If you’re fed up with your traditional bank and are looking to go digital, you’ve come to the right place.
With so many digital and mobile banks on the market, deciding which one to go with can be challenging. I’ve used and reviewed hundreds of digital and fintech apps over the years and am here to help you decide between two excellent apps today – Wise and Revolut.
Revolut offers a more rounded product that’s aiming to be a financial super app. Wise, on the other hand, offers a great way of holding, spending, and moving money around the world at the cheapest prices.
- Founded in 2011 in London
- Convert and hold 50 currencies
- Cheaper and easier money transfers
- Accept transfers and payments like a local (in 10 currencies)
- Personal and business accounts
You may know Wise by its previous name – TransferWise. The fintech firm was founded more than 10 years ago in London by two Estonians, Taavet Hinrikus and Kristo Käärmann.
These two friends were going through some hurdles while living in the UK. If they had these issues with global money transfers and international payments, then others must have too. For that reason, they decided to create Wise.
Wise had 10 million euros in transactions within their first year. But fast-forward to today, and more than 15 million people and businesses around the world use their app and platform. The company also does more than £9 billion in international transactions each month.
- Founded in 2015 in London
- 3 business and 4 personal account types
- Spend like a local abroad
- Great exchange rates for 29 currencies
- Investments from just $1
The challenger bank that was founded in London in 2015 by Nikolay Storonsky and Vlad Yatsenko is now a global player in the banking space, slowly eating away customers from high street banks.
Revolut already has up to 15 million customers worldwide, with additional 500,000 businesses onboard. They expanded to the US and Japan in 2020 and are looking to create “the world’s first truly global financial super app”.
To show that they’re serious, the company recently applied for a UK banking license, and in March 2021, they applied for a bank charter in the US. Revolut already operates as a bank in the EU.
Opening a Wise account is very easy and fast. However, to really start using it, you’ll need to open a balance. This will let you hold and receive 50+ currencies.
For that, you’ll need to choose which balance to start with, enter your personal details, add at least 20 of your local currency, and verify your identity with an ID upload.
You can also order a debit card with a one-time fee. It doesn’t come with any personalisation options.
Revolut has a similar process and is as equally easy to do and fast. You can order a card that will have free delivery, depending on the account type. For instance, a Standard account that’s free has a delivery fee of €7.
You can also customise your Revolut card on paid accounts with doodles, text, emojis, etc. The top account comes with a cool stainless steel metal card.
|€/£7/$9 to order a debit card
|Delivery fee for debit card (free in the US)
|One-time fee of £16/€23/$31 for business accounts
|Free business account available
|0.41%+ fixed fee to send money (varies by currency)
|Fee from 0.3%
|0.33%-3.56% to convert a currency using your card
|No-fee currency exchange up to £1,000, then 0.5% fee
|Free ATM withdrawals up to €/£200/30 days, after that 2% (1.75%)
|ATM fees after £/€200 (no fees in the US)
|$4.14 to receive USD wire transfers
|$10 to send and receive
|1.99%-2.5% crypto exchange markup and 1.5% commodities markup
Wise doesn’t have many fees, but if you want a physical debit card, you’ll have to make a one-time payment.
When it comes to money transfers, Wise has some of the best rates in the market, and you can use its calculator to find out exactly how much you’ll be paying and when the funds will arrive.
Revolut also isn’t bad in this regard. If you get a paid account, you’ll have higher fee-free ATM withdrawal limits.
Wise and Revolut: Pros & Cons
As with any mobile bank, there are some pros and cons that you should know.
|No monthly fees
|ATM fees above €/£200
|Transparent money transfers
|One-time debit card fee
|Great exchange rates
|Deposits not insured
|Easy to sign up
|IBAN from 10 different countries
|No savings interest rate
|Holds 50+ currencies
You might not like Wise’s ATM withdrawal limits or that there are no cashback or savings interest rates at all.
|Free account available
|The best features are in paid accounts
|Poor customer support
|Instant international money transfers
|Some customer accounts are frozen temporarily due to security reasons
|Connect all your bank accounts
|No savings interest rates in most countries
|Daily discounts and cashback
|Great for travelling and sending money abroad
|Stocks, crypto, and commodities trading
Revolut, on the other hand, has varying degrees of service depending on where you live. Outside of the UK and the US, it doesn’t offer cash back or savings interest rates, which is disappointing. You also won’t be able to utilise its investment platform to the fullest in many countries.
The best Revolut features are in paid accounts and mainly in the UK and the US.
If you’re moving to a different country every couple of years, like I am, Wise is a great tool for holding your money and moving it with you across the continent or even the globe.
It’s because the app lets you keep all your funds in 10 different accounts, each with its own currency, IBAN, sort code, routing and account number. Just like a normal bank account.
Additionally, you can receive payments and transfers from anywhere and convert them to one of almost 50 currencies.
Sending money to 80 countries is also available and comes with low and transparent fees with exact times and tracking.
Transfers only incur a small flat fee and a tiny percentage of the transfer sum and you can choose from three transfer types:
- Fast transfer (send from your debit card)
- Low-cost transfer (send from your bank account)
- Easy transfer (send from your bank with online payment)
That means that if you’re sending a €1,000 to let’s say Australia, the fast transfer would cost €8.63 in fees, easy transfer €5.77, and low-cost €4.57.
Revolut supports bank transfers, card transfers, peer-to-peer (between Revolut users), bill splitting, and, coming soon, Send to wallet transfers.
Transfers to other Revolut users are free. No matter where they live. EUR transfers inside UK or Europe are also fee-free.
Any fees you have to pay for a transfer will be displayed beforehand, as well as the exchange rate.
For most currencies, there are no limits for the transfer amount. But, specific currencies might have limits set by Revolut’s payments partners.
For international transfers, the app will recommend the best or fastest option with the expected arrival time, as well as the costs involved, if any.
Both of these apps are great for frequent travellers. You can’t really go wrong with either of them.
Wise comes with a virtual and/or physical card that lets you spend in a local currency no matter where you travel. It also has much better exchange rates and lower fees.
You can use the debit card at any store that accepts Mastercard and Visa and at 2.3 million ATMs.
Withdrawing above a certain threshold incurs a small fee in your home country and abroad.
As for security, you can easily freeze and unfreeze the card, enable two-factor identification as well as fingerprint/face ID, and get instant transaction notifications.
Features warry by country. This is for Germany.
Revolut’s features aren’t unique across the world. You will have to check what features and benefits your country enables and which perks are part of paid accounts (and which ones).
In general, paid accounts offer travel insurance, insurance for delayed and lost baggage and flights, complimentary lounge access with SmarDelay, excess for rental cars, winter sports insurance, and so on.
Wise isn’t the best digital bank account for savings. It’s built to hold many currencies but without a savings interest rate to help you build up your wealth. There are also no term deposits, CDs or anything similar.
Revolut is good for saving money in some countries. Those where it comes with a savings interest rate, like the United States, the UK, Poland, and some others.
In all countries, you can open a savings Vault, name it anything you want, and choose if you want your spare change to go into it, as well as recurring funding. You can also invite your friends or family to save together.
I love that I can withdraw money at any time if I need to.
Wise doesn’t have an investing platform to speak of. Only in the UK can you invest in MSCI World Index, which comprises 1,500 global companies. That’s it.
Revolut has a much more robust investment platform that includes stocks, crypto, and commodities. I quite like it as it’s easy to use, and you can buy fractional shares, which means you can start investing with little money.
Although Wise is great for travellers, Revolut is even better, in my opinion.
With paid plans, you get all sorts of perks and travel benefits that vary from country to country and mostly include travel insurance, lounge access, delayed baggage and flight insurance, and similar.
In addition, there’s also the Everyday Protection package (in some countries), which includes theft and accident coverage, purchase protection, refund protection, and event and ticket coverage.
|Wise Business Account
|Revolut Business Account
|No monthly fees
|No monthly fees (for Free account)
|Really cheap transfers
|A £3 fee applies per international payment
|Ability to invoice customers
|A 0.4% markup applies for each FX
|Spend anywhere with no hidden fees
|Spend like a local in 150 currencies
|Connect to QuickBooks, Xero, FreeAgent
|Receive and hold 55+ currencies
|Funds are safeguarded with a tier-1 partner bank
Revolut has four different tiers of business accounts, and three of those are paid memberships with more perks and features.
Wise, on the other side, only offers one account, and that’s free. Both apps support freelancers as well as small and medium businesses.
Bot Wise and Revolut business accounts are great for making international payments to freelancers, for example, vendors and marketplaces.
They integrate with different accounting tools and make it easy for you, the business owner or manager, to invoice and make payments, in-store or online.
Both companies offer their business MasterCard for free, but with Revolut, you can get metal cards too.
Both business accounts are also good for making many international money transfers and payments, as well as payroll.
Customer service can make or break an app. All is well while things are going as intended. But what happens when you make a wrong transfer or when you quickly have to report a suspected scam you were a victim of?
It’s nothing unusual for a digital bank to add hundreds of thousands of new customers in a year. As these fintech companies are expanding so quickly, it’s hard to keep up with hiring customer support agents across the world.
Wise does seem to be a bit better in this respect, as its customer service is more responsive to customer demands. For Revolut, this is still somewhat of a pain point, as people are often disappointed with their level of support.
Both firms have extensive help sections on their websites that will answer nearly all your questions about the apps and the service.
Don’t hesitate to read through some of the FAQs, as it will make the usage of these apps painless.
Revolut has a 4.3-star rating on Trustpilot out of almost 125,832 reviews at the moment of writing this comparison, with 75% of reviews regarding Revolut as excellent and 10% as bad.
Wise, on the other side, has a slightly better 4.4 rating out of 185,821 reviews on Trustpilot, with 84% of customer reviews saying that it’s an excellent service and only 6% that it’s bad.
Both companies are actively replying to negative reviews there and trying to sort out the issues their users have.
I have to say that Revolut has lost 0.1 stars, and Wise has lost 0.2 stars since the last time I checked in April of 2021.
If you’re still on the fence about which of these two apps to get, know that you can sign up for both, as Wise is completely free, and Revolut has a free account you can use to try out its features.
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