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REVIEW: Is Revolut any good, and how does Revolut work?

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EDIT May 2020:  The free card offer is currently suspended due to coronavirus.  You will NOT receive a free card if you use the link in this article.

This is our review of the Revolut Mastercard / VISA travel money card, including a look at how Revolut works.

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.  Our review of Starling Bank is here if you want to compare.

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 that Revolut works for you.

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


Want to earn more points from credit cards? – January 2021 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are our January 2021 recommendations based on the current sign-up bonus

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here.

British Airways American Express card

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and a companion voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

BA Premium Plus American Express card BAPP

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable credit card perk – the 2-4-1 companion voucher Read our full review

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Rewards Plus credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus and the most generous non-Amex for day to day spending Read our full review

Earning miles and points from small business cards

If you are a sole trader or run a small company, you may also want to check out these:

American Express Business Gold card

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

Earn both Avios and BA On Business points with your business spending Read our full review

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company Read our full review

Disclaimer: Head for Points is a journalistic website. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibility to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances. Recommendations are based primarily on the ability to earn miles and points and do not consider interest rates, service levels or any impact on your credit history.  By recommending credit cards on this site, I am – technically – acting as a credit broker.  Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as a credit broker.

Comments (225)

  • Olly says:

    Thanks John. I would not be paying it all in one go but a couple of thousand as the work is progressed. I’ve had £10 in a Revolut account since I opened an account about three years ago on the recommendation of a friend but not used it. I take it that it’s easy to make payments from the account topping it up with my Amex charge card or Hilton/IHG credit cards?

  • Roger1* says:

    Interesting discussion, impinging on several points my wife and I share. After some early experience (Air Miles cashcard, anyone?), I’ve avoided the likes of Revolut, though I do have a Curve card.

    Mrs Roger receives regular CREDITS from a former Swiss employer. These have gone into her longstanding Swiss bank account – until the bank decided to surcharge foreign (i.e. non-Swiss) account holders with unrealistic fees. She changed banks, and now the substitute bank wants to impose similar fees. 🙁 She has been unable to find a Swiss bank with reasonable fees.

    I have been looking at the Transferwise multi-currency debit card, which allows IBAN-nominated accounts in several countries, but not including Switzerland. But today’ article on Revolut seems to answer some of our questions. I’m thinking that TW or Revolut could be a good solution for my wife’s credits. Does anybody have experience in applying regular credits to a TW or Revolut account? Thanks.

    Bagoly said at 08:55 0n 18.5.18:

    QUOTE
    For EUR and GBP you get a unique bank account number.
    In time they intend to expand this to other currencies.
    For other currencies it’s a shared account with reference for allocating.
    Both work fine – you are right that you should set up the currency before money is sent …

    It is for incoming amounts in foreign currencies that I got Revolut.
    E.g. You bill clients (particularly if a one-off) in EUR, or your cousin who lives in the USA wants to send you USD200.
    The only competition that is close that I know of is Transferwise (already has USD and AUD unique bank accounts as well as EUR and GBP, but charges 0.5% spread)
    UNQUOTE

    • RussellH says:

      Swiss Banks have become a complete pain for the rediculous fees they now charge non-residents; it used to be just non-Swiss citizens, but for the last few years it has been everybody.
      There are endless complaints in the Swiss ex-pat journals, and, I assume, online discussion groups too.
      The only way around it (AFAIK) is if you know someone with a Swiss address, who will let you use that address – fortunately my brother has a house in CH, though he does not live there permanently, and I was able to just advise my bank of a new address by filling in an online form, no proof was ever required.
      Things may be tougher for non citizens though!

      They could not get away with this stuff if they were in the EU, and I do not doubt that some UK banks may be looking at this as a new source of revenue if this ridiculous Brexit idea happens.

  • Ross says:

    Revolut not without pain but saved me a fortune this alst few years

  • Chris Anderson says:

    I’ve been using Revolut for a few years now. Some additional thoughts on things I like and don’t like:

    Like:
    – I take holidays with friends, and Revolut makes it a lot easier to manage joint payments. They have a great split bill feature, and it’s extremely easy (and instant) to send money between Revolut users. So one of us can pay the bill, hit split bill and request 25% from the other 3. Instant notifications, we can immediately accept and the money moves.
    – Really impressive and flexible security. You can freeze your card in the app with 1 tap (and unfreeze again later), so if you lose it you know it won’t get abused. You can also enable location security, which means that Revolut will only allow a payment if the GPS in your phone shows you are “close” to the place that’s trying to take money from you. This has downsides as well (you need GPS signal to be able to make payments), but is a cool idea and works well for 95% of transactions. You can turn on and off other features such as swipe payments, contactless payments, ATM withdrawals, and internet payments, so if you don’t use your card for those things, you don’t need to worry about it being used that way by someone else (or you can turn them all off and only flick them on when you need them).
    – I’ve never had a payment issue, ever. The payment system seems to work very well.
    – Being able to hold money in a foreign currency without paying the fees is a great feature. I typically book hotels that I need to pay for when I stay, so it’s nice to be able to convert money today to cover the cost and then not have to worry about exchange rates moving between booking and staying.
    – The virtual cards are a brilliant idea, and I use them a lot, especially for smaller websites that are more prone to being hacked
    – Great payments analytics. You can look at how your balance has changed over time, show total transactions by month split by category, by merchant (i.e. which shop), or by country. Want to see how much you spent at starbucks last month? Easy (although maybe blissful ignorance is better).

    No like:
    – In my experience, the customer support is poor. They try to deal with most queries via automated bots, only routing you to an adviser if it’s complicated. But the wait for an actual human has always been very long for me (once it was 3 hours). Even then, when a human arrives, you don’t get a push notification of chat responses, and therefore you have to physically keep checking the app to see if you’ve had a reply. If you don’t reply quickly enough, they assume you’ve resolved the query or don’t want help any more, so they end the chat. It’s hugely frustrating, and is the number 1 reason I wouldn’t move my current account to Revolut.
    – The ATM withdrawal limit is annoying, and another reason I could never make Revolut my bank of choice. Other startup tech banks (e.g. Starling) don’t have these limits, and are much more attractive to me as a result.

    • Chris Anderson says:

      One other thing to be aware of (although probably not a big deal to most people). Revolut isn’t protected by the FSCS deposit guarantee, so your money isn’t as safe as it is in a “proper” bank. Although in reality this is very unlikely to be a problem as both Revolut and the bank backing it would have to go bankrupt for your money to be at risk.

  • 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.

  • 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!

    • Alan says:

      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…)

      • Alan says:

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

      • Ian says:

        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?

    • Jeff says:

      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?

    • Matt says:

      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.

  • 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………

  • 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.

    • Alan says:

      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)