Ben Todd | Apr 16, 2017 | 3
Revolut Review – A Traveler’s Best Money-Saving Friend
If you travel abroad, or if you conduct business abroad, you are going to incur fees.
If you use your bankcard, then you are going to be charged an exchange fee, and if you use an exchange bureau, then you still incur fees. In addition, some people are confused by exchange rates and such. If you travel occasionally and do not need to transfer thousands upon thousands into different currencies, then Revolut may be just what you need.
Typically, you’ll be charged the following fees as a traveller who goes abroad and hits up an ATM:
- international ATM fee charged by your home bank (varies depending on bank and your country)
- your bank currency exchange fee (2.5-3 % added on to the exchange)
- shitty conversion fee done by your home bank on the amount (not usually the mid-market rate, but less than mid-market rate given to you as the consumer by your bank or the bank making the exchange)
- the local ATM fee you withdrawl your cash from
These fees can be outragous. In some cases, with the extra ATM costs on both sides, the crappy exchange rate given, the tacked on exchange rate, you can pay something like 6-12 percent in BANK fees on the money you take out from the ATM.
But what if you ‘pay’ for goods with your debit card? Some of these same fees apply — a shitty currency exchange rate and, in some cases, extra fees imposed by your home bank for using the card outside of your country.
So what can you do to get around this?
Revolut might be the answer.
Note that we don’t have any affiliation with Revolut, we don’t make money promoting them; so this is our unbiased review/opinion of the product.
When you sign up with Revolut, you get as many multi-currency accounts as you need, and you get a multicurrency account. When you visit another country, the card acts as if it is from that country and automatically starts using the local currency, even if your online wallet says you do not have that currency in your wallet. What the card does is take money from one of your other accounts and transfers/exchanges it so you may use it in your current country.
You also get an app so you may see where your money is, what the exchange rate is and so forth. The Revolut pre-paid MasterCard is called the RevolutCard™. Take it on holiday with you, and it acts almost as if you have a bank account in the country you are visiting.
They Do Not Skim From Your Exchange Rate
Revolut allows you to transfer and exchange money in 120 currencies. Actually, their TV adverts say 90 currencies, but their website says 120 currencies.
Most exchange and transfer companies will skim a little from your exchange rate in order to make money, but Revolut does not. The exchange rate you get is exactly the same as the one they show on Google. There is no special Revolut rate that is unfavorable.
When you Google an exchange rate, the Google search engine uses Live Bank, and so does Revolut. The Revolut Company gives you exactly the same amount that Google says you should get.
There Are No Fees, Hidden Charges Or Bank Charges
For some people, this header is true. However, if you own a bank account or credit card that holds dollars, then you are probably going to have to pay a fee to top up your card or transfer money using your USD bank account or credit card.
You may also have to pay a fee if you use a credit card to top up your RevolutCard™ MasterCard. You will also have to pay a fee if you wish to transfer more than $5000 per calendar month. The fee is 0.5% on anything you transfer that is over the $5000 per calendar month threshold.
It is not yet clear if topping up your RevolutCard™ MasterCard counts as part of the $5000 transfer. Logic suggests that topping up is a transaction, so it counts as part of the transfer amount. The MasterCard is technically a pre-paid card, so you will have to top it up with money if you wish to use it in your own country or other countries. We tried contacting the customer service department to find out if topping up counts as part of the $5000 limit, but we couldn’t get a clear answer.
How It All Works And The Things You Should Know
Some transfer companies take days to transfer your money from one currency to another, but Revolut does it instantly. If you have money in £100 in your GPB (British Money) account, and you are in France and want to buy a sweater for 30 Euros, then you simply use your Revolut card despite the fact that your Euro balance is at zero. The app will transfer the correct amount of money from GBP to Euros to cover what you have spent. There is no exchange rate skimming during the transaction, there are no fees during the transaction, and it happens instantly.
The instant conversion applies to all types of MasterCard transaction. For example, using the GPB and Euro example again, if you have £100 in your GPB account, and you wish to draw out 30 Euros from an ATM in France, then simply wander over to an ATM and do it. Your card and its associated app will transfer the GPB equivalent of 30 Euros to your Euro account (Euro wallet) so that you may draw out 30 Euros right away. It all happens instantly, which means you don’t even need to top up the currency wallet/account of the currency you intend to use next.
A Multicurrency Card With A Digital Currency Wallet
The RevolutCard™ MasterCard is a multicurrency card that works as if it is a local currency card. There is no charge for withdrawing money out of your account, and if you haven’t filled up the currency account (currency wallet) that you are using right now, it will simply draw money from whichever currency wallet has the most money in it. In the examples above, the GPB wallet had the most money in it, so it was exchanged, transferred and used to fund the Euro wallet.
Use your RevolutCard™ to buy things from around the world while using up to 120 currencies. You may transfer money with the app, or you may decide not to transfer money and let your RevolutCard™ and app do it whenever it is needed. The RevolutCard™ is a prepaid card, and it allows you to send money to other people using the app, SMS, WhatsApp, Email, and even Social Media. Top up your card, and you may send money to other people who have a RevolutCard™ and associated app.
What To Do If You Are Going Abroad On Holiday
If you are planning on going on holiday, order a RevolutCard™ MasterCard, download the app and set up your account. Transfer money to your MasterCard. It doesn’t matter which currency you transfer to your RevolutCard™ MasterCard, so long as it is one of the 120 approved currencies.
Now, you may go on holiday. You may transfer your money into the currency used in your holiday country, and you may do it instantly and for free, but there is no point because the card and the app will do it for you automatically whenever you use the RevolutCard™ MasterCard.
If you think you are running out of money in your digital wallet, you may use the app while you are abroad and top up your Revolut account (digital currency wallet) with money from your bank or credit card. You may also log into your online banking and direct transfer money from your bank into your Revolut account.
Are There Any Charges For Revolut Users?
How much are they charging to exchange your money? Most exchange companies make their money from charging fees for exchanges, and they skim a little off the exchange rate too in order to make a little extra cash.
Revolut uses the Live Bank figure when calculating your rate, and they give you all of it, which means they do not skim off the exchange rate.
The company should not charge a fee for transfers up to $5000 per calendar month. That means that if you transfer/exchange $5000 or less during a calendar month, then there is no charge. A charge of 0.5% is applied to every cent you transfer over $5000 in a calendar month.
- Free = The mobile app
- Free = Your first RevolutCard™ MasterCard
- $10 = Replacement RevolutCard™ MasterCard
- Free = Renewal of RevolutCard™ MasterCard
- $15 = Expedited delivery of RevolutCard™ MasterCard
- Free = Bank transfers to top up your card
- Free = Debit card transfers to top up your card
- 1% = Credit card transfers to top up your card
- 4% = Use of USD debit or Credit cards
- Free = Transfers from Revolut account to Revolut account
- Free = Bank transfers
- $13 = Transfer changes or recalls
How Are These Suckers Making Money?
The first thing that springs to mind when a company claims their product is revolutionary is “What’s the catch?” The company doesn’t skim from the exchange rate in order to make money, which is a common moneymaking method for transfer companies. Revolut also doesn’t charge a transfer fee, which is another common way that transfer companies make money. So, how is Revolut making money? Our research has led us to SIX moneymaking methods:
Method 1 – The $10 replacement card fee
It is unlikely that the company pays exactly $10 during the process of replacing lost cards. Revolut is probably making a small amount of profit on this process.
Method 2 – The $15 expedited delivery fee for replacement cards
Again, it is unlikely that Revolut is paying exactly $15 to rush your card to you, they are probably making a thin profit on this too.
Method 3 – The 1% charge for credit card transfers to top up
Though we are not sure how far Revolut take the process and how much they hand over to other groups. Nevertheless, there is a chance that this 1% charge isn’t to recoup a fee being taken by another company. The 1% charge may simply be there to dissuade people from using their credit card.
Method 4 – The 4% charge for transfers/top ups with a USD cards
There may be a good reason why people with USD in their accounts are charged to use their USD credit or debit card, but we cannot think of one. If it was a tax issue, then why target the currency and not the US citizens? This 4% charge seems like a callous moneymaker.
Method 5 – The $13 for transfer changes or recalls
Again, unless Revolut is using a third party company, there is a good chance that the $13 is not to recoup fees being paid by Revolut. There is a chance it pays for a small amount of administration, and there is a chance that the transaction has a small slither of profit involved in it.
Method 6 – A Higher Exchange Rate on Weekends
I’ve looked at reports by users and it seems Revolut gives a worse exchange on weekends than it does on weekdays. Revolut bills itself as the best way to pay for stuff while abroad without getting dinged by fees. And for the most part, we feel this is true. But to get the best deal, you’ll probably want to do any currency withdraws on the WEEKDAYS to avoid this.
Method 6 – Holding money is very valuable in itself
The company may simply wish to get its hands on your money. A simple example of how simply holding your money is profitable is if there is $1 million held in people’s accounts at any one time, then that money may be put in a savings account that earns interest. Even if the million is only held for a day, the Revolut could still earn interest from it. There are plenty of relatively risk-free places that Revolut may store your money while you are not using is so that Revolut makes a little money.
The Negative Things That People Keep Saying
So far, the company seems pretty awesome, but if something is too good to be true… The fact is that Revolut has quite a few user-written complaints online about it, and most of them center on Revolut’s customer service department.
The customer service department is very basic. It is mostly controlled and managed by software. The call centers and live chat centers are very bad. They have very few staff, and most of them are trained to give canned responses.
Many people are happy with Revolut until they hit a problem. They then find that they cannot get through to a human, and when they do, the human doesn’t know what to do to fix the problem.
The company is great until you have a problem, at which point your love affair with Revolut may go out the window. The onslaught of negative reviews about Revolut has led to Revolut paying people to post positive reviews.
You can usually tell which are the fake ones by two methods. The first is that the reviewer has only ever placed one or two reviews in the lifetime of his or her account profile, which suggests the profile was created simply to give a Revolut review. The second reason is that most fake reviews are long. Some contain stories, others contain a message, and some are just stupidly fawning.
Conclusion – Should We Trust Revolut?
We are edging towards a definite yes.
Revolut allows you to transfer and exchange money in between 90 and 120 currencies, and they do it without skimming from your exchange rate and without charging a fee. So in this regard, the company delivers.
However, the company has its problems; apparently, customer support is meh and the company can be jumpy when it comes to putting holds on accounts out of the blue and the company is slow to send out replacement cards, and if you encounter a problem, then you are going to struggle to get it fixed.
The sad part is that heavy users and people with USD money in their debit and credit cards will have to suffer more fees than European-based travelers — and Revolt is NOT yet available in North America (so too bad you Yankees and Canuks) for now, but otherwise, there is a chance that Revolut will save low-spending travelers a lot of money.
Overall Revolut is a revolutionary company (they’ve done something new in the travel space) and if you use Revolut when you travel, you will save a lot of money, especially in ATM fees and stupid currency exchange fees (for both cash withdrawals and purchases).
If you are planning on transferring less than $5000 per month, then this multi currency card is simply the answer to all your dreams.
So they do, we feel, deliver on their promise to make paying for things (and getting money) cheaper for travelers. However, things are a bit murky if you lose the card (it can take some time to get your replacement) and the company, as reports say, can be trigger happy on locking up your account for no reason, if you trip up some safety algorithm. For people who have who have not had these problems, Revolut might just be all it’s cracked up to be.
Note that reports from users state the exchange rate given is slightly WORSE on the weekends, so to take the best advantage of the Revolut card, pull money out or make large purchases ON the weekdays, avoiding the weekends.
Revolut May Not Be Top Dog in the Travel Card Market for Long
Revolut may be facing some serious competition from Transferwise, the current king of cheap money transfers/currency exchanges, on the internet. Transferwise is a unicorn company (a startup worth over a billion dollars) and it looks as though the company is considering offering a travel card, similar to Revolut by the end of 2017. If they do get this such a product out the door, Revolut faces some stiff competition. And this is a good thing.