Founded in 2015, Revolut is a London based start-up well known for its banking and payment services. The idea behind the launch of Revolut was to bring a Fintech company to the market that offers banking services, with prepaid debit cards, peer-to-peer instant payments, crypto exchange, and currency exchange.
Revolut expanded their offering by launching Revolut Trading in 2019 to provide customers with commission-free stock trading in US shares with plans to expand this offering to UK and European stocks, exchange-traded funds and an ISA account.
All this is available within the confines of a modern, easy to use, mobile app, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK as well as the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).
One of the things that appealed to users of Revolut the most was their fee-free spending abroad. Sadly, in 2021, Revolut took the decision to remove fee-free transactions of any kind for Standard account (free account) and Plus account holders, with Revolut Premium account holders able to access one free international payment per month, and Revolut Metal account holders allowed three free international payments per month.
Revolut still represent excellent value on international transfers, compared to traditional high street banks, however, within this Revolut review I will take a closer look at their new charging structure and compare it to other online banks within the UK so you can decide whether Revolut are still the best option for your online banking needs.
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Who is Revolut?
Revolut describe themselves as a ‘digital banking alternative’ born out of frustrations with the available foreign exchange products. Today Revolut have expanded their offering and currently service over 16 million customers from across the globe and are now the most valuable UK Fintech.
Revolut are ideally placed for people who conduct a significant amount of transactions abroad, with low fees and favourable exchange rates when you transfer money abroad.
Who owns Revolut?
Revolut was founded by Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank investment bankers, Nik Storonsky and Vlad Yatsenko. Nik Storonsky has retained 20% of the company and at 37 years old is worth an estimated $7.1 billion. Revolut is now valued at $5.5B (£4.2B) after raising $580M in funding in 2020.
When you open a Revolut current account you will get a UK account number and sort code just like any other UK current account, and with that comes all the functionality of a traditional account such as recurring payments, ATM withdrawals, contactless payments with your Revolut card, and Apple and Google Pay.
However, Revolut banking is conducted through an app that also offers much more than this in terms of additional functionality including:
- Monthly spending budgets
- Instant spending notifications and instant payment notifications
- Ability to track all your banking in one place
- Weekly spending analytics with categorisation features
- Get cashback and rewards with Revolut’s rewards feature
- Split bills with friends and family and easily send and request money
- Send money to other Revolut users instantly and for free
- International money transfer service at the interbank exchange rate
- Hold up to 30 currencies in your Revolut app
- Link your card to Google Pay and Apple Pay
- Earn up to 0.65% interest in the Revolut Savings Vault
- Round up spare change for saving
- Get your salary paid into your Revolut account early
- Sort your money into pockets for budgeting for payments
- Take our overseas medical insurance from as little as £1 a day
- Get phone insurance with the Revolut premium plans
- Card management tools such as the ability to freeze your card and set monthly spending limits as well as further security
- Direct debits in GBP and EUR
Revolut Personal Accounts
There are five account offerings at Revolut. Here I have attempted to highlight the main differences between these accounts:
|ATM Fees||FREE up to £200 per month||FREE up to £200 per month||FREE up to £400 per month||FREE up to £800 per month|
|Overseas ATM Fees||FREE up to £200 per month||FREE up to £200 per month||FREE up to £400 per month||FREE up to £800 per month|
|Daily Savings Interest||0.15%||0.4%||0.5%||0.65%|
|Overseas Medical Insurance||NONE||NONE||YES||YES|
|Revolut Junior Account||1 Child||2 Children||2 Children||5 Children|
|Cashback||NONE||NONE||NONE||0.1% in Europe, 1% outside of Europe capped at £12 per month|
|Loungekey||NONE||NONE||You plus 1 friend||You plus 3 friends|
|Free International Payments||NONE||NONE||1 per month||3 per month|
Revolut current accounts are available in 28 currencies including AED, AUD, BGN, CAD, CHF, CZK, GBP, HKD, HRK, ILS, ISK, JPY, MAD, MXN, NOK, NZD, PLN, QAR, RON, RSD, RUB, SAR, SEK, SGD, THB, TRY, USD, ZAR. However, until the time that Revolut have acquired their UK banking license, they will be unable to offer full current account services such as loans and overdrafts.
Revolut Business Account
The Revolut business account is perfect for small businesses that need to send money abroad on a regular basis. It allows users to hold, receive and exchange 28 currencies, using the interbank exchange rate and comes with handy pre-paid multi-currency business cards that can be set with spending limits for each employee.
There is a basic free plan available which comes with some basic features but you will be charged £0.20 for money transfers within the UK after the initial 5. International money transfers will cost £3 each plus a 0.4% fee on all foreign exchanges including card payments. For the free business account, you will be charged £49 for each card you order.
There are three subscription plans available:
Grow: This costs £25 a month but comes with 1 free metal card, 10 free international payments and 100 free local payments. You also get an allowance of £10k per month for foreign exchange at the interbank rate after which a 0.4% markup will apply.
Scale: For the sum of £100 per month you will get 2 free metal cards, 50 free international payments, 1000 free local payments and an allowance of£50k per month for foreign exchange at the interbank rate.
The final plan is Custom, which, as the name suggests, is fully customisable to your company needs.
Revolut Junior Account
For children aged between 7-17 years of age, Revolut have introduced a Junior account. This is intended to help teach children about money and budgeting whilst still allowing parents and carers full control of their finances.
There are a few features connected with the Junior account which include:
- Junior card and app
- Track pocket money
- Set tasks for earning pocket money
- Instant spending alerts
- Custom card controls
This is a fairly standard offering for Junior accounts.
Revolut Saving Vaults
Revolut customers can set up savings vaults within their account, where spare change from transactions can be stored and earn interest. There is the option for multiple vaults, each with its own intention and one feature that you won’t find at many other establishments is the option to set up a group vault, where you can combine your saving efforts with friends and family towards a common goal.
Whilst the saving vaults are a nice addition and come with some handy little features to help you save money, only premium Revolut customers can really unlock all the features and take advantage of the 0.65% interest paid on funds held within the vault.
The contactless Revolut card is a pre-paid Visa card that is especially useful for making purchases abroad and to withdraw cash. You can use your Revolut card to spend in multiple currencies whilst enjoying mid-market rates. The advantage of the card being pre-paid is that it makes it possible to lock in an exchange rate at the time that you choose to load the card in the currency of your choice. Alternatively, it is entirely possible just to load your card with Sterling and leave Revolut to automatically apply the exchange rate at the time you make purchases in other currencies.
Revolut also offer a virtual card that can be set up in mere moments and used almost instantly. Of course, the virtual card won’t allow you to withdraw money at an ATM and some of the security features, such as a pin, aren’t available with the virtual card, however, otherwise, it can be used in much the same way as the physical card and Revolut even claim that using disposable virtual cards can protect the user against online card fraud due to the fact that it can be renewed easily and frequently should a site leak your card details.
Revolut trading review
Unlike other e-money services, Revolut is more than just an online bank, and also offers its customers the chance to trade from your Revolut account. Aside from the savings vaults, this is another opportunity to grow your wealth.
At Revolut Trading you can buy and sell more than 850 stocks listed on the NYSE, which may sound a lot but when the competition is also offering access to the London Stock Exchange and beyond, this lags quite far behind. However, Revolut Trading offers commission-free fractional shares, which allows small investors to buy and sell a fraction of a share in a big company, and they have suggested that they may be rolling out trading in the UK and European shares as well as ETFs so this is definitely one area to watch.
Revolut Trading offers commission-free trading in the most popular cryptos including:
- Bitcoin cash
- Stellar Lumens
- Litecoin cryptos
These can all be traded in over 30 currencies and investors can get started with as little as £1. Investing in cryptos using the Revolut app is similar to CFD trading in that you do not own the underlying asset but are simply speculating on whether the price of the crypto is going up or down.
Commodities are now available to buy and sell commission-free within the Revolut app with any supported fiat or cryptocurrencies. This is a new offering launched in 2020 and has since been expanded from just gold, to silver and other precious metals, proving that Revolut Trading is constantly expanding its offering to the market.
Whilst at the time of this Revolut review, investments at Revolut Trading cannot be held within tax wrappers such as stocks and shares ISAs or SIPPs at the moment, they do have plans to add this option in at a later date.
Trades outside of this monthly allowance will be charged at a rate of £1 per trade with an annual custody fee of 0.01 per cent.
Guide to opening a Revolut account
Opening an account at Revolut is a fantastic experience, smooth, quick, and fully digital with no minimum balance, you can be up and running in moments. In fact, Revolut claim that you are able to open an account with them in as little as 60 seconds due to the lack of credit checks or proof of address. To open your Revolut account you simply have to download the app and create your account after which time you can order either your physical or virtual card.
At this point you may want to link up a debit card or bank account to make it possible to quickly transfer money into your Revolut account.
Revolut app review
The app has a slick, clean, easy to use interface which is split into 5 main sections.
Home – Where you can manage your accounts, cards, linked accounts, pockets and Junior account.
Wealth – Where you can invest in stocks, crypto, commodities, and manage your saving vaults.
Payments – Where you can make payments to bank accounts, other Revolut accounts, set up recurring payments, direct debits, split bills and pay contacts.
Rewards – Management of your rewards and cashback with specific retailers.
Hub – Where you can manage your existing Revolut subscription and upgrade to one of Revolut’s premium accounts or invite friends to join Revolut.
Whilst Revolut pride themselves on their lack of hidden fees, aside from the costs associated with the various subscription plans at Revolut, there are some fees to be aware of.
|Additional Revolut Card||£5|
|International Transfers||0.3% if in the same currency, $4 for USD, GBP, EUR, or Swiss Francs and $6 for any other currency|
|ATM Withdrawals||5 free a month (or to the value of £200, whichever is first), 2% fee thereafter minimum £1.|
|Spending Abroad||Up to £1,000 fee-free per month and 0.5% thereafter.|
|Weekend Exchange Rates||The interbank exchange rates will be marked up by 1% for most currencies, and 2% for Thai Baht and Ukrainian Hryvnia.|
It is important to note that for people who travel a significant amount, the interbank exchange rates offered at Revolut are as good as you can hope to achieve, and in order to avoid the weekend fees, it is possible to exchange money during the week and hold it in your Revolut account in the currency of your choice for the weekend. This way you have locked in the midweek rate and avoided the additional charges levied at the weekend.
In addition, Premium and Metal accounts have inflated limits for spending cash abroad and double the value of free ATM withdrawals for withdrawing cash abroad. This can save users both transaction fees and poor FX rates.
Deposit and withdrawal review
True to their low-cost model, Revolut have kept all deposits and withdrawals completely free of charge. As well as this there are several means of depositing money into your Revolut account including:
- Credit/debit cards
- Apple Pay
- Google Pay
- Bank transfer
Bank transfers to your Revolut account can take several business days, however, using a credit or debit card to put money into your Revolut account is instant.
Customer service review
Customer service is best done using the In-App Chat function from within the Revolut app. I found them to be quick to respond and the representatives appear to be knowledgeable and professional. However, it is worth mentioning that priority is given to Premium and Metal customers and therefore if you are on the standard plan you should expect to wait for one to two hours for a response.
It is a shame that Revolut have decided not to offer email support as this is still a strong favourite for a lot of people, as well as this, their phone line is fully automated, which I found to be barely helpful with limited information.
It is prudent to note that at the time of this Revolut review, customer service could have been hampered by the recent pandemic.
Useful information about Revolut
Is Revolut a legit bank?
Revolut have yet to obtain their full banking licence although it is licenced as an electronic money, or e-money institution in the UK. However, Revolut do have their banking licence in Lithuania and are able to operate as a bank there.
Is Revolut safe?
Whilst Revolut have managed to obtain a banking licence in Europe, and they have completed their application for a UK banking license, this has yet to be approved, which means that customer money is not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).
However, Revolut is authorised to operate in the UK as a Financial Conduct Authority authorised electronic money institution which means that all client funds are held in ring-fenced accounts with UK banks as per the Electronic Money Regulations 2011. This effectively protects client money should Revolut ever go bust. Revolut are also bound by the Payment Services Regulations 2017 and all card transactions are processed by Mastercard or Visa and therefore protected by their rules.
Is Revolut any good?
Revolut definitely have a lot to offer in the challenger bank space, however, Revolut’s services will mostly appeal to frequent travellers and overseas students who need to spend abroad. It is also well placed for users who have family living abroad or people who conduct a lot of business outside of the UK and are therefore being paid in a foreign currency.
With the main focus for Revolut being on providing a low-cost means of exchanging currencies, for people looking for an online bank for domestic banking within the UK, there are almost certainly better options available.
How do I contact Revolut?
The best way to contact Revolut trading is through their In-App Chat. Unfortunately, Revolut do not offer email support and their phone line is fully automated with limited information. However, should you wish to cancel a card you can do so by calling this phone number: +442033228352.
Is Revolut better than PayPal?
For sending money abroad and general international transactions, there is no doubt that Revolut is a better option than PayPal. They operate in all the major currencies, have excellent exchange rates and a whole host of additional features and functions. However, if you are using the Revolut basic account which is free of charge, you will need to be aware of the fee-free thresholds.