As you might know, I’m off to America VERY soon. To avoid having to pay silly interest rates and fees every time I use my bank / credit card, or carrying a wedge of notes while I’m out there it seemed a good idea to look at Money Cards. There are LOADS of cards out there, offered by various banks and establishments, with varying fees and charges and it’s a bit of a minefield. A new card and app offering is Revolut, a pre-paid MasterCard that fuses a money card with an accompanying app.
You can download the app on Android here and iOS here, and from that you can register for an account – there’s no credit checks and the account setup is immediate. You can also access a ‘virtual’ copy of your Revolut card within app so you can use your Revolut card online immediately (your physical card takes a 3-4 days to arrive).
It’s recommend that you verify your identity with Revolut, there are limits placed on an unverified account (you’re not able to top up more than £1000). Verification all takes place within the app (so long as you have a passport or photo driving licence). I verified mine with a scan of the photo page on my passport, it took a matter of minutes.
Once you’re all set up, you need to put money on the card – this can be done with a debit card, or bank transfer (credit cards aren’t supported due to fees on them). Debit card top ups hit your account immediately, bank transfers take longer. The card can hold money in three different currencies, Pounds, Euros and Dollars and you top up with your Debit Card and it gets added to you £ balance, and you can transfer it to Euros or Dollars.
The rates at which you transfer are determined by the Spot Interbank Rates, which are pretty good and they update almost in real time. So as you’re sat in the ‘Balance Transfer’ screen putting the money across, you’ll see the value increase and decrease as the rates change.
All the transactions are shown within the app, and you get a push notification of spending on the card. When I purchased my ESTA online for the States, I’d actually got the notification on my phone that the transaction had happened before it showed as completed on the website!
The App also allows you to block your card if you lose it (you can temporarily block it if it’s merely misplaced). You can also see the card’s PIN number and change it within the app too – if you DO change your PIN Revolut recommend you use the card in an ATM (with a balance check) after. This ‘unlocks’ the PIN and allows you to use the card in stores.
There aren’t any transaction fees when you use your card online or in store, you can withdraw cash from ATMs without Revolut applying fees (although the ATM owner might) up to £500 a month – after that you get charged 2%. Topping up in Pounds or Euros is free, topping up in Dollars incurs a 3% charge.
Most questions about Revolut are answered on their FAQ. If you’re stuck there is also a Live Chat support option within the App too.
I’ve found it helpful using Revolut to save for the holiday by topping up small amounts every so often, and I’ve now got a nice little holiday fund without really noticing the money going. I’ve really enjoyed my experience of Revolut so far, with a lot of pre-paid cards you can manage them online. Revolut improves this by having a very polished and simple to use app to go with it. I’m hoping that using it away is just as seamless – I’ll let you know!