In the 21st century, the definition of a bank has changed. No longer do we need to walk into a branch on our local high street – today there are a growing choice of digital banks such as Revolut to choose from. But with all this choice, comes the question ‘which bank is best?’
Revolut was one of the first of the new disruptive all digital banks to come along. And although there has been some controversies, they remain a popular choice.
As someone who has used Revolut for several years, I’m going to offer my personal review of Revolut and hopefully help you decide if they are for you – or not.
Just to be clear: I am not a financial advisor, so all of the advice in here is simply my opinion and experience.
What is Revolut?
Revolut is an online only digital bank. This means that you cannot visit any branches of Revolut, and all applications to open an account with Revolut need to be done though the app. This is also the case with any queries you might have with the bank itself.
And yes, Revolut is a bank.
When you sign up you get a bank account with details to pay in money, transfer, pay online and in the physical world and more. We’ll look at the ‘more’ in a bit.
How do I apply for a Revolut bank account?
To open an account with Revolut, you’ll need to download their app and go through the application process. It’s a fairly standard online procedure, and you will need a form of ID to go through the KYC (know your customer) process.
It only takes a few minutes to enter all your details. Once you’ve completed all the required steps, you’ll be prompted to order a new card. At the time of writing this costs £5 (in the UK) and you’ll need to add money to the app to order your new card.
The delivery time in the UK is pretty quick, with ours arriving within 5 days.
What are the main features of a Revolut account?
Besides simply being a bank account, Revolut offers a wealth of extra features to account holders. These include:
- Multiple currency accounts (GBP, USD, Euro and 30 more) – so you can hold local currency, which is great for travelling
- Easy one touch transfer – send money to your contacts (to split the bill etc)
- Virtual cards, great for online transactions where you don’t want to share your bank details
- Cheap international transfers using Wise. Send money around the world without paying ridiculous fees (like in some banks)
- Receive payments in foreign currencies such as USD, Euros and more. Again, fees tend to be lower than traditional banks
- Vaults for saving money – or sharing a vault with another Revolut holder. For example if you want to have a shared pot with a partner or child.
- Buy and sell stocks and crypto within the app. Yes, you can trade crypto right there in your Revolut app
- Get cashback and discounts from high street retailers. At the moment, you can get a 30% discount off the Adidas store if you pay with your Revolut card – and get cashback of 10% at Pachamama, Omio and Buyagift – among many others
- Option to get a junior card (for the kids)
- Business accounts available (for a fee)
The app also features a whole load of other offers, such as discounted holiday packages, easy at a glance spending data and payment links for if you’re requesting payment for personal transactions.
If you subscribe to the premium packages, you can also take advantage of their travel insurance (which I have used before) and some nifty features like event cancellation cover in case you can’t make it to that gig.
Sounds great, what are the downsides?
If you want to get money out from an ATM, Revolut lets you take out £200, or 5 withdrawls, for free every month. After that, you’ll pay a 2% fee with a minimum of £1 for each withdrawl.
But considering we live in a cashless society these days, that’s probably not a big deal for most people.
If you lose your Revolut card, you will need to pay for the replacement, which is £5. And, if you stop using your Revolut account for a while, they will lock it (you do get warned first though) which means that your card is cancelled.
If you’re the sort of person who likes to go into a bank branch, well… You might be over 50 anyways. But for Revolut users, you can only contact the bank via the app.
One problem I’ve had is using the card with businesses who require a credit card, for example car hire companies. I recently had what can only be explained as a total pain the arse with a car hire company in Geneva airport, who wouldn’t give me my booked hire car because I only had a Revolut card and ‘it’s not a real bank’.
Weirdly, another car hire company in the same airport were totally fine with Revolut.
I’ve also used Revolut for car hire in other countries, and again, no big deal. Worth bearing this in mind, and it’s more a car hire company thing than a Revolut thing.
Where is Revolut available?
If you’re based in the UK, European Union/EEAA, Switzerland, the USA, Japan, Singapore and Australia – you can get a Revolut account.
Is Revolut a good bank?
If you’re thinking ‘should I get a Revolut account’? – the answer from me is a solid yes. They offer some great features, the app is incredibly user friendly and new features are being added all the time. Apart from the car hire debacle, I’ve never had a problem with my Revolut card or account.
I hope this Revolut review has helped you to make up your mind. Let me know what you think in the comments below….