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TRAVEL CARD REVIEWS: Is Revolut any good, and what has changed recently?

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This is our review of the Revolut Mastercard / VISA travel money card.

If you apply via the links in this article and top up £10, you will receive a plastic Revolut card for free.  This saves you the standard £4.99 delivery fee and is a special offer we have arranged for Head for Points readers. 

Without the plastic card your use of Revolut would be limited to online shopping.

Why should I get a 0% foreign exchange fee card for travelling?

As the Lloyds Avios Rewards Mastercard is no longer available to new applicants, there are no travel rewards credit cards which offer fee-free overseas purchases.

If you use a rewards credit card when travelling, you will incur a fee of 3% on everything you buy. This can never be justified by the miles and points earned on the transaction. It may be justified if you need to hit a spending target to trigger a sign-up bonus or a voucher such as the British Airways American Express 2-4-1.

Over the next week or so we are looking at a few no and low FX fee options. We reviewed Tandem a few weeks ago (click here). Here is our review of the WeSwap Mastercard travel money card and we will also be looking at some 0% credit cards.

All of these products have different features – there is no ‘right’ answer. Some are more fiddly than others, some are prepaid cards and some are credit cards, some have added benefits such as 0% interest on purchases.

If you DO want to earn miles and points from your foreign spending, the best option is Curve Card. Curve is free and has a 1% foreign exchange fee (2/3rd lower than most cards). It recharges your purchase to any other Visa or Mastercard you own in Sterling. This means you earn miles and points on the underlying card without paying the usual 2.99% foreign transaction fee. Curve Card will pay you £5 for trying it outread our article here.

Revolut card review

The Revolut Mastercard or VISA travel money card

The Revolut travel money card started out as just a no-fee pre-paid travel money card.  You need to load it before you spend on it.

That was, and still is, a loss leader feature to encourage you to sign up.  Revolut’s recent funding round raised $250 million at a very heady valuation of $1.7 billion, because of the perceived potential to turn it into an online-only bank.

A lot has been happening over the last year like the introduction of travel insurance and crypto currency options. You can also use your Revolut account as your UK or Euro current account. The Premium version of the Revolut card features disposable virtual cards for online shopping.

The official Revolut website is here.

What is Revolut?

Like WeSwap, Revolut is an online platform with a smartphone app and a linked plastic Mastercard or VISA card.  (Revolut is issuing both Mastercard and VISA cards and it seems to be random which one you get).  It lets you exchange your money for any foreign currency fee free.

Revolut works as a digital wallet for a total of 25 currencies including Sterling, Euros and US Dollars and lets you transfer money for free to friends or businesses.

To use it in the real world (shops, restaurants, ATM), you need to order a physical plastic card which will give you 0% FX fees on your spending and money withdrawals abroad.

Unlike WeSwap, Revolut exchanges immediately at the real exchange rate without adding any fees.  There is, however, a 0.5% -1.5% mark up at the weekend depending on the currency.

Because Revolut uses the interbank rate, you should be getting slightly finer pricing than using a Visa or Mastercard 0% card as those use the centralised Visa and Mastercard exchange rate.

How does Revolut work?

You can sign up on the Revolut website here. You will need to download the Revolut app and verify the account with your phone number. You can then start adding money from your bank account or using a credit card (Mastercard or VISA).

You will need to verify your identity with your passport, driving licence or ID card if you want to spend more than a total of £500 with your Revolut card.

If you want a physical card, and if you’re planning to use Revolut for payments abroad you will need the card, you can order one for via the app. The card usually has a £4.99 delivery charge but if you order it via our link and top up with £10 you will get the card for free.  This is a special offer from Revolut for Head for Points readers.

How to get the free card

In order to get the physical card free of charge you must click on our Revolut link here.

Insert your mobile number and click on the URL which Revolut will send to your phone. This will open the Google Play or Apple App Store.

Download the app, open it and create an account.

You need to top up £10 before you can select and order your free card (standard delivery).

Then verify your identity (tap more -> profile -> verify identity) and your card (either Mastercard or VISA) will be with you in a few days.

As well as the UK, you can also get a Revolut card if you live in:  Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

Review of revolut card

How do I spend money?

You can top up your Revolut account by bank transfer, debit or credit card.  There is no longer a fee for credit card top ups following the change in UK law in January.

My TSB credit card for example treats Revolut top-ups as a ‘purchase’.  Some credit cards treat Revolut as a cash advance (no points, cash fee).  Other cards such as those issued by Creation, eg IHG Rewards Club Mastercard, seem to treat it as a purchase (would earn points, no fee) although a comment below suggests that may have changed.   There could be potential here for generating ‘free’ frequent flyer miles by loading your card from a high earning Visa or Mastercard such as the Virgin Atlantic Rewards card (0.75 miles per £1) and using it for debit card transactions.

The money will sit in your Revolut account in the currency you’ve topped up but you can move it in between your different currency accounts at the current spot exchange rate.  If you have a bank account in the UK, are travelling to the US in a couple of weeks and the current exchange rate feels exceptionally good, you could exchange your money in advance to avoid a possibly worse exchange rate later.  This works for all currencies I listed above.

When you make a purchase abroad, the transaction is debited from your £ balance or in the country’s currency if you have stored money in your virtual wallet.

Can I make ATM withdrawals abroad with Reolut?

Yes, but free cash withdrawals are limited to £200 per month.  After that you pay 2%.

With the premium card your free cash withdrawals are limited to £400 per month.

How can I send money?

If you have money left on your Revolut card after a trip, you can transfer it back into your bank account.

You need to set yourself up as a beneficiary by entering your bank details manually and will then be able to select the amount of money you want to transfer. Afterwards you will get a notification that the money will be reaching your account the same day and when I last tried it my money was in my current account within less than an hour.

As well as paying money back into your own account you can also pay another person or a business with your Revolut app. Simply add the bank details and your money will be transferred.

Your Revolut account can also double as a regular UK and/or Euro bank account.  Your card has its own sort code and account number.  This is how the company sees the product developing.  They hope that you will pay your salary into your Revolut account, use the card for all of your spending at home or abroad and also pay your bills with it.

Revolut travel money card review

What limits does Revolut have?

Daily cash withdrawals from ATMs are limited to €5,000 via Mastercard and US$1,000 via VISA.

What charges does Revolut have?

A spare Revolut card costs £5 + £5 delivery fee

Transfers to friends or businesses take two business days – you must pay £5 to get the money across in one business day

Transactions of up to £5,000 per month are free, thereafter the fee is 0.5% unless you have the Premium card outlined below

At the weekend Revolut uses the exchange rate from Friday and adds, for most currencies, a 0.5% mark up

Three currencies DO incur a fee when spending – Thai Baht (1.5%), Russian Ruble (1.5%), Ukrainian Hryvnia (1%)

You can withdrawal up to £200 per month from an ATM without paying a fee but you pay 2% after that (£400 if you have the Premium card)

What else?

Revolut has introduced a spare change savings option. You can set up Revolut Vault which will let you round up your spending to the nearest £ or set up recuring payments.  Money sitting in Revolut Vault will not be touched when you use your card, but you can transfer it back into your regular Revolut account.

Revolut has a Premium card

For £6.99 per month you can upgrade your card to a Premium card. This card comes with a free ATM withdrawal allowance of £400/€400 per month as well as unlimited FX volume.

As a Premium customer you also get free overseas medical insurance, free global express delivery, exclusive priority 24/7 customer support and exclusive Premium promotions.  To be honest, however, I struggle to see the value here unless you are hitting the £5,000 monthly cap for FX transactions.

There are four different Premium card designs which you can order for free.  A new feature is free disposable virtual cards which make onine shopping more secure by creating a new card number everytime you make a purchase.

In the near future you will apparently be able to purchase airport lounge access via the Revolut app at a wholesale rate.

Conclusion – is a Revolut card worth getting?

Here at Head for Points we are generally not keen on prepaid foreign currency cards. If you have a good income then you will get the best deal by getting a standard credit card with 0% foreign exchange fees and using that abroad. We will be looking at a few of those products, such as the Virgin Money Travel credit card and – under reader pressure! – Aqua, in this series.

You may get slightly better FX rates with Revolut because it uses the exact interbank rate between Monday and Friday but I am not sure that the tiny difference in rates justifies the requirement to continually top up.

WeSwap (here is our review of that), Revolut and the like are well suited to people who are less likely to qualify for credit cards, or for parents to give to their children when travelling. There may be other members of your family who will find it more useful than you.  Pre-paid cards are a bit fiddly as you need to top up your account via the app and you either need to plan your spending in advance, are relying on wifi or will have to top up way more than you will be spending.

That said, there is a big difference between WeSwap and Revolut. With WeSwap you need to exchange your money one week in advance to get the lowest 1% fee.  Revolut exchanges immediately at the actual exchange rate (which you can monitor in the app) and unless you load the card at the weekend, you won’t be charged a fee at all.

It is possible that you are happy using the pre-paid card rather than potentially restricting your ability to get a miles earning credit card by adding a 0% FX credit card to your credit report.

Revolut is free – and with our link you will also get the physical card for free – so signing up and giving it a try does not cost you anything.  You may find it works for you.

You can find out more about Revolut on their website here.

(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards?  Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards Update’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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Comments

  1. Jimmy says:

    I think what is missing in this article is that they are going to launch their crypto reward card soon and that will definitely be a game changer to disrupt the UK card market.

    https://cryptovest.com/news/cash-back-in-cryptocurrency-revolut-releases-new-platinum-card/

    • Worzel says:

      You shouldn’t always believe what you read:

      ‘Revolut, the alternative banking company that took the world by storm………..’

      Thankfully the storm passed me by………

    • Mr Dee says:

      interesting

    • And there I had thought that the first mainstream metal card in the UK will be Amex Platinum

  2. simon says:

    OT

    Purchasing foreign currency via Amex travel still counts as a purchase?

    thanks

    • Peter K says:

      I believe they no longer sell travel money and stopped it months (couple of years?) ago.

  3. Andrew says:

    Fairly OT… I’d like to buy a car on a credit card, purely because it’s a better option than moving savings out of interest paying accounts when I have so much interest free credit available to me, but I assume this would also be of interest to people trying to earn rewards doing similar.

    If I can’t find a dealer willing to put it on a credit card, would it be possible by using pre-paid cards like this? Topping up in sterling as a purchase on a credit card, then withdrawing and paying using cash? Would I be able to sign up for several of these cards quickly if there are smaller withdrawal limits? Any other insight/suggestions very welcome, thanks!

    • I don’t think it’ll help although worth a punt. It’s all part of a negotiation though, so if you’re saying it’s a deal-breaker as to whether you make the purchase or not it might make the difference. My understanding is they’re making more money on finance though so may not be willing to budge.

    • James says:

      Will the dealer add a charge for paying by credit card? I remember picking up a Mercedes at auction a few years ago, just after chip and pin had been introduced. £18,000 on a First Direct debit card? No problem. Didn’t even get a security check. (Although a couple of weeks later I did… after buying a £2 coffee…)

      • Shouldn’t do as its supposed to now be illegal to charge more for purchasing with a credit card in the EU

      • It would be illegal for the dealer to add a charge for paying by credit card.

        If all else fails Billhop could be an option for you but you’ll get hit by their transaction fee

        • Andrew says:

          Thanks all – bill hop is definitely an option but then I think Curve only charges 2% for cash withdrawals so that might be a cheaper option still given bill hop is 2.95% iirc? Having now read the comments above though, it seems Starling may be the way to go. As I understand it you can top-up the account using a credit card as a purchase and then do a bank transfer with no fees etc? Anyone think of any reason why not?

        • A ndrew says:

          Thanks all – bill hop is definitely an option but then I think Curve only charges 2% for cash withdrawals so that might be a cheaper option still given bill hop is 2.95% iirc? Having now read the comments above though, it seems Starling may be the way to go. As I understand it you can top-up the account using a credit card as a purchase and then do a bank transfer with no fees etc? Anyone think of any reason why not?

    • You could pay via Curve card as its a debit. Check if the dealer charges a fee for a CC or Debit Card but apparently its illegal now?

    • I bought a car from Motorpoint recently, no Amex allowed but other credit cards were and obviously no extra fees as now illegal.

      Managed to get almost 10k Virgin Miles spreading it across our cards.

    • Andrew says:

      Just brought a new car. The dealer would only let me pay £2,000 on credit card so paid the remainder over 3 instalments (due to the daily limit cap) on my Curve Debit card which, in turn, charged it back to my Creation IHG credit card.

  4. KBuffett says:

    I’ve been using Revolut and saves a decent amount as I exchanged my money when it was $1.42 instead of now $1.35. I’ve been using it in the USA for the last 10 days and it’s been flawless. I gave my
    wife the Revolut card to use whilst shopping and I have been using the same card via Curve and it’s been working great.
    One thing I’ve noticed is that tips don’t seem to be getting charged to my card and it seems the retailer isn’t aware. They use some strange system here in the USA of charging your card with the base amount first and then charging your tip amount after you’ve left (I’m not sure how or why as you’re not there to enter your PIN again).

    • Optimus Prime says:

      That thing from the US about signing a tip that gets charged later on always striked me weird as f*ck.

      I also hate it that in many places the waiter disappears with your card and comes back with the receipt. It’s not a surprise that so many people spot fraudulent transactions after a holiday in the US.

      • KBuffett says:

        Yes, very true. I get a push alert for every transaction so I can keep an eye on the wife’s spending as well as any potential fraud.

    • They do actually get charged, it just takes a while to show up and it seems the underlying amount charged in GBP is amended without the dollar value appearing different. So don’t go mad with your tips thinking they aren’t going to be charged to the card!!!

      • Genghis says:

        When I use Curve once (personal expenditure), the meal cost is charged instantly and then tips charge comes through a couple of days later. With Amex (business charge), it comes through as one charge (I guess with a preauth of the meal charge)

  5. “I am not sure that the tiny difference in rates justifies the requirement to continually top up.”

    – one minor point, auto top-up is an available feature.

    I’ve been using revolut on my current holiday and it’s been working perfectly so far. Some countries, people in restaurants may try to wander off with your card – if that does happen, I’d rather it was with a pre paid card than my credit card!

    • Lumma says:

      Surely if someone in a restaurant or bar tries to fraudulently charge your card then it’s better to be on a credit card as the company will protect you more than a pre paid card?

  6. I absolutely love Revolut and I have never travelled without it since getting it a couple of years back. Topping up is quick and easy, the rates are superior to credit cards and you get an immediate notification as to how much you’ve withdrawn or spent. I have both the visa and the MasterCard versions of the card (some older ATMs in Indonesia for example have a weird aversion to Visa)

    I will gladly bank with Revolut if they introduce more incentives down the road. I’ve currently insured my phone with them too.

    Seriously recommend!

  7. KBuffett says:

    OT – with the new AMEX Plat bonus of 30k points, does that mean I can get 30k for upgrading from PRGC (charge) plus 18k for the referral?

    • Lumma says:

      No, you won’t get any normal bonus as you already have a membership rewards earning card. You need to upgrade via the link that’s often posted on here so you won’t be able to refer yourself either

    • No. You already have a Membership Rewards account so you don’t get a bonus on Plat and can’t use a referral. You’d need to use the 20k upgrade link.

  8. Michal says:

    I using Dipocket and it’s pretty cool. They don’t charge for these things which revolut. You can top up a account in a sec. And also they don’t charge for withdrawal money from cash mashine. They have a good customer service. You have video call with them. I used on my last trip to gran canarie and I will be use it again this year.

  9. vlcnc says:

    Find it bizarre there is literally never any mention of Monzo on this blog…

    • When it starts giving miles ….

      • vlcnc says:

        Unless I am missing something Revolut doesn’t give any miles? It’s a worse deal than Monzo, as Monzo gives the Mastercard rate upto £200 a month on cash withdrawals, unlimited transactions and doesn’t charge a percentage fee even on weekends. It also doesn’t charge anything on card transactions abroad at all with no limit on spending.

        • Genghis says:

          For Monzo you can’t top up from a credit card. For Revolut you can…

        • Andrew says:

          Starling is a better option than Monzo. There is no limit on overseas cash withdrawals

        • vlcnc says:

          Ok understood, I guess the ability to top up with a CC is a benefit especially as it is treated as a sales transaction. Does it accept Amex?

        • Genghis says:

          Amex not accepted.

      • vlcnc says:

        (just scrolled down, seems like they’re not always treated like a transaction any longer or at least unreliable so – will probably not go to the hassle myself and stick to Monzo)

        • Genghis says:

          Each to their own…

        • vlcnc says:

          I just don’t see the benefit of going to the hassle of getting another card that does the same thing less well (the percentage charge at weekends is off putting when you escape at weekends generally on short breaks and Monzo charges zero). The only advantage I could see is if topping up with a CC is reliably treated as a purchase to earn miles but this doesn’t seem to be the case.

        • Jimmy says:

          Monzo search transaction feature is unbeatable. Starling-wise, good luck with that.
          I am also a big fan of Monzo compared to Starling. Previously, Monzo didn’t have direct debit and switch guarantee but now they are on the equal bar, Monzo is definitely winning the game.

  10. OT: Can I pay by Amex bill with Curve, with the Curve fronting for my HSBC Premier Credit Card, without charge? i.e. will it see it as a purchase? thanks

    • paulm says:

      No, curve will usually block payments to financial institutions

    • james says:

      give it a try and let us know….

      • Will probably try! I have never withdrawn cash on any credit card, so don’t know how cash advance will appear on my statement / know I am getting charged some stupid interest rate on it.

      • Andrew says:

        Good luck trying to pay an Amex card with Curve. You can’t even link an Amex card to Curve.

  11. Drolma-la says:

    You say that “Revolut and the like are well suited… for parents to give to their children when travelling.” Do you mean adding your offspring as authorised users, or handing them your own card to use?

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