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Revolut bank review – the perfect travel companion?

19–23 minutes to read

Revolut bank could just be the best UK bank for travellers. With travel features including accessing the best exchange rates and a host of other benefits, Revolut bank could just be the ideal travel companion. But how much does it cost? And how does it stack up against close rivals Monzo and Starling? Crucially though, as it is not technically a UK bank, what are the risks? 

We review everything Revolut bank has to offer.

Revolut bank at a glance

  • Ideal for frequent travellers with perks such as travel lounges, overseas medical insurance and zero-fee currency exchange with paid accounts.
  • The best currency exchange rates beating both Monzo & Starling though there is a catch at the weekend – check out below.
  • Earn 1% cash-back on payments across 30 currencies with paid accounts.
  • Easily buy cryptocurrencies, commodities and stocks.
  • Link and control junior accounts.
  • Offers the cheapest metal card (£12.99 p/m) with some great perks.
  • The paid upgrades are good value…if you need them.
  • Everything is in one app making it ideal for those short on time.
  • All the digital features you’d expect such as spaces for savings, including interest.
  • Is not technically a bank in the UK and is therefore missing features such as direct debits, overdrafts and standing orders.

Heads up – We aim to produce honest and accurate content, however, we are not financial advisors. If you need financial advice, Unbiased can connect you with a suitable professional for free. Some of our links may earn us a small commission to help us run the site.

Who is Revolut bank?

Revolut bank is one of the new breeds of digital challenger banks shaking up the traditional system. Although technically speaking, it is a financial technology company offering banking services.

It was set up in 2015 by two guys with previous experience in investment banking and finance systems. They were passionate about creating change within the foreign currency system. In particular, they wanted to disrupt the astronomically high fees people were expected to pay when transferring money between currencies.

Just a few years later, Revolut now claims to have 15 million personal customers and 500 thousand business customers across the globe. Reassuringly, it is backed by large investment firms and the company has completed over £40 billion in transactions.

Since then, Revolut bank has carved out a niche, becoming a financial super app, by not only focussing on customers who want a travel card but expanding into crypto, trading and junior accounts.

Importantly though, remember Revolut does not have its UK banking licence. Therefore, you do not have the standard protections that you would have with a traditional UK bank account including Monzo and Starling.

Revolut does plan to change this. In early 2021, Revolut applied for its UK banking licences so hopefully, these challenges will be resolved soon.

“The smartphone app revolutionising foreign currency exchange.”
The Guardian

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Revolut bank accounts

There are four types of accounts to choose from.

  • Standard (free). Good for – spending locally, abroad and dabbling in cryptocurrencies. Get started here.
  • Plus (£2.99 month). Good for – enhanced level of protection on purchases and tickets for events/gigs. Get started here.
  • Premium (£6.99 month). Good for – funky cards, accessing enhanced features on linked Kids’ accounts, safer online shopping (virtual cards), cheaper trading on cryptocurrencies and some travel features. Get started here.
  • Metal (12.99 month). Good for – unlocking all travel features for regular travellers. Get started here.

Revolut card - top 5 travel features

The Revolut card is known as one of the best travel cards out there. And for good reason, because it was set up with this specifically in mind. For maximum travel benefits, go for the Metal Card account. If you travel even a little, the £12.99 monthly fee can offer great value.

 

1. No-fee currency exchange – £1,000 monthly limit on Standard and Plus accounts and unlimited on Premium and Metal.

2. Overseas medical insurance – unlike many competitors, includes winter sports (Premium and Metal only).

3. Delayed baggage and flight insurance – (Premium and Metal only).

4. Smart Delay – free lounge access for you and up to four friends if your flight is delayed by more than an hour (Premium and Metal only).

5. Car hire excess – during 31 days of your trip (Metal only).

 

Remember though – there is a catch at the weekend, so read on.

Revolut bank - great for foreign currencies

Fundamentally, Revolut bank provides a unique service that allows you to hold money in different currencies, all at no charge. Why would you want to do this? Well, if you travel abroad frequently, then you’ll know the hassle and charges involved in constantly converting currencies. With Revolut, it’s continuously converted, saving you time and money.

Even more importantly, you can hold multiple currencies all under one account (personal or business). You can then convert between them as and when you see fit. This could be when you need the money for travelling or even when you think the exchange rate is at its best.

Getting the best exchange rate

Crucially, with Revolut bank, you pay the same rate the banks pay. This is called the interbank exchange rate. It makes converting currencies cheaper than traditional banks as there are no additional fees. This means more money in your pocket! Small gains, perhaps, but it all helps.

Furthermore, if you choose to spend money in real-time, rather than convert in advance, you still get the same great currency exchange rate. However, you are prone to market price fluctuations so bear this in mind. On the flip side, converting in advance ensures you get a rate you are happy with at the time.

Overall, there’s lots of flexibility here, as you can hold all the major currencies including Euros, US Dollars, Canadian Dollar, Australian Dollars etc.

Fee wise, you can spend up to £1,000 per month abroad for free with the Revolut Standard and Plus accounts. If you go for Premium or Metal, however, then this amount is unlimited.

All sounds great, right? Indeed, but here’s the catchrates change at the weekend.

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Revolut bank weekend rates - here's the catch

So it’s all sounded good so far: minimal fees, flexibility and cheap.

But, there’s a catch that can hit the weekend-warrior on city-breaks particularly hard.

Essentially, Revolut bank applies a markup fee of between 0.5% and 1% to foreign currency transactions that happen over the weekend. Major currencies such as the Euro and US Dollar get the 0.5% markup. Thankfully, only a few outliers suffer the full 1% hike (Source).

So why do you only get the best rates during the week? Well, the reason is that because Revolut bank uses the interbank exchange rate, it only has access to this during the times that the currency markets are open. Globally, the markets close at 5 pm New York time on a Friday and re-open 7 am Auckland time on Monday morning. This is about 9pm Friday night and 7pm Sunday night in the UK, but only use this as a guide.

As a result, the weekend rate is fixed at the closing rate on Friday. Then, a minimum 0.5% markup is added to all transactions that require currency exchange. The purpose of the 0.5% markup is to protect Revolut bank from any differences in the exchange rate on Monday morning vs Friday night.

However, to get around this, you can change your money in advance during the working week to avoid the extra charge. You can then hold a foreign currency balance over the weekend which will be drawn down from first before trying to convert the balance in your sterling (£) account.

9 Top Revolut features

As well as being a great travel card, Revolut also offers a plethora of services we have come to expect from the new “challenger banks”. Plus, there’s a few we haven’t seen before. Some features are free, whilst others are reserved for the Premium and Metal “paid” accounts.

1. Budgeting tools

Built-in budgeting features allows you to instantly see the areas where you are spending money. We’re big fans of these as it makes budgeting easy, simple and automated.

For example, Monthly budgets are broken down into areas such as Groceries, Shopping and Restaurants etc. Plus, you can set a limit on how much you plan to spend on each category.

Furthermore, you can set a monthly ‘master’ budget figure, such as £1,000, that alerts and tracks how over or under that figure you are. Very handy for a ‘zoomed out’ view of your expenses.

Next up, Instant spending notifications ensure you are aware of all transactions as soon as they occur, which is great for security.  If you don’t recognise something, you can instantly and remotely freeze your card.

And for simple saving, round ups save your change from every card payment to the nearest whole number. Then, Revolut will stash the change away and help you save for your financial goals.

Graph showing Revolut budgeting tools

2. Money transfers

For example, you can transfer money quickly and easily between other Revolut users without having to know their bank details.

You can send and request money in seconds from your friends at the touch of a button and attach notes, images and GIFs to make things a little more interesting.

And as we now know, you can transfer money abroad in 30 currencies with the interbank exchange rate. Just remember the small 0.5% fee for anything above £5,000 each month and the mark-up on weekends and certain currencies.

3. Security and protecting your money

Historically, losing your bank and card and navigating your way through the bank’s auto attendant system was a living nightmare.

With Revolut bank, if you lose your card or notice anything wrong, you can freeze your card instantly via the app. If and when you find your card, simply unfreeze it again and voila.

This is a huge improvement compared to the hassle of having to phone the traditional banks to freeze your card, which of course can’t be undone when, of course, you find your wallet down the back of the sofa.

Want total control of your card? Then Revolut allows you to choose whether your card works at cash machines and/or for online payments. You can restrict your card usage to certain transaction types, which is a neat feature we’ve not seen before.

Ready to take security even further? If so, you can turn on location-based security. This ensures any transactions that happen which are not close to your location will be blocked and you will be notified.

4. Spending abroad

Revolut bank lets you access the best exchange rates via the interbank
exchange rate and is available for over 150 currencies. However, there are a few catches to consider:

  • Revolut bank charges a 0.5% fee (on major currencies) at weekends. This means you will pay for spending at the weekend.
  • You can withdraw between up to £200-£800 in cash from ATM machines per month (depending on your account plan). Beyond this, a 2% fee applies.
  • 0.5% fee for spending abroad above £5,000 each month.

5. Saving with ‘Vaults’

Vaults are mini savings accounts within your Revolut bank account. Essentially, they are handy spaces you can put money in or out of whenever you want.

When your money is in a Vault, you cannot spend it using your card and it must be transferred back first.

Vaults can be in any currency or even cryptocurrencies. Plus, you can set up regular payments into a Vault or do single transactions. In fact, you can even round-up spending transactions from your main account and put the change into your chosen Vault.

Money Mindset tip – concepts such as Vaults put in a few extra steps when accessing your savings, helping reduce over-spending. Eat Sleep Money

6. Cryptocurrencies

Unlike any of its rivals, Revolut bank allows you to buy, sell, receive or send cryptocurrencies directly from your app. It’s one of the quickest and easiest ways to invest in cryptocurrencies.

Revolut currently supports 10 cryptocurrencies including:

  • Bitcoin
  • Ether
  • Litecoin
  • Ripple
  • Bitcoin Cash

There is a catch. Revolut takes a 2.5% commission, this means you’ll lose a little bit of your initial investment when it comes to buying or selling crypto. If you have a Premium or Metal account, the fees drop to 1.5%.

It’s also important to remember that Revolut is not a crypto exchange. You won’t be able to transfer your coins off of the Revolut platform. You can transfer coins between other Revolut users but that’s it.

With this in mind, I see Revolut as a quick and easy way to get exposure to cryptocurrencies but probably not the best way to invest long-term.

To learn more about buying cryptocurrencies and the different platforms available, check out the link below:

 

7. Mobile phone insurance

Mobile phone insurance can be added directly from the app and can cover you for accidental damage anywhere in the world. Cover starts from just £1 per week.

To see if the £1 figure is true, I tried out a Samsung Galaxy S10 and the insurance came out as £1.44 per week (about £6.25 per month) with a £70 excess.

For comparison, ProtectYourBubble.com came out as £8.99 per month with a £90 excess.

8. Overseas medical insurance

Revolut bank offers overseas medical insurance via Pay As You Use or through one of the paid accounts. Pay As You Use cover can be added instantly within a few minutes directly within the app. Charges start at around £1 per day up to a £30 cap, which then gives you the rest of the year free.

The Revolut app will detect when you travel abroad and automatically apply the cover required. This is a really neat feature.

As you’d expect, this comes included within Premium and Metal accounts. In addition, the policy includes Winter Sports coverage, often excluded on other products.

The insurance is provided by Revolut Travel which is underwritten by White Horse Insurance. White Horse is also used by other travel companies such as Thomas Cook.

More information on Overseas Medical Insurance can be found on Revolut’s site here.

9. Protection on purchases

Many people chose to make significant purchases, such as electronic goods or concert tickets, using a credit card. They do this to get protection under the Consumer Credit Act Section 75.

Revolut bank accounts now offer alternatives, so you can use your debit card without sacrificing protection.  For the paid accounts, this can include:

  • Theft and accident cover – up to 365 days.
  • Ticket protection – ticket refunds up to £1,000 per year.
  • Return protection – up to 90 days.
  • Safer online shopping – via virtual cards.
  • Discounted device cover – receive up to 20% off.

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How much does Revolut cost?

Revolut bank offers four types of account:

  • Standard – free
  • Plus – £2.99/mo
  • Premium – £6.99/mo
  • Metal – £12.99/mo

Comparison of plans, prices and features.

Setting up a Revolut account

Setting an account up is quick and easy. Simply follow this link to the Revolut site and you will be asked to complete the steps below.

  • Enter your mobile phone number.
  • Download the app.
  • Choose what type of account you want.
  • Transfer money (£10 minimum) using a debit card.

The Revolut bank card

There are two types of card with Revolut.

  • Physical Card – a standard debit card in a range of colours and can be customised (and yes, there is a metal version!).
  • Virtual card – these lives in your app and can be used for online shopping, Apple or Google Pay. These are great as if they get compromised they can simply be deactivated or deleted without impacting your physical card. Standard and Plus accounts get five virtual cards. Premium and Metal customers can crate unlimited virtual cards.

Revolut virtual cards

A virtual card does everything a normal physical card can do, except withdraw cash. It has its own card number, expiry and CVV code and is linked to your main account.

Therefore, if the card details are compromised or stolen, your main account remains safe.

Crucially, by Revolut offering unlimited virtual cards, they can be disposable. You can generate new cards over and over again, thereby further increasing your account security.

Revolut metal card

metal Revolut debit card
The sexy metal Revolut debit card

The Revolut metal card is currently the cheapest on the market at only £12.99 per month. On top of being an actual metal card, the account has some nice additional benefits, including free insurance, cashback and lower cost cryptocurrencies.

Interestingly, metal cards are really gathering momentum as more and more people clamour for the status symbol.

We have to admit, it’s one sexy looking card and would pimp-up any wallet. If James Bond carried a debit card, you know it’d be a metal one!

However, you need to assess whether the additional account benefits are worth the extra flex for you.

Revolut offers the metal card in a range of colours. You simply pick the one that suits you when you sign up.

  • Black
  • Space grey
  • Silver
  • Gold
  • Rose Gold

Metal Revolut cards in different colours
The metal Revolut card comes in a range of colours.

Revolut metal card accounts are particularly well suited for those who travel, as it comes with car hire excess, access to airport lounges when delayed and the ability to withdraw up to £800 abroad without charge.

Furthermore, it also gets you better rates when trading cryptocurrencies.

On top of this, the Metal Card offers cashback. At 0.1% on transactions inside Europe, it doesn’t feel very compelling. But if you are travelling outside of Europe you will get a whopping 1%!

Overall, if you would regularly use some of the extra benefits (ie you travel lots and trade crypto frequently), then this may be a good value account for you.

 

Battle of the metal cards

So, how well does Revolut Metal stack up against its competitors? Well, compared to its competition, Revolut bank is currently the cheapest.

Monzo has a solid metal card offering. However, it costs £2 more per month than Revolut and many of the Monzo Metal features come as standard on the cheaper/free Revolut accounts.

 

 RevolutN26CurveMonzo
£ per month£12.99Closed£14.99£15.00

Revolut vs Monzo vs Starling

Revolut made its name being one of the best travel cards and rightly so. They led the way in a new wave of banks offering better currency services for its customers.

Monzo and Starling also have the ability to easily spend money in multiple currencies and take advantage of the current exchange rate without charging extortionate commissions.

However, Revolut stands out by giving customers the ability to hold multiple different currency accounts. This allows you to exchange money when you see fit, which is currently a unique feature that Monzo and Starling do not offer.

Revolut offers the best exchange rate however it does not offer FSCS protection yet.

Revolut is also the only one to offer a metal card and give access to cryptocurrencies, stock and commodities trading. It’s clear that Revolut is living up to its self-proclaimed financial super app status.

Check out our reviews for Starling and Monzo

How long will it take to get my Revolut card?

The Revolut card normally takes less than a week to arrive. You will have to pay £5 for your card if you’re a standard account holder. For everyone else, a physical card is free.

But, if you just can’t wait, then you can use your virtual cards instantly.

Is Revolut a bank?

Revolut is a bank. It has a European banking licence however, it is not a UK bank yet. It was officially made a European Bank in December 2018 after securing a European Banking licence issued by Lithuania.

Revolut applied for a UK banking licence in early 2021 but it is yet to have its licence approved.

As a result, Revolut customers are not protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).

This is important as the FSCS protects you when a financial firm fails. If a financial firm you’ve used has gone out of business and can’t pay your money back, the FSCS can step in to pay compensation up to £85,000.

Rival banks such as Monzo & Starling are FSCS protected. With this in mind, Revolut makes a good card for spending but doesn’t have the reassurances to store large sums of money.

However, once Revolut archives its UK banking licence, this hurdle will be removed.

How safe is Revolut bank?

Despite not having FSCS protection, Revolut does take its financial responsibilities extremely seriously.

Revolut states “We hold all client funds in ring-fenced accounts with a large global bank. This essentially means that we, nor our partner bank, never lend out or invest your money.”

Remember though, this is not the same level of protection offered under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

Revolut bank - what we like

Put simply, there is lot’s to like here. Revolut bank offers funky features we just don’t see with competitors, particularly for the paid accounts.

If you travel frequently, then Revolut makes a great financial companion. In fact, even if you only travel a bit the foreign spending features typically beat those offered by traditional banks.

Revolut also offers access to cryptocurrencies, commodities and stocks even with the free account. This truly makes it a financial super app. However, while Revolut pulls lots of disparate apps into one, it might not be the best way to get your investing journey started.

If you’d like to learn more about investing and how to get started, please read our Beginners Guide to Investing before jumping head first into investing and potentially falling into some typical pitfalls.

Revolut bank - what we don't like

Because Revolut bank is not a UK bank, there may be issues that you wouldn’t expect from a traditional bank account.

Fundamentally, it means that you cannot use your Revolut bank account in the way you may expect. For example, certain critical features of a day-to-day bank account are missing:

  • overdrafts
  • loans
  • credit cards
  • standing orders
  • direct debits

Essentially, think of your Revolut account as just a pre-paid card.

Plus, that lack of FSCS protection will give many customers cause for concern.

In summary, we’re waiting with bated breath for Revolut to get its full UK banking licence before putting too much money into the account.

So, is Revolut bank right for you?

Revolut bank offers some great perks and the lowest comparable fees. If you travel or trade crypto, it can offer great value.

Remember though, it isn’t a traditional bank account. If you’re looking for a day-to-day account with features like standing orders, this isn’t it.

In summary, we can’t wait until Revolut bank gets its UK banking licence. Then, bristling with features that strike terror into its competitors, Revolut bank will be a serious contender.

If you like Revolut and want to try it out for free follow this link to get started.

One more thing – we want to know what you think. Do you agree with us? Would you spend £12.99 a month on a metal card? Will we all be trading crypto from our banking apps in future? Leave a comment or send us a pic of your shiny metal card on our Facebook page.

Here’s to financial fitness!

EatSleepMoney.co.uk does not offer financial advice and is intended for reference/information only. Remember, you should always carry out your own research and/or take specific professional advice before choosing any financial products or services or undertaking any business or financial venture. If you need financial advice Unbiased can connect you with a suitable professional for free. Investments may go up as well as down and you may get back less than you put in.