Revolut advertise themselves as the ‘Global Money App’ allowing instant transfers between currencies at mid-market rates. This allows you to save big versus the rates offered by banks. This post will concentrate on their RevolutCard which is a prepaid MasterCard designed with currency exchange in mind. I’ve used Revolut since August 2015 and have saved at least €400 using it versus my Irish debit or credit card abroad.
How much does Revolut cost?
Revolut have a very simple fee scheme:
- Cost to get a Revolut Card – €0
- Each ATM Transaction – €0*
- Each POS Transaction -€0
- Currency Exchange Fee – €0*
- Cost to top up account via Bank Transfer of Debit Card – €0
- Cost to top up account via Credit Card – 1%
- Replacement card €7 standard delivery, €20 Courier Delivery
*Revolut has recently implemented Fair Use Policy. The first £500 (or currency equivalent) ATM withdrawals per month of free, ATM withdrawals over this amount incur a 2% charge. The first £5,000 (or currency equivalent) currency exchange per month is free, additional currency exchanges incurs a .5% fee.
How much can be saved?
If I use my BOI debit card to withdraw cash from an ATM outside of Europe I get charged a fee equal to 3.5% of transaction value. The minimum fee is €3.17 and maximum is €11.43 per transaction. With my Revolut card I get charged nothing. Using the current exchange rates, withdrawing $500 in America would cost €469.30 with Bank of Ireland and €452.56 with Revolut. Using Revolut would save you over €16 on this one transaction.
Using my BOI credit card to purchase an item in a shop outside of Europe I get charged 2.25% value of transaction. Purchasing $500 in a store/online would cost €461.90 with my credit card or €452.56 with Revolut. Again, there are huge savings to me made with Revolut.
How does Revolut Work?
Revolut is an app that is available for iPhone and Android. Once installed it is a very simple process to create an account. Once the account is up and running you will be issued instantly with a ‘Virtual’ MasterCard. You can view your Revolut Card by selecting the My Card icon on the bottom menu of the app. The Card’s 16 digit number, expiry date and CVV code will all be displayed. This card works online and can be used to make purchases as soon as you have topped up your account. To top up your account, select Top Up and choose between Card and Bank Transfer. Remember, credit cards incur a 1% charge but bank transfer and debit cards are free. I always top up by debit card as it is instant while bank transfers take several days to process. The first time you top up by card you will need to enter in all your card details and will be transferred to the dreaded Verified by Visa or MasterCard SecureCode pages. Once the card has been saved to your Revolut account topping up is much quicker -it only takes a matter of seconds.
You will notice that there are three currencies on the app -EUR, USD and GBP. Ensure you top up in euro if your bank account is also in euro. Once you have a balance on your Revolut account you can transfer instantly between currencies at the real exchange rate except at weekends. At weekends, the currency markets are closed so the rate you will get on Revolut will not be the real exchange rate and will be slightly worse then normal – but still much better then offered by the banks. Lets say you purchase an item from Amazon.co.uk and pay in Sterling with your Revolut card. First, Revolut will check and see if your Sterling balance will cover the cost of the transaction. If not, Revolut will then check your EUR balance and convert the amount at the real exchange rate. If I am travelling, I normally leave all my currency in my EUR wallet and let the conversion happen at the time of the transaction. If the trip is over a weekend, I will transfer money to the USD/GBP on the Friday to ensure I get the best exchange rate for the weekend.
Some people get confused and think Revolut only supports EUR, GBP and USD. This is not true. You can keep balances in those three currencies in your Revolut app but can use your card in over 120 currencies. If you make a transaction in one of the supported currencies the currency conversion will happen at the time of the transaction.
What currencies are supported?
Revolut currently supports spending, and ATM withdrawals in over 120 currencies.
The current list of supported currencies include: AED, ALL, AMD, AOA, ARS, AUD, AZN, BAM, BBD, BDT, BGN, BHD, BMD, BND, BOB, BRL, BSD, BWP, BYN, BYR, BZD, CAD, CHF, CLP, CNY, COP, CRC, CVE, CZK, DKK, DOP, DZD, EGP,ETB, EUR, FJD, GBP, GEL, GHS, GIP, GNF, GTQ, HKD, HNL, HRK, HTG, HUF, IDR, ILS, INR, IQD, ISK, JMD, JOD, JPY, KES, KGS, KHR, KRW, KWD, KYD, KZT, LAK, LBP, LKR, MAD, MDL, MGA, MKD, MMK, MNT, MOP, MUR, MVR, MWK, MXN, MYR, MZN, NAD, NGN, NIO, NOK, NPR, NZD, OMR, PAB, PEN, PGK, PHP, PKR, PLN, PYG, QAR, RON, RSD, RUB, RWF, SAR, SBD, SCR, SEK, SGD, SRD, THB, TMT, TND, TOP, TRY, TTD, TWD, TZS, UAH, UGX, USD, UYU, VEF, VND, VUV, WST, XAF, XCD, XOF, XPF, ZAR, ZMW.
More currencies will be added soon.
How do I get a Revolut Card?
So far so good, you can now purchase items online and over the phone with your Virtual MasterCard and save money. If you would like to use the Revolut Card in brick and mortar stores you will need to order a physical card. This is a free and a quick process. Log into the app, select My Card and there will be an option to order your physical card. The card normally arrives within 10 working days in some very snazzy packaging. Once the card arrives, you will see the PIN on the app under My Card. The 4 digit passcode you use to unlock the app is not the same PIN you use with the card.
When your receive the card, you will see that there is a feature to change the PIN on the app. There were some reports of this causing issues on boards.ie. I changed the PIN on the app and when I tried to use the card in Argos, it wouldn’t work with either the new or old PIN. I went to an ATM and used the new PIN and was able to withdraw money. After this I went back to Argos and the card then worked with the new pin. Any time I change the PIN I change it on the app, then use the card in an ATM. I’ve never had any issues since.
What about security and verification?
ID Verification is required once you lodge over €1,000 to your account or your account is flagged. Verifying is simple, just take a photo of your photo ID in the app and it is normally verified within 15 minutes. While this isn’t required until you reach the limits or account is flagged I would recommend doing it straight away.
Revolut has some pretty nifty security features. You can instantly block and unblock the card on the app. When blocked, all transactions are declined. Being able to temporarily block and then unblock the card again is very handy. There is nothing worse then when travellingm you lose your card, ring up, cancel it and immediately it reappears. Then having to wait for the replacement card to arrive. Revolut also allows you to disable ATM withdrawals, e-commerce transactions and magstripe payments individually. Magstripe payments are when the card is used just by swiping the magstripe on the back and not using chip and pin. These are much more susceptible to fraud than other types of card transaction. Most countries in Europe have adopted chip and pin but many countries in Asia and America haven’t so you will need to enable magstripe for these countries. The final security feature Revolut offers is location based security. With this enabled, if your phone is in Ireland for example and a transaction is being placed in Hong Kong, the transaction will be declined. Location based security does not effect online transactions.
Even with all these security features there is chance of fraud happening on the Revolut card as with any debit/credit card. With debit and credit cards you are reimbursed for fraudulent activity by your bank although it can be a long process. As this is a prepaid MasterCard I am not sure if Revolut would have to reimburse you. I only ever keep a small balance in my account -after all, topping up only takes a couple of seconds.
Revolut is still my number one card when travelling. I keep my debit and credit card with me as well in case the Revolut card stops working but I can’t remember the last time I paid for something abroad with any card other than my Revolut. I’ve used it in Canada, USA, Ethiopia, throughout Europe and Asia and have never had any issues with it. Any online transactions in a currency other then Euros goes on my Revolut card as well. One thing to look out for is that some websites including PayPal and Amazon and physical shops will offer to convert the amount to your cards currency. Never select this, always opt to pay in the local currency. A quick check as of now, if I purchase an item worth £59.11 and allow Amazon do the conversion it would cost €68.94 and if I charge in Sterling and allow Revolut do the conversion it will cost €66.91. Saving over €2.
Many countries don’t have widespread acceptance of cards, instead cash is the de facto way to pay. When travelling in these countries before Revolut I would try to make as few large ATM transactions as possible to reduce the fees. With Revolut, I can instead do many small transactions meaning I don’t have to carry around large wads of cash. It’s also handy towards the end of the trip, taking out smaller amounts will make it less likely you will have spare cash to bring home. When I was travelling in Turkey I ran out of cash on the way to the airport. I took out 20 Lira which was at the time €5.20. If I used my BOI debit card I’d have been hit with a €3.17 fee on top of that.
My Revolut card is one of the first things I pack when travelling but I never travel without a backup card. Normally, I have two credit cards, a debit card and my Revolut card with me when travelling split amongst my bags. Although, I’d admit that is overkill! I use it on an almost daily basis for purchasing items online in currencies other then Euros. Even if you are saving a euro or two per transaction it all quickly adds up to massive savings.