TransferWise vs. Revolut: Which to Sign Up For?

As the world continues to move into the digital sphere, TransferWise and Revolut are two big names that have revolutionized banking. These two online platforms provide users a convenient alternative to traditional banking institutions with the services they provide. One particular advantage of TransferWise and Revolut is the fact that these platforms make international transfers much easier and also a lot less costly. We’ll get more into that later on.

If it’s your first time hearing of these, you might be wondering: which one is the better platform. Don’t worry, I’m here to break down the TransferWise vs Revolut debate just for you! 

Introduction to TransferWise

TransferWise is a UK-based company that specializes in international money transfer services. Launched in 2011, the platform allows users to send and receive money in a wide variety of global currencies. Apart from providing an alternative money transfer solution to conventional SWIFT transactions, TransferWise also allows users to withdraw money from their multi-currency accounts using a borderless debit card

Introduction to Revolut

Just like TransferWise, Revolut is a UK-based company that offers international money transfer and other financial services. Compared to TransferWise, Revolut is a much younger platform, having launched in 2015. Apart from international money transfers and a physical card, Revolut also provides virtual cards that can be used for online purchases. 

Key differences between TransferWise and Revolut

At first glance, TransferWise and Revolut appear to be carbon copies of each other. After all, both platforms offer seamless international money transfer services and provide users with a physical card to withdraw cash from most ATMs throughout the world. However, there are indeed key differences between the two. 

For one, TransferWise was designed with digital nomads in mind. Its main draw is being able to facilitate multi-currency money transfers between banks. For people who work and live in foreign countries, this service represents a more affordable and convenient transaction method compared to traditional foreign telegraphic transfers, for example. 

On the other hand, even though Revolut also provides similar services, it is more focused on the international travel market. One key feature of Revolut is its multi-currency card which can be used not only to withdraw cash in local currencies, but also as a payment card that supports quick currency exchange. 

In addition, Revolut also provides plenty of money-saving features that generally appeal to avid globetrotters. However, these features vary depending on the type of account you have with the platform. 

Some of the unique features Revolut offers include budget tracking and assistance, various insurance packages (including phone and medical insurance), airport lounge and concierge access for premium members, and even a savings account called Vault where you can work towards your financial goals using various methods (such as rounding up transactions and depositing the spare change). You can even link your Revolut card to Apple Pay.

Overall, Revolut does indeed provide a wider variety of features compared to TransferWise. In that aspect, Revolut certainly seems like the more attractive option. However, let’s compare the similar key services that both platforms provide and see if there really is one that is better than the other. 

TransferWise vs. Revolut: International transfers

Regardless of other features, the main service that both TransferWise and Revolut are known for is international money transfers. That is the main focus of both companies. Users on both TransferWise and Revolut are able to easily send and receive money using either their own bank accounts or by creating an account on the respective platforms. 

With TransferWise, you can set up a transfer using just the recipient’s email address. This is especially useful when you’re trying to transfer money from the platform to a normal bank account. All you need is the recipient’s email address and you’re all set! There’s no need to worry about complicated account numbers, SWIFT codes or anything like that!

Once the transfer has been set up and confirmed, the money will be deducted from your linked bank account or your borderless TransferWise account. You can also instantly send money from one TransferWise account to another. Depending on your mode of transfer, it could take between a few minutes to 1-2 working days for the remittance to be reflected in the recipient’s account. To make things even more convenient, you can set up a transaction on TransferWise using either the mobile app or through your PC. It also allows batch payments up to 1,000 recipients at the same time too!

Similarly, you can authorize a Revolut transaction on their mobile or desktop app. When transferring money from one Revolut account to another, all you need to set up the transaction is the receiver’s mobile number. Simply save their number to your device and select it when making the transfer. Transfers within Revolut usually takes only a few seconds to complete. However, standard processing times still apply when sending money to bank accounts using the platform.

Even though both platforms offer similar service, TransferWise takes the win in this category. Being able to easily facilitate money transfers between user accounts on the platform and physical banks using just an email address is incredibly useful for both sender and receiver. For those who regularly need to send money to overseas bank accounts, TransferWise is quick, convenient, and secure.

TransferWise vs. Revolut: Availability

Although both TransferWise and Revolut boast excellent support mainly in the European Economic Area (EEA), users will nevertheless be able to send money to most countries around the world using the two platforms.

In terms of international transfers, TransferWise provides local bank details in GBP, EUR, AUD, NZD, and USD. In comparison, Revolut offers local details mainly in GBP and EUR. This means that regardless of which country you’re sending money to, you will be charged in the currencies above for the respective platforms. 

However, as end-users, the more important issue that commands our interest is which currencies are supported on both platforms. To give you the short answer, TransferWise allows you to send money to 54 different currencies (converted from GBP, EUR, AUD, NZD, or USD). However, you can only receive money in 24 currencies in your TransferWise account. However, you can work around this by making a transfer to a local bank account instead. 

On the other hand, Revolut supports an astonishing 140 currencies! However, remember what I said earlier about Revolut being more focused on the international travel market? In truth, a majority of these currencies are only supported for spending and withdrawal using their card in locations where MasterCard and Visa are accepted. In terms of international transfers, Revolut only allows users to send and receive money in 30 currencies (converted from GBP and EUR) with their account.

Too much to digest? Here’s a simple table to summarise the currencies supported for international money transfers:

SendingReceiving
TransferWiseAED, AUD, BGN, BRL, CAD, CHF, CZK, DKK, EUR, GBP, HKD, HRK, HUF, INR, JPY, MYR, NOK, NZD, PLN, RON, TRY, SEK,
SGD, USD, ARS, BDT, BWP, CLP, CNP, COP, CRC, EGP, GEL, GHS, IDR, ILS, KES, KRW, LKR, MAD, MXN, NGN, NPR, PEN, PHP, PKR, RUB, THB, UAH, UYU, VND, XOF, ZAR, and ZMV
AED, AUD, BGN, BRL, CAD, CHF, CZK, DKK, EUR, GBP, HKD, HRK, HUF, INR, JPY, MYR, NOK, NZD, PLN, RON, TRY, SEK, SGD, and USD.
RevolutGBP, EUR, USD, AUD, BGN, CAD, HRK, CZK, DKK, HKD, HUF, ISK, ILS, JPY, MAD, NZD, NOK, PLN, QAR, RUB, SAR, RSD, SGD, ZAR, SEK, CHF, THB, TOP, UAH, AEDGBP, EUR, USD, AUD, BGN, CAD, HRK, CZK, DKK, HKD, HUF, ISK, ILS, JPY, MAD, NZD, NOK, PLN, QAR, RUB, SAR, RSD, SGD, ZAR, SEK, CHF, THB, TOP, UAH, AED

Finally, it is worth noting that both TransferWise and Revolut allow users to hold money in different currencies in their accounts. With Revolut, you can hold 24 different currencies while TransferWise accounts support 16. 

All in all, while Revolut supports a wider array of global currencies, most of them are for spending and withdrawal only. In terms of international transfers, TransferWise supports over 50 currencies while Revolut offers only 30, which gives TransferWise the edge in this department. 

TransferWise vs. Revolut: Debit card comparisons

Besides international money transfers, both TransferWise and Revolut also offer physical cards to users that can be used in the same way as a conventional debit card.

As you might expect, the debit cards are linked to the accounts you hold on the respective platforms. However, you can also top up your TransferWise or Revolut debit card directly using your bank account too. 

These are the similarities between the cards offered by both platforms:

  1. You can use the debit card(s) to withdraw cash from an ATM 
  2. You can make payments using the debit card(s) provided that the type of card (MasterCard or Visa) is accepted by the merchant
  3. Both cards support contactless payment
  4. The debit card(s) can also be used for online purchases
  5. There are no monthly fees involved
  6. Paying with the debit card(s) is free provided you have sufficient balance in the selected currency in your account. If not, both TransferWise and Revolut will automatically convert the currency for you. However, a small currency conversion fee will then be applied.
  7. With both platforms, you can withdraw cash from an ATM up to ÂŁ200 (or currency equivalent) for free. However, any amount beyond that will be subject to a 2% fee.

That being said, there are also significant differences between the TransferWise and Revolut debit cards. The card that TransferWise issues to users is a MasterCard that is linked to their borderless account (which can store up to 16 different currencies). That is, by and large, the only key difference between a TransferWise card and other conventional bank-issued debit cards. 

On the other hand, Revolut issues both MasterCard and Visa cards depending on the area where you live*. However, compared to TransferWise, Revolut provides far more options. In fact, there are no less than three physical cards users can choose from depending on the type of account they own. 

  • Standard/Standard Plus Account: Standard plastic card
  • Premium Account: Customizable plastic card
  • Premium Account: Metal card

We’ll talk more about the differences between each type of Revolut account in the next section. 

Apart from multi-tiered physical cards, Revolut also offers virtual cards that users can use to make online payments and purchases. Not only are these virtual cards impossible to lose, you can also apply for a new one (up to five virtual cards), block/unblock or cancel an existing card via the Revolut mobile and desktop app. Speaking of which, the app is also useful for managing your physical cards which is super convenient.

In summary, because of the wide variety of debit card options that it provides, Revolut edges TransferWise in that regard. 

*Currently, both the TransferWise and Revolut debit cards (physical) are only available in the following countries:

TransferWiseRevolut
The United Kingdom, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and a majority of locations in the European Economic Area (EEA)European Economic Area (EEA), Australia, Canada, Singapore,
Switzerland, Japan and the United States

TransferWise vs. Revolut: Usage costs and fees

Another area of interest in the TransferWise vs Revolut debate is the issue of usage costs and fees. In general, signing up and opening an account with both platforms is free. However, as mentioned earlier, Revolut offers three different types of accounts.

The basic (free) account comes with limited features but you will still be able to enjoy most of the features that Revolut offers. In terms of the paid accounts, you can upgrade your free account to Standard Plus for ÂŁ2.99/mo; Premium for ÂŁ6.99/mo; Metal for ÂŁ12.99/mo. As for the benefits of each paid subscription account, check out this summary:

Standard Plus:

  • Up to ÂŁ1,000 insurance for damaged goods after a purchase is made
  • Extended return window for purchased items
  • Reimbursement for last-minute cancellations during your travels
  • Access to Vault (grow your savings with daily interest)

Premium:

  • Up to ÂŁ2,500 insurance for damaged goods after a purchase is made
  • Extended return window for purchased items
  • Reimbursement for last-minute cancellations during your travels
  • Access to Vault
  • Worldwide travel insuranceSmartDelay – free access to airport lounges when your flight is delayed by more than an hour
  • Faster money transfers
  • Withdraw up to ÂŁ400 each month in free international ATM withdrawals
  • Customizable debit card

Metal:

  • Up to ÂŁ10,000 insurance for damaged goods after a purchase is made
  • Extended return window for purchased items
  • Reimbursement for last-minute cancellations during your travels
  • Access to Vault Worldwide travel insurance
  • SmartDelay
  • Faster money transfers
  • Withdraw up to ÂŁ800 each month in free international ATM withdrawals
  • Enjoy up to 1% cashback in any currency when you make a purchase, including cryptocurrencies
  • Fully metal contactless card

What about international transfers? When using both TransferWise and Revolut, receiving transfers is free. However, there are certain charges that apply when performing money transfers. 

In general, TransferWise levies a minimal fee for each transfer that’s made using its platform. The amount that’s charged depends on your country of residence and current mid-market currency conversion rates. The fees also vary slightly depending on whether you’re remitting the money from your bank account, your credit card, or your TransferWise account. This applies even for transfers involving the same currency. 

The same can’t be said for Revolut. That’s because the platform doesn’t charge any fees for transfers involving the same currency. However, there is a limited free foreign currency exchange allowance to keep in mind when making cross-currency transfers in the Eurozone. At the time of writing, the limit is set at ÂŁ5,000 per month. If you exceed that amount, Revolut will levy a charge of 0.5%. 

For international transfers outside the Eurozone, your transfer is subject to currency conversion rates. In addition, you may also incur international wire transfer fees. 

All in all, there isn’t much separating the two platforms in terms of usage costs and fees. While Revolut does offer more options with individual benefits, TransferWise keeps its charges simple, low and transparent. Both have their pros and cons in this category. 

TransferWise vs. Revolut: Customer support

Another comparison between TransferWise and Revolut that we should talk about is the customer service and help section. After all, having an easy-to-reach helpline or FAQs section is extremely important when dealing with platforms that handle your money. 

To put it simply, both platforms provide excellent customer service, punctuated by an extensive help section that can answer almost any common query a user might have. However, should you need to contact customer support, you can do so in a variety of ways. 

You can contact the support team at TransferWise via email, live chat or by phone. That being said, while the live chat support is quite a convenient tool, it is sometimes unavailable for use. This is especially true during peak hours. 

Likewise, you can contact the customer support unit via chat on the Revolut app. The livechat function is initiated by a bot that answers the more basic queries. However, all you have to do is type in “live agent”, and you will be transferred to a customer support representative. One thing to take note of though is that Revolut’s customer support center adheres to regular business hours. If there is a need to contact them outside of said hours, you can opt to join the Revolut community or drop them a message on their social media channels. 

While I wouldn’t personally score a money transfer platform based on their customer support, I do find it easier and more convenient to get in touch with TransferWise than Revolut. 

TransferWise vs. Revolut: User reviews

In today’s app-obsessed world, there’s no fairer reflection of a certain product’s quality than a user review. Both TransferWise and Revolut boast a relatively high score on the Google Play Store, with a 4.5 and 4.7 rating respectively. However, that’s not to say that either platform is safe from criticism. 

Browsing through the comments on the Google Play Store, one of the common problems users faced with TransferWise is the occasional fault during the transfer process. Notification code delays, extended transfer times and blocked transfers were among the reasons cited by users for being dissatisfied with the platform. However, there were also many who praised the transfer system, suggesting that these errors aren’t a typical occurrence and can be solved by contacting customer support. 

On the other hand, a lack of customer support seems to be the main issue most users have with Revolut. Most of it boils down to the fact that Revolut’s customer support is essentially powered by an AI bot that is programmed to answer minor queries. Some people may be unaware of the option to connect to a live agent should they need further assistance. 

Another issue that both users have highlighted is (although rare) the problem of frozen accounts. This is often not due to any technical faults of TransferWise and Revolut though. Instead it’s usually a result of the legislation regarding banking institutions in certain countries. 

In conclusion though, most users appear satisfied with the services offered on both TransferWise and Revolut. However, despite being awesome money transfer platforms, they have their own strengths and limitations. Here’s a quick summary and recap for both platforms: 

Pros of TransferWise:

  • The main website is available in multiple languages
  • Offers international money transfers in a wide variety of global currencies
  • Allows batch payments up to 1,000 recipients
  • Numerous communication channels for customer support
  • Cheaper and faster international money transfers to locations outside the Eurozone

Cons of TransferWise:

  • Processing time varies depending on currency and location
  • Charges applied to every transfer including transfers involving the same currency
  • Not all currencies are supported in terms of receiving transfers

Pros of Revolut:

  • Wider array of features in terms of services offered
  • Supports over 140 currencies in terms of debit card payment and ATM withdrawal
  • Free transactions for transfers in the same currency
  • Great benefits for paid subscription accounts
  • Offers virtual cards

Cons of Revolut:

  • Slightly fewer currencies supported for international money transfers
  • Somewhat faulty customer support system

Final thoughts

Whichever platform you choose will largely depend on the area you live in and what you want to do with the platform/account. As mentioned, TransferWise caters more to digital nomads and work and live overseas while Revolut is the more obvious choice for frequent travelers. 

As an avid traveler myself, I prefer Revolut as it offers more features that I would find useful. That being said, for users who frequently need to send money overseas, there’s hardly a better platform at the moment than TransferWise, considering the relative speed of transfer and the affordable rates.

However, before diving into either TransferWise or Revolut, you could also take a look at some of the lesser-known money transfer platforms like N26 and Monzo. N26 is an app-based mobile bank that is headquartered in Berlin, Germany. Offering its services mostly in Europe, the United Kingdom, and the United States, N26 allows users to manage their virtual bank account on the go using their app. Like TransferWise and Revolut, N26 also provides users a debit card (MasterCard) which can be used in most destinations where that type of card is accepted. 

Monzo (based in the United Kingdom) can boast being one of the earliest app-based virtual banks to be established. You can say that the Monzo model gave birth to the multitude of virtual banking apps on the market right now. It provides similar services like TransferWise and Revolut but, like N26, its area of coverage is limited to mostly the Eurozone. That being said, if you’re living in Europe, these two are two possible alternatives you might want to have a look at too. 

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