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Monzo vs Revolut: Which is Best For Travel? [2020 Comparison]

Written By:
Bradley Williams
/
Last Updated:
June 23, 2020
Travel stories
When it comes to picking a travel card for travelling abroad, I think there are only 2 clear choices: Monzo vs Revolut. But which one is the best choice?
Monzo vs Revolut
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When packing for a trip abroad, one of the biggest things you need to consider is which travel card to take with you.

Ever since we began backpacking in 2016, we have taken our Revolut and Monzo cards with us on every trip.

We first started with Revolut on our journey around South America and then also started using Monzo shortly after.

As of 2020, we have used these cards in 40 countries, and have worked out the many pros and cons that each card offers.

Though they seem to offer a very similar service, there are a few key differences between Monzo and Revolut that might make them better suited to your personal use.

Below I’ll take you through these differences we’ve picked up on and give you, what we believe to be, the clear winner in the battle of Monzo vs Revolut.

Just one thing to note, this review and our decision is based purely on the purpose of using these as travel cards to get the best bang for your buck when abroad.

So, without further ado, let’s get stuck in ...

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Which countries have we used Monzo and Revolut in?

To help give you a basis for this review, here’s all of the countries that we have used our Revolut and Monzo cards in.

As you can see, collectively this involves 5 of the 7 continents and dozens of different global currencies.

Monzo

Europe:

England / Ireland / Estonia / Finland / Germany / Latvia / Lithuania / Malta / Norway / Poland / Spain / Sweden

Asia:

Indonesia / Sri Lanka / India / Nepal / The Philippines

North America:

Mexico / Guatemala / Nicaragua / El Salvador / United States of America

Africa:

Morocco

Revolut

Europe:

England / Ireland / Austria / Bosnia & Herzegovina / Croatia / Czech Republic / Estonia / Finland / France / Germany / Italy / Latvia / Lithuania / Malta / Netherlands / Norway / Poland / Spain / Sweden

Asia:

Indonesia / Thailand / Cambodia / Vietnam / Laos / Sri Lanka / India / Nepal / The Philippines

North America:

Mexico / Guatemala / Nicaragua / El Salvador

South America:

Brazil / Argentina / Chile / Bolivia / Peru / Colombia

Great features of Monzo for travel

  • Best exchange rates possible - Based on Mastercard rates settled 3 days after transactions are made
  • £200 worth of free withdrawals abroad - 3% charge above this
  • The ability to apply for an overdraft - we love this!
  • Compatible with Google Pay and Apple Pay
  • Ability to freeze your card - Great for if you lose your card or just want to pause when not in use
  • Order a replacement card anywhere in the world - £30 to ship internationally, free within the UK

Additional Monzo features

  • Savings pots - A range of different solutions dependant on how much money you have ready to save
  • Syncing up your salary - You can even get paid the day BEFORE your work is set to pay you!
  • MonzoEnergy - Receive £75 for switching your energy provider through Monzo (more info)
  • Clear monthly budgeting
  • Set up joint accounts - Perfect if you’re travelling as a couple

Great features of Revolut for travel

Here’s a quick overview of the key features that help make Revolut an awesome choice for your next travel card.

  • The best exchange rates possible - The exact rate as offered by Visa or Mastercard (+ 0.5% fee on weekends)
  • Clear account overview of all expenses made
  • Ability to freeze your card - ideal for if you lose your card abroad, or simply want it deactivated when not being used
  • Compatible with Google Pay and Apple Pay
  • Offers an easy sharing bills feature - Once you pay for something, you request a percentage of the amount paid from someone else who uses Revolut
  • Quick currency conversions - You can add whichever currency you’re using abroad and then get quick comparisons of the live exchange rates
  • £200 free withdrawals every month - 2% fee thereafter (can be upgraded using the paid features discussed below)
  • Ability to purchase gadget insurance - As well as travel insurance through the paid plans (see below)
  • Order a replacement card to 180 different countries - With a fee for shipping internationally, £4.99 in the UK
Revolut currency conversion tool
A fantastic tool that Monzo doesn't offer

Additional Revolut features

  • Cryptocurrency trading - Bitcoin, Ether, Litecoin, Ripple, Bitcoin Cash
  • Stock trading - More than 300 stocks
  • The ability to set budgets
  • Typical UK current accounts - Use to pay direct debits, receive salary and cover bills etc ...
  • The ability to receive international payments
  • Make charity donations - Without paying fees
  • Receive cashback when purchasing certain products

Paid Features: Revolut Premium vs Revolut Metal

If you wish to pay to upgrade your Revolut account, then you get access to a whole host of great perks for a small monthly sum.

It’s worth noting that Revolut is always expanding these perks so check ahead of time to see if this list is still up-to-date.

When we first started using Revolut 4 years ago, the perks were only a fraction of what’s on offer today, and the option to upgrade now makes much better financial sense.

Premium features - £6.99 per month

  • Increased ATM withdrawal limits to £400 free
  • Custom-coloured debit card - As opposed to the standard colours
  • Savings Vaults - Earn 1.05% interest on savings
  • Perks Plus - Gives you higher discounts of top brands
  • Revolut Junior - Can create cards for up to 2 children (read more here)
  • Commission free stock trading - Over 300 available stocks (first 8 trades are commission-free each month)
  • Commodities trading - Currently only gold
  • Disposable virtual card - The number changes after every online payment, helping protect against online fraud (read more here)
  • Express global card delivery - to 180 countries in 4 days
  • Priority customer service support from Revolut
  • Travel insurance included within your monthly fee - Be sure to read more about this here. Personally, I always have a separate annual travel insurance policy that I know is custom-designed for my travels & wouldn’t rely solely on this
  • Other insurance perks - Emergency medical assistance with expenses paid directly to your Revolut account; delayed travel insurance; discounted devices insurance + more.
  • Access to airport lounges at discounted rates
  • SmartDelay - Free lounge access for you and 1 friend if your flight is delayed by over an hour (more info)

Metal features - £12.99 per month

Includes all of the above, plus:

  • Up to £600 no-fee ATM withdrawals each month -  £200 more than on Premium
  • Get cashback on certain payments - 0.1% in Europe and 1% outside Europe in 29 selected currencies
  • Free concierge service - Check out this thread for people’s experiences
  • Revolut Junior for up to 5 children instead of 2
  • Unlimited commission free trades each month - As opposed to 8
  • 1 free airport lounge pass
  • StartDelay free lounge pass for you and 3 friends -  As opposed to you and 1 friend on premium

What are the important differences between Monzo and Revolut?

Based on important features when it comes to travel, here’s a look at how I think these 2 awesome challenger banks stand up:

1. Withdrawing money from foreign ATMs

Under the free plans, each allow £200 of free withdrawals each month. Above this you are charged a fee. With Revolut this is 2% and with Monzo this is now 3%. It used to be just 2% from Monzo as well, but this has now changed. As such, Revolut wins here.

2. Paying by card when abroad

Monzo wins purely because of the overdraft feature. Having this on Cazzy’s card means we never have to worry about running out of money when out and about for the day. Be aware though that you do have to apply for the overdraft and not everyone gets approved.

3. Splitting bills

Both Monzo and Revolut offer a feature where you can request money from another user in order to split a bill. A really great feature that both apps do really well.

4. Dealing with fraud

When you start to move your banking ever more online, there is always a fear of fraud and other people somehow getting a hold of your details. Both Monzo and Revolut have advanced safety features in place to help prevent this. 

Namely, the ability to freeze your card at any time and reactivate it at the click of a button. I also like that, if you enter the wrong access pin to the app, you actually get blocked from accessing the bank account and have to verify your identity in order to regain access. 

With Monzo, this requires you to take a picture of your photo ID and record a quick video of you saying something, in order for the Monzo security team to verify it is you who is trying to access the app. We have had no issues with either, except for with Revolut back in 2016. 

Somehow, when paying for something online in South America, a man in Canada got a hold of Cazzy’s card details and used them to buy flight tickets out of Canada (valued at just under £200). I believe that them accessing the details in the first place was our fault and nothing to do with Revolut. 

Either way, we contacted Revolut about the issue and after a few weeks managed to get the money refunded! At the same time, there are plenty of stories online about both Monzo and Revolut where users have been unable to recover stolen funds. 

Whether this is the fault of Monzo and Revolut isn’t always clear; but from personal experience we can vouch for Revolut. Overall, we’ve had great experiences when it comes to fraud with both companies.

Monzo identity verification process
The Monzo identity verification process

5. Replacing lost cards

For some reason, Cazzy and me have a bad habit of leaving our cards in ATMs! We’ve each done it a couple of times and luckily it’s never been a major issue as we each always have a backup card. 

What I love about both apps is that you can immediately freeze and block your card if you’ve lost it or had it stolen, so that no money can be taken. If you do need to order a replacement card outside of the UK, then this is 100% possible with both Revolut and Monzo. 

With Monzo it’s free within the UK and they charge a flat £30 fee to ship outside the UK (sent with DHL tracking). With Revolut this is at least €19.99 and possibly more depending on which international country you are in. To ship within the UK, Revolut charges £4.99. 

It’s hard to give a winner here, because I think both services are very similar in price and incredibly easy-to-use.

6. User-friendliness

Both Monzo and Revolut have a very modern and straightforward feel to them. All of the features are easy to access, except for the currency conversion tool which to me can often seem a bit clunky and delayed. Though this does depend on the quality of the internet connection. 

For some reason, I personally prefer the feel of Monzo, possibly because I seem to use it more often these days. That being said, I would have to give the overall award for user-friendliness to Revolut

Simply because of the fact that they let you save a UK bank card to your account allowing you to top up directly from within the app, rather than having to head to your alternate internet banking app.

Also, their currency conversion tool is extremely handy, and gives you a very quick overview of whichever exchange rates you choose.

Adding money to Revolut
Adding money to Revolut

7. Additional perks

As you can see from the detailed description above, Revolut has clearly put a lot of work into the paid plans. Great travel-related perks include the chance to access free travel insurance included within your plan, as well as the chance to get free lounge passes with flight delays. 

Their concierge service is also an interesting idea, though reviews online seem to be more negative than positive. Finally, you get the chance to increase your free monthly withdrawal limit, which is something that Monzo simply doesn’t offer. So in the world of additional perks, Revolut is the winner.

Other differences (not travel related)

  • Monzo offers savings pots for free, whereas you have to pay to access these on Revolut
  • Monzo offers loans but revolut does not
  • As of May 2020, Revolut is available in the USA, whereas Monzo is not (though it should be soon).
  • Monzo offers an energy switching service which enables you to get £75 just for switching
  • Monzo offers joint accounts whereas Revolut currently does not
  • Revolut offers cryptocurrency, stock and commodities trading whereas Monzo does not
Revolut premium features
Revolut's "Wealth" features

Overall verdict: Monzo vs Revolut - Which is better for travel?

As you can see, both Monzo and Revolut offer a very appealing travel card service, well suited to help you save money when travelling almost anywhere in the world.

Our policy is to take both our Monzo and Revolut cards with us everywhere we go, partly due to the fact that one is a Mastercard (Monzo) and the other is a Visa (Revolut), so we are covered no matter what.

It also means that we don’t have to pay a monthly subscription charge in order to maintain free withdrawals.

With 4 cards, it means we can access £800 worth of free withdrawals between us each month, which has never proved to be an issue.

However, if I had to pick one that I prefer, it would have to be Monzo, purely because of the overdraft feature.

It has come in handy so many times when we unexpectedly need access to money and don’t have any WiFi or data to top up at that time.

It’s not to say that Revolut is bad, but up until now Monzo has proved more reliable.

That being said: I’m wondering if Revolut will soon overtake Monzo as my favourite.

They already have a lot of very obvious perks.

Notably that once you add a card, you can then top up from within the app and never have to leave.

With Monzo, once you've checked your balance and seen you need more money, you have to go to your banking app and send a bank transfer from there.

Also, many of the premium features listed above are relatively new and we haven’t yet had a chance to trial them.

On previous trips, the paid Revolut plans have never been very financially appealing, but with the addition of the lounge pass system and their awesome perks; they could be well worth the small monthly fee.

I’m also keen to start using their stock trading system, and by having the paid plan I won’t have to worry about commissions.

As such, I will update this article accordingly in the coming months as we trial out these cool features.

Advice for new users

So, what would be my advice if you’re planning a trip and trying to decide whether to download Revolut or Monzo?

If you want to just go for one and be done with it, opt for Monzo.

Or if you want to access all of the other cool features, like cryptocurrency and stock trading, then Revolut is the obvious choice.

However, one of my favourite travel tips is to download both and order cards for each one.

Take them each with you abroad and give them both a go.

The fact that they are each free to use and download means that it’s more than worthwhile trying each one.

Plus, you get the bonus of twice as much free ATM withdrawls each month.

The future of Monzo and Revolut

It seems that the aim of both Monzo and Revolut are to become a well-rounded financial services provider, helping you to handle all aspects of your finances.

As of writing, it seems to me that Monzo has done a better job of diversifying these offerings.

Joint accounts are a particularly useful tool for me and Cazzy, and we intend to open up a Monzo business account in the near future.

What with the ability to easily access overdrafts and loans, Monzo seems to be ahead in the race to help people more easily and comfortably switch from traditional banking to this new digital banking revolution.

But in the 4 years we’ve been using each of these services, they have both come a long way.

And it’s exciting to see what the future holds and which new services each one stars to roll out.

In particular, Monzo is set to roll out paid plans sometime in 2020, so keep your eyes peeled!

How to sign up for Monzo and Revolut

Getting your hands on a Monzo or Revolut card is sooooo simple!

Just go ahead and download the app.

You’ll then need to go ahead and enter a few basic details such as your name, email address and home address.

When you’re all signed up you can then request your card to be sent out to you and you’re good to go!

Other similar travel cards to try

As well as Monzo and Revolut, there are 3 other travel cards that we have tried abroad.

1. Starling Bank

The main appeal they offer above Monzo and Revolut is that they have no cap on free monthly withdrawals.

Which is obviously a massive perk if you are worried about paying high monthly fees with Monzo or Revolut.

That being said, Starling is well behind in offering any additional features and Cazzy and I never really grew very fond of it.

Perhaps the biggest issue we had was that the exchange rate we received with them often tended to be slightly worse than what Revolut and Monzo offers.

I’m not sure why as it’s meant to be the same but hey that’s just what we’ve found. 

I do know that both Starling and Revolut apply a 0.5% surcharge to exchange rates on weekends so as to protect themselves against big currency fluctuations (markets close over the weekend).

However Monzo doesn’t do this.

If you’re interested, check out these threads here and here.

Starling vs Monzo vs Revolut

2. N26

I used this a few times abroad and just never got on with it.

At least with Starling they have the clear bonus of no maximum withdrawal amount each month, but N26 just never offered any benefits above Monzo and Revolut so we quickly stopped using them.

Their card also just seemed very tacky (a poor excuse I know!).

Anyhow, they’re no longer available in the UK anyway so best to just ignore them.

N26 vs Revolut vs Monzo

3. Transferwise

When it comes to using these cards for travel, Transferwise simply can’t compete with Monzo or Revolut.

This is because they charge you transaction fees (0.35-2.85%) for using your card abroad.

What I absolutely love about Transferwise is that they have the lowest conversion fees when it comes to receiving international money transfers and converting it into GBP.

As such we use our Tranferwise account a lot for our business. Beyond that I wouldn’t recommend it for travel purposes.

Well that’s about it!

I hope this has been a pretty useful and detailed comparison between Monzo and Revolut, more specifically with regards to how they can help you when travelling abroad.

Once again, be aware that both of these companies are constantly upgrading their features so exact prices and services may be different at the time you sign up.

Now over to you, have you used Monzo or Revolut?

If so, which one do you prefer?

Drop a comment below, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

P.S. Be sure to check out these other trip planning guides we've put together:

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