I originally wrote this post in 2016, but as there have been some changes to the Revolut card I feel I need to update it to take account of the new features of the card and your travel account with Revolut.
I’m going to start this post by stating that it is 100% not sponsored. I feel like I need to add this disclaimer as I thought it might look suspicious to you guys that I don’t have a single negative thing to say about the amazing Revolut card.
So, i’ll start from the beginning and tell you how I saved myself HUNDREDS of pounds while I was travelling with the easiest life and travel hack i’ve ever known.
Travel Money For A WorldWide Trip
When I was looking into how I’d take my money with me travelling, I knew that just using my normal debit card would be out of the question. For most banks, using your debit card abroad incurs fees, which may only look like a few pennies here and there but quickly add up into hefty sums. These would be even heftier after a 3 month trip, so I began researching travel money cards for a more suitable alternative.
On previous trips, I’d bought pre-paid currency cards from my local post office. You can buy them in a single currency such as dollars or Euros and then use them as a debit card when you’re travelling without the bank fees. Topping them up was a bit of a hassle though and I also had the problem of going to many different countries with totally different currencies, so I didn’t fancy carrying 5 or so cards around with me.
Then, I found out about the Revolut card. It’s a travel card that you control from an App on your phone and means you can top-up, send money and check exchange rates all at the tap of a finger.
The BEST Exchange Rate
The Revolut card allows you to store currency on your phone in three currencies (Dollars, Euros and Pounds) and exchanges your money for you at the live exchange rate. It doesn’t charge fees or commission and I found the rate on my Revolut app to be better than any currency counter every single time I checked.
For example, James and I went on holiday to Skiathos before I went travelling where I tested my Revolut card out. He exchanged £1000 at the Post Office before leaving and got a pretty shoddy rate of €1.25 to the £1. So, he went on holiday with €1250.
On the other hand, I topped up my Revolut App with £1000 using my debit card and exchanged my £1000 into Euros on my phone. I got an exchange rate of €1.37 to the £1, so I ended up with €1370. That’s a €120 difference which means I was £100 better off than James by using my Revolut app.
We couldn’t believe it. It felt like a life hack and I was buzzing.
Sure enough, that week I needed to exchange some more money so I transferred it on my phone and went to withdraw from a cash point. I wasn’t charged the cash point’s exchange rate of €1.21, as my money was already exchanged on the card and yet again reaped the benefits of my Revolut App’s incredible exchange rate (which on that day was €1.38!!) For a €100 withdrawal that was a €17 gain for me.
What Happens When You Lose Your Revolut Card
So off I went travelling, feeling very pleased with myself and getting a great exchange rate in our first stop of the USA. But then, the worst thing happened… I lost my card, not even 10 days in to our 3 month adventure.
I was so annoyed! Especially as I was scared that someone could steal the money on it. I needn’t have been worried though as you can block your card from your phone so it can’t be used and withdraw your money back to your debit card. The best thing is, if you find your card again – you can unblock it instantly! Why do banks not think of this stuff, seriously?!
I then re-ordered a card to come to Steph’s cousin’s address in New Zealand, which would be our first permanent address on the trip. By the time we got to Queenstown, my Revolut card had been there waiting for me and I was SO happy to be reunited with it after 3 weeks of debit card withdrawals and bank fees!
Travel Money Made Easy
If you ever have a problem topping up or anything related to your card, it even has an in-App Support chat function where you can talk to their technical team. Seriously this card is amazing and I’ve told that many people about it in real life, that this blog post has been a really long time coming!
New Features For 2017
This year, the Revolut card has had a bit of a make-over. For starters, there are now two types of account you can have with them; the Free account and the Premium account.
With the free account, you have a £200 cash withdrawal limit per month after which you pay 2% on anything you withdraw. If you’re going away, i’m guessing you’ll need more than £200 for the entire month! To be honest I think this is a bit cheeky of Revolut – it’s not a big threshold and kind of seems to defeat the object of their original mission.
However, 2% is horrendous and when I compared it to other cards on the market it’s still much less than other travel cards that charge 5%.
Then there’s the premium account. This cost £72 a year and allows you to take £400 out a month after which you’re charged 2% also. For a charge, this doesn’t seem like much of an allowance either! I made the following calculations:
A Year’s Travel Scenario:
For TripA you take out £1000 in euros with your Revolut card over a week’s holiday.
With the Free Revolut account that means £200 free and £800 at 2% ( £16 charge)
With the Premium account that means £400 free and £600 at 2% ( £12 charge)
For Trip B you take out £600 in euros with your Revolut card over a long weekend.
With the Free Revolut account that means £200 free and £400 at 2% ( £8 charge)
With the Premium account that means £400 free and £200 at 2% ( £4 charge)
For Trip C you take out £1500 in dollars with your Revolut card over a 2 week holiday.
With the Free Revolut account that means £200 free and £1300 at 2% ( £26 charge)
With the Premium account that means £400 free and £1100 at 2% ( £22 charge)
Total charges for your year of travel:
Free account: £50
Premium Account: £72 (annual fee) + £38 = £110
I would hasten to say that the premium account is NOT worth the money. Yes you get medical travel insurance with it, but in my opinion you actually end up paying MORE for no reason. If the allowance before a charge was higher e.g. £1000 a month then it might be worth it, or if you’re travelling every month and withdrawing large amounts of money. However for most of us, I would stick with the free account.
For more money saving tips, read how I saved up to go travelling here.