British fintech Revolut took the banking world by storm with their multicurrency, completely digital, mobile-only banking solution. I’ve been a Revolut Premium user for quite some time now. Recently, they announced a metal card with an even more premium tier. In this article, I want to discuss if these subscription options are worth their price for digital nomads.
The Future Of Banking
I discussed digital banking alternatives in this article some time ago. Since then, a new fintech startup seems to appear every week with a similar service. And that’s perfectly fine. In my opinion, the future of banking is digital, and in some years, we’ll have many available digital options to keep our money in. Conversely, I believe traditional banks will have to adapt or slowly disappear into oblivion.
Having a personal account in a traditional bank may be a nightmare for digital nomads. As soon as I moved out of Spain, and informed the Spanish Tax Office that I was no longer a resident there, I received a letter from my Spanish bank threatening to close my account unless I informed them of where I was going, and send them proof of residence and utility bills of my new location.
Needless to say, I closed all those accounts.
In fact, I still need to get back to Spain to be able to close my last personal account there. Why? Well, do you remember these coordinate cards some banks have to allow you to login into their web interfaces? My bank was acquired by another bank, so I need to renew my coordinate card to be able to operate online. That means I physically need to go to my personal bank office -not any office from this bank- to get a new one.
I don’t know about you, but for me, this just sounds so archaic, it seems an anachronism in 2018.
Obviously, if that happens to you, and you are, say, in Eastern Asia, traveling back to Western Europe just to be able to operate with your bank again is an unjustifiable waste of time and money.
That’s just a small example of how traditional banks are becoming obsolete.
The Standard Revolut Service
Of all the digital banking solutions I have tried, for personal finances, the clear winner is, in my opinion, Revolut.
Doing a quick comparison with the previous scenario, I can log in to my app securely with my fingerprint. I don’t need a coordinate card, as every potentially dangerous operation needs, apart from my biometric identification, a confirmation from my own phone. If any of my cards get stolen, I can freeze it right away. If I forget the PIN for my card, I can remember it anytime securely login into the app. Last, if my phone gets stolen or lost, I can contact support and configure my Revolut account in another phone.
Now all these advantages make your life a lot easier. If you are a digital nomad, and you really want to be location independent, a traditional bank is just not good enough.
With Revolut, I have an account on every currency I may need. From dollars to euros, from Bahts to Czech Korunas. If I travel to a new country, most probably I can open an account in that currency for my Revolut card, top it up with some money, and start spending in local currency. Topping up the Revolut account is as easy as assigning a salary from my Estonian company.
But not just fiat currency. I have a Bitcoin account and I can exchange from fiat to cryptocurrency with just two taps. Unfortunately, you can’t make crypto transfers to external accounts yet.
About the limitations, you can only withdraw £200 from ATMs for free. In today’s world, where carrying cash is becoming an oddity, it’s not much of a bothering. Also, some people may need a credit card. Not me. I’ve learned to live with what I own, and won’t recommend anyone living on credit.
Revolut Premium And Revolut Metal
The standard Revolut plan is free. However, for £6.99/m, you can subscribe to the premium tier. I did that some months ago, so I have been able to experience both for some time. But what does this plan offer?
Apart from a fancy card with a fancy, minimalist design, you double the amount of money you can withdraw from ATMs. You also have free overseas travel insurance, delayed baggage and flight insurance, disposable virtual cards, and supposedly, exclusive priority 24/7 customer support. I will go into these features one by one down below.
Just some days ago, Revolut announced a new type of card, made of metal. Alongside this cool new card, you get some extra advantages. For starters, the amount of money you can withdraw from ATMs is £600 instead of £400 a month. Also, a concierge service that supposedly offers you “quality assistance for hotel reservations, flight bookings, exclusive events and more”. This seems to work by contacting support and asking them to book you a flight or to help you find a restaurant.
Last, but not least, you will enjoy a cashback service that will bring you up to 0.1% cashback in Europe and 1% outside of Europe in any of the 24 supported fiat currencies & 5 crypto-currencies.
The subscription price, obviously, increases from £6.99/m to £12.99/m.
So, given all you get for the standard tier, is it worth upgrading? Let’s find out.
How Does Revolut Premium Compare To The Free Tier?
Ok, so after some months of using Revolut premium, is it worth paying the price? I will focus here on the benefits you may get for your money if you are a digital nomad.
As I mentioned before, the fact that you can get £400 from ATMs is no big deal for me. I am operating mostly cash-free for almost a year.
You may be thinking that being a digital nomad, the medical insurance is a big plus, and a reason alone to subscribe to the premium tier. However, don’t forget that this is a travel insurance, not a global health insurance. As I explain in my previous article, this kind of insurance is not a long-term solution for digital nomads. Why?
In short, you will only be covered for 40 days after you leave your “home country”. If you are a real digital nomad, you probably don’t even have a home country or, if you do, you don’t travel there anymore. Additionally, you will only be covered for emergencies. That will not cover all your medical needs and is not a proper solution in the long run.
The delayed baggage insurance is nice, especially if you travel regularly, but again, it will only cover you in trips from your “home country”, and will not cover canceled flights, or delayed domestic flights.
Now, the disposable virtual cards are probably the most useful feature of Revolut premium. As an example, gyms usually apply weird policies to charge you after you have stopped using their services, like minimum time commitments. If you, like me, are a digital nomad and want to make sure you won’t be charged for a whole year for using the gym three months, these disposable cards are very handy.
What Does Revolut Metal Offer?
Recently, Revolut announced its new Metal subscription plan, alongside a cool metal card, complete with an Apple-like video and marketing campaign. While I was watching the video, I was waiting for Johny Ive to suddenly appear saying something like “The new Revolut Metal card design is remarkably extraordinary, unapologetically metal”…
But apart from that sumptuous, lavish card, are there any real reasons for committing to £12.99 every month to enjoy its benefits?
As mentioned earlier, the increased ATM withdrawal limit does not really add anything for me.
So what about the concierge service? To be honest, having universal access to the internet these days, and apps like SkyScanner, Booking, and Yelp, I don’t really need to call Revolut support to ask for the best restaurant around or to book a last-minute trip. I can do it myself.
Now, regarding the cashback… it might seem like a big deal at first, but consider that you are spending around 13€ every month with Revolut Metal. That means that, in order to just recoup your investment, you will need to spend 1.300€ a month in, say, Asia, with your Revolut account. That’s a lot of money to spend in Asia. However, if you travel around Europe, you will need to spend 10x that amount, concretely, 13.000€ a month!
Obviously, you are not going to become rich with Revolut Metal’s cashback.
So the verdict? Well, after using Revolut premium for months, I can confidently say that I won’t probably renew my subscription. As I described before, the feature that got me more excited about, the medical insurance, is useless for digital nomads.
That’s a big disappointment, and something Revolut should consider, as I believe digital nomads make up for a huge percentage of their market. The virtual, disposable cards are nice, but not enough to justify the subscription price, especially when you can just create a new virtual card and freeze or delete it after using it.
I do not plan to upgrade to the Metal plan either. In my view, this product is more aimed towards people who need the shiniest, newest, fanciest iPhone as soon as it gets on sale, just to brag about it. It does not really add anything to your life, especially if you are a digital nomad. So spend those 13€ a month in something more useful for you.
Some time ago, I contacted the Revolut staff, and White Horse (the company providing Revolut’s health insurance) to ask them about the possibility of upgrading my policy, turning it into a yearly, global health insurance. I was willing to pay for that service. Unfortunately, they were not very open-minded about that possibility.
When I heard about this new Revolut Metal card, I wondered if they would make a bold move in that sense and offer a truly premium service for digital nomads. That will obviously include this global health insurance policy I mentioned. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, but I would love if Revolut, or somebody else, decided to offer that. I will be the first customer in line.
In this article, I share my experience with the Revolut Premium subscription and discuss if it is worth getting it for digital nomads. I also share my thoughts about the new Revolut Metal card, announced just some days ago.
Unfortunately, probably the most exciting feature about the premium plan, the health insurance, is just a regular travel insurance, so not really useful if you don’t have the benefit of a home country. Similarly, the Metal tier adds a lot in branding image and fancy hype, but little in terms of real benefits.
So my personal opinion, stick with the standard plan.
Am I missing something? Care to share your opinion about Revolut Premium or Revolut Metal? Don’t forget to leave a comment below!
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Years ago, I quit my 9 to 5 job and became a freelancer first, then a solopreneur, and finally a digital nomad. Managing my company back in Spain was a nightmare until I discovered the e-Residency program and opened my company in Estonia. That changed my life.
After some years managing my business, I know the tricks of the trade. I can offer you advice on how to become location independent, found an European company you can manage online while traveling, and avoid unnecessary costs. If you are ready to take the leap, but have some doubts or don't know where to start, let's get in touch.