Revolut is making big waves in the financial world, stealing clients off of old established banks with a massive rate of signing up between 6,000 and 9,000 new users every day.
It has more than three million clients with over one million customers in the UK alone.
According to Revolut, customers have saved more than $749 million in fees. These savings are due to the removal of foreign exchange fees which impact card payments internationally.
Revolut is expanding around the world so quickly that it became Britain’s first digital bank unicorn, valued at over $1 billion.
So, what’s so special about this “digital bank” that still operates as a LTD company, even though it recently acquired a banking license in Europe?
We spent many hours researching every feature of the Revolut app, used it personally for over 6 months spending money globally, transfering funds in and out from its banking accounts in different currencies and even tried to buy some Bitcoin with it..
This was all done for you, our beloved reader, so that you can make an informed decision as to whether or not it’s worth your while opening a Revolut account, , as well as the potential pitfalls the app might have.
What is Revolut?
Essentially, it’s a Multi Currency Debit Card with a super modern App, but they call it “a secure, mobile-based current account that allows you to hold, exchange and transfer without fees in 24 different currencies.” Well, at least they’re honest not to call themself a bank.
It uses the Interbank Exchange Rate when you spend in more than 150 currencies which saves you 3-4% on every transaction when using their debit card, as opposed to using normal bank (with a small 0.5% fee for anything above €6,000 each month) .
It allows you to send and receive funds with your personal bank account details. More on that in a moment.
You can withdraw cash from an ATM machine using a debit card(€200 a month in international ATM withdrawals for free, 2% fee afterwards).
You can top up, hold and exchange funds in 15 currencies (GBP, EUR, USD, AUD, CAD, CHF, CZK, DKK, HKD, JPY, NOK, PLN, RON, SEK, ZAR).
You can even buy crypto within the app, but you can’t transfer the tokens out from Revolut. All you can do is hold it and sell it later. So this feature isn’t worth the digital paper its written on! But if you want to feel like a crypto trader and ride the next wave of Bitcoin Price Growth – Revolut might be an ideal solution for a lazy crypto trader.
Here’s the 5 supported cryptocurrencies: BTC, LTC, ETH, XRP, BCH
The standard plan allows you to order 2 cards linked to the account plus you can create one virtual card which you can use for online payments, or link it to your PayPal account.
The 2nd card can be given to a wife, husband or your kid. If you want them to see transactions and use the app – it’s totally possible. All they need to do is install the app and login using your phone number.
You’ll receive a code via sms which has to be entered on their device. Just keep in mind that there are no user roles inside the app, so everything you can see and do from your phone can be done on the 2nd device as well.
Opening an account (AKA Getting money inside safely)
In a nutshell, opening an account takes just a few minutes and if everything goes smoothly, you should have your account ready to use that very same day.
You can top-up your account with your current debit or credit card in any of the supported currencies. It will appear in your account in seconds (and I really mean in seconds), ready for you to spend and exchange within the app without any fees for up to 5000 GBP per month in standard plan. Click here for supported currencies
If you’re lazy like me, you don’t even need to exchange money within the app. The system will auto convert the currency that you topped up with into the native currency of the transaction using the Interbank Exchange Rate at the time of the transaction.
Just don’t go overboard when topping up your Revolut account via your debit/credit card, as they initially limit new customers to 250 GBP/EUR per day. These limits will are increased after about 2 weeks of active usage of the card. You can fund your fresh account via bank transfer without any limits though.
Revolut Bank Accounts
More importantly, Revolut gives its users a unique UK and European current account. This will include a UK banking sort code and account number, as well as a full European IBAN number and BIC code. This means that people from all over the world can pay money in to your account.
This also means that you can send money in the very same way that you would with a traditional current account. For example, if sending funds from a UK Revolut account to any other UK account, the funds are usually processed within a couple of minutes. Alternatively, if transferring funds from an E.U. Revolut account to any other E.U. account, this is initiated via SEPA.
It doesn’t matter if you transfers funds from the UK-to-UK, or E.U-to-E.U., it’s completely free!
However, if you are looking to send money to a non E.U. bank account, you’ll need to use SWIFT. Basically, SWIFT are a global payments network that banks to transfer cash to each other. If you need to use SWIFT with Revolut, you will have to pay a fee. This depends on the country you are sending money to, as well as the currency being used!
So now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s explore who is allowed to open a Revolut account.
Who is allowed to open a Revolut account?
It is important to note that Revolut is only available to residents in certain countries.
Whilst the team at Revolut plan to expand their geographical offering in the near future, at the time of writing, the service is only available to residents of the following jurisdictions: 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, and the United Kingdom.
In order to get started, all you need to do is download the official Revolut app from either the Google Play or iTunes App stores. Once you enter your personal information, Revolut will then ask you to pass a basic KYC (Know Your Customer) procedure.
This is to ensure that Revolut remains fully compliant with AML (Anti-Money Laundering) regulations. Firstly, you will need to take a photograph of your Government issued ID, such as a passport or driving licence. Once the system is able to get an image of sufficient quality, you will then be required to take a selfie!
Usually, your Revolut account should be verified in a few minutes. In rarer cases like with this smart guy, Revolut may need to perform additional checks, in-line with their regulatory obligations.
Once you get the all clear, you will then be able to order your debit card. The great thing is you can have your card delivered to an address that is different to your home address.
Don’t forget that if you need to get a replacement card, Revolut will need to send it to the same address. Otherwise, you’ll need to send the team a proof of address document, such as a utility bill.
So now that we’ve covered who is allowed to get an account, in the next section we are going to explore whether Revolut is safe.
Is Revolut safe?
Revolut has grown its customer base to more than 3 million users, across 31 nation states and as such, has earned an excellent reputation. However, it is still imperative that you gain an understanding as to how safe your money is. Essentially, this will depend on a couple of fundamental factors.
First and foremost, as an institution that is authorized by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Revolut must keep client funds in a ring-fenced segregated account, which it does so with Barclays Bank and Lloyds.
Moreover, Revolut is bound by the legislative requirements of both the Payment Services Regulations 2017 and Electronic Money Regulations 2011.
In layman’s terms, this means that should Revolut seize to exist, you would be able to claim your funds from the segregated account, prior to the rights of creditors.
However, it is important to note that unlike traditional UK banks, Revolut users are not accustomed to the protections of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS). This protects bank account deposits up to £85,000.
Outside of the UK regulatory space, Revolut successfully acquired a European Banking License in December 2018. Not only does this allow Revolut to offer bank accounts, loans and other financial services, but it also ensures that customer deposits will be protected up to €100,000, under the European Deposit Protection Scheme.
So now that we’ve covered the safety of your funds, in the next part of our Revolut review we are going to discuss some potential pitfalls.
Potential issues with using Revolut
As with all financial products, it is crucial that you consider some of the potential pitfalls.
Firstly, Revolut only permit £200/200 EUR of free ATM withdrawals per month. After this, you’ll be charged a withdrawal fee that amounts to 2% of the amount taken out. For those that are using Revolut as their main current account, this can start to add up.
However, this is increased to £400/400 EUR if you are a Premium user, or £600/600 EUR for Metal users!
You also need to consider that if you’re on a standard plan, any transfers than exceed £5,000 (or E.U. equivalent) in a single month will result in a 0.5% fee.
We should also note that Revolut is technically a ‘Pre-Paid Card’. Whilst the payment card you receive will be backed by either Visa or MasterCard, some merchants are unable, or choose not to, accept Pre-Paid debit cards. This seems to always be the case with gas/petrol stations and road tolls!
There have also been a lot of complaints about topping up a Revolut account with Apple Pay. While it seems to work for a few people, many are still unable to get it working.
Finally, some Revolut users have reported their frustrations regarding top-up limits. Whilst we will discuss this in more detail in the next chapter of our guide, Revolut install certain limits when depositing funds via a debit or credit card. Due to security risks, Revolut do not state how the limits are calculated. However, limits do increase over time. Nevertheless, you will not have any issues with limits when you transfer funds in to your Revolut account via an external bank transfer.