On the 30th of September 2018, a little (more) skeptical, I decided to install Revolut. I didn’t know much about it at that point. Mr. M. advised me not to do it, but I took the risk anyway and transferred the 10 EURO needed in order to confirm the account.
I had made my homework and read about it on some forums. Most of the reviews were positive, but there were also some cases in which it took a few weeks to have the account confirmed and access to the money.
One year has passed since then. We are now good friends and today there are Revolut cards in our home. Even the most suspicious one of us took the plunge after seeing that it’s not a trick and the advantages it offers.
What is Revolut?
Revolut is a company that offers safe financial services similar to banks. The difference is that they give customers the possibility to transfer money internationally for free, pay by card and extract money with 0 fees.
It’s been on the market since 2015, but in some countries, it entered later. In the meantime, it also got the European banking license and you can even have an IBAN for every account you own in the application. I’m very curious about how it will evolve from now on.
Why did I decide to go for it?
Three years ago, when we visited Iceland, I realized for the first time the amount of money we lost by paying in another currency. Almost anything had to be paid by card and I can say that I didn’t even see what their bank-notes or coins looked like. The only places we saw, where you could exchange money were in Reykjavik. As we only got there by the end of our trip, it wasn’t the case anymore.
After getting home, we saw on the extracts that we had lost around 50 EURO just by paying by card because of a poor exchange rate. Our bank not only had a very unfriendly rate, but it also changed the money twice, first into EURO and only afterward into ISK. Both rates were outrageous, far higher than the rate at a counter, which is still higher than the interbank rate.
The same thing happened again when we traveled to Denmark and Sweden. The only time when we were able to exchange money was at the airport (at an exchange rate that I’d rather not remember). After that, we kind of had to pay for everything by card.
For online payments, we encountered the same charges that I got to fear, but I didn’t have a choice back then (airplane tickets, accommodation, Amazon and AliExpress orders – for the last ones, we faced again the double exchange issue: RON-EUR and EUR-USD).
By that time I heard about Revolut, which had just entered Romania and I decided to give it a chance. In the end, I had lost much more than 10 EUR until then by changing money the classical way or paying by card.
Some of the reasons we became good friends
1. Great exchange rate when paying by card
Its great advantage is, of course, for payments made in foreign currency. The conversion is done at the inter-banking exchange rate in real-time. This means that it uses the rate at which banks exchange money between them, not a special one, much higher, as the traditional banks do. You can spend directly from your main currency without losing money because of an unfavorable exchange rate or hidden commissions. You save money simply by using your card.
2. You can extract money in the local currency for free if you don’t exceed a certain amount
If you still prefer to have some cash, for any reason, you can take out the money in the local currency for free at any ATM. Neither in this case, will you pay a commission or exchange rate difference.
However, you should be careful about how much money you withdraw. With Revolut Basic you can only draw the equivalent of 200 euro/month. The Premium Card raises the limit up to 400 euros and the Metal Card up to 600 euros. Maybe it does not seem much at first sight, but most of the time you won’t need cash. For us, it was always enough. If you do exceed the limit, the commission is 2%.
3. It makes your life easier
You can use the card anytime and from anywhere, but it will be your best friend while traveling abroad.
- You don’t lose precious time looking for exchange counters, banks or the best rate. You already know you’ll get it on Revolut.
- You don’t have to worry about the local currency, especially when you go on a circuit or road trip through various countries with different currencies.
- No need to figure out how much money you should exchange, how much cash to have on you, if you should travel with dollars/EURO/cash/card.
- You can access your money at any time using a friendly application and you can spend in any currency at an excellent exchange rate.
- No more coins from foreign countries that you can’t exchange back. You either spend directly from your main account or open an account in the local currency and you exchange the money back when you don’t need it anymore. The accounts can be closed by pressing a button.
4. You transfer money using only the phone number
Revolut is so user-friendly that it helps you transfer money to your friends. You don’t need an IBAN. The application shows you who in your contacts uses Revolut and you can send them money by pressing on your friend’s name. You save time and there is no risk of missing the account.
5. Your money is safe with Revolut
During the last year, I think they had once or twice issues with some double payments or something similar. Every time they solved them quickly. But not even the more popular banks are safer. During the same period of time, the other bank I have an account with had the same kind of issues and even more frequently.
Comparing it with other cards, Revolut can be locked/unlocked instantly from the application. This is very useful if you are under the impression that you’ve lost your card and then find it in yesterday’s bag. You can also lock or unlock contactless, online, swipe payments or ATM withdrawals. There is no need to call or go to the bank.
Revolut works in combination with another card, from which you transfer some money, called Top Up. In order to prevent any major issues, I only transfer tiny amounts of money or close to the sum I know I’ll spend soon.
Because your money matter, Revolut created the option or a virtual card. You can create a card that only exists in the application with a card number, expiration date, and CVV. After you no longer need it, one can erase it.
6. It helps you save money
The guys at Revolut developed some fun features for the ones trying to save money. Revolut Vaults works as a digital piggy-bank. You only have to select the amount of money you want to set aside daily or monthly and the app takes the sum from the main account and deposits it into your own virtual safe. One can even set it to round up all the transactions and put the difference in the safe.
It can also help you set a budget and see where your money went. You can see diagrams with the shopping categories (food, accommodation, travel) and the country in which the transactions were performed.
7. You can have accounts in up to 29 currencies at one time
With a sole swipe, you can open an account in a new currency. You can see the exchange rate before performing the exchange. No matter how many accounts you may have, you can still access the money using the same card for all of them. In other words, it’s a “multi-currency” card.
In the beginning, I used to create a new account every time I visited another country and I changed a small sum of money in advance. In the meantime, I’ve noticed that this is a meanless step. If you pay in Hungary, for example, and you have enough money in forints, it will take from that account, if not, from the one in euro or your main account, if there is still not enough money in it.
Revolut is pretty smart and the exchange rate will still be the same as if you manually exchanged money from an account to another one. However, if you don’t have the needed amount in one account, it doesn’t know to add them up and the transaction will be rejected.
Nowadays we only change money before actually spending it only on Fridays, in order to avoid the 0.5-1% commission.
Where and how did I use Revolut?
Ever since I own it, I’ve used it while I actually traveled abroad (Czechia, Poland, Hungary, Canada, UK, Germany, Bulgary, Italy, San Marino), but also while I was planning the trips (even for buying bus tickets or accommodation in Cuba).
It proved to be useful to save money when paying in advance on Booking or Airbnb, renting cars, buying online plane, bus or train tickets, different tickets for museums or tours. Practically, anytime I buy something online in another currency than my own. It helped me even with the orders on AliExpress. Previously I didn’t even notice how many things I paid in another currency.
Sometimes it even had my back in unusual situations, like getting late in a new country, when no banks or counters were open or even worse.
For example, in January, on our way to Cuba, our flights were changed because of the weather and we had an unexpected layover in London. Of course, we didn’t have any lira. We paid with Revolut for snacks and drinks. We did the same during our layover in Canada.
It also helped us a lot on our summer road trip covering several European countries. Goodbye changing cash and pockets full of coins from different countries. We paid everywhere with Revolut. We only had to keep in mind to exchange money on Friday for Saturday and Sunday.
We encountered only one place where one could pay by card, but not with Revolut, at Dalboka, in Bulgaria.
How much does a Revolut card cost?
In order to get your Revolut standard card you don’t have to pay anything and there is no administration fee. You have to transfer 10 euros, but the money stays yours.
Revolut Premium and Metal do cost, but come with some new advantages, like a higher ATM withdrawal limit, travel insurance, free access to airport lounges, cashback when paying by card, etc.
How do you claim your Revolut?
It’s easy to open a Revolut account. You can do it directly from the app and takes 5 minutes:
- you access the link and add your phone number
- you get an SMS with a link to download the application
- install the app and create the account with your personal data, a photo, and ID
- you transfer 10 euro from another card to the new account (it’s not a fee, you can do whatever you want with the money once the account is confirmed)
- you claim your free physical card from the app (theoretically you should get it in 10 days, but you usually receive it earlier than that).
- There are still some areas where it won’t be of much help, as Dalboka or some places in the USA.
- During the weekends it is more expensive to exchange money. Revolut applies a protection fee of 0.5% (euro, dollar, lira), 1% (most of the currencies) or 1.5% (Russian ruble, Thai baht). This way it makes sure that on Monday when the transactions will be processed, it won’t lose money due to rate fluctuations.
- You can only extract a certain amount of cash. If you exceed the limit, there is a 2% commission fee.
After one year of using it, I can say that is has become indispensable. I take it with me everywhere I travel, but I also pay with it online. If you still don’t own a Revolut card, now is the right moment. You can order your free card using my link.
Do you use Revolut? Why yes or why not?
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