(Disclosure: Some of the links below may be affiliate links. For more information, read my disclosure.)
TransferWise and Revolut offer services that are quite similar. They are both proposing cheap money transfer in many different currencies. I now have both cards. But, I am mostly using my Revolut card. So, many of my readers asked me why I was mostly using my Revolut card where I could have only used my TransferWise card. Today, I am going to answer the question: Which is better between TransferWise and Revolut?
When I started using Revolut, there was no way to top it up for free from my bank account since they did not have a Swiss bank account. Therefore, I was using a TransferWise card as an intermediary between my bank account and my Revolut account. Now, Revolut has a Swiss IBAN and I do not have to use my TransferWise card anymore. Let’s see why I am using Revolut more than TransferWise.
Both companies will help you save money on foreign currency exchanges. However, they are still different in their fees and their offers. In fact, they both have some pros and cons. And that is exactly what we are going to go over in this post.
For this comparison, I am only going to go over the personal accounts, not the business accounts. Both TransferWise and Revolut offer accounts for businesses. But this is out of scope for this article.
TransferWise is a private company based in the United Kingdom. It was launched in 2011. It is a money transfer service. From your TransferWise account, you can transfer money to any other users in almost any currency. You can also transfer money to a bank account. You can use money from your account with the Borderless MasterCard.
The main focus of TransferWise was for people working abroad. These people can receive a salary in a currency different than the country they are living in. TransferWise can help them save a lot of money on fees.
TransferWise has been profitable since 2017 and has now more than four million users. It counts about one thousand employees over the world. Their services are available in Europe and in the United States.
Revolut is a private company based in the United Kingdom. It was launched in 2015. They offer money transfer services. From your account, you can transfer money to other users as well as directly to bank account. You can do transfers in almost any currencies. You can use your money on your account with the Revolut MasterCard. They also offer virtual cards that you can use on the Internet. They also have started offering access to cryptocurrencies.
The original focus of Revolut was for people traveling abroad. By using their credit cards in another country, these travelers need to pay a lot of fees. Revolut can save them a lot of money.
Revolut announced that they have about four million users, in 2019. They have about 600 employees over the world. For now, Revolut is only available in Europe. But they plan to extend to the United States, normally in 2019.
Both services are very well supported in Europe.
However, Revolut is mostly available in Europe. Overall, Revolut is available in 32 European countries. They are already available in Australia where they are growing fast. And they have plans to extend to the U.S. as well.
On the other hand, TransferWise is available in 48 countries, including the United States. This makes TransferWise generally more popular since they have more coverage from the U.S.
Revolut supports 140 currencies while TransferWise only supports 96 currencies. Moreover, Revolut lets you hold money in 24 currencies in your account. On the other hand, TransferWise only lets you hold money in 16 currencies. So, Revolut has better currency coverage. If you are traveling to a lot of countries, this could make a difference. But this is definitely not a significant difference for me.
Money Transfer Service
Both companies focus on money transfer as their main service. They both offer a debit card that can be used everywhere. You can charge your debit card from your bank account. You can then use it as a physical card or online. In both cases, you can also withdraw money from your debit card.
Both TransferWise and Revolut offer a way to do money transfer from one account to another or to another bank account. Generally, people believe that TransferWise is a bit faster in executing payments. However, my transfers with Revolut have always been very fast. In fact, Revolut has always been faster than my bank account.
There is a difference when receiving money. In Revolut, you can only receive money in GBP, EUR, and CHF. With TransferWise, you can also receive money in USD. This is very practical if you get paid in dollars or have investments in USD.
TransferWise can be used from a website and a mobile application. On the other hand, Revolut can only be used from the mobile application. From my user point of view, they offer the same usability.
TransferWise is very focused on the single service of transferring money at low-cost between bank accounts or between TransferWise accounts.
On the other hand, Revolut has many features. For instance, they started offering cryptocurrencies in 2018. That means you can hold cryptocurrencies in your account. On the other hand, this is not a free service. You will pay a 1.5% fee for each buy or sell of cryptocurrencies. And you cannot get your cryptocurrencies out of Revolut into your cryptocurrency wallet. So this is not a replacement for other cryptocurrencies exchanges.
Revolut also started offering insurance for several things. And they also have Vaults, a system with which you can round purchases and save spare cash. And they have many budgeting capabilities in the mobile application. Moreover, Revolut has a banking license. This means they could become a bank in the future.
Finally, Revolut offers three different accounts:
- Standard. This is the free account I am focusing on this article.
- Premium. This account costs 6.99 EUR per month. This adds to Standard account with priority support, higher withdrawal, no more monthly limits and several forms of insurances.
- Metal. This account costs 12.99 EUR per month. This account adds to the Premium account a concierge service and 0.1% cashback on European purchases and 1% cashback abroad.
For me, I do not have any advantage in having the Premium or Metal accounts. You can find the details of the three accounts on Revolut. It seems like most people will have enough with the Standard account.
So, overall, Revolut has much more features than TransferWise. However, I am not sure these features will appeal to everybody. I think it is good that TransferWise focuses on doing one single thing very well rather than trying to do everything at once. Having more features does not mean it is better if you do not use them.
Both services have different limits. For my usage, I never hit any of the limits. But if you plan to heavily rely on either TransferWise or Revolut, you need to be aware of these limits.
TransferWise has a small default limit on each operation. But you can change the default from the mobile application. So I am going to talk about the maximum limits you can set. Also, TransferWise has different limits for European and U.S. customers. Let’s start with European customers. European customers can withdraw 1000 GBP per withdrawal, 1500 GBP per day and 4000 GBP per month. For online purchases, they can purchase for a maximum of 10’000 GBP per day or 30’000 GBP per month. U.S. customers have smaller limits. They can withdraw 1000 USD per day and 4000 USD per month. And they can pay online for 2000 USD per day and 10’000 USD per month.
Revolut has a simpler system for limits. Indeed, you can withdraw a maximum of 3000 GBP per day. And you can transfer a lot of money with Revolut. The daily limit on Revolut is 100’000 GBP. And the weekly limit is 250’000 GBP.
Revolut has much higher limits than TransferWise. Moreover, their system is much simpler. However, for most users, the limits of TransferWise should be more than sufficient.
Money transfer prices
What is most interesting with these two services is their prices. Standard credit cards make you pay a very large fee for foreign currencies exchanges. This is typically between 1.5% and 2.5% on each amount. Both TransferWise and Revolut are significantly cheaper than that! This is their purpose. For me, this is really the thing I am looking the most into to compare these two services.
On TransferWise, transfers are not free. You will need to pay between 0.2 and 0.5% fee on each transfer depending on the currency pair you are converting money from. They are using a very complicated pricing system.
On the other hand, Revolut offer transfers for free! This is valid for each currency pair. However, there is a limit of 5000£ (GBP) per month. Once you reach this limit, you will have to pay a 0.5% fee on each transfer. Moreover, on the weekend, you will have to pay an extra fee for each transfer. And some currencies like Russian Roubles (RUB) and Thai Baht are more expensive with 1% during the week and 2% during the weekend.
Example of fees
Let’s make a few examples of exchanges to compare directly TransferWise and Revolut. I am going to take TransferWise Borderless Card as an example. The fees are different if you send money from the app or using the card. If you want all the details, you can use Transferwise pricing system.
|1000||CHF||EUR||3.29 CHF||0 CHF||5 CHF|
|5000||CHF||EUR||16.45 CHF||0 CHF||25 CHF|
|10000||CHF||EUR||33.39 CHF||50 CHF||100 CHF|
|1000||EUR||USD||3.39 EUR||0 CHF||5 EUR|
|5000||EUR||USD||17.78 EUR||0 CHF||25 EUR|
|1000||CHF||RUB||8.86 CHF||10 CHF||20 CHF|
|5000||CHF||RUB||33.11 CHF||50 CHF||100 CHF|
The result should be pretty clear from these examples! So, if you can avoid the weekend and only use common currencies, Revolut is the clear winner here!
Overall, Revolut is significantly cheaper than TransferWise for currency exchanges for standard currencies. As a Swiss investor, you are probably only using CHF, USD, and EUR. Hence, with up to 5000£ per month, you will not pay anything for Revolut. After that, it depends on the currency. For some currencies, TransferWise will be cheaper and Revolut will be cheaper for others. On the weekend, Revolut is a bit worse than TransferWise.
If you want the best fees in every case, you will have to use both cards:
- Revolut for small transfers in standard currencies
- TransferWise for exotic currencies transfers
- TransferWise for big transfers
If you enter in several of these categories, you will need both a Revolut and a TransferWise. This will be the most optimal combination to reduce the fees.
Recent Revolut controversy
There has been some recent controversy about Revolut. If you follow financial news, you probably have heard some of them.
Since its creation, Revolut has had many issues with their employees. Or rather, employees had many issues with Revolut! Indeed, they have a very important turnover. And several prior employees have reported a lot of unpaid work and extreme work conditions. I do not know the truth behind these allegations. But this does not help Revolut’s reputation.
In early 2019, it was reported that thousands of suspicious transactions were allowed to go through the Revolut system. It was shown that Revolut switched off their screening system. It is not known why the system was not activated. After the news, the system was reactivated. But this is worrisome.
Shortly after this event, the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Revolut stepped down, increasing the controversy and conjectures around Revolut. He said he stepped down because Revolut was become too big too fast and was not capable of handling all these changes.
I am not worried enough with all this information to stop using Revolut. Many companies are going through something like this when they grow up. Moreover, some of the news have debatable sources. However, this is still something I would worry about if I were to transfer a lot of money through Revolut.
TransferWise vs Revolut Summary
To finish this comparison, here is a summary of the main comparison points between the two services:
|Free Withdrawals||200 EUR/mo||200 EUR/mo|
|Features||Many features||Many features|
Overall, we can see that both services have very good things to offer. TransferWise has a bit more advantages than Revolut. From a pure money point of view, Revolut is superior. However, they do have a bad reputation and their customer service is very poorly rated. Moreover, Revolut is not yet profitable.
It is difficult to know what the future reserves for these two companies. I think Revolut will become better and better at doing what it does. But this is only an educated guess.
Personally, I prefer Revolut over TransferWise. The reason is simple: Revolut saves me more money! I am only using Revolut for purchases in other currencies. I have never paid a single cent for Revolut services. But TransferWise is an excellent service as well!
Whether you use TransferWise or Revolut, this travel card will be an essential part of your credit card strategy. Indeed, saving on currency exchange fees is the single thing that will save you the most money on your credit card fees!
Now, there are some things that TransferWise does better than Revolut. For instance, their customer support is much better and much more responsive. Moreover, if you use some less common currencies, Revolut is significantly more expensive than Transferwise. Also, during the weekend, their rates are better than Revolut rates. Finally, and probably, more importantly, TransferWise is a well-established company with an excellent reputation. It is already profitable. This could say that they will last longer than Revolut.
However, nothing prevents you to use two different cards. As I pointed out earlier, if you want to minimize the fees to a maximum, you will need both cards. For instance, you could use Revolut for most currencies and TransferWise for exotic currencies.
As such, I would be more cautious if I were to deposit a lot of money on my accounts. I never have more than 500 CHF on my Revolut account. Revolut is still a young company that has to transition from a Fintech startup into a big finance company. In both cases, I would advise being careful before depositing too much money in any of these two services. I believe they should especially be used for currency transfer.
And do not forget: do not use either TransferWise or Revolut for your default currency! Indeed, you need to use your local credit card for that. That way, you will accumulate some cashback. These two services are only good for money transfers involving two different currency.
To learn more about TransferWise vs Revolut, you can watch this comparison video: