In this independent review, we take a look at the banking app Revolut, including how it works, how much it costs and whether you can use it abroad. We recommend reading the full review, however, you can jump to specific sections using the following links:
How does Revolut work?
Revolut, which describes itself as a ‘digital banking alternative’, features amongst a raft of companies that are transforming the way that consumers engage with their finances. Revolut* was launched in July 2015 by Nikolay Storonsky, a former trader who worked at Lehman Brothers and Credit Suisse, and Vlad Yatsenko, who previously built financial systems at investment banks. Revolut started life as a prepaid card and app, which allowed travellers to switch cheaply between currencies. It was born out of Storonsky’s frustrations with existing foreign exchange products. Since then, the company has expanded its range of products and services. The fintech company currently has more than 25 million customers globally and continues to develop its proposition.
Unlike high street banks, Revolut allows you to set up an account with no paperwork. They say that it is possible to open a Sterling or Euro account in 60 seconds as initially, they do not carry out any credit checks or require proof of address. Revolut customers can order a physical or virtual card. The former is a prepaid contactless Visa card, which can be used in retailers across the UK and abroad. A physical card can be ordered via the app for free, but the cost of postage will depend on the speed of delivery you opt for. Customers with Premium plans can have a physical card delivered for free.
Revolut’s physical card can be used to transact in your base currency, as well as other currencies. When you load money onto the card you can choose to exchange it into a currency of your choice (i.e. dollars) so locking into the current exchange rate. Or you can just leave it as a cash balance in sterling and whenever you use your card abroad, Revolut will automatically apply the exchange rate at that moment in time and deduct the appropriate amount in sterling. This makes it incredibly easy to use although you are playing the currency markets a bit.
Your Revolut account is managed via the app, which can be downloaded for free onto your smartphone or iPad. To become a Revolut customer, you must feel comfortable using your smartphone or device to manage your account. Fortunately, the app is straightforward to use and well-designed. Revolut customers can pay for items using ApplePay and contactless, as well as using the traditional pin pad. Revolut also has an Apple Watch app that shows you notifications from Revolut on your watch face. It doesn't matter if you don't have an Apple watch as the notifications are simply shown on your phone instead. To set up the phone app, you will need a four-digit password or fingerprint/face recognition.
Revolut Key features
- Revolut Premium free for 3 months when signing up – new Revolut customers will get Revolut Premium for free for 3 months when signing up to Revolut* for the first time. The offer is valid until 31st March 2023. Sign up here*.
- Spending analytics –get weekly insights into your spending with its categorisation features
- Manage your finances in one place –connect your other bank accounts using Open Banking to track all of your money in one place
- Set monthly spending budgets – take control of your spending by setting a monthly budget
- Instant spending notifications –get instant alerts for transactions in and out of your account
- Manage subscriptions – Organise recurring payments and cancel unwanted subscriptions. Also, benefit from end-of-trial notifications giving you the opportunity to cancel.
- Upcoming payment reminders – get reminded if your balance is too low to cover upcoming payments
- Save money with Revolut's Rewards feature – get cashback and rewards with exclusive retailers when spending on your Revolut card
- Split bills –easily split bills with friends or family
- Transfer money abroad –send money abroad in over 30 currencies using the Interbank Exchange Rate
- Fee-free spending abroad – spend abroad without any hidden fees (there's a 0.5% fee for balances above £1,000 for Revolut Standard and Plus plans)
- Earn interest on your savings – save money in a Revolut savings vault to earn interest on the balance in an FSCS protected bank account
- Round up spare change –save as you spend with the round-up feature
- Get paid early – get your salary paid into your Revolut account a day early
- On-demand pay – employers can register interest with Revolut to set up on-demand pay which means that employees can access their salary at any point before it is paid at no cost to the employee
- Pockets – sort your bills and subscriptions into pockets so that on payday the money is automatically moved out of your account and each bill is paid from a pocket, meaning you never have to worry about missing a payment
- Apple/Google Pay – Spend using your phone with Apple and Google Pay
- Virtual card – Revolut's virtual card allows you to shop online and protects you against online fraud by changing the card number each time you pay online
- Revolut <18 – Open a Revolut <18 account for a child aged between 6 – 17 years old. More information on Revolut <18 accounts here
- Investments – Manage your investments in the Wealth section of the app. Invest in stocks, commodities and cryptocurrency
- Pet insurance – purchase a Revolut pet insurance policy via the app
- Stays – Book trips away within the Revolut app and get up to 10% cashback (depending on your Revolut plan) on various accommodation around the world
Revolut offers a range of plans and we summarise the different types available below.
Revolut personal plans
We summarise the key features of the plans offered by Revolut in the below comparison table.
|Unlimited disposable virtual cards|
|Fee-free spending abroad||£1,000/month||£1,000/month|
|Fee-free ATM withdrawals||Up to £200/month (or max 5 withdrawal limit)||Up to £200/month||Up to £400/month||Up to £800/month|
|Daily £ savings interest (AER)||Up to 1.18%||Up to 1.25%||Up to 2.11%||Up to 2.50%|
|Overseas medical insurance|
|Delayed baggage & flight insurance|
|Priority customer support|
|Purchase protection||£1,000 per year||£2,500 per year||£10,000 per year|
|Event ticket protection (up to £1,000 per year)|
|Refund protection (purchase protection for up to 90 days)|
|Revolut <18 account access||1 child||2 children||2 children||5 children|
|Full Revolut <18 account features|
|Loungekey||You +1 friend||You + 3 friends|
|Cashback on card payments||0.1 % in Europe,|
1% outside of Europe
|Cashback on Stays bookings||3%||3%||up to 5%||up to 10%|
Revolut Business Account
Revolut offers a global business account* with the following features:
- The ability to hold, receive and exchange 30+ currencies using the real interbank exchange rate
- Send money to other Revolut business accounts instantly with no fees
- Prepaid multi-currency business cards, that allow the business to set spending limits for each employee and keep foreign exchange costs low
- Integrate accounting software such as Quickbooks and Xero within the app
- Revolut’s Open API (application programming interface) can be used to automate cross-border business payments, send payments to clients or employees or monitor transactions
For more information on the Revolut business account, read our Revolut Business account review.
Revolut Pro Account
If you are self-employed, a freelancer or earn money via a side hustle you may benefit from Revolut's Pro account instead of needing a Revolut business account.
Revolut Pro features:
- Free self-employed business account within the main Revolut app
- Easily keep your business and personal finances separate
- 1% cashback debit card
- Multi-currency payments
- Unique IBAN number
- Create, track and send invoices
- Fee-free spending abroad
If you require more features or a separate business account, Revolut does offer Freelancer and Company business accounts with its separate Revolut Business app. You can find out more in our Revolut Business review.
Revolut <18 Account
Revolut has a <18 account* for children aged between 6-17 years old. The Revolut <18 account allows you to teach your children about money whilst you still have access and control over their account.
Revolut <18 account features:
- Revolut <18 card and app
- Track pocket money
- Instant spending alerts
- Custom card controls
With a Revolut <18 account, you only get basic features but you can upgrade to a Revolut Plus, Premium or Metal plan for more benefits such as Tasks and Goals. For other bank accounts or prepaid cards for children check out our article, ‘The best bank accounts for under 18's‘.
Is Revolut a bank?
Revolut had its European banking license approved (13th December 2018) but that doesn't mean it is a bank in the UK. It intends to apply for a UK banking license in the future but for the moment it remains a digital payment service.
Until the banking license is fully approved Revolut remains an electronic money institution, regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, so accounts are ring-fenced in a Barclays account. This means the money should be safe should any problems arise at Revolut. But bear in mind that the strength of such protection relies on the institution not breaching its obligation to ensure that funds are indeed ring-fenced. It is also important to understand that your money is not protected under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). The FSCS is an independent organisation set up by the UK government that will return consumers' money, up to the value of £85,000, within seven days if a FSCS protected firm were to fail. Revolut is not an FSCS protected firm.
How much does Revolut cost?
Revolut is free to download but an example of some additional costs you may occur on a basic plan can be found in the below table. For further information on the fees associated with a premium plan or Revolut Business account, you can check out the full list of fees on Revolut's website*.
|Delivery charge||Can be found within the Revolut app|
|Additional physical Revolut card||£5|
|International transfers (not to another Revolut user and outside SEPA region)||Varies depending on the currency e.g there is a £3 fee to transfer £1,000 to USD and a £14 fee to transfer £1,000 to THB. You can calculate the exact fee here*|
|ATM withdrawals||5 free ATM withdrawals a month (or up to £200 whichever is first), 2% fee thereafter (minimum of £1)|
|Spending abroad||Up to £1,000 fee-free per month Monday – Friday (interbank exchange rate markups apply at the weekend) and 0.5% above the £1,000 limit|
|Exchanging money||The fee varies depending on what and when you are making the exchange but you can find out the fee within the app|
|Exchanging cryptocurrencies||1.99% fee of the value of the transaction (minimum of £0.99) for Standard and Plus users|
|Exchanging precious metals||1.5% fee for Standard and Plus users|
Can you use Revolut abroad?
Revolut’s customers can use the physical, prepaid currency card to make payments abroad fee-free using the interbank exchange rate in over 150 currencies. This is the rate that banks offer to each other when exchanging currencies and is much more competitive than the rate offered at a bureau de change or by most other prepaid cards. This makes Revolut one of the most attractive cards available on the market to use abroad.
Customers with a Revolut account can take out £200 per month fee-free (or withdraw a maximum of 5 times, whichever comes first) at an ATM, after which point a 2% fee is applied with a minimum of £1. Up to £1,000 can be spent, transferred or exchanged each month with a standard Revolut account. After this point, a 0.5% fee is applied. Premium/Metal plan holders are entitled to £400/£800 of fee-free ATM withdrawals per month and unlimited foreign exchange transactions at the interbank exchange rate.
It is worth noting that on the weekend Revolut typically applies a markup between 1% and 2% to the interbank rate (depending on the currency). This is because foreign exchange markets are closed.
Revolut customer reviews
Revolut is rated as ‘Excellent' on Trustpilot with a score of 4.3/5.0 stars from over 123,000 reviews. 75% rated Revolut as ‘Excellent' citing great customer service and an easy to use app. 10% of customers rated it as ‘Bad' citing problems with cashback, logging in to the app and uploading documents.
Alternatives to Revolut
In the following review section, we compare Revolut to other app-only banks and currency cards. Below is a comparison table comparing a Standard Revolut plan with a Monzo and Starling Bank personal account. To find out more about the other app-only banks, read our reviews; ‘Monzo review‘ and ‘Starling Bank review‘. For a more in-depth comparison of using each of the accounts abroad, watch the following YouTube video.
Revolut vs Monzo vs Starling Bank
|UK registered bank account|
|Fee-free spending abroad||Free up to £1,000/month||FREE||FREE|
|Fee-free cash withdrawals abroad||Free up to £200/month||Free up to £200/month||FREE|
|Interest on current account balances|
|Exchange rate |
Revolut vs prepaid currency cards
If you are travelling abroad and considering other prepaid currency cards, here are two alternatives to consider:
Travelex Money Card
You can top up this card with up to 15 currencies and lock in exchange rates in advance with a minimum load of £50 online or in the Travelex app. If you don’t have enough money converted into a particular currency, you can draw funds from a different currency on the card. However, to do this Travelex will levy a 5.75% fee on each transaction. On the plus side, there are no overseas ATM charges or ATM withdrawal limits. However, there is an ‘inactivity fee’ of £2 per month if the card has not been used for 12 months.
Caxton FX Currency Mastercard
This card can hold up to 15 currencies and does not charge transaction fees. There are no fees for overseas purchases or international ATM withdrawals. In addition, there are no monthly ATM withdrawal limits. However, the card must have a minimum of £10 loaded up before you can get the card sent to you.
Caxton does not charge for overseas ATM withdrawals although you may be subject to a fee by the ATM provider. If you want to use the card in the UK, there is a £1.50 charge for purchases and ATM withdrawals. If you wish to complete a foreign exchange transaction in a currency that isn’t loaded on the card, Caxton applies a 2.49% markup. Caxton also applies a £2 charge per month if you stop using the card for more than 12 months.
How do Revolut's exchange rates compare?
To provide you with a better idea of how the exchange rates compare, here’s how much Revolut, Caxton, Travelex, Monzo and Starling were offering to convert £1,000 into USD and EUR on 10th January 2023:
- Monzo = €1140.56 & $1221.24
- Starling = €1140.56 & $1221.24
- Revolut = €1133.21 & $1217.35
- Caxton = €1107.58 & $1189.17
- Travelex = €1104.10 & $1184.70
Revolut's exchange rates are clearly the best when it comes to other prepaid travel cards but Monzo and Starling* use Mastercard's exchange rate which can be marginally better on the day as illustrated above.
Revolut offers its customers significant savings when spending abroad by using the interbank exchange rate and cutting out transaction fees of between 2-3% charged by most banks and credit card companies. However, the monthly free ATM withdrawal limits represent a niggle, particularly if you are travelling to a country where you need to carry cash. Also, there are monthly spending limits when using your card if you are on the free Standard plan or the Plus plan, which costs £2.99 a month, beyond which you are charged a 0.5% fee on further spending. Also at the weekend, Revolut adds a 0.5% to 1% markup on the interbank exchange rate depending on the currency.
Perhaps the biggest drawback to Revolut is that it is not a UK-licensed bank and customers' money is not protected under the FSCS in the main account. One way to limit exposure in the meantime is to only top up your Revolut card as and when you need to rather than leave large balances on the card. This isn't a problem as top-ups happen instantly when you process them via the app. So you can even top-up the card while you are in a shop queue waiting to pay.
Revolut is continually improving its proposition and provides a useful analytics function while its savings vaults feature can help you to squirrel money away. Also, Revolut does not run any searches on your credit file when you sign up.
An attractive alternative to Revolut is to take out a current account with Starling Bank* which gives you all the exciting features you'd expect of an app-only bank but it doesn't charge any fees for overseas spending. As mentioned, Revolut's Standard and Plus plans begin charging a 0.5% fee on transactions once you've spent more than £1,000 in a month. Also unlike Revolut, Starling doesn't have a monthly limit on the amount of money you can withdraw from an ATM for free each month. If you compare the exchange rates used by Starling and Revolut there is often little difference between them, although Starling doesn't apply a weekend markup like Revolut. As the Starling account is a current account a soft search on your credit report will occur when you apply. However, this will not be visible to other financial institutions nor will it affect your credit score. But the good news is that Starling is covered by the FSCS meaning that up to £85,000 will be protected should Starling go bust.
In summary, Revolut is a great way to take money overseas especially if you just want a prepaid card to use. Some people prefer using prepaid cards for security reasons. But if you are travelling for longer (where your ATM usage and spending may be higher) then Starling Bank's current account is likely to be an attractive alternative.
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