UPDATED: Revolut: better than PayPal

Revolut.com Screen Shot - Jan 2016
UPDATE: Skip to the bottom, it seems like Revolut wants to make good on this after all. According to all information Revolut works without fees as long as you don’t load it with USD, or spend RUB or THB or get screwed with an ATM fee which is outside of their control. When I read about Revolut I instantly thought, “Wow, that sounds too good to be true, how could it possibly work?” While Revolut works as claimed in some countries and is an excellent alternative to traditional bank cards, it doesn’t work as claimed everywhere and certainly has it’s share of “hidden fees”.

Revolut made the following dubious claims on their website:

“The new way to instantly send and spend money globally with zero fees.”

“The RevolutCard ™ works like your normal debit card but with zero charges and no hidden fees.”

“When you spend or use an ATM the card automatically converts your money into local currencies at perfect interbank rates.”

“Revolut is the only account you need to securely send and spend money anywhere in the world with no fees at all.”

“There are no hidden costs incurred because we are not a bank. You can instantly exchange currencies at perfect interbank rates.”

Revolut provides a smart phone app and a free prepaid debit card that allows you to load it with three different base currences: British Pounds (GBP), US Dollars (USD) or Euros (EUR). Supposedly then you can spend or withdraw your prepaid balance in local currencies receiving perfect interbank foreign exchange (FX) rates and no other fees at all.

Unfortunately, according to reports and screen shots we received, that isn’t how it works in practice. After surveying some early adopters of Revolut, the results were mixed at best. Below is a table intended to be a living document to show you what you can expect with Revolut depending on the prepay currency and the spend currency.

Prepay Currency Fee
GBP None
EUR None
USD 3.0%
Country Currency ATM Fee? Interbank FX Rate?
Bulgaria BGN No Yes
Germany EUR No Yes
Hong Kong HKD No Yes
Italy EUR No Yes
Singapore SGD No Yes
Switzerland CHF Unkonwn Yes
Thailand THB Yes (200 THB / ~$5.70) No (2.0-3.0% loss)

This is all well and good for the countries where the Revolut card works as advertised but the company engaged in blatantly false advertising regarding some currencies. Instead of making good on their claims, apologizing and refunding the early adopters they screwed them with what can only be described exactly as “hidden fees”. They surreptitiously updated their website and added fine print disclosing the hidden fees. Instead of admitting that they charged hidden fees on USD, THB and potentially other transactions they just pretended like it didn’t happen. Imagine if you loaded 300 USD onto your Revolut card and then withdrew it at an ATM in Thailand – your fees would be 3% + $5.70 + another 2-3% on the exchange rate; that’s a total of up to 8% in fees!

Very dishonest and probably illegal considering this was not disclosed in advance but still a superior option to PayPal and banks in some currencies!

If you have data on other countries and currencies please leave it in the comments so we can update the chart.

Below you can find screen shots of revolut.com prior to the “updates”.

Revolut.com Screen Shot - Jan 2016

Revolut.com Screen Shot - Jan 2016

Revolut.com Screen Shot - Jan 2016


Revolut Responds:

Thank you for the detailed explanation of the situation. I do not believe Revolut charged a fee, as I explained in my response to Manuel that when the changes were made we made sure that it was not possible to top up without knowing about the fee on USD top-up (topping up on an older app versions would fail with a request to update the app).

However, I believe what may have happened is the following: if you top up with a US bank debit card, we found that some US banks would charge a fee between $7.50 and $15 as an international money remittence fee, while the majority of US banks don’t charge such fee on card transactions. In those cases we advised customers to report to their banks and those customers reported back to us that their bank refunded the fee that they had no knowledge about before making a top up with Revolut.

Could your friend or you please contact support referring to having chat with Vlad, so that we can clarify that case. It is possible that the agent was new and was not aware of what I described above. However, if this charge was indeed by Revolut, it will be refunded.

I know we had a bad phase on customer support side, however, I want to assure you that we have improved drastically since we migrated to a new in-house system (the old system provided by 3rd party didn’t scale with our growth affecting the quality of response a lot). We also increased the size of the support team and improved training.

I appreciate your feedback.

Note: The “fair use policy” was instituted and users were notified on February 17, 2016. If you were charged fees before that you should contact support.

Maybe it was all a misunderstanding created by crappy outsourced support which they have already canned. Fair enough response.

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