Neon vs Revolut: Which is best for you?| Updated: |
(Disclosure: Some of the links below may be affiliate links)
Neon and Revolut are both digital banks. Neon is a Swiss company, while Revolut is an international company.
Neon also offers free payments abroad with their cards. This feature makes them a direct concurrent of Revolut, which everybody uses to save on currency exchange fees.
So, it is interesting to compare the two. Do you need Revolut now if you have a Neon account?
So, how can you choose between the two? This article helps you decide by comparing in detail Neon vs Revolut. The comparison will be made on many levels: fees, security, limits…
If you want to know which of Neon or Revolut is better for you, keep on reading!
Note: I will be focusing on the free Revolut account. They have premium accounts as well, but they are out of the scope of this article.
What is Neon?
All the banking services you need, in a neat package, with extremely good prices!
Use the F9YMGT code to receive 10CHF!
- Pay abroad for free
- Everything from your phone
Neon is a Swiss digital bank. Neon is one of the first banks in Switzerland to be entirely digital. It means they have no offices. You can only use Neon with its mobile application. Neon is growing very quickly. In 2021, they reached 80’000 customers already.
What makes them very interesting is that they are free. Currently, very few banks are still free in Switzerland. If you use Neon properly, you can use it entirely for free.
Neon also makes currency exchange free as well, when paying with the card. Currency exchange was one of the things that were not free before. They are doing this to be more attractive to people who like digital banks. And this is a great move!
Neon is not a bank directly. But when you use Neon, your funds are held by a Swiss bank (Hypothekarbank Lenzburg). In practice, this is the same as if Neon was a bank itself. It means that they cannot offer banking services directly, only indirectly. For the final customer, this does not make any difference. The important thing is that your money is protected by law if Neon or the bank holding your assets fails.
If you want more information about Neon, you should read my complete review of Neon.
What is Revolut?
Revolut is a digital bank from the United Kingdom and one of the most famous neo-banks. They are entirely digital in that they do not have offices open for customers.
Their main feature is their very cheap currency conversion services. Many people use Revolut when they travel to avoid the hefty fees that traditional banks have. For instance, in Switzerland, most banks charge at least 1.5% on each currency conversion. Using Revolut can save you a lot of money!
They have support for a significant number of currencies, and you can use them in most countries. You can even hold money in different currencies in your account. It is an excellent thing if you need to receive money in other currencies. Or if you want to bet on the exchange rates.
Now, Revolut is not a bank per see either. They have a banking license, but they did not implement it yet. And your assets are not held by a bank either, but directly by Revolut. It means that your money will not be protected by law, either. But they have been operating for several years, and it does not seem like they will collapse any time soon. But we never know!
For more information, you can read my complete review of Revolut.
Which is more available – Neon or Revolut?
Let’s compare the availability of both services.
Revolut is available to each country part of the European Economic Area (EEA). It means it is available in 31 countries. And it is also available in Switzerland and the United States.
As for Neon, this is pretty simple. Neon is only available to Swiss residents. People from 19 countries can open accounts at Neon, but they have to live in Switzerland. But this makes sense since Revolut is aimed at international transfers and not at being the primary bank account.
So, for availability, Revolut is the winner.
Which has better support in Switzerland?
Now, let’s compare the support in Switzerland.
Revolut has good support in Switzerland. You can withdraw CHF (although very little for free). And you can use a Revolut card in all shops that accept Mastercard. In Switzerland, most shops accept them. Also, Revolut has a Mastercard/Visa and a Maestro, which is sometimes quite valuable for Switzerland. You can also send money to your account in CHF directly. Unfortunately, you do not have a personal Revolut IBAN.
Neon has excellent support in Switzerland. You can withdraw CHF at any ATM. And you can withdraw significantly more money per month. You can use the cards in the same shops as Revolut without issue. And you can also make transfers in CHF. Finally, you have a personal Neon IBAN so that you can use this for your salary. You do not need to top it up.
In Switzerland, Neon is the winner. Only the fact that it offers a personal IBAN in CHF is a great plus. It is necessary if you want to use it as your primary account. By that, I mean to use it to receive your salary in CHF. Some companies may be willing to use a reference number to pay to your Revolut account. But most companies will not do that.
Money Transfer Services
Neon is primarily a bank in the usual sense, but it recently started offering free currency exchange. So I will start by comparing payments and transfers between currencies.
With Neon, your base currency is always CHF. And using your card, you can pay in other currencies for free when you are abroad. You can make transfers in different currencies, but this will not be free. Also, you only have a base account in CHF, and you cannot hold EUR or USD in your account, for instance.
With Revolut, you have access to the same base services as Neon. However, you can get accounts in other currencies (EUR or GBP, for instance). It is convenient since this means you can receive incoming payments in EUR for free. I do not use this a lot. But it is good to have it.
And with Revolut, you can also do bank transfers in other currencies. I do it regularly for several EUR platforms.
The advantage of Neon is that you get a CHF IBAN. But with Revolut, you will get a personal EUR and GBP IBAN account. And this is helpful.
Finally, you can use Google Pay and Apple Pay with Revolut and Revolut. And you can even use Samsung Pay with Neon as well.
One cool thing with Revolut is that you can send money directly to other app users, and doing so is much faster than doing a bank transfer. This feature is convenient if you know other people using the app. But you can do the same thing with Neon as well.
So for money services, Revolut has more features than Neon. It is logical since they based their entire business upon that. And they have more years of experience than Neon.
We can also take a look at other services that the two companies provide.
For Neon, it is straightforward. They have no service other than their banking services.
As for Revolut, they have added many services to their offers.
For instance, with Revolut, you can trade cryptocurrencies directly from the application. They do not offer a real wallet, but it could still be useful for some people. And they also started offering free stock trading to people from some countries (not yet in Switzerland).
Revolut also supports the concept of vaults. You can use vaults to save some of your virtual spare changes. I do not think this is very useful. But many people seem to like it.
Another feature that is worth mentioning with Revolut is the use of virtual cards. You can create a new virtual card directly from the application. And then, you can use it on a website that you do not trust. After you have paid, you can directly delete the card from your Revolut account. It is a great way to protect your payment cards.
So, overall, Revolut has many more features than Neon. However, you may not need so many features!
Neon vs Revolut – Who has higher limits?
It is also interesting to compare the limits of both services.
Revolut has high withdrawal limits. You can withdraw up to 3000 GBP per day (or the equivalent in other currencies). You can spend up to 5000 GBP per 96 hours with the card and up to 30’000 GBP per year.
You can also transfer a lot of money with Revolut. You can transfer up to 100’000 GBP each day and 250’000 GBP each week. The limits are pretty straightforward and very high. You also have a limit of 15 transfers per day and 80 transfers per 7 days.
With Neon, you can have up to 30’000 CHF in transactions every day. With your card, you can withdraw up to 1000 CHF each day. You can spend 5000 CHF online and 5000 CHF in stores every day with the card. But there is a monthly limit of 10’000 CHF with the card.
Overall, Revolut has significantly higher limits than Neon. You can withdraw more money and spend more money each month.
Which is cheaper – Revolut or Neon?
Let’s delve into the fees of both services now.
First, both services are free for general usage. You do not have to pay an account fee. It is a great thing!
Let’s start with withdrawals. You can withdraw twice per month for free in Switzerland with Neon. After that, you will pay 2 CHF per withdrawal. Abroad, you will pay 1.5% with Neon. For Revolut, you can withdraw 200 EUR (or equivalent in other currency) per month for free. After this, you will pay a 2% fee on withdrawal.
For withdrawals, I feel like Neon is better than Revolut. The only advantage of Revolut is that you can withdraw 200 EUR per month for free. It can be helpful if you travel to Europe. But 200 EUR is not much unless you can avoid paying cash.
And now, let’s delve into currency transfer. By this, I mean usage of the cards to pay in other currencies than your base currency.
With Neon, all currency exchanges with the card are free with the Neon card! If you transfer money abroad from your account, these transfers will use Wise. So, you will pay 0.40% for Neon, and you will pay the Wise fee. Generally, it will account for about 0.8% fee for international money transfers.
Unfortunately, to receive money, the fees with Neon are still high. You will also pay a 1.5% fee when you receive payment in another currency than CHF.
With Revolut, it is a bit more complicated. Under some conditions, currency exchanges are free with Revolut. The same rules apply to both the card and the transfers from the app. First, there is a monthly limit of 1000 GBP. All the amounts higher than this limit will incur a 0.5% fee. During the weekend, there is an extra 1.0% fee as well. And some currencies like UAH (Ukrainian Hryvnias) and TBH (Thai Baht) have higher costs: 1% fee during the week and 2% during weekends.
As for the exchange rates, Neon uses the Mastercard exchange rate while Revolut uses the Interbank exchange rate. Generally, the Interbank rate is slightly better than the Mastercard rate. But it depends on each currency and on the time of the day. On average, it is estimated that the spread of the Mastercard rate is 0.4% worse than the Interbank rate. And it can be worse for currency pairs with high volatility. Therefore, Neon will generally have an extra hidden fee of 0.4%.
Example of exchange fees
Let’s directly compare the prices for a few examples of conversions:
|Amount||From||To||Neon Card||Neon Transfer||Revolut||Revolut Weekend|
|1000||CHF||EUR||0 CHF||8.84 CHF||0 CHF||10 CHF|
|5000||CHF||EUR||0 CHF||41.97 CHF||25 CHF||75 CHF|
|10000||CHF||EUR||0 CHF||83.37 CHF||50 CHF||150 CHF|
|1000||CHF||UAH||0 CHF||27.01 CHF||10 CHF||20 CHF|
|5000||CHF||UAH||0 CHF||133.32 CHF||75 CHF||125 CHF|
From this table, we can draw two conclusions:
- For payments by card, Neon is better than Revolut. It is always free, while Revolut is only free for up t0 1000 GBP per month and not free during the weekends. And you do not have to worry about the kinds of currencies.
- For transfers, Revolut is better than Neon. However, Revolut is sometimes as expensive as Neon during the weekend if you use more than 1000 GBP (1250 CHF).
You do not want to put your money into a bank you do not know its reputation.
Neon has an excellent reputation in Switzerland. I have never heard any controversy regarding their services. However, we need to keep in mind that it is relatively small. And also, it is relatively new. It was founded in 2017. Neon is significantly younger than Revolut.
On the other hand, Revolut does not have an excellent reputation. For instance, there have been several controversies with Revolut blocking user accounts without reason. They also have been accused of being too lax in preventing money laundering. And finally, some people think they have close ties to the Kremlin.
I never had any issues with Revolut. But taking into account what I hear, I would not keep a large amount of money in my Revolut account. But I am still using it. And I do not think my money is at risk.
So, from a Reputation point of view, Neon has a better reputation than Revolut. But it is a relatively new service, so the reputation may change over time as they have to scale.
Which is more secure? Neon or Revolut?
We also need to take a look at the security of both systems. We will consider two forms of security: insurance in case of bankruptcy and technology security.
First, for insurance in case of bankruptcy, only Neon has any protection. Neon is a Swiss bank. Your money is insured for up to 100’000 CHF if something terrible happens to Neon.
On the other hand, your money at Revolut is not insured. Revolut has a banking license, but they did not implement it yet. If Revolut fails, your money is most likely lost.
As for technical security, both banks are using MasterCard 3D Secure (3DS) technology. It means that they will ask you a question (generally an SMS code or a password) to secure the transaction on some websites. It is to protect you from the lousy usage of your card. It is a great thing and is a must for each payment card.
From a technical point of view, both banks offer the same level of safety. However, there is more risk with Revolut since your money is not insured. If Revolut goes bust, you will lose your money. On the other hand, your cash at Neon is insured for up to 100’000 CHF.
Given that, I would say that Neon is safer than Revolut.
To improve your online security, learn about nine things you can do to secure your online personal finances.
Neon vs Revolut Summary
We can now summarize the different points of our comparison in this table:
- Great support in Switzerland
- Pay abroad for free
- Free withdrawals
- Money is insured
- International transfers are not free
- Cannot hold several currencies
- Great worldwide support
- Pay abroad for free
- Great transfer fees
- Hold many currencies
- Very limited withdrawals
- Expensive during the weekend
- Poor customer service
- Poor reputation
- Money is not insured
Overall, we can see that both services have strengths and weaknesses.
To spend money abroad with the card, Neon is a perfect candidate. It is always free to make payments with other currencies with the Mastercard. But you also have to take the Mastercard exchange rate into account.
However, Neon does not let you hold other currencies. And it does not let you transfer money for free in currencies other than CHF. For this, Revolut is much better.
Here are the main differences between Neon and Revolut:
- Neon currency exchanges are always free when paying with the card!
- Your money on Neon is insured for up to 100’000 CHF!
- Bank transfers in other currencies are generally cheaper with Revolut.
- Revolut uses the Interbank rate.
- Revolut lets you hold money in many currencies.
- Revolut has more features.
- Revolut has higher limits than Neon.
- Revolut has a web application while Neon only has a mobile application.
Neon vs Revolut Conclusion
All the banking services you need, in a neat package, with extremely good prices!
Use the F9YMGT code to receive 10CHF!
- Pay abroad for free
- Everything from your phone
Neon and Revolut are quite different. However, there are many advantages to Neon. Since it is a real bank, you can keep your money there and directly use your single debit card. It means you will not need to have a bank and a travel card.
For most people in Switzerland, Neon is better than Revolut. Your money will be insured, and you can use it as your primary bank account in Switzerland. Then, you only need to take your usual card when you go abroad. It is a great thing! But you need to keep in mind that the limits are lower than Revolut.
Revolut offers a debit card without any fees for currency exchange.
- Low fees
But there are still some cases when Revolut is better than Neon. If you want to hold different currencies, you will need Revolut. Neon only lets you hold CHF. And secondly, if you want to receive money in other currencies (EUR or GDB, for instance), you will need Revolut as well. Finally, if you need to do transfers in different currencies, you will need Revolut too!
For instance, I sometimes receive some money in GBP and EUR from various services on the internet. It means I will need to keep my Revolut card.
I plan to keep using both services. However, I will probably not need to use my Revolut card anymore. I will use the app and use it to send money and receive money in other currencies. But I should not need to take the card when I am abroad.
Regardless of Neon vs Revolut, having a travel card can save you a lot of money. And this should be an essential part of your credit card strategy. It is likely the thing that can save you the most money with your card usage.
And finally, if you use Neon or Revolut, you will not get any cashback in Switzerland. If you want cash back, you still need a second (or third) payment card. You can read about my credit cards to see what you could use.
What about you? Do you use Neon or Revolu? Or both?
Download this e-book and optimize your finances and save money by using the best financial services available in Switzerland!Download The FREE e-book
75 thoughts on “Neon vs Revolut: Which is best for you?”
Thank you very much for the insight!
How do you feel about Yuh, does it fall under the same category as Neon/Revolut ?
I have written an article about Yuh: Yuh Review 2023: A new mobile banking service
Hi!! Thanks for excellent work and blog.
Question: I have money on my Eur Revolut account – could I spend as much as I like of that money for free in a Eur country? It seemed only up to a certain amount?
There are some maximum per month and day. But other than that, you can spend it for free in EUR in Europe until, yes. It should always be free as long as there are not currency conversions.
Hello Poor swiss,
I a using Revolut whenever I want to pay with euros. I load chf from my credit card (for free) to the Revolut card and then I make the exchange to euros (which I believe is still one of the cheapest).
But I recently realized, that Revolut is charging me 1.5 chf fee for every 100 chf I load from my mastercard creadit card to the Revolut card. Are you aware of this? I believe this is new since happened to me only recently.
My question would is the Revolut still the best option for paying with euros (either with the Revolut card on the store or online).
thanks for any answer!
As long as you make it when it’s free (weekdays and below 1250 CHF per month), Revolut is indeed the cheapest for currency exchange for EUR.
This fee is new and happened in October, normally you should have received an email about that.
But you can also transfer money with a bank transfer directly from your own bank account, which is still free.
Thank you Baptiste,
I also realized that I can do a bank transfer without fee. That is an alternative.
I believe also their conversion rates have changed. It seems it has affected the CHF/EUR exchange. Maybe it is worth checking if revolut and wise are still the cheapest options.
Do you mean the exchange rate of Revolut has changed? I have not heard or found anything about that, it looks like they are still using the interbank exchange rate. Do you have any source for this change?
Sorry if I was not clear. When you try to load chf with a card to your Revolut account/card, you see the fee mentioned right below the text area where you put the amount. This is the new fee of 1.5% introduced recently that I have explained above.
Same way, a fee is mentioned when you try to exchange chf to eur. I suspect this is new too.
Yes, the fee has been announced in October I believe.
But I have not seen any new fees on their websites. If you are doing a conversion on the weekend, there are fees and if you are doing conversions over 1250 CHF per month, there will be fees as well.
I am still finding the international transfers a minefield but the concept of Neon and Revolut interesting. I wanted to ask if i want to transfer money from a Swiss bank (e.g. Migros/Postfinance/Raifessen) to a UK bank e.g. Barclays or HSBC without incurring too high fees, is the best way to do this from Swiss bank to Revolut (on a weekday) and then from Revolut to the UK bank? – would it be different if amounts were CHF 1000 v 100k?
For small amounts (below 1000 CHF), going from CH bank to Revolut would be free indeed.
However, for large amounts, this would be expensive. In that case, I would use IB where the conversion would only cost 2 USD, but the two accounts need to be in your name.
Hi, I have 2 questions:
– can I use both Wise and Neon cards to top-up Revolut account with no fee? As I understand, both services offer Swiss IBAN (Neon – the own one, Wise – the proxy one), so I can transfer money without costs from the main bank account, right?
– is it actually a good idea to use Neon as the only bank account? I move to Switzerland soon, so I don’t know yet if there could be any problems when using debit card instead of credit card on a daily basis. For example, in the Netherlands debit cards other than Maestro are not accepted in many places.
If you do a wire transfer from CH IBAN to CH IBAN, it should indeed be free.
I would still recommend getting a credit card on top of Neon. Neon would be your only bank account, but a credit card is often useful. Mastercard Debit Cards are very well received, but sometimes you get issue online or for advance reservations (hotels, cars).
Thank you for the answer! Regarding the top-ups – actually I had in mind concretely top-ups via card, so I could get money immediately at the Revolut account (in my country you have to wait either a few hours / until next morning on weekdays or the whole weekend when doing wire transfer, I guess it’s similar in Switzerland). Doing such top-ups with credit cards usually ends up with fees on the bank site, but is free when using debit cards, so that’s why I assume it should also be free with Neon and Wise – just wanted to double-check, if you have already done that before and can confirm it for sure :)
And also thanks for the tip about having the credit card – I would probably start my Swiss journey with Migros Bank and additional Cumulus card, thanks to your recommendations! Just to have the full perspective – which not-only-digital banks would you place on the podium next to Migros in your private ranking? I guess lack of English language in Migros app can be annoying, so I just want to consider a few more alternatives before taking the final decision.
I get it now :)
Toping up with Wise used to be free and so it was with the Cumulus credit card. It should in theory be free with Neon as well, but I have never tested it.
Yes, it’s the same in Switzerland, the banking system is still very slow.
Even though they are very expensive, UBS can be good for expats because they have good support in English and they are used to deal with expats. I am not sure they deserve a podium, but that’s the second one I would recommend if it’s too difficult to deal in English with Migros.
Neon supports now Google Pay and Apple Pay (and Samsung Pay).
Good point, I have updated the article!
CHF withdrawal at NEON costs CHF 2 starting at the third time you withdraw:
Yes, that’s mentioned in the article.
I’m sorry but I need to correct you. The devil is in the detail, and the fees comparison you made is simply based on a the wrong premise, i.e. the claim “Generally, the Interbank rate is slightly better than the Mastercard rate” is almost always wrong.
Calculating Master card exchange rate is very difficult because it depends on averaged minimum exchange rate during certain daily interval and is applied with couple of days of latency. However, one can find sources that calculate an average difference between interbank and master card exchange rate and it is around 0.4% which is quite large.
This is a hidden fee that you are paying with Neon but not with Revolut.
So for the payments abroad up to 1000EUR with Revolut you have virtually 0 fee and you have on average ~0.4% with Neon.
Above 1000EUR (Transfer)Wise is the best choice because for the most currencies the fee is ~0.35% and for the rest it is Mastercard exchange rate.
Do you have any source for the 0.4%? I have always read that the interbank rate was the best when it came to currency exchange, on average.
What I meant is that Interbank exchange rate is ofc ~0.4% better than Mastercard exchange rate.
Here is a nice overview:
There are couple of places where ppl do the comparison of “Interbank”, Master and Visa exchange rate like here:
Problem is they use average day rate like on Oanda (so spread would depend on average exchange hike for that day while in Intrabank exchange rate spread is a couple of pips (1/10000 units) at worst) plus they compare it day to day, while in reality your credit card transactions will be charged according to the daily rate in the time window going usually from 1-5 days back and almost always favoring the bank. So this is really not Interbank exchange rate.
In order to get percentage difference one needs access to actual credit card transactions where you see the time and date of payment and date of conversion and compare it to the instantaneous Interbank exchange rate in the moment of transaction.
That makes more sense now :) It seems that I totally misunderstood your first commit. Thanks for clearing it up.
And thanks for the example. It seems indeed like taking 0.4% spread on Mastercard seems reasonable. I will update the article to reflect that information once I get some time!
Thanks for this!
Here is just an illustration for the past week using MasterCards currency converter:
The spreads during the week were 0.41% 0.49% 0.4% 0.42% 0.66% (most of the week it was calm except Friday when currencies fluctuated more therefore larger spread).
Spot spread for Interbank exchange rate depends on the volume of the trading but usually is less than 2pips – 0.02% (for Revolut considering how large is their transaction value I would guess they get 1pip – 0.01% or less).
So just comparing spreads one can see that Mastercard is on average for the past week worse than Interbank exchange rate for (0.41%+0.49%+0.4%+0.42%+0.66%-0.05%)/10=0.233%.
And last week and recently in general EUR/CHF pair is not particularly volatile.
Now add that issuing bank can can pick up the most favorable exchange rate for them in the time window it takes to process the transaction you end up close to (or even worse than) those 0.4% for typical more volatile pairs like EUR/USD or USD/CHF.