Finally I found a card that, it seems, serves my purposes as a traveler. It's called Revolut and, before you misinterpret this post, it should be mentioned that Revolut did not pay me to write it; nor do I earn commissions if someone else gets a Revolut card.
I write, yes, because I think I've found a card that can make the commuter community save lots of money on bank charges. Especially in the Portuguese case, if you are a traveler who often goes out of Europe (or, in other words, the Euro Zone). I explain.
Looking for the ideal travel card
I have long sought a card that does not cover me around 5% in stamp duty and tax whenever I use an ATM to raise money in Asia, the Americas or even the UK. That's how much it costs me to raise money in those latitudes with my BPI card.
That's why whenever the Barclays Card guys called me to fool their credit cards, I would say that if they card that does not charge fees for withdrawals outside the Eurozone, I would sign on time. Of course, they quickly changed the subject trying to make me see the advantages of the card. There was not. I stopped trying, and started to say that I was unemployed (and the conversation ended in 10 seconds).
Note that I have nothing against my bank, BPI, but I believe that I have finally found a card that meets my needs. It's called Revolut, it's the network MasterCard and the main financial advantages include non-existent or reduced rates and the fact that they are alleged to use more favorable exchange rates than traditional banks.
This in addition to being able to lock and unlock the card through the app (for example, if you lose the card you can immediately lock it, if you find the card later you can unlock it again - how did the banks not think of it before?), and still be able to prevent card use if it is away from your mobile phone (for example, if it is stolen without being aware of it).
I will explain further advantages and disadvantages below, but for now let us focus on the question of rates.
Testing the Revolut Travel Card
I had installed the app Revolut for some time but for one reason or another, I had not yet purchased the card itself. The recent three-week trip I made to the Brazil, passing through Belém, Marajó Island, Manaus, Parintins and São Paulo, was the perfect time to try the card. I wanted to compare the costs of the surveys.
Prior to departure, I transferred exactly 200 € from my BPI account to the Revolut card. I let two or three days pass for the money to reach the card account and, in Manaus, I took the test.
At the same time, I raised R $ 500 with my usual BPI card and then, in the same automatic withdrawal machine, I raised the same amount with the Revolut card. A few days later, I checked the bank transactions and, unsurprisingly, I saved money with Revolut. Converted into euros, the costs were as follows:
- Survey, converted into euros: 134,57 €
- Taxes and fees: 7,16 €
- Total: 141,73 €
- Survey, converted into euros: 134,48 €
- Taxes and fees: 0 €
- Total: 134,48 €
Savings: 7,25 € on a + - 135 € survey
Between "Non-Euro Zone ATM Survey Commission", "Outside Euro Zone Survey Commission", "Outside Euro Zone Survey Processing Commission", "Currency Conversion Commission" and respective stamp taxes, BPI charged me a total of 7,16 € of fees. That is, 5,32% of the money raised was added in bank fees and taxes. Already Revolut, by the same survey, charged me zero.
That is, at less than € 135 raised saved 7,25 €. Multiply this by dozens of surveys during a long-term trip as a around the world and will save hundreds of euros in taxes and related taxes.
Revolut charges 2% per survey, from the monthly 200 € (ie the first 200 € you raise each month are exempt from fees). If I had already exceeded this limit, the survey would have cost 2,68 € in fees. Even so, about a third of what BPI charged me.
Contrary to what I assumed, the exchange rate used by BPI and Revolut was identical. I do not know if the other Portuguese banks are so generous as the BPI, but the truth is that in this aspect the gains of the Revolut were irrelevant.
She had read an account of a British traveler who had benefited greatly from the conversion, compared to surveys by her boyfriend who used a "normal" card, but in my case it did not.
Apparently, the advantage is when money is converted into app, between euros, pounds and dollars (and, since the beginning of July of 2017, 11 other currencies). For example, if I travel to the United States of America, before raising money I will have to convert the amount that you want to raise from euros to dollars, and only then make the withdrawal in an American ATM box. It would seem that in this case a lot of money will be saved only by the exchange rate used. One more thing to test in the future.
In short, in my case I did not spare anything on the exchange; but I saved a lot on fees.
Where to use the Revolut card
The most obvious use for travelers is even cash withdrawals in local currency at ATMs. But there are other uses that are advantages for users (some have not yet had the opportunity to prove). To know:
- Shopping on the go. If you make a purchase that you want to pay with a card outside the Euro zone, using Revolut does not pay the usual fees or bank fees;
- As in the case of purchases, you can add the Revolut card to your account at app Uber ou Cabify and thus save money on travel. I used it frequently during my recent stay in Sao Paulo;
- Shopping on-line. Likewise, if you usually shop in stores on-line the United States of America or the United Kingdom, for example, paying in dollars or pounds, will save you money if you pay your purchases using the Revolut account;
- In case of loss or theft of the card during the trip, you can ask for a duplicate to the address where you are at the moment. Within 10 days, the new Revolut card will arrive at its destination;
- In emergency situation, if you are for any reason with no money on the road, you can ask a friend or family member to transfer money into your Revolut account. If this person owns a Revolut account, the transfer is instant (suggestion: if you are going to take a long trip, make someone you trust create an account, it will be a way to quickly resolve a financial emergency).
To learn more about the card and try it, visit www.revolut.com.
Less positive points
The only downside I have found so far is that I am not allowed to make transfers to the Revolut account from a normal debit card. Theoretically this is possible, but in trying to do so, the system asks for the three-digit security code, usually visible on the back of the card. It turns out that my personal debit card from BPI does not have this code - so I'm blocked from using this method (my company's sole business card has, in the next experiment with this one).
On the other hand, the transfer using a credit card has a cost of 1% of the amount transferred, which slightly dilutes the financial advantages of using the Revolut account.
There remains, therefore, the international bank transfer, which takes two or three business days until the money becomes available.
Revolut has a Premium service, with a monthly fee, which allegedly has additional advantages. I will not dwell on this because I have never used the Premium account and therefore have no experience in the subject.
Anyway, the normal Revolut account has already won me over. I hope to use it again on future trips out of the Eurozone; and if there is any new and relevant aspect, I will add to this post for collective benefit. For now, I am a convinced user.
If you already use the Revolut card in your travels, share your experiences - positive or negative - in the comments box with the use of the card. They will certainly be of great use to the traveler community. Thank you.
Update (20.Mar.2018): Revolut has, however, created an affiliate program.
A World Nomads offers one of the best and most complete travel insurance recommended by National Geographic and Lonely Planet. Other excellent and cheaper option is IATI Seguros, which has no age limit and allows multivariate insurance (including long-term travel) to any destination in the world. It's the insurance I use in my travels.