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 article is sponsored by Revolut to promote its special sign-up offer for HFP readers
In May 2018 we ran a series of reviews of travel money cards. This included a review of the Revolut debit card which you can find here. Revolut has proved popular with people who do not have, or do not want, a separate ‘0% FX fees’ credit card to use when they are travelling. There are now over 3 million Revolut cardholders across Europe.
Revolut has not sat still since our May 2018 article. They have been updating their product and launching two new premium variants. They asked us to take another look at the three different cards the company is now offering, with the carrot of a special offer for HFP readers who sign up.
Revolut has given us a special deal. If you apply for a standard Revolut card via the links in this article and top up £10, you will receive the card for free. This saves you the £4.99 delivery fee. Once you’ve tried it out, you can decide whether to upgrade to one of the new premium options.
What is Revolut?
Revolut was founded three years ago. In the beginning the company promoted itself on the back of a prepaid card which carried 0% foreign exchange fees and let you move money between currencies without charge.
Not only are there no FX transaction fees when spending abroad, but as Revolut uses the interbank rate, you should be getting slightly finer pricing than using a 0% FX fees Visa or Mastercard credit card. Other cards use a centralised Visa and Mastercard exchange rate which is slightly worse than the interbank rate. Do note, however, that Revolut adds a small surcharge for foreign currency spend at the weekend as it cannot access a real-time rate.
‘0% FX’ and fee-free money transfers are still a big part of the Revolut model, but the company has shifted its focus towards everyday banking. It now offers ‘app only’ current accounts with its cards as well as various saving and spending tools.
How does Revolut work?
Revolut now positions itself as a digital current account provider, competing with Starling, Monzo, Atom, N26 and Monese.
You can sign up for FREE on the Revolut website here. You will need to download the Revolut app and verify the account with your phone number.
As Revolut now operates as a current account, you can transfer money in or out using BACS or IBAN. It is also possible to have your salary paid onto your Revolut card if you wish.
Alternatively, you can add money using a credit card (Mastercard or Visa). Most credit card companies treat Revolut top-ups as a purchase, not a cash advance, although you should do a trial to test this. This means that you earn miles and points on the top-up. Be aware that Tesco Bank does charge cash advance fees if you load your Revolut card from a Tesco Bank credit card and there may be others too.
What are Revolut’s key features?
As a purely online current account provider, Revolut has started with a clean sheet of paper and introduced some interesting features which many High Street banks do not offer:
You get a current account in £ and €, with an IBAN number for EU payments
You can receive instant spending notifications on your smartphone
The app has various budget controls and analytical tools to help you monitor and analyse your spending
There are advanced security features – you can freeze the card via the app, you can block contactless payments, swipe payments, ATM withdrawals, and/or online payments and optional location-based security can block all transaction from a location which is not near your phone
The “Vaults” feature allows you to round up each purchase to the nearest full £1, moving your spare change to a savings account
You can send and request money from your friends – handy if you want to split rent payments, a bill, etc.
And, of course, you can still spend abroad and send money overseas at the real exchange rate
Revolut now operates with 150 currencies, of which the 24 core ones are fee-free up to a limit of £5,000 per month. On the standard card, there is a 0.5% fee on FX spend or transfers above this level. You can also withdrawal up to £200 per month from international ATMs with no fees added (£2 fee thereafter).
There is some small print around the ‘0% FX fees’ options. There is a 0.5% -1.5% mark up at the weekend depending on the currency, which gives Revolut a buffer against losses whilst the currency markets are closed.
What do you get with the Revolut Premium card upgrade?
For £6.99 per month you can upgrade your card to the Revolut Premium card. There are four different Premium card designs which you can choose from when you order your card. Premium removes some of the limits attached to the free Standard card and adds some new benefits:
There is no value or volume cap to your foreign exchange transactions
The card comes with a free ATM withdrawal allowance of £400 per month
As a Premium customer you also get free overseas medical / delayed flight / delayed baggage insurance, free global express delivery, exclusive priority 24/7 customer support and exclusive Premium promotions in addition to everything included in the Standard Account.
Revolut has also moved into the cryptocurrency market for Premium card holders, allowing you to move money into Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash or XRP directly from the app.
A new feature recently introduced is free disposable virtual cards. This makes your online shopping more secure by creating a new ‘one use’ card number, linked to your main account, every time you make a purchase.
Recently Revolut has added the option for Premium cardholders to purchase airport lounge access through the LoungeKey network via the Revolut app. Entry for one person costs £25 and the money will be taken off your Revolut account when booking via the app.
And now …. the brand new Revolut Metal card
Metal payment cards are all the rage at the moment as you will have seen on Head for Points in recent weeks. If you have ever wanted to impress your friends with a metal card, this could be the one for you.
Revolut’s newest product is a contactless metal Mastercard. This card comes with all of the Standard and Premium features plus a free ATM withdrawal allowance of £600 per month. There is also a 24/7 concierge service to help sort out your social life.
With this card you also earn cashback on your day to day spending. You will get up to 0.1% within Europe and 1% outside Europe.
Revolut Metal card holders get one complimentary LoungeKey airport lounge visit per membership year.
The metal card costs £12.99 per month. For regular travellers this might actually be better value than the Premium card, since the 1% cashback earned on non-EU purchases could mount up quickly.
Remember that the 1% cashback on non-EU transactions is on top of the ‘no FX fees’ benefit. This means, net, you are 4% better off with the metal Revolut card than you would be paying a non-EU bill with a standard credit card with a 3% FX fee and no cashback.
Which Revolut card is best?
Getting a standard Revolut account is free – and with our link you will also get the physical card for free, saving the £4.99 delivery fee – so signing up and giving it a try does not cost you anything.
If you don’t have a 0% FX fees credit card to use while travelling, it is a handy product to keep with your passport even if you don’t want any of the more advanced features. It is especially useful for younger members of your family who may not qualify for a credit card.
The question is whether you should pay £6.99 or £12.99 per month for added benefits of the Premium or Metal cards.
Looking at the Premium card, you get medical insurance (although you should look carefully at the limits, excesses and exclusions), no FX limits and a higher ATM withdrawal allowance for £6.99 a month. If you are making substantial currency transfers via Revolut which break the £5,000 monthly cap on the free card then it will clearly be good value. For everyone else you need to look at the potential saving from the higher ATM allowance and the travel insurance.
The Metal card has a neat design and comes with an even higher ATM withdrawal allowance. You can earn cashback on your spending which will probably be the key feature for HFP readers. To justify the additional £6 monthly fee over the Revolut Premium card, you would need to be spending an average of £600 per month outside Europe or £6,000 within Europe to earn £6 cashback. You also need to factor in any ‘cool’ factor you place on having a metal card in your wallet, of course …..
You can sign up for the standard Revolut card for FREE on the Revolut website here. Using our exclusive HFP link will remove the £4.99 delivery fee for your card as long as you top-up with £10. Once you’ve tried it out, you can decide whether to upgrade to Premium or Metal.
(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.)