Revolut Credit Card – No more foreign exchange fees!

Posted on Categories Frugality, Spending, Tips
Revolut Credit Card - No more foreign exchange fees!

Yes, yet another post about credit card :) This one is going to be about the Revolut credit card.

Three weeks ago, I tried to find the best credit card in Switzerland. And last week, I studied another credit card, the TCS Travel Mastercard Gold, with 1% cash back. At this point, I found out that foreign exchange fees were costing me more than the annual fee on the card.

In my first review of my options for Switzerland, I already took a look at Revolut. They offer prepaid credit cards with free foreign exchange transactions! I didn’t want to consider it because there were a few problems. In this post, I’m going to come back to these problems. I finally decided to order a Revolut credit card! And I found out a process to top up a Revolut card for free in Switzerland!

Revolut Credit Card

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Revolut is a company from the United Kingdom. They are pretty young, they started in 2015. They don’t have a real credit card. But they offer a prepaid credit card. Both MasterCard and Visa are available. Which is almost the same for most usages. You can use it on the internet and you can even withdraw money at an ATM. They offer two types of cards:

  1. Virtual Debit Card: You can generate it in your Revolut account. You can use it online with its number.
  2. Physical Card: You can order a physical debit card for a small fee.

But the most important thing with Revolut is that foreign exchange transaction are free! There is no foreign exchange fees! Since I spend around 5000 CHF in foreign currencies every year. My new credit card will bill me 1.5% of this amount. Which is 75 CHF per year. If I use Revolut card for all my foreign spending, I will save 75 CHF per year.

Why did you not order it directly ?

Mainly because it’s not as convenient as a credit card. You need to top up the card before you use it. Revolut has a CHF IBAN, but it’s not in a Swiss bank. Therefore, you cannot top it up for free directly from your bank. In fact, there are some banks from which you can transfer for free Revolut. You have to select that the fees will be paid by the beneficiary. But my bank does not offer such option.

Why did you change your mind ?

In fact, there is a way a to top it up for free using another card as an intermediary. And I realized that I was being lazy for not wanting to top it up. Let’s see how to top it up for free now!

How to top up Revolut for free

Since Revolut card is a prepaid debit card, you need to top it up. If you do not have any money on your card, you cannot use it. You have several choices to top it up:

  1. A debit card: Free!
  2. A credit card: Large fee from Revolut
  3. A bank transfer: The fees depend on your bank

Of course, using option 2 should be avoided at all costs. There is no point in spending more money than what you’ll save in foreign exchange fees. If you already have a Mastercard debit card or Visa debit card, you should definitely use option 1. Until recently, I did not have one. So I was stuck with option 3. Unfortunately, Revolut does not offer a CHF bank account that is in Switzerland. Therefore, if you want to transfer money to Revolut from your bank account, you need to pay a fee! Unless your bank allows to make the beneficiary pay for the fees. But my bank does not have such an option.

So basically, if you are in Switzerland, you are stuck with option 1. You need a debit card to top up Revolut for free! If you don’t have one, you need to find one with two properties. You should be able to top it up for free. And you should be able to use it to top Revolut for free as well. It is not easy to find one that is fulfilling these conditions. Fortunately, there is TransferWise coming to the rescue.

Top up Revolut card for free using TransferWise

TransferWise Credit Card
TransferWise Credit Card

TransferWise is an Estonian company. They provide international transfers at very low rates! At the beginning, in 2011, they only started with offering a system for multi-currency account. With this, you could get paid in the UK and spend your money in Estonia. And don’t pay too much fees! In 2017, they added a debit card to their offer. The TransferWise Borderless Card. This is what is interesting for us!

Indeed, you can have a TransferWise Borderless  card for free! And you can top it up for free too! So what you do is transfer money to your TransferWise card and then transfer it again to your Revolut card. It’s not as simple as it would ideally be, but it works well. I tested this technique and I didn’t get charged a single CHF of fee!

You need to start by creating a TransferWise Borderless account. You will have to transfer some money to it. Then, you will create a Revolut account. And finally, you can transfer money from your bank (or credit card) to TransferWise. And then from TransferWise to Revolut.

Order TransferWise Borderless Card

The first thing you need to do is to apply for a Borderless Card. For this, go to TransferWise. Then, you have several ways to register:

  1. Use the Register button on the top right
  2. Use the claim your discount button on the right
  3. Select Get a Borderless account on the menu
  4. Click on the Debit Card tab and click on Order a card

It’s a bit of a mess, but in the end, all these options will do the same thing ;)

The procedure to create an account is fairly standard. You’ll need to fill a lot of information. You’ll need to scan your ID (or driving license or passport) to verify your identity. And you’ll need to top up at least 20 CHF to validate your account. You can use a credit card to top it up for free and instantly. After all this is done, you can order a Borderless card. The card will arrive by mail after a few days. In my case, it arrived in three days. Since it comes by air mail, this is pretty fast. And nothing here cost any money. Everything is free. You will now have a Borderless Mastercard debit card for free!

You could use your TransferWise card in place of your Revolut card. However, they are more fees with TransferWise than with Revolut. Even if it stays very reasonable, we want to minimize them!

Sign up for Revolut

Now you are ready to sign up for Revolut. You have to install the application on your smart phone. There is no way around it. This is great for most people. But for people like me who dislike phone, it’s not perfect. Nevertheless, it’s pretty easy. You can go to Revolut site to get a direct link to the application to download. You can also search for Revolut in your phone application store (Google Play or App Store probably).

Once it’s installed, you can go through the registration process. It’s very similar to the registration of TransferWise. You’ll have to enter standard information about yourself. You’ll also have to scan your ID. At some point, for authentication, you’ll have to top up Revolut. You can use your TransferWise card now to top it up. And this will be free!

Once this is done, you can either start using a virtual card or order a physical card. If you order a physical card, you’ll have to pay 6.99 CHF for the delivery. It’s a bit sad that you have to pay for this since it was free for TransferWise. But it’s still a very fair price. And this should be the only time you pay anything to Revolut. My card arrived quite quickly, 4 working days I think.

You can now use the following method to charge Revolut for free:

  1. Transfer money from your bank account to TransferWise IBAN
  2. Transfer money from your TransferWise debit card to Revolut using the mobile application

Now, you will have money on your Revolut card. And you can start shopping in foreign currencies without any fees!

Summary

I think I’m now settled for my credit card system. I should soon receive my Cumulus Mastercard. It has no annual fees and a 0.33% cash back bonus. You can read about it in my comparison of Swiss credit cards. Then, I now a Revolut Visa debit card. I already used it to pay for SiteGround hosting in EUR. And I used it already to pay for Amazon books in EUR. I plan to use it as much as possible on all foreign currency transactions. This will bring my cost down to zero normally. And I should be able to enjoy the bonus of my Cumulus Mastercard.

Did you ever try a Revolut card ? Which credit card do you use ?

14 thoughts on “Revolut Credit Card – No more foreign exchange fees!”

  1. I’ve been able to send money to my Revolut by transfer from my bank account. Simply select “Fees borne by beneficiary” and transfer to the Revolut CHF account.
    They do have a CHF account, just not in Switzerland. Note, it took about 1.5 – 2 days for the money to arrive in Revolut.

    1. Hi Derek, this is good to hear :)

      Unfortunately, my bank does not have no such option.
      Yes, you are right. I was not very clear in the article. They do have a CHF IBAN but not a CH IBAN ;)

      Thanks for sharing your experience :)

  2. Thanks for the insightful article!
    I live in Austria and currently have three “free” credit cards, i.e., I pay no monthly maintenance fee. Indeed, all three cards charge FX commission on payments when I pay with them abroad.
    Both Revolut and Transferwise still seem to have significant disadvantages for me: I need to prepay to have the desired spending power (which I could) and I would add quite some complexity to my financial setup. Living and working almost entirely in Euro-countries, the benefit of not having to pay FX commissions seems minimal.
    So, to make such a card really interesting for me (product developers at Revolut and Transferwise, listen ;-) I’d love to see a true credit card which can be settled monthly with a direct debit from my existing checking account. A loyalty program on top of this would be nice to have too! Having this, I would switch and cancel two other cards immediately.
    Thanks and cheers
    MFF

  3. Thanks for your article. I ordered a Revolut card recently and topped it up using bank transfer. My bank is with Postfinance and I transferred 200CHF to their CHF IBAN. The money arrived 2 days later, but to my surprise, a horrendous fee was charged – only 194 CHF arrived in the Revolut account! That’s 6 CHF for 200 CHF, i.e., 3%, which is way worse than the fees of any major credit cards.
    I must have done something wrong. I can’t imagine they’d charge that much. I’m trying to get in touch with their support team, but I got a message saying that they’re extremely busy and I should expect an agent to get in touch with me in one (!) day! I have to say, so far my experience with them hasn’t been that great.

    I was trying to do the shortcut and not go via TransferWise. I think I’ll give it a last shot and open a TransferWise account and use the approach described in this article. If that works – great! If not, I’ll stick with my Cumulus Mastercard.

    Thanks for all your insights. It’s been really helpful.

    1. Hi RB,

      Sorry about your bad experience with Revolut!
      I never tried with their CHF IBAN since it’s not from a Swiss bank and therefore not free transfers. In fact, I wouldn’t really be surprised by the 3% transfer fee. This is very high, but fees between banks are often that high between countries unfortunately.

      Let me know if you are able to do the TransferWise way. For me it works great. I transfer money to my TW account with my Cumulus credit card and then transfer it again to Revolut. All without any charges. I’ve used my Revolut card online and also in two countries these days and I haven’t had any issue either for topping or for withdrawing.

      I hope your issue will be fixed!

  4. I received the TransferWise Debit Card (in my case it took almost ~2 weeks after ordering it). That being said, it was free :)
    Almost immediately after I got the debit card, I tried out to transfer fund from TransferWise to Revolut! That worked nicely, without additional fees. This is indeed a nice workaround, but I do hope that Revolut will soon provide a CHF IBAN with a Swiss Bank. I read on their blog that they’re working on it, but they’ve been saying that for a while. Assuming it will come one day, fingers crossed that TransferWise is not going to change their pricing policy during that time.

    I’m interested in hearing how you top up your TransferWise using your Cumulus Credit Card without fees? When I try to do that, the standard fees for Credit Cards appear (2.60 for 200CHF).

    1. Hello RB,

      I’m glad you received your TransferWise card without any issue, although there was some delay ;)

      I’t s a great workaround indeed, but as you said it would be better if we could directly do it on Revolut. We have to hope it stays the same for now with TW. If they make it not free, we’ll have to find another solution.

      I don’t do anything special to charge it with my Cumulus credit card. One thing I noticed though is that it’s free from the TW website. But there are fees from the TW mobile application. It’s totally dumb… They almost got me when I tried to do it from the mobile application. Did you try the web application or the mobile one?

      Thanks for stopping by :)

  5. Hi,

    I tried the TW website too, and it appears that they’re charging fees there as well. Is it possible they made these unfortunate changes recently and now you can’t top up using the Cumulus card without being charged a fee?

    The bank transfer option works for me. It’s just a little more convenient to do the topup via a credit card.

    1. Hi RB,

      I don’t understand. I just went to the TW website and charging by credit card is still free for me.
      They could have changed the prices for new users or they are rolling out a new update on the price and it still didn’t touch my account. I’m going to ask on Twitter what’s going on.

      Are you trying to charge CHF ?

      Yes, bank transfer should always be free but it’s really less convenient indeed.

    2. Hi RB,

      I got an answer from TW. They confirmed that your case is the normal case. Everybody should pay fees for topping with a card. And apparently, they don’t know why I can top up for free on my account. It must be a bug or something :s That means, I’ll probably start paying a fee very soon.

      I’m sorry about the mixup in the article. I was basing my information on my account. I will update the article to reflect this new information soon.

      Thanks :)

  6. Hi

    Oh no. I hope it wasn’t me who drew attention to your profile. I hope you still get a few months of fee free transactions before they fix the bug ;)

    Sorry for causing any troubles.

    Always grateful for the thorough research you do for the community!
    Thanks 😊

    1. Hi,

      No problem, I drew attention upon myself by asking on Twitter ;)
      For now, it is still free. I will see how long it last. I will switch to bank transfer once it is not free anymore.

      I am glad to be useful :)

      All the best

  7. I’ve created a Revolut account but did not request the card right away since I first needed to set up my TransferWise account.
    After a couple of days, I’ve received a promotion offer from Revolut to order the card for free if I do it within a certain number of days. Not sure if this will always work, but it’s might be worth to try.

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