoming one. At the end of 2018, Revolut got a European banking licence from the European Central Bank but 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 (FCA), will lift the restrictions on Revolut’s licence, the company will be able to call itself a bank and it could roll out new features such as overdrafts. At that point, customers’ money would get extra protection (see “Is Revolut safe?”).
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’re equally valid). If things were to change, Revolut has said that it will apply for a full UK banking licence as well.
Despite not being a bank yet, Revolut is regulated by the FCA. The company 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 came third in our independent 2019 customer satisfaction awards, with 4.5 out of 5 stars and 87% of users saying they would recommend the service. The ability to spend abroad with no added fees was a particular favourite with customers.
On Trustpilot, Revolut has 4.6 out of 5 stars and a rating of Excellent, based on more than 60,000 reviews. The ease of use and level of service was praised by those who left positive reviews, while technical glitches and account lockdowns were flagged as the main reasons for negative feedback (updated 20 April 2020).
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.
Revolut is really good for travelling. If you’re planning a holiday, or travel often for work, you can easily move the cash you need to your Revolut account, and then basically forget about extra fees.
Fee-free spending abroad isn’t as unique as it used to be. Other challengers, such as Starling and Monzo, also offer fee-free card payments abroad, and unlike Revolut these also have a full UK banking licence.
But if you’re looking for range of features, Revolut is tough to beat – you won’t find fee-free international bank transfers, cryptocurrencies, share trading or auto-exchange pretty much anywhere else. If you regularly need one or more of those, Revolut is probably your best bet.
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