The good old days when an overseas holiday would be preceded by a trip to a money changer have joined laserdiscs and walkmen in our hazy memories. Now, multi-currency wallets offer the cheapest and most convenient way to exchange currencies.
Revolut is one of the most popular ones both in Singapore and overseas. But is it really as good as it sounds?
What is Revolut?
Revolut is a multi-currency wallet that enables you to exchange currencies on their mobile app, store the various currencies in your Revolut account and then spend the cash when you are overseas using your Revolut card. You can also use your Revolut card to withdraw cash from overseas ATMs for free.
Key features of Revolut
Here’s a rundown of the main benefits.
1. Spend globally fee-free
Once you top your Revolut account up with at least $20, you are eligible for a VISA-equipped Revolut card. With this card, you can spend overseas without getting slapped with most of the fees regular credit or debit cards charge.
Revolut exchanges most currencies based on their market rate, which is typically much better than what a brick and mortar money changer would charge you, with no additional fees.
There are a few exceptions:
- Thai Baht and Ukrainian Hryvnia will attract a 1% markup
- If you exchange more than 9,000 SGD you will pay a 0.5% fee
- You pay a 0.5% to 1% markup if you exchange currencies on Saturday or Sunday London time
The card also enables you to withdraw up to 350 SGD at overseas ATM machines for free, although you should look out for any fees that might be imposed by the ATM machine itself.
2. Transfer money to 150 countries (remittance)
Revolut also enables you to perform money transfers to foreign bank accounts. This can be useful if you are studying or working overseas and need to transfer cash between your Singapore and foreign accounts.
Sending money using Revolut is typically cheaper than doing so through traditional remittance companies or banks, as you pay only the interbank exchange rate. 28+ currencies are supported, including SGD.
3. Tracking your money
The Revolut app enables you to track your top-ups and spending on your card. You can check how much money you have left so you know when you need to exchange more. It’s also great if you’re trying to ensure you stay within your travel budget.
You can also use the app to set up spending limits and receive a notification from the app when you’re about to bust your budget.
4. Vault feature for saving
The Revolut app has a vault feature which lets you sock away money in pursuit of your savings goals. You can move money into your vault so it doesn’t get spent when you use your card. This is useful if you’re exchanging a large sum of money because of a favourable exchange rate but don’t want to blow it all on your next trip.
Is Revolut safe?
Revolut has a remittance licence from the Monetary Authority of Singapore, and funds are safeguarded by the Singapore branch of ANZ. That means that if Revolut becomes insolvent, there is a good chance you will get your money back, as they are required to return your money before paying their creditors.
Do note, however, that unlike your deposits at DBS or UOB, your money is not protected by the Deposit Insurance Scheme, which insures your deposits of up to $75,000 at each member bank and finance company in Singapore.
That being said, we still think it’s pretty safe to use Revolut if you just exchange whatever currencies you need for travel purposes.
Revolut membership and card pricings
Revolut has three membership tiers:
Revolut Standard (free)
The Standard account is free, and has most of the functions that those using Revolut for travel purposes might need. It comprises all the functions discussed above, including basic money management tools like expenditure tracking and budgeting. You can also set up recurring payments for bills.
Revolut Premium ($9.90 monthly)
The Premium account costs $9.90 and entitles you to escape the 0.5% fee for exchanging above 9,000 SGD worth of currency. It also doubles your free monthly ATM withdrawal quota to 700 SGD and offers access to airport lounges worldwide.
Revolut Metal ($19.90 monthly)
Metal accounts cost $19.99 and include all the same privileges Standard and Premium accounts enjoy, plus extra perks. Metal cards offer 1% cashback on international and domestic transactions, and is the first in Singapore to offer no minimum transactions and no cashback caps.
Revolut Metal members also enjoy tripled free ATM withdrawals (1,050 SGD a month) and free airport lounge access.
Applying for a Revolut card
You will first need to sign up for Revolut by downloading their mobile app. You’ll be asked to verify your identity before your account is approved.
Next, you will need to top up your balance by at least 20 SGD. You will then be able to apply for a free card, which will be delivered to you within 9 working days.
Your Revolut card can be used not only overseas but also at any retail outlet in Singapore that accepts prepaid cards from MasterCard and Visa.
Revolut vs YouTrip vs TransferWise vs InstaReM
There are quite a few competitors on the market offering similar services as Revolut’s. All offer similar exchange rates, but it should be noted that Revolut charges a markup when you exchange currencies on weekends. This isn’t bad, as TransferWise and InstaReM both add a markup to all currency exchanges.
By contrast, YouTrip does not charge any fees, but charges for ATM withdrawals.
Revolut gives you up to 350 SGD worth of free ATM withdrawals per month, which is the same as what TransferWise is offering. YouTrip and InstaReM do not offer free ATM withdrawals, which is a big drawback.
The Revolut app is a bit less straightforward to use than YouTrip’s and TransferWise’s, but also has lots of features, which makes it ideal if you’re looking to budget and save with it.
Overall, compared to these three competitors, Revolut is probably the most attractive due to its generous free ATM withdrawals and the fact that its currency exchange fees can be avoided simply by exchanging money during market hours.
Revolut referral programme — invite friends for cash rewards
You can earn cash rewards by referring up to 100 friends. Once your friends sign up, they’ll have to transfer money to their Revolut account, successfully verify their identity, order a Revolut debit card and complete a Revolut card transaction before you’ll be eligible for the rewards.
Have you tried Revolut? Share your reviews in the comments!