Going abroad can be a bit of a nightmare when it comes to currency. I'm not a fan of, nor am I generally organised enough to, exchanging pounds into whatever currency I'll need before I go, as I don't know how much I'm going to spend, and let's face it, it's not the best idea to carry a large amount of cash around. My usual choice is just to use my card for ease and flexibility, and deal with the fees, which can really build up when you're paying around £1 every time you use your card, plus a percentage of what you withdraw when you use an ATM.
It's only recently that I decided enough was enough. I think the final straw came when I moved to Barcelona, and realised that the amount I'd end up paying in fees using my card almost every day would end up being ridiculously high. My first thought was a travel cash card, or a travel credit card. I got confused just searching for one, had no idea how to understand the various types and charges involved, and was put off by the fact that you're often limited in terms of the currencies you can use.
This is when I discovered Revolut
. Founded in July this year, this is honestly the best thing to happen in the world of travel since low cost flights. Managed through an app you can download on your mobile, it's a way to transfer money internationally as well as pay abroad without any
charges. None whatsoever.
How it works
Once downloaded, you can order your Revolut card through the app, which will be sent out to you - I was able to get mine sent to me here in Spain, and it arrived in record time. This is essentially like a debit card as far as I can tell. With the MasterCard logo on the front, it pretty much looks like a normal credit/debit card. Using the app to top it up, you can use it to pay in store or online, or to withdraw cash from an ATM. The top up is done with your normal card, and you should top it up in the currency of your own bank. When you then use the Revolut card, the official conversion rate for that day is used meaning that you don't get stung by a bad rate. There are currently no fees for doing this. You won't get charged for paying with the card, and Revolut won't charge you for using it to get cash out either. As far as I understand, you can use it around the world, meaning there's no need to worry about where you will get your currency from.
Don't ask me how the money transfer side of things works because I haven't needed to use this, although judging by my experience I'm sure it's amazing.
In a nutshell, this has been a lifesaver and it's hard to imagine what I did before it existed (well, actually I know what I did - paid crazy money to spend money). The card may not be free to use forever, as the company has to make money somehow, although for now I don't think there are imminent plans to bring in a charge. If you travel ever, this is well worth looking into as the amount of money and hassle it can save you is brilliant.
Labels: lifestyle, practical, travel