I have always struggled with the considerably high cost of tariffs and fees that we incur when using tradtional banks. A couple of years ago, I started looking for options that provide free money transfers and this is where I came across Revolut.
At the time, Revolut was slightly less than 1 year old but the prospect of free money transfers and free banking was extremely interesting for us. I decided to register and opened my EUR and GBP account with them. At the time, they also offered a free Mastercard Debit card. Surprisingly, I received it within a week.
I have now just gone through the first Debit Card renewal with them and I have no complaints whatsoever. During these years, I have used Revolut in a number of ways and they are always introducing new functionality.
When opening a Revolut account, you obviously receive a bank account and a corresponding IBAN. However, the cheapest way to top up your Revolut account is through the ‘Top up’ functionality.
This allows you to use another bank’s debit/credit card to ‘pay’ into Revolut (same as you would do for online merchants) and the funds are immediately added to your Revolut account. I used to always incur a bank transfer service charge for a SEPA or SWIFT payment from my other banks.
You can also set up Automatic Topups so that when your account balance falls below a set threshold, you will automatically top up from a known verified debit/credit card.
One issue that I have observed is that the automatic topup only works if the balance is reduced below the threshold through use of the debit/credit card payments. If you are transferring funds (using bank transfers) only, an automatic topup is not triggered if you do not have sufficient funds.
Free Currency Exchange (FIAT and Crypto)
Being an early Revolut customer had its perks and this included access to foreign exchange transfers to/from FIAT and cryptocurrencies. I was apprehensive at first and checked the provided exchange rates against other known currency exchange sites. However, I was surprised to see that the exchange rate provided by Revolut was basically the interbank FX rate.
This meant that, whenever I am buying online from Amazon or Ebay, I actually do not convert the payment amount to EUR but I am charged in the site’s default currency (e.g. USD or EUR) and I let Revolut carry out the currency exchange at a much better rate.
Depending on the price plan, there may be monthly FX limits. For example, on the Standard Plan, you get the equivalent of €6,000 free FX transactions. Once exceeded, you are charged a 0.5% fee of the transaction amount. I can safely say that I never exceeded this limit. The other price plans (Premium and Metal) offer free unlimited FX transactions.
When Revolut introduced the Auto-Exchange feature, I could now buy currency, set a target to sell the currency and set a separate target to buy that currency again! Genius!
When Revolut introduced cryptocurrencies for its customers, I also received an invitation and started using this feature. In practice, I was ‘playing around’ with buying and holding currencies (FIAT and crypto) until the market favours selling the currencies and making money off the difference. It worked well and Revolut has an alert feature (Watchlist) that worked perfectly.
SEPA and SWIFT Transfers
Revolut has now become my main source for European (SEPA) or International (SWIFT) bank transfers. Even if I need to transfer a small amount from my main bank account, I top up my Revolut account and then proceed to transfer the funds to the beneficiary for free. I am now avoiding all bank service charges that my main Bank charges me.
Since I invest in a number of P2P lending platforms, I use Revolut as the linked bank account. In some cases, I observed that some of these platforms do not accept the initial bank transfer to be carried out from the Revolut account. In that case, I transfer money from one of my other bank accounts and then I am usually allowed to transfer money from my Revolut account from that point onwards.
This feature is extremely useful as you can make monthly recurring payments to other bank accounts or other Revolut accounts/users automatically. I also set the transaction description/reference and this is also sent in the payment information!
While I am quite good at putting money aside and save for a specific goal, I still used the Vaults functionality to set a target (for example, buy that new smartwatch). You also need to set the target amount (€400) and set how the Vault would be functioning.
Basically, this meant rounding up your spare change for every transaction and store that spare change in the Vault. You can also use multipliers (x2, x3, x4, etc) to increase the amount that is actually being transferred into the Vault. Revolut allows you to have multiple Vaults created and run simultaneously. When the target is reached, you are informed and you can withdraw the money and/or revise your Vault target.
You can also create cryptocurrency Vaults and hold those funds until the market improves and you withdraw and sell that crypto currency.
While I have not used this feature yet, Group Vaults could potentially be useful to invite another Revolut user (e.g. a spouse) and open a group/joint Vault. It’s an interesting idea and it might be useful for some to save for that family holiday.
As I mentioned above, when I joined Revolut, I received my Revolut Mastercard Prepaid (Debit) card for free. I have been using its free money transfers and other free banking services.
Since then, I have also created a Virtual VISA Card (for free). I use this card online at retailers to which I do not want to provide my main card details.
The card is no longer made available for free unless you click here using my invitation link or the banner below.
Revolut Card Security
The Revolut app allows you to set certain card security features for each Physical or Virtual card individually, including:
- Freeze Card: You can freeze your card any activity carried out using the card during the ‘freeze’ period is not authorised.
- Limits: you can set monthly spending limits to ensure that no card transactions in excess of the card limit are authorised.
- Unblock CVV: should you enter the CVV value wrong for three times, you can use this feature to extend it further for another 3 tries.
The following is a list of security features that are available only for Physical cards:
- Location-based security: Checks whether the transaction is being carried out at a location different from where you are located (using GPS).
- Block Swipe Payments: You can switch off the magnetic stripe for extra security. Who uses it anymore anyway?
- Block Contactless Payments: You can switch off the use of contactless payments if you are concerned about it!
- Block ATM Withdrawals: If you do not intend to withdraw cash from an ATM, you can block such use. You can always switch this on if you ever need it.
- Block Online Transactions: You can block the use of Internet-based transactions for a specific card.
- View PIN: This shows you your current Card PIN for a short period (~ 8 seconds)
- Unblock PIN: You can extend the number of failed PIN attempts by an additional three.
I want to take a minute to talk about the Revolut app itself. All of the above features are available through the Revolut app. I am an Android user myself. However, as I understand, there are no key differences between the Android and the iOS versions.
The Revolut app is one of the most intuitive mobile apps that I currently use. They have been improving this user experience year-on-year. A very active community also helps Revolut improve its services through their valuable and direct feedback.
On newer phones, the use of biometrics simplifies this user experience as well. Kudos to Revolut for their UI work!
There are additional features that Revolut makes available to its Premium and Metal customers including:
- Free Unlimited FX transactions & free ATM Withdrawals (higher limits)
- Airport Lounge Passes
- Free Concierge Services
- Discounted Worldwide Device Insurance
- Free Insurance (Overseas medical, Travel Delay)
- Up to 1% Cashback on every card payment
- Free Disposable Virtual Cards
- Free Express Card delivery
- Priority Support
- Free Money Transfers (Turbo)
Revolut has also launched its business account targeting primarily freelancers and companies to save time, save money and stay in control.
Through this business account, a freelancer or company can:
- Hold, exchange and transfer funds in 29 currencies with the real exchange rate.
- Issue free corporate cards to employees to spend abroad whilst saving on fees and reduce expenses.
- Manage all of their business finances with ease, including bulk payments and permissions through an online platform.
- Set up Individual EUR and GBP IBANs for businesses.
- Benefit from freelancer and business tariffs after same day onboarding.
- Use Open API to automate payments and connect platforms such as Zapier, Xero, Slack and Stripe.
In a future article, we might dig deeper into Revolut for Business or the additional Revolut Personal premium services. Until then, feel free to register for a Revolut Personal account by clicking here and enjoy free money transfers and free banking or set up your Revolut for Business account to better manage your freelancer or company finances.
– Busy Husband