Wise (formerly Transferwise vs Revolut: Which Is Best in 2021?

With thanks to: The Poor Swiss dot Com

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Wise, or TransferWise and Revolut offer services that are quite similar. They both offer cheap money transfers in many different currencies. How can you decide between both services?

I have both cards. But, I am mostly using my Wise card. Today, I am going to answer the question: Which is better between Wise and Revolut?

Both companies will help you save money on foreign currency exchanges. However, they are still different in their fees and offers. They both have pros and cons.

For this comparison, I will only go over the personal accounts, not the business accounts. Both Wise and Revolut offer accounts for businesses. But this is out of scope for this article. So, let’s compare Wise and Revolut.

Wise

Wise offers a credit card with very low fees for currency exchange.

Wise 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 now has more than ten million users in 2021. It has about one thousand employees all over the world. Their services are available in Europe and the United States.

Revolut

Revolut offers a credit card without any fees for currency exchange.

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 accounts. You can do transfers in almost any currency. 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 providing 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 also save them a lot of money.

Revolut announced that they had about eight million users in 2021. They have about 600 employees all over the world. In the beginning, Revolut was only available in Europe. But since 2020, they are now available in the United States as well. And they will probably increase their coverage in the years to come.

Availability

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. And since 2020, they are now available in the United States as well.

On the other hand, TransferWise is available in more than 50 countries, including the United States. It makes TransferWise generally more popular since they have more coverage from the U.S. Also, TransferWise can be used in many Asian countries (Indonesia, for instance). At the same time, Revolut is absent from these countries.

Revolut supports 140 currencies, while TransferWise only supports 96 currencies. But, Revolut only lets you hold money in 24 currencies in your account. On the other hand, TransferWise allows you to hold money in 50 currencies!

So, TransferWise can hold more currencies. If you are traveling to a lot of countries, this could make a difference. But this is not a significant difference for me.

Money Transfer Service

Both companies focus on money transfer as their primary service. They both offer a debit card that you can use 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 transfers from one account to another or another bank account. Generally, people believe that TransferWise is a bit faster in executing payments. However, my transfers with Revolut have always been swift. 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 RON, USD and a great many more. It is convenient if you get paid in RON or have your main bank in GBP, Euro, Dollars etc. EG, your tenant could pay rent into Ron.

Both services have both a mobile application and a web portal. The web portals are quite similar in usability.

As for the cards themselves, Revolut offers a Mastercard and a Maestro, while TransferWise offers VISA and Mastercard.

So, for money transfer services, Revolut and TransferWise are a tie!

Other services

TransferWise is very focused on the single service of transferring money at a low-cost between bank accounts or between TransferWise accounts.

On the other hand, Revolut has other 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 fee for each buy or sell of cryptocurrencies. And you cannot get your cryptocurrencies out of your Revolut account. For instance, you cannot move them into your cryptocurrency wallet. So this is not a replacement for other cryptocurrency 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. It means they could become a bank in the future.

Recently, Revolut started working with Google Pay and Apple Pay. So you can use your smartphone directly to pay with your Revolut card. Being able to pay from a smartphone is good news for many people! But this only matters if you want to use this feature.

Finally, Revolut offers three different accounts:

  1. Standard. It is the free account I am focusing on in this article.
  2. Premium. This account costs 6.99 EUR per month. It adds to the Standard account with priority support, higher withdrawal, no more monthly limits, and several forms of insurances.
  3. 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.

Money transfer prices

What is most impressive with these two services is their prices. Standard credit cards make you pay a substantial fee for foreign currency exchanges. It is typically between 1.5% and 2.5% on each amount. Both TransferWise and Revolut are significantly cheaper than that! It is their primary purpose. For me, this is 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 0.3 and 0.7% 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 offers small transfers for free! It is valid for each currency pair. However, there is a limit of 1000£ (GBP) per month. Once you reach this limit, you will have to pay a 0.5% fee on each transfer. Moreover, you will have to pay an extra 1.0% fee for each transfer on the weekend. And some currencies like Russian Roubles (RUB) and Thai Baht are more expensive, with a 1% fee during the week and 2% during the weekend.

As a side note, you can use one of the premium accounts of Revolut to increase the monthly limit for free transfers. If you are planning to convert a large amount of money, this could be worth it.

TransferWise is better than Revolut for guaranteeing the amount the recipient will receive from a bank transfer. Transferwise has local accounts for all their currencies. And they will use that to guarantee the amount received by the recipient.

For instance, if you send Ron from the U.K., you will know exactly how much they will receive. Your money will go from one TW account to another first. And then, it will make a local payment to the recipient’s bank account. Revolut does not have such a guarantee. It means you could lose some money because of the fees.

Now, there are some complicated examples of transfers that are not free. For instance, with Revolut, you are only allowed one SWIFT transfer outside of the SEPA region. After this, they will cost you 4 USD. Unfortunately, this is very poorly documented. In practice, you should be fine, but it useful to know that these situations can happen.

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 prices 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.

AmountFromToTransferWiseRevolutRevolut Weekend
1000CHFEUR4.84 CHF0 CHF10 CHF
5000CHFEUR21.97 CHF25 CHF75 CHF
10000CHFEUR43.37 CHF50 CHF150 CHF
1000EURUSD5.14 EUR0 CHF10 EUR
5000EURUSD21.47 EUR25 CHF75 EUR
1000CHFRUB11.26 CHF10 CHF20 CHF
5000CHFRUB46.15 CHF75 CHF125 CHF

Since Revolut increased their fees in June 2020, the results are more in favor of TransferWise rather than Revolut!

  • Revolut is still cheaper for small amounts (less than 1000 euro per month).
  • TransferWise is always better during the weekend
  • TransferWise is much better for large amounts
  • TransferWise is much better for special currencies

So, with a small amount converted per month, Revolut is still interesting. Otherwise, TransferWise is much better!

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
  • TransferWise during the weekends

If you enter several of these categories, you will need both a Revolut and a TransferWise. It will be the most optimal combination to reduce the fees.

So, both solutions have their advantages and disadvantages. You need to know the fees to minimize them.

There are also rumors of another kind about Revolut. Many people believe that they have strong ties to the Kremlin. But I have never read any facts about this. It is generally only based on the fact that the founder is Russian. I would not worry too much about that.

On the other hand, there has not been much controversy about TransferWise. Overall, Transferwise has a much better reputation than Revolut.

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.

User Reviews – TransferWise vs Revolut

Finally, we can also take a look at actual user reviews for both companies. For this, I am going to use Trustpilot as a reference (in January 2020). Trustpilot is generally the place that has the most high-quality reviews for such services.

TransferWise gets a score of 4.6 out of 5 on Trustpilot. It is an excellent score! 86% of people are reviewing TransferWise as Excellent and 8% as Great. On the other hand, 2% think it is average, 1% think it is poor, and 3% think it is bad!

Then, Revolut also gets a score of 4.6 out of 5 on Trustpilot. Once again, this is an excellent score. 79% of people say it is excellent, and 12% say it is great. On the contrary, 2% say it is average, 1% say it is poor, while 6% say it is bad.

Looking at the negative reviews for Revolut, we can also see some recurring themes:

  • Bad experience with customer service
  • Accounts have been disabled for apparently no reason
  • Extra fee on some transfers

Given that they have the same score, Revolut and TransferWise have the same good ratings by users! We can see the same recurring themes in negative reviews for both companies. But they have many great views, and their scores are excellent. Reviews are much better than I thought. It is because negative feedback is often louder than positive ones.

TransferWise vs Revolut Summary

To finish this comparison, here is a summary of the primary comparison points between the two services:

PointRevolutTransferwise
AvailabilityGoodBest
Weekday feesBestGood
Weekend FeesWorseGood
Free Withdrawals200 EUR/mo200 EUR/mo
Transfer SpeedGoodBest
Currency SupportGoodBest
LimitsBestGood
Customer serviceWorseGood
FeaturesMany featuresMany features
Mobile applicationVery GoodVery Good
Web applicationGoodGood
StabilityOKGood
ReputationBadGood
User ReviewsGoodGood

Overall, we can see that both services have excellent things to offer.

TransferWise has more advantages than Revolut. From a pure money point of view, Revolut is superior. But, since their increase in fees, they are only advantageous when transferring low amounts of money.

Here are the main differences between Revolut and TransferWise:

  • Revolut is free during the week while Transferwise always have fees
  • Revolut is only free for the first 1000 GBP per month
  • TransferWise support more currencies
  • TransferWise is available in more countries than Revolut
  • TransferWise is profitable, Revolut is not
  • Revolut has more features on mobile
  • TransferWise has a much better reputation

Conclusion

TransferWise

TransferWise offers a credit card with very low fees for currency exchange.

When comparing TransferWise vs Revolut, I prefer TransferWise over Revolut. The main reason is more about reputation and the company itself. The fact that it is profitable could say that it will last longer than Revolut. But Revolut could come around!

Revolut has one big advantage over TransferWise: For small amounts of money, Revolut can be free! So, you can still use them if you will not convert more than 1250 CHF per month. But be careful not to hold too much money on your account.

As such, I would be more cautious if I were to deposit a lot of money into my accounts. I never have more than 500 CHF on my Revolut account. Revolut is a young company that still has to transition from a Fintech startup into a big finance company.

Whether you use TransferWise or Revolut, such a 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!

However, since they increased their fees in June 2020, you can only convert small amounts each month (maximum of 1000 GBP) per month. And transactions during the weekend have become expensive.

However, nothing prevents you from using 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.

I would advise being careful before depositing too much money in any of these two services in both cases. I believe you should primarily use them for currency exchanges.

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 currencies.

What about you? Do you prefer TransferWise or Revolut?

To learn more about TransferWise vs Revolut, you can watch this comparison video:

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