Many of us have faced the hassle and inconveniences brought on by attempting to access money whilst traveling overseas. Whether it be unnecessary and high fees incurred from international transfers, sneaky ATM fees, or above market currency exchange rates for purchases, these can all make any holiday slightly less enjoyable. Luckily for Americans, Revolut has finally launched in the United States, meaning Americans can now take advantage of the online banking platform which Europeans have had access to for some years. Starting an account with Revolut is as easy as downloading the app, signing up, and sending in a photo id for verification. You will have instant access to your account via the app, can easily add money from another bank account, and within a week you should receive your Revolut card in the mail. Simple as that!
Unlike traditional banks, Revolut offers the ability to hold up to 30 different currencies, including GBP, Euro, JPY (Japanese Yen), AUD (Australian dollar), and CAD (Canadian dollar). This takes the guess work out of converting currency when spending abroad. Simply open an account in the Revolut app for the desired currency, and transfer money between accounts, for example, instantly change USD to GBP with the click of a button. Revolut offers the interbank exchange rate, which is the rate banks use to trade amongst themselves. This rate is by far cheaper than the conversion rates typically offered by traditional banks or currency exchange bureaus. Think of it as getting a wholesale exchange rate, versus the market price. Additionally, you can quickly view your balance amongst all currencies in a matter of seconds from the app, making it easier than ever to keep track of your spending whilst traveling. Built in budgeting tools also help you seamlessly manage your finances by organizing spending into categories such as shopping, transport, and entertainment.
International Transfers at the Press of a Button
Another issue also encountered when managing funds abroad is that of international transfers. With a Revolut account, you can easily top up your card using Apple Pay or a debit card from another bank account, exchange currencies within the app, and transfer money to friends and family in other countries with no additional fees. That means if you are an American visiting the UK, you can easily send your local friend money for those theatre tickets they purchased for you by simply converting USD to GBP at the interbank rate then sending a transfer straight to their UK account using their local banking details. Splitting bills or paying back friends for expenses has never been more simple.
The Revolut card
Once you receive your Revolut card in the mail, you can use it just the same as you would any debit card. While the card is a prepaid debit card, you can still easily lock the card, and even change your PIN from the Revolut app if it were to be stolen or misplaced on your travels. You will also receive a “virtual card,” which you can set up with Apple Pay and Android Pay, or use just like an contactless card directly from the app. This feature is a major plus in the case your card is lost or stolen, as you can still access funds for the remainder of your holiday. The card works at almost all ATMS and as it is a MasterCard is taken with no issue at most retailers and merchants worldwide. The one downside to the card however, is that free ATM withdrawals are limited to US $300 per month with the standard, or free Revolut plan, and US $600 with the premium plan, billed at $9.99 per month. After that a 2% fair use fee applies.
One great feature that is a huge bonus for international travelers, is that the Revolut premium account, at the cost of $9.99 per month, which is billed directly to your Revolut card, includes free global travel insurance. The insurance offers emergency medical assistance whilst abroad as well as access to an extensive network of medical centers worldwide. Also included is delayed baggage insurance, coverage for lost or stolen luggage, and delayed travel insurance after as little as four hours, meaning travel and accommodation costs are also covered should you run into delays.
Additionally, with the premium account you will have access to over 1,000 airport lounges worldwide, making your journey all the more enjoyable. While this feature is not included in the free standard plan, the $9.99 upgrade to premium is a no brainer for those who travel often or will be experiencing long layovers.
Making the Final Decision
Revolut offers a solid and trustworthy product, and features such as excellent fraud prevention services, travel insurance, and fee free currency conversion make signing up for a Revolut account a great option for handling spending while abroad. While a standard account is free, as discussed, it may be well worth the $9.99 fee to upgrade to premium due to the travel insurance offered with this plan alone. It is recommended to use Revolut as a secondary bank account, keeping a reserve in your primary bank during your travels, especially due to the ease of topping up your Revolut card virtually. Whether you choose the standard or the premium plan, the simplicity of use and low costs for currency conversion and money transfers make Revolut a top choice for international travelers.