The Revolut banking app features a card for fee-free foreign spending and withdrawals. This is perhaps the best feature of Revolut, but there’s a lot more on offer.
As someone who has been using Revolut for several years now, I can confidently say that it has completely revolutionized the way I handle my finances.
In this review, I will delve into the features of Revolut, my personal experiences with the app, and my thoughts on its advantages and disadvantages.
What is Revolut?
Revolut is a digital banking app that offers a range of financial services. It’s one of the original new-wave fintech apps, and remains one of the biggest in the world.
It was the first ‘challenger bank’ that I engaged with. That is, a modern digital bank using technology to differentiate itself from the usual suspects.
It’s perhaps best known for the ability to hold and exchange multiple currencies at the interbank exchange rate. This is why I originally signed up.
For travel, it is a dream. Easily exchange money into the local currency, and withdraw it from a cash machine, at no additional cost.
But since I signed up, it has become a one-stop shop for everything finance.
You can send and receive money domestically and internationally, pay with a contactless Visa or Mastercard (depending on your country), budget and create savings pots, and nowadays, even trade stocks & cryptocurrency.
Crucially, it is not my main bank account, and I will cover the important reason why in my review.
Let’s dive into some of the top features.
Features of Revolut
Simplicity & ease of use
One of the best things about Revolut is its simplicity and the ease at which you can accomplish almost any task.
Many other ‘challenger banks’ – the digital/app-only banks – have followed on from their brilliant concept, and accordingly have similar user interfaces. But Revolut is a joy to use.
Signing up was, and still is, extremely straightforward. Simply download the app and enter a few details. You can get started spending right away with a virtual card, even before your physical card has arrived. A breath of fresh air compared to the traditional banking process.
Even if you’re not tech savvy, the app is a breeze to navigate. Swap between currencies with a tap. See all your cards and view their details (don’t bother reaching into your wallet). Even create a whole new card instantly, with the touch of a button. This leads me on to…
Disposable virtual cards
Why is this feature so high on the list of features? It’s because it’s one that I personally use a lot.
In keeping with the previous feature, it is incredibly simple to generate a disposable, virtual card. You can get one literally instantly – no need to wait for a card to arrive in the post.
Disposable virtual cards are single use virtual debit cards. They are suitable for one-time, online transactions. The card details automatically regenerate after every transaction, thus adding an extra layer of security for online transactions and protecting you against online card fraud.
You can have 1 active disposable virtual card at a time (this is all you need, as it regenerates itself) and this can only be used up to 5 times a day.
Why is this useful? As alluded to above, it gives you incredible security. When I want to buy something from a new website as a one-off, but I don’t want that website to have my card details stored perpetually, I use a virtual card!
The virtual cards, like your Revolut debit cards, can be locked/frozen in the app in seconds too. No more waiting on the phone for a customer support agent; take immediate control of your financial security.
Multiple currencies & fee-free currency exchange
As I mentioned, this feature was the main reason I signed up for Revolut way back when.
You can hold accounts in multiple currencies at the same time. Hold money in over 24 foreign currencies, in one app, for absolutely zero additional cost.
You can manage and exchange money between these accounts with a few taps and see (usually) instantaneous transfers.
There is a fee at the weekend for exchanging currencies, but as long as you remember to do your transfers during the week, it’s not that much of an inconvenience.
Bill splitting for group expenses
Split bills with friends on the go, or split home expenses with housemates. It’s something we used at University at is useful for splitting rent, take out, or any other expenses you might share.
As a small aside, Revolut is even more useful if all your friends are using Revolut too. You don’t need account numbers or anything like that – this is the 21st century. If they’re in your contacts, you can send them cash instantly. It’s like texting sending a payment over a ticket – and it works flawlessly.
This feature will automatically categorize your spending in real time. All your spending is collected and visualized so you can get a better overview of your spending.
It’s similar to other fintech/digital banking apps like Monzo and comes with the usual features, including setting limits on your spending to prevent overspending.
If you use Revolut as your sole bank account, and do all your spending there, this is going to be a great feature for you.
If you have multiple accounts you want to track, including credit cards, possibly even retirement accounts, you might want a more comprehensive solution such as Empower. This tool let’s you aggregate all your accounts in one place, so definitely check it out if it’s of interest.
Cryptocurrency trading and stock trading
This is not currently available in the US, but it is in the UK.
They offer fairly competitive pricing for their crypto exchange fees and commodity exchange fees, and these get even better at higher pricing tiers.
For example, 1.99% for crypto exchange at the standard free tier, and 1.49% at the premium and metal tiers.
The ‘social trading’ feature allows you to follow other traders and track them on a leaderboard if you’re into that sort of thing.
The above comments about the user experience apply here. These features are easy to use and a joy to use.
Safety and Security of Revolut
This is an important point, and it’s the reason Revolut is not my ‘main’ bank account. Despite actually using it the most, I keep the majority of my cash elsewhere.
In the UK, the money in your account is not FSCS protected up to £85k, although the money in savings vaults is.
This means that if the bank fails, your money is not guaranteed. It is only ‘safeguarded’ by Revolut. As Revolut themselves say:
“Only if the institution has breached its obligations, might there not be enough money in these [safeguarded] accounts for customers to be repaid their funds.”
Note: If you’re in the the US, your money is protected by regulated banks. Revolut works with partner banks and your money is FDIC insured up to $250,000.
But for UK citizens not using the savings vault feature to store your money, I’d recommend keeping most of your money in FSCS regulated banks.
Another reason the Safety and Security of Revolut is important is because of their customer service, should you need it (see below).
Revolut Customer Service issues – a complicated past
Here’s the thing with Revolut. The majority of the criticism in the past has been down to their customer service.
I think it’s fair to say they broke new ground with their digital-only banking app, but their customer service was slow to keep up.
In the UK, there have been numerous stories about their slowness/unwillingness to help when dealing with cases of Fraud. Such as the lady scammed out of £20,000 and could not get a reply from Revolut within three days.
There’s also stories of account verification taking a long time in some cases.
Revolut themselves believe they have come a long way and improved their customer service support, and I personally have found them to be quite good, even before I was a premium subscriber.
Revolut offers four pricing tiers:
1. Standard (free)
Probably the best choice for most users. You get access to pretty much every feature, although you do miss out on plenty of addons too.
2.Plus (£2.99/month – Not available in US)
Here you get additional protections, such as a £1,000 accident protection cover, valid for 1 year after purchase. You could use this for your new iPhone, for example.
It also gives you a 90 day return window for items that a retailer won’t take back. Revolut covers your buyers remorse, which is a pretty unique perk.
You also have ticket cancellation protection and some (about 1-2%) interest on your savings.
3. Premium ($9.99/month or £6.99/month in the UK)
Here, you get a shiny card. Does the card do anything different from the standard one? No. Does it look cool? Absolutely.
But more than that, you get access to everything in the previous tiers plus additional travel features such as free lounges for delayed flights, higher withdrawal limits and more. See the next section on Revolut Premium (the tier I use) for more detail.
4. Metal ($16.99/month or £12.99/month in the UK)
Here, you get the elusive ‘Metal’ card (even shinier)!
But more importantly, you get 1% cashback on all card payments (region-specific). So if you spent £13,000 in a year on the card, it would pay for the monthly fee.
Otherwise, there’s not much ‘new’ over the previous tiers. You essentially get higher limits on things, if not unlimited. For example, US customers get unlimited no-fee currency exchange at this tier. UK customers get £800 p/m fee-free withdrawals.
You also get SmartDelay access (discussed below) for you and three companions, instead of just one.
Revolut Premium – is it worth it?
I am a premium Revolut subscriber. It costs £6.99 ($9.99) for the premium service, and it is worth it for me as a frequent traveler, and someone that is paid in different currencies. Here’s why:
- $10k a month fee-free currency exchange (Sun-Fri) in 25+ foreign currencies (unlimited for UK customers). I travel frequently, and I am occasionally paid in other currencies, so I would break the £1,000 ($1,000) limit for the free account (0.5% charge after this).
- Higher ATM withdrawal limit. US customers have unlimited withdrawals at the free tier, but in the UK, we need premium for the £400 p/m fee-free withdrawals (up from £200 in the free tier).
- SmartDelay is a feature I’ve been lucky enough (or unlucky enough, depending on how you view it) to use many times. If your flight is delayed by more than an hour, you suddenly have free airport lounge access for you and a friend. Honestly, it’s really cool.
- Priority support. You actually get this at the ‘plus’ tier in the UK, but only the premium tier in the US. If I ever do get in a pinch and need a customer service agent ASAP, I want this. Given the aforementioned customer service issues of the past, I don’t want to be waiting days for help.
- Travel insurance and more. You get a certain amount of coverage for flights, baggage, medical and winter sports cover at this tier (the amount varies by country).
There are some other small perks, but these are the big ones that I use.
User reviews of Revolut
With over 127,000 reviews on Trustpilot, Revolut is rated as ‘Excellent’ with a score of with a score of 4.3/5.0. 75% of the reviews give the full 5 stars, with 10% giving just 1 star.
With regards to the extremely negative reviews, many cite customers support issues. Some cite the usual account activation / payment issues. The negative reviews are there, but are they any more than any other bank? Not really.
Somewhat ironically, Trustpilot stats show that a whopping 98% of negative reviews are replied to by customer support, within 24 hours too. Great customer service!
Revolut competitors to consider
Depending on the feature(s) you prioritize, there may be a more suitable competitor.
For example, need to withdraw up to £300 ($360) a day and don’t want to pay for premium? Starling might be for you. Need joint accounts? Perhaps Monzo (though Revolut are testing joint account functionality at the time of review).
There are tons of minor differences between the services, but the below table gives you a high-level overview.
|Global ATM Access||✔️||✔️||✔️||✔️||✔️|
|Insurance||✔️ (in premium)||❌||✔️ (in premium)||✔️ (in premium)||✔️ (in premium)|
In summary: Is Revolut the one app to rule them all?
If you currently have multiple apps for your banking, traveling, trading, and crypto investments, Revolut could do it all for you, in one place.
I personally still use it as an additional account rather than my main account, but even so, feel that paying for premium is worth it for all the features I get.
The customer service issues and lack of FSCS protection in the UK are the only things holding me back from storing my main income there.
But it could just be me being paranoid; every bank has customer service issues and Revolut do offer alternative protection.
I have no reservations in recommending Revolut, particularly for travel purposes.
It’s free to try the standard card, so there’s no harm in giving it a go. Plus, the link below will give you a 3-month trial of premium. Give it a go!