Gone are the days of having to queue at the currency exchange for our travel money. No longer do we need to accept a substandard exchange rate or worry about carrying large amounts of cash. Fintech has changed how we spend, both at home and overseas, and Revolut was one of the pioneers. So with so many options now in the market, is Revolut for travelling the best? Keep reading to hear our thoughts on using Revolut on holiday.
Opening a Revolut Account
Revolut was launched in 2015, and so is still relatively new as far as finance goes. Despite being a virtual bank account, you do get a physical card, and the whole thing is regulated by the financial conduct authority. All in all, a Revolut account works similar to any standard bank account, but you won’t find any branches on the high street.
It all begins when you download the Revolut app. After registering your details, you will need to verify your identity. This involves some basic documentation and a selfie with your ID. Once this is complete, the account is open, and all that’s left to do is order a physical card. The process is simple and only takes a few minutes.
The Benefits of Using Revolut
There are actually many benefits to opting to use Revolut, and the seemingly basic app is actually incredibly powerful. You can hold different currencies, which means you can use it for everyday spending in your local currency and then exchange before you travel. The exchange rates on the Revolut app are very favourable, as users can benefit from the interbank rate, with no high fees.
You won’t get more for your money at any foreign exchange. So, if you’re going to be changing large amounts of cash it’s really beneficial to have a Revolut account. You can use your card for free, including atm withdrawal and contactless payments both at home and abroad. The free atm withdrawals is a particularly good perk, as using your debit card while travelling can become expensive.
As well as your physical card, you can also get a virtual card, perfect for one-off purchases and online shopping. Topping up your Revolut account is also very easy. You can use bank transfer or debit card to top up, and the latter is instant, so there’s no waiting around to start spending.
The Cons to a Revolut Card
We have to be completely honest about this. The single biggest drawback to Revolut is customer service. They simply cannot be contacted by phone or email, and the only option is live chat. The live chat often isn’t live, and so it’s leaving a message and waiting for a response, which can take days. If you need help, especially abroad, this can be very frustrating.
The free account has some limitations, which should come as no surprise. The withdrawal limit is just 200 per month on the free plan, although you can use your Revolut card to pay all you like. These limits are designed to encourage you to upgrade to a premium account. This premium alternative comes with more flexibility, but it’s pricey at £13.99 a month. For this, you do get overseas medical insurance and a fancy metal card, but you will need to work out if it’s worth it for you.
The initial verification process with Revolut is fairly easy, but things get more difficult further down the line. Not only will you be asked to prove your source of income, but you may also need to provide tax documentation and much more. Although we understand why this is necessary, we know many who have had to repeat this process several times.
Is Revolut the Best Way to Take Money Abroad?
Using an account like Revolut for travelling is a great idea. Mainly because it is fee-free, and so you can withdraw money in almost all currencies without it costing a penny. Not just that, but the interbank exchange rate means that you’re always getting the most value for money.
Using Revolut for travel is ideal. The app is easy to use, the account is free, and top-ups and transactions all happen in real time. Whether or not is exactly the best option comes down to personal opinion. Although we think it is from a usability and value point of view, there is something we can’t ignore. The seemingly random and unreasonable re-verification processes can leave you in a seriously sticky situation.
If you cannot satisfy these documentation requests, even when abroad, you will not be able to use the Revolut app. Essentially, you can be locked out and left without money as you travel. We would strongly recommend having a plan B in case of this so that you can access money elsewhere if you need to. This alone seems to defeat the object of using Revolut for travelling.
All being well if there are no issues with verification, Revolut is a very powerful tool. A handy place to hold several currencies, and a great alternative to bank account fees. From cash withdrawals to card payments, the Revolut app is free, and fees only apply if you exceed limits or choose to upgrade.
Alternatives to Revolut For Travelling (Also Free Overseas)
A Revolut card isn’t your only option when it comes to a favourable exchange rate or access to travel money. Here are some of the others to choose from:
- Starling Bank
- Some credit cards (Halifax, Aquacard, etc)