Revolut app and travel.

Revolut for Travelers: One Year Later

By Tanit Parada Tur Android, iOS5 Comments

Hiking boots? Check. Headlamp? Check. Portable battery? Check. Two weeks before my solo trip to Colombia, I had everything sorted. Except for one important detail: how to deal with money.

Figuring out how to pay for things in the local currency without being ripped off by a bank or foreign exchange office seemed challenging. I knew that when converting money, you always lose.

I had read about travelers cheques, but carrying paper around Colombia seemed outdated and inefficient. There had to be a better way.

After some online research, I stumbled upon Revolut. Launched in 2015 as “the only banking alternative designed for your global lifestyle,” it already has over ten million customers.

One of a handful of new UK-based challengers to traditional banks, Revolut built its customer base by offering them much lower costs. As well as providing free overseas withdrawals, Revolut transfers money at the interbank exchange rate (the real-time rate banks use to exchange currencies between one another) without tacking on extra charges.

I’ve had my Revolut card for over a year now. Has it lived up to the hype?

How Does Revolut Work?

Opening an account is free, and only takes a few minutes. Currently, Revolut is available to legal residents of the European Economic Area (including the UK), Switzerland, the United States, Singapore, and Australia. Several other countries, including Canada, New Zealand, and Japan, are listed as “coming soon” and operating a waitlist.

In order to use your account, you’ll also need to verify your identity. Once that’s done, you’ll be able to hold, receive, and exchange 30+ currencies at the real exchange rate, plus send free domestic and international money transfers.

Tired of typing out long bank account numbers manually? A handy feature of the app is the ability to create payment links that you can share with friends, family or colleagues, even if they aren’t on Revolut.

Generate the link using the app and send it to your contact (for example, via WhatsApp or SMS). They’ll have 24 hours to claim the money by clicking on the link and entering their account details.

Revolut pricing 2020

Depending on your country of residence, Revolut offers various different account types. In the UK, for example, you have a choice of a Standard, Premium, or Metal account. The one discussed below is the Standard, which is free and the one I went for.

The Premium account costs £6.99/month and, among other things, includes free ATM withdrawals of up to £400 per month and overseas medical and flight delay insurance at no extra cost.

The Metal account has all of Premium’s benefits and increases the free ATM withdrawal limit to £600 per month. As well as having a fancy card made of reinforced steel, other benefits include a cashback scheme, concierge service, and lounge passes for you and your friends if your flight is delayed. It costs £12.99/month.

Using Revolut’s Debit Card on the Road

Once you’ve topped up your account, you can order a physical Revolut card. The Standard card costs £5 plus shipping. It lets you pay using the currencies available in your account for free, and withdraw money at ATMs fee-free for the first £200 per month. If you’ve reached that limit, there’s a 2% fee.

I started using Revolut’s card in Colombia, and found it very useful. While you can hold funds in multiple currencies, Colombian pesos isn’t one of them. Still, I was able to pay using the card knowing that Revolut would auto-convert between my balance and pesos at the best available rate.

Because the card details are in the app (which is secured with a PIN and/or your fingerprint), it’s easy to check them out if you’re buying something online. There’s no need to grab your wallet from the other side of the room to find the card number. Bonus points for that!

If you misplace your card, you can easily enable a temporary freeze so it can’t be used. Once you figure out where you left it, you can lift the block and start using it again. Easy.

On top of its basic offerings, Revolut has another advantage for travelers: worldwide travel insurance. This affordable insurance covers overseas emergency medical assistance, and expenses of up to £15m. You can pay for it on a per-day or annual basis, directly within the app.

According to a survey from Motorola, 50 percent of people globally have cracked their smartphone screen at least once. Chances are, you could be one of them. With Revolut, you can take out worldwide coverage for common types of damage to your phone and other devices. That’s useful if your standard travel insurance policy doesn’t cover expensive electronics.

Prices start at £1/week, and if you pay upfront for the whole year, you’ll receive a 13% discount. As with any insurance, check the terms and conditions to make sure it’s appropriate for you, but if it is, the price is pretty reasonable.

As mentioned earlier, there’s also basic flight delay and medical insurance included with the premium account types.

The Revolut App’s Limitations

Revolut has no desktop version. This sometimes feels like a shortcoming, especially if you’re like me and prefer looking at your finances in detail on a larger screen. Another issue is that if you lose your phone or it gets stolen, you can’t easily access Revolut until you replace it. That’s always a complication, especially when you’re traveling.

Support, also, could be better. While the help center has answers to most questions and there are useful YouTube tutorials, service has been slow when there’s a need to talk to a real person. I’ve sometimes had to wait for hours before chatting to someone through the app.

Another limitation is that Revolut doesn’t give you US bank details, which are useful if you get paid in USD. A workaround around this is to use Wise, which provides a US bank account number that can receive funds directly. You could then pay using a Wise debit card if you wish, but I prefer to keep all my spending in one place.

Instead, I send the money from my Wise USD account to my Revolut USD account, and use the Revolut debit card to pay for things in US dollars. 


Once I returned to Europe after my trip to Colombia, I found myself increasingly using my Revolut card, to the point where I’ve prety much given up on my regular bank. While Revolut is a great tool for managing money when you’re away, I’ve had plenty of reasons to keep using it now I’m back.

The app is really easy to use and well designed, and improvements are added regularly. One of my favorite features is being able to set up a monthly budget, with access to all my transaction information. That means I now have a better understanding of my spending habits, with a couple of taps.

Being able to buy travel insurance for as many (or as few) days as necessary is also a big part of the reason why I use Revolut. The maximum duration of your trip can’t exceed 40 days, but that covers most of my journeys.

I particularly like how Revolut sticks to its promise to make your personal finances a paperless process. That’s refreshing in the banking industry, and a godsend for regular travelers.

I’ve also got peace of mind that in the unlikely event that Revolut fails, my money is still safe. Revolut is regulated by the FCA (the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority), and customer funds are held in ring-fenced accounts with other major banks.

So far, so good with Revolut. It’s been a year since my card arrived, and I’m using it more than ever, with no plans to change. I’m a fan!

All images via Revolut.

About the Author
Tanit Parada Tur

Tanit Parada Tur


Tanit Parada Tur graduated in Law and Political Sciences, specialising in International Relations, and holds a Masters in Journalism.Working as a reporter for TV, print, and online magazines, and in digital communications for various international organizations, she likes to write about tech and travel and talk about food.


  1. Avatar

    Dear Sirs I read your article and I pretty much agree on everything (leaving aside US bit as I do not travel & have no plan to travel to US anyway) – especially the issue about having either a Desktop App or a Web access – we should be thinking of lobbying Revolut in doing this, essential for me to keep using the card really…


  2. Avatar

    The 2% ATM fees are ludicrous and make Revolt far less useful than they could be.

    1. Dave Dean

      I guess they need to make money somewhere. Most of the other challenger banks have a similar fee structure (although not all) — how much of a problem it is really depends on where you’re traveling. If you’re going somewhere that card payments are ubiquitous, you probably won’t hit the ATM limit (I didn’t on my last two-month trip to Australia and New Zealand, for instance, and barely exceeded it during a month in India despite cash payments being much more common there).

      So yeah, while I don’t love international ATM fees, I think it’s going a bit far to say they’re ludicrous or make Revolut far less useful than it could be, especially since you’re getting the wholesale exchange rate — I’ve had several cards that offered so-called ‘fee-free’ international ATM transactions that cost me much more than 2% thanks to the terrible exchange rate. If it’s a huge issue for you, though, shop around for a bank with a different fee structure that doesn’t include that specific charge.

  3. Avatar

    Sponsored much?

    Can you elaborate about the fact of delisting stocks without notice, or the hassle of getting your shit back when you lose your phone?

    Super curious to your reply. Thanks.

    1. Dave Dean

      Absolutely not sponsored — that’s not something we do, as we say in our disclosure that’s linked to at the top of every post.

      I don’t personally use Revolut, so I can’t comment on either of the aspects you mention. Tanat no longer writes for the site, but if she happens to see and reply to this comment, you may get an answer from her.

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