With our works and families abroad, we happen to travel quite often and pay in different currencies.
This used to come with a lot of extra costs: exchange rates, transfer fees, withdrawal fees. To address that, we looked into the different options available and opted for a Revolut card.
We have been using our Revolut card for a year now and are pretty happy with it and with its app.
What is Revolut?
Revolut is a digital banking alternative that comes with a very friendly user app. It was launched to the public in July 2017 and its headquarters are in London.
It offers free international money transfers, very competitive currency exchange rates, fee-free global spending as well as access to cryptocurrency exchange.
How to get started?
It is pretty easy to set up an account, as long as you are over 18.
First, you will need to download the Revolut app or sign up on the Revolut website.
You will be prompted to enter your phone number and a four digit password.
Then, a code will be sent to the phone number you entered to verify your account. Once your account verified, you will be asked to enter your personal details, your home address and an email address.
The last step will be to top up your account (£10 pounds – that you’ll be able to spend later), that can be done via bank transfer, card or apple pay.
If you want to use your Revolut abroad, you will need to order a physical card. You can order one on the app. Once you have topped up, go to ‘Cards’, choose ‘Physical’, and set one up. The card costs £4.99, and the delivery fee depends on the mode selected (the standard delivery can take up to 9 days while the express one is 2 days in the UK — personally I received it after 2 days using standard delivery, no need to pay the extra fee for express).
You will also need to verify your identity, go to More, Profile, Personal details – Not verified and take a picture of your passport/ID/driver licence.
After a couple of days, you will receive your physical card. It is a fully-functional Mastercard which allows you either to pay by card or to withdraw cash.
How does it work?
To be able to use the card abroad, you will need to top up your Revolut account via bank transfer or card.
Once the money is in your account, it will appear in the currency you used to top up. You can then move it to another currency (16 currencies available in Revolut) to benefit from a good exchange rate, or leave it as-is and have it converted when you pay with the card (using the exchange rate of the moment).
- Just before our trip to Croatia, we topped up the account in pounds. As the exchange rate with Kunas is quite stable, we didn’t do anything else and currency conversion happened each time we paid with the card. Since you don’t have extra fees with Revolut, that’s really up to you!
In the app, you can check your balance and ensure your have enough funds by topping up when necessary.
The app is also great as it comes with a set of analytics and budgeting tools. You can see how much you spent over the month, each day and by categories like groceries, utilities, transport, etc.
Is it safe and secure?
Revolut is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the app is password protected or Touch ID protected.
You can also turn on additional card security features on/off in the app to enhance the account’s protection (they’re actually on by default). For instance, the location based security (checking if the location of the payment match the location of your phone), the ability to withdraw cash at ATMs and contactless payments.
Limits and Conclusion
The Revolut card comes with extra costs for heavy spenders: when you withdraw more than the £200 cash limit per month or spend more than £5,000 per month you will have to pay an additional 2% or 0.5% fee respectively.
It also doesn’t earn you any miles, loyalty points or contribute to your credit-score, if that’s the use of your debit/credit card today.
However, if you are cautious of those limits, it can be a very good solution abroad or for transfers.
- Besides travel we also use it to transfer money to our french bank accounts.
It is very useful and we definitely suggest looking into it.