Revolut Review – Is it the best way to take money abroad in 2022?

21 min Read Published: 19 May 2022

revolut review

In this independent review, we take a look at the banking app Revolut, including how it works, how much it costs and whether you can use it abroad. We recommend reading the full review, however, you can jump to specific sections using the following links:

How does Revolut work?

Revolut, which describes itself as a ‘digital banking alternative’, features amongst a raft of companies that are transforming the way that consumers engage with their finances. Revolut* was launched in July 2015 by Nikolay Storonsky, a former trader who worked at Lehman Brothers and Credit Suisse, and Vlad Yatsenko, who previously built financial systems at investment banks. Revolut started life as a pre-paid card and app, which allowed travellers to switch cheaply between currencies. It was born out of Storonsky’s frustrations with existing foreign exchange products. Since then, the company has expanded its range of products and services. The fintech company currently has more than 18 million customers globally and continues to develop its proposition.

Unlike high street banks, Revolut allows you to set up a current account with no paperwork. They say that it is possible to open a Sterling or Euro current account in 60 seconds as initially, they do not carry out any initial credit checks or require proof of address. Revolut customers can order a physical or virtual card. The former is a pre-paid contactless Visa card, which can be used in retailers across the UK and abroad. A physical card can be ordered via the app for free excluding the cost for delivery, which depends on the method selected within the app. Customers with Premium accounts receive a physical card for free.

Revolut’s physical card can be used to transact in your base currency, as well as other currencies. When you load money onto the card you can choose to exchange it into a currency of your choice (i.e. dollars) so locking into the current exchange rate. Or you can just leave it as a cash balance in sterling and whenever you use your card abroad Revolut will automatically apply the exchange rate at that moment in time and deduct the appropriate amount in sterling. This makes it incredibly easy to use although you are playing the currency markets a bit.

Your Revolut account is managed via the app, which can be downloaded for free onto your smartphone or iPad. To become a Revolut customer, you must feel comfortable using your smartphone or device to manage your account. Fortunately, the app is straightforward to use and well designed. Revolut customers can pay for items using ApplePay and contactless, as well as using the traditional pin pad.  Revolut also has an Apple Watch app that shows you notifications from Revolut on your watch face. It doesn't matter if you don't have an Apple watch as the notifications are simply shown on your phone instead. To set up the phone app, you will need a four-digit password or fingerprint/face recognition.

Revolut Key features

  • Spending analytics - get weekly insights into your spending with its categorisation features
  • Manage your finances in one place - connect your other bank accounts using Open Banking to track all of your money in one place
  • Set monthly spending budgets - take control of your spending by setting a monthly budget
  • Instant spending notifications - get instant alerts for transactions in and out of your account
  • Manage subscriptions - Organise recurring payments and cancel unwanted subscriptions. Also, benefit from end of trial notifications giving you the opportunity to cancel.
  • Upcoming payment reminders - get reminded if your balance is too low to cover upcoming payments
  • Save money with Revolut's Rewards feature - get cashback and rewards with exclusive retailers when spending on your Revolut card
  • Split bills - easily split bills with friends or family
  • Transfer money abroad - send money abroad in over 30 currencies using the Interbank Exchange Rate
  • Fee-free spending abroad - spend abroad without any hidden fees ((there's a 0.5% fee for balances above £1,000)
  • Earn interest on your savings - save money in a Revolut savings vault to earn interest on the balance in an FSCS protected bank account
  • Round up spare change - save as you spend with the round-up feature
  • Get paid early - get your salary paid into your Revolut account a day early
  • On-demand pay - employers can register interest with Revolut to set up on-demand pay which means that employees can access their salary at any point before it is paid at no cost to the employee
  • Pockets - sort your bills and subscriptions into pockets so that on payday the money is automatically moved out of your account and each bill is paid from a pocket, meaning you never have to worry about missing a payment
  • Apple/Google Pay - Spend using your phone with Apple and Google Pay
  • Virtual card - Revolut's virtual card allows you to shop online and protects you against online fraud by changing the card number each time you pay online
  • Revolut Junior - Open a Junior Revolut account for a child aged between 7 - 17 years old. More information on Revolut Junior accounts here
  • Investments - Manage your investments in the Wealth section of the app. Invest in stocks, commodities and cryptocurrency
  • Pet insurance - Revolut recently launched a pet insurance policy that can be bought for your pet via the app

Revolut accounts

Revolut offers a range of bank accounts and we summarise the different types available below.

Revolut personal accounts

We summarise the key features of the accounts offered by Revolut in the below comparison table.

Standard* Plus* Premium* Metal*
Monthly Cost FREE £2.99 £6.99 £12.99
Unlimited disposable virtual cards tick tick tick tick
Fee-free spending abroad tick tick tick tick
Fee-free ATM withdrawals Up to £200/month (or max 5 withdrawal limit) Up to £200/month Up to £400/month Up to £800/month
Daily savings interest (AER) Up to 0.15% Up to 0.20% Up to 0.40% Up to 0.70%
No fee currency exchange (monthly) £1,000/month £1,000/month tick tick
Overseas medical insurance cross cross tick tick
Delayed baggage & flight insurance cross cross tick tick
Priority customer support cross tick tick tick
Purchase protection cross £1,000 per year £2,500 per year £10,000 per year
Event ticket protection (up to £1,000 per year) cross tick tick tick
Refund protection (purchase protection for up to 90 days) cross tick tick tick
Revolut Junior account 1 child 2 children 2 children 5 children
Loungekey cross cross You +1 friend You + 3 friends
Cashback cross cross cross 0.1 % in Europe,
1% outside of Europe
Revolut Rewards tick tick tick tick
Cryptocurrency withdrawals tick tick tick tick

Revolut Business account

Revolut offers a global business current account* with the following features:

  • The ability to hold, receive and exchange 30+ currencies using the real interbank exchange rate
  • Send money to other Revolut business accounts instantly with no fees
  • Pre-paid multi-currency business cards, that allow the business to set spending limits for each employee and keep foreign exchange costs low
  • Integrate accounting software such as Quickbooks and Xero within the app
  • Revolut’s Open API (application programming interface) can be used to automate cross-border business payments, send payments to clients or employees or monitor transactions

For more information on the Revolut business account, read our Revolut Business account review.

Revolut Junior Account

Revolut has introduced the Junior account* for children aged between 7-17 years old. The Revolut Junior account allows you to teach your children about money whilst you still have access and control over their account.

Revolut Junior account features:

  • Junior card and app
  • Track pocket money
  • Instant spending alerts
  • Custom card controls

With a Revolut Junior account, you only get basic features but you can upgrade to a Revolut Plus, Premium or Metal account for more benefits such as Tasks and Goals. For other bank accounts or prepaid cards for children check out our article, 'The best bank accounts for under 18's'.

Is Revolut a bank?

Revolut had its European banking license approved (13th December 2018) but that doesn't mean it is a bank. It intends to apply for a UK banking license in the future but for the moment it remains a digital payment service.

Until the banking license is fully approved Revolut remains an electronic money institution, regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, so current accounts are ring-fenced in a Barclays account. This means the money would be safe should any problems arise at Revolut. However, your money is not protected under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) up to £85,000. 

How much does Revolut cost?

Revolut is free to download but an example of some additional costs you may occur on a basic account can be found in the below table. For further information on the fees associated with a premium or business Revolut account, you can check out the full list of fees on Revolut's website*.

Action  Cost
Delivery charge Can be found within the Revolut app
Additional physical Revolut card £5
International transfers (not to another Revolut user and outside SEPA region) Varies depending on the currency e.g there is a £3 fee to transfer £1,000 to USD and a £13 fee to transfer £1,000 to THB. You can calculate the exact fee here*
ATM withdrawals 5 free ATM withdrawals a month (or up to £200 whichever is first), 2% fee thereafter (minimum of £1)
Spending abroad Up to £1,000 fee-free per month Monday - Friday (interbank exchange rate markups apply at the weekend) and 0.5% above the £1,000 limit
Exchanging money The fee varies depending on what and when you are making the exchange but you can find out the fee within the app
Exchanging cryptocurrencies 2.5% fee for Standard and Plus users
Exchanging precious metals 1.5% fee for Standard and Plus users

Can you use Revolut abroad?

Revolut’s customers can use the physical, pre-paid currency card to make payments abroad fee-free using the interbank exchange rate in over 150 currencies. This is the rate that banks offer to each other when exchanging currencies and is much more competitive than the rate offered at a bureau de change or by most other pre-paid cards. This makes Revolut one of the most attractive app-only current account cards available on the market.

Customers with a current account can take out £200 per month fee-free (or withdraw a maximum of 5 times, whichever comes first) at an ATM, after which point a 2% fee is applied with a minimum of £1. Up to £1,000 can be spent, transferred or exchanged each month with a standard current account. After this point, a 0.5% fee is applied. Premium/Metal account holders are entitled to £400/£800 of fee-free ATM withdrawals per month and unlimited foreign exchange transactions at the interbank exchange rate.

It is worth noting that on the weekend Revolut typically applies a mark-up between 1% and 2.5% to the interbank rate (depending on the currency). This is because foreign exchange markets are closed.

Revolut customer reviews

Revolut is rated as 'Excellent' on Trustpilot with a score of 4.4/5.0 stars from over 108,000 reviews. 76% rated Revolut as 'Excellent' citing great customer service and an easy to use app. 9% of customers rated it as 'Bad' citing problems with cashback, logging in to the app and uploading documents.

Alternatives to Revolut

In the following section of the review, we compare Revolut to other app-only banks and currency cards.

Revolut vs Monzo vs Starling Bank

Below is a comparison table comparing a basic Revolut account with a Monzo and Starling Bank personal account. To find out more about the other app-only banks, read our reviews:

Revolut Monzo Starling Bank
UK registered bank account  cross tick tick
FSCS protection  cross tick tick
Personal Account tick tick tick
Business Account tick tick tick
Direct debit tick tick tick
Standing order tick tick tick
Overdraft cross tick tick
Personal loan cross tick cross
Budgeting features tick tick tick
Fee-free spending abroad Free up to £1,000/month FREE FREE
Fee-free cash withdrawals abroad Free up to £200/month Free up to £200/month FREE
Interest on current account cross cross tick

Revolut vs pre-paid currency cards

If you are travelling abroad and considering other pre-paid currency cards, here are two alternatives to consider:

Travelex Money Card

You can top up this card with up to 10 currencies and lock in exchange rates in advance with a minimum load of £100. If you don’t have enough money converted into a particular currency, you can draw funds from a different currency on the card. However, to do this Travelex will levy a 5.75% fee on each transaction. On the plus side, there are no overseas ATM charges or ATM withdrawal limits. However, there is an ‘inactivity fee’ of £2 per month if the card has not been used for 12 months.

Caxton FX Currency Mastercard

This card can hold up to 15 currencies and does not charge transaction fees. There are no fees for overseas purchases or international ATM withdrawals. In addition, there are no monthly ATM withdrawal limits. However, the card must have a minimum of £10 loaded up before you can get the card sent to you.

Caxton does not charge for overseas ATM withdrawals although you may be subject to a fee by the ATM provider. If you want to use the card in the UK, there is a £1.50 charge for purchases and ATM withdrawals. If you wish to complete a foreign exchange transaction in a currency that isn’t loaded on the card, Caxton applies a 2.49% mark-up.  Caxton also applies a £2 charge per month if you stop using the card for more than 12 months.

To provide you with a better idea of how the exchange rates compare, here’s how much Revolut, Caxton and Travelex were offering to convert £1,000 into dollars and euros on 31st January 2022:

  • Revolut = €1182.15 & $1251.58
  • Caxton = €1155.22 & $1223.07
  • Travelex = €1150.00 & $1204.90

Revolut's exchange rates are clearly the best.

Summary

As you can see from the rates quoted above, Revolut offers its customers real savings by using the interbank exchange rate and cutting out commissions. It represents a market leader in this respect and I think it is a great solution for anyone looking to use a card for their next holiday.

Revolut’s analytics function and budget spending limits could also prove useful for day-to-day spending, while the savings vaults can help you to squirrel money away unwittingly.

The monthly ATM withdrawal limits represent a niggle, particularly if you are travelling to a country where you need to carry cash. With this in mind, you need to consider whether the charges you will incur outweigh the savings you can make on the underlying exchange rate.

Perhaps the biggest drawback to Revolut is that it is not a licensed bank, which means customers' money is not protected under the FSCS in the main account. One way to limit exposure in the meantime is to only top up your Revolut card as and when you need to rather than leave large balances on the card. This isn't a problem as top-ups happen instantly when you process them via the app. So you can even top-up the card while you are in a shop queue waiting to pay.

Revolut claims that the customer stands at the heart of the proposition – let’s hope this continues.

 

 

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