The banking industry as we know it today is changing at a rapid pace. The days of walking into your local branch to open an account with countless documents are a thing of the past. Add in the likes of cashing a cheque, paper statements, telephone support, or physically transferring funds – and you get the drift.
The challenger banking application allows you to perform the vast majority of your everyday banking needs at the click of a button. Whether its opening an account in minutes, sending and receiving payments, transaction monitoring, or exchanging currencies – Revolut allows you to do this via a simple mobile app.
However, with the challenger banking arena still in its infancy, can the likes of Revolut be trusted? With that being said, if you’re thinking about opening an account with Revolut, we would suggest that you first read our comprehensive review.
We’ve covered everything that you need to know to be able to make an informed decision – such as how the app works, what you can do, fees, eligibility, safety, and more.
What is Revolut?
In its most basic form, Revolut is a mobile application that allows you to operate a current account. Founded as recently as 2015 by two russian developers – Nikolay Storonsky and Vlad Yatsenko, the platform is now home to more than 4.5 million users.
Of this figure, approximately 1.6 million customers are situated in the UK, with the vast remainder located across continental Europe. If these figures weren’t impressive enough for a company that claims to be opening 7,000 new accounts every day, Revolut is also facilitating close to $3 billion in monthly transaction volumes.
In terms of what the Revolut app can do, this is very similar in nature to a conventional current account. For example, the app allows you to send and receive funds via the UK’s Faster Payment network, SEPA and even SWIFT. The app does of course come with a debit card too. Issued by either Visa or MasterCard (location dependent), this allows you to buy goods and services online, as well as withdraw cash at millions of ATM machines worldwide.
Moreover, the app is also well-known for its capacity to facilitate super-convenient currency exchanges – some of which can be done at industry-leading rates.
Irrespective of what feature you are using, one of the overarching benefits of using a challenger banking app like Revolut is the real-time updates you are accustomed too. For example, the moment you use your debit card, you’ll receive an instant notification to your phone. This in itself makes it easy to keep track of your finances.
It is important to note that the Revolut platform goes far and beyond the aforementioned banking services. The app also offers a range of additional features such as the buying and selling of cryptocurrencies, travel insurance, and airport lounge passess.
So now that you have a brief idea as to what the app actually is, in the next section of our review we are going to explore the current accounts that Revolut offers.
Revolut Current Accounts
The hallmark service provided by Revolut is its current account offering. When challenger banking platforms first came to fruition, one of the key flaws was that users were not given a unique account.
Instead, the platform would give each and every user the same current account details. This made it virtually impossible for early adopters to use challenger banks as a direct replacement for traditional high street institutions, not least because account features were severely limited.
On the contrary, a Revolut current account operates in the very same way as any other current account you’ve previously had. First and foremost, all Revolut users will be given a unique current account in both the UK and Europe. The former will come with a unique UK account number and sort code, while the latter will come with a unique IBAN number and BIC/SWIFT code.
As such, not only do you have the capacity to send and receive funds domestically, but you also have full access to cross-border transfers. The ease at which you can send cash internationally is a particular benefit, as traditionally this requires an in-branch visit.
In terms of executing transactions, it is as simple as logging into your Revolut mobile app, entering the account details of the receiver, choosing how much you want to send, and that’s it – done.
While we are on the subject of replacing your traditional current account with the Revolut app, it is important to note that the platform does not currently offer any conventional credit products. This includes the likes of overdrafts, loans, and mortgages. However, and as we will discuss later, Revolut recently announced that its European Banking License application had been approved. While officially this is still in the pipeline, the acquisition of a license could potentially pave the way for credit-based products.
Nevertheless, as is expected with any current account service, Revolut also comes with a fully-fledged debit card. We’ll cover this in more detail in the next section.
Revolut Debit Card
When you first open an account with Revolut, you will automatically be given a debit card. If you’re from the UK, this is typically issued by Visa, while European account holders will be offered a MasterCard. Either way, the Revolut debit card operates much in the same way as a traditional bank-issued card.
Firstly, you can use the card at any ATM machine that accepts Visa or MasterCard – both domestically and abroad. You can of course also use the card online to buy goods and services, as well as in-store or over the telephone.
When you do execute a transaction – you can view this within your Revolut app instantly. Moreover, if you use your debit card online with a merchant you haven’t purchased anything from before, then it’s likely that Revolut will ask you to confirm the transaction from your phone. All you need to do is enter the app and verify that you made the transaction.
Cryptocurrency on Revolut
Their fees for cryptocurrency are reasonable and they are transparent so you can see the exchange rates within the app before you make a purchase. You can also use the Revolut application to follow the rates of cryptocurrencies in real-time via the converter section of the app.
Cryptocurrency support comes standard with all Revolut accounts which makes for an easy way for people to get started buying and selling crypto.
The app provide a portfolio tracker so you can view the performance of your cryptos over time and also lets you set alarms with push notifications should you wish to buy or sell at certain price points.
You can also spend your cryptocurrency using your card as you would any of the other foreign currencies within the app.
The only downside is that Revolut is a custodial solution, so you can’t withdraw your cryptos to other wallets or exchanges, so for serious users we wouldn’t recommend Revolut, but for someone wanting to dip their toes in the water it can make a suitable start.
Currencies and Foreign Exchange
On top of its everyday checking account and debit card service, Revolut is also an excellent option if you have a requirement to deal with multiple currencies. In fact, the application claims to support 120 different currencies. This is highly beneficial if you need to send and receive funds in a currency different from your own, or if you are abroad and need to use your debit card.
For example, if you were to use your Revolut debit card in the US, and thus, you transacted in US dollars, then the Revolut app would make an instant exchange at the point of the transaction. As such, you will make considerable savings in comparison to using a debit card issued by a traditional high street bank.
In terms of the fundamentals, the foreign exchange fees employed by Revolut are at first glance quite complex, so we’ve broken down the key points below.
- During Market Hours: All supported currencies – apart from TBH and UAH, can be exchanged within the app at no cost during standard foreign exchange market hours.
- Outside of Market Hours: Outside of foreign exchange market hours, major currencies such as GBP, USD, EUR, AUD, CAD, etc, come with an exchange fee of 0.5%. While TBH and UAH come with an out-of-hour fee of 2%, all other supported currencies come with a 1% fee.
- High-Frequency Users: If you are on a fee-free Revolut account, and you have exchanged more than £5,000 in a single calendar month, then you will be defined as a high-frequency customer. This means that you will pay a higher foreign exchange fee than listed above.
Depending on whether you make the exchange during or outside of market hours, and the specific currencies you are exchanging, this will vary from 0.5% up to a maximum of 2.5%.
Ultimately, while the above fees can vary quite considerably, in the vast majority of cases you will pay substantially less with Revolut in comparison to a traditional financial institution.
So now that we’ve covered foreign currencies, in the next section we are going to explore Revout’s pricing structure in more detail.
How Much Does Revolut Cost?
First and foremost, the vast majority of users utilize the standard Revolut account that comes at no cost. However, Revolut also offers a number of paid-for accounts that come with a monthly subscription. We’ll explore that shortly. However, in the meantime let’s see what costs you will become accustomed to as a standard user.
In terms of obtaining the app, this can be downloaded free of charge via the Apple Store or Google Play. There is no cost to open an account, and you won’t need to pay a monthly subscription if you decide to remain a standard user. However, you will need to pay a £4.99 debit card delivery fee at the point of opening an account. Moreover, you will also need to deposit £10 in to your account for verification purposes.
As such, your best bet is to deposit £10 or more via a bank transfer or with your debit card, and then pay the fee from the deposited funds.
Fees for Sending and Receiving Money
If you make a UK-to-UK transfer, this will go through the Faster Payment network, and thus, most transfers will arrive in a matter of minutes.
This comes at no cost. If performing an EU-to-EU transfer via SEPA, then this is also free. While Revolut states that this can take a couple of business days to arrive, in most cases this arrives the next day. This can also be facilitated at no cost.
The only time that you will pay a fee to send or receive money is if you need to use the SWIFT network. This would, for example, cover a transaction from the UK to Australia, or Japan to the UK. In most cases, sending and receiving funds via SWIFT will cost $15, although this can vary depending on the other bank involved in the transaction.
Fees for Using Your Revolut Debit Card
When using your Revolut debit card to withdraw cash from an ATM, the first £200 will come at no cost. However, everything over this amount will come at a fee of 2%.
There is no cost to use your debit card online or in-store, as long as you are transacting in your local currency. If using the card abroad, you will need to revert to the fees listed above under the foreign exchange section.
It is also worth noting that should you lose your Revolut debit card – or you simply want to order another one, this comes at a cost of £5 per card. You will also need to pay a delivery fee.
Revolut Pricing Plans
On top of the free standard account, Revolut also offers two additional pricing plans – Premium and Metal. While Revolut also offers a business account, this falls outside of its main current account offering.
Revolut Premium – £6.99 per month
If your banking requirements are slightly more elaborate than what the free account offers, then you might want to consider the Revolut Premium account. At a cost of £6.99 per month, the Premium account offers a number of key benefits.
Here’s the main jist:
- No ATM fees upto the first £400 per month (usually £200)
- Always remain on the lowest capped foreign exchange pricing plan
- Travel insurance, which includes delayed flight and baggage claims
- Priority customer service
- Ability to buy and sell cryptocurrencies (CFDs)
- Exclusive card design
- One-time virtual cards
- Airport lounge pass access
Revolut Metal – £12.99 per month
The highest tier available at Revolut is the Metal account, which comes at a monthly cost of £12.99. All of the features provided in the Metal account are the same as the Premium, apart from the following:
- No ATM fees upto the first £600 per month
- Cashback on all debit card payments (0.1% in Europe, 1% outside of Europe)
- Revolut Concierge
Regarding the final point, the Revolut Concierge is an innovative AI-driven personal assistant. For example, if you’re looking for the best priced flight tickets to New York next month, or you want to find a boutique hotel recommendation in the city you’re about to visit, the Concierge will automatically find this information for you.
However, the general consensus is that the feature offers little value. For example, one user reported that the Concierge found flight tickets for €1,200, although through a quick independent search, the user found the same flights for €500!
Who is Eligible to Open a Revolut Account?
The only eligibility requirements that you need to consider is your location. At the time of writing, Revolut supports legal residents from the UK, European Economic Area (EEA), Switzerland, and Australia. If you’re from a country other than the jurisdictions listed below, you won’t be able to open an account with Revolut.
Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom
Opening an Account – What do I Need?
If you’re from an eligible country, opening an account with Revolut is super easy. Follow the step-by-step instructions to find out what you need to do.
- Step 1: Download and install the app To get started, visit the site and enter your phone number to get an invite to the app. If you don’t have an Android or iOS device, your phone won’t support the app.
- Step 2: Enter your personal information As is standard with any financial-based application, you will need to enter your personal details. This will of course cover your full name, address, residency status, date of birth, mobile telephone number, and email address. Regarding your phone number, make sure this is correct as you might need it to verify transactions or regain account access when you forget your login credentials.
- Step 3: Choose a PIN number Every time you want to access your Revolut app you will need to enter your PIN number. Choose something that others won’t guess, but at the same time, something you won’t forget!
- Step 4: Verify your identity Unlike the cumbersome process demanded by traditional high street banks, verifying your identity with Revolut takes seconds. All you need to do is take a photo of your government issued ID (passport or driver’s license) with your smartphone camera. Make sure the picture is crystal-clear, otherwise the automated system won’t be able to validate it.After your ID is accepted, you then need to take a selfie. This is to ensure that you are the rightful owner of the ID you previously uploaded.
- Step 5: Deposit funds You will need to deposit an amount of at least £10 into your Revolut account. You can do this via a bank transfer or debit card.
- Step 6: Select your plan Revolut gives you the option of choosing the standard free plan, or the paid-for Premium and Metal plans.
- Step 7: Pay for your card delivery fee To complete the account opening process, confirm the address that you would like your card delivered to, pay the £4.99 delivery fee (taken from the £10 you just deposited), and that’s it – you now have a fully-fledged Revolut current account!
Is Revolut Safe?
It is important to recognize that challenger banks like Revolut are still in their absolute infancy. While the Millennial generation will have no issues making the transition from a traditional bank to a mobile-based banking app, others might not be as comfortable. As such, it is crucial to explore just how safe your money really is with Revolut.
First and foremost, although Revolut has its headquarters in the UK, the company is not legally a recognized bank and thus – the money it stores is not protected by the UK’s Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). Ordinarily, UK customers have their bank deposits protected upto the first £85,000 in the event that the institution collapses. However, in the case of Revolut, these safeguards do not exist.
On the other hand – and as we noted earlier, Revolut announced in late 2018 that it had successfully been approved for a European Banking License. This would mean that Revolut deposits of up to €100,000 are subsequently protected by the European Deposit Guarantee Scheme (EDGS). However, not only has the license yet to be officially granted, but it was recently reported that the approval itself is in jeopardy.
Ultimately, although the FSCS and EDGS does not apply at the time of writing, Revolut is still authorized by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), and client funds are held in segregated bank accounts located in the UK.
Revolut Customer Service
One of the overarching selling points made by challenger banks like Revolut is that the customer experience comes first. In the traditional banking scene, this is one of the biggest pain-points noted by retail customers, with long telephone delays and outsourced call centres a common practice.
In the case of Revolut, the customer service department is due a major overhaul. The key problem is that Revolut has effectively grown to quickly. With the platform onboarding more than 7,000 new customers each and every day, the company just does not have the capacity to provide sufficient levels of customer support.
The main avenue to contact somebody from Revolut is via a live chat facility that can only be accessed via the mobile app. However, complaints in the public domain are plentiful, with customers claiming that waiting times are now in the days.
Those currently holding a Premium or Metal paid-for account are apparently offered priority support, however, complaints of long response times are just as common.
Ultimately, while Revolut have noted that they are in the process of increasing their customer support capabilities, this needs to be sooner rather than later.
Revolut Review: The Bottom Line?
In summary, it is clear to see why challenger banks like Revolut have taken the UK and European banking scene by storm.
Not only can customers open an account in minutes from the comfort of their mobile phone, but everyday banking services can be accessed at the click of a button.
Whether it’s sending and receiving funds – domestically and internationally, withdrawing cash from an ATM and purchasing goods online, or exchanging currencies instantly – Revolut ticks the vast majority of boxes. This is why the app now has surplus of 4.5 million customers.
On the other hand, the app does need to make some serious considerations regarding its customer service flaws. With key market rivals N26 and Monzo well-regarded for their super-fast and attentive customer support, Revolut needs to address this quickly.
Furthermore, it remains to be seen what is happening with the so-called European Banking License. If and when the license does come through, not only will this guarantee client funds up to the first €100,000 from the threat of a collapse, but it will also enable Revolut to offer credit-based products like loans and overdrafts.