I’ve noticed my blog post about Revolut getting heaps of traffic so I wanted to give an update on my feelings today and share my thoughts on some of the other FinTech companies I use.
I’ve lived a fully nomadic lifestyle since October 2015, when I swapped my London apartment for countless hotels, airbnbs and the occasional hostel bed. Before venturing into the products offered by FinTech companies, I relied on two traditional current accounts in the UK.
Revolut was at the time, the main player. As an early adopter for the latest technology I was excited to use the service. Unfortunately things didn’t go so well — as I explained in my previous post (dated December 2016).
Since that article has anything improved at Revolut – in my experience?
First off – I’m still using Revolut, so there are points there. The core offering enabling people to store money in various currencies at a very good rate, then use the card overseas or to withdraw cash without incurring large fees – is very good, but certainly not great – since there are many other players in the market offering the same core service now.
What Revolut fails on is customer service & reliability. Both are important topics, especially when trusting a company with your money.
On the surface they’ve advanced a little with their customer service offering an automated bot response for many questions. They’ve also extended their coverage from limited GMT hours to 24/7 (for premium accounts), I’m unsure of the coverage for free accounts. The reliability has improved, but I am still faced with card downtime and failed withdrawals from time to time.
A little deeper it’s clear the user experience here is not great. The automated bot tries to help, but in the process frustrates me. Upon being connected to someone (and in the times I’ve tried it’s often a long wait), it feels like the support function has been completely outsourced (I could be wrong). It doesn’t feel like the support team have been trained well, or perhaps they’re jumping between many different clients and are not dedicated to Revolut? Whatever the reason – there is much to improve.
Other changes include a range of new features/ improvements to the app and two premium accounts now (note: they contacted me on twitter and upgraded me to their premium for free as I was an early user and a digital nomad), but I have to say – I wouldn’t of chose to upgrade, the benefits are weak.
The biggest problem about the premium offering for me is the medical and travel insurance. Which is something crucial if you travel regularly or are nomadic like myself. I was excited when first offered the upgrade, since I already paid for this – but after reading the policy I was disappointed. The policy included covers trips for 40 days (which is not nomad or extended trip friendly) and as Which? highlights doesn’t include cover for baggage and belongings, cancellations or travel delays. These two factors, combined with the provider they’ve chosen (White Horse Insurance Ireland) make the insurance offering very weak – try getting in touch with them.
I still hold my original opinion about Revolut – the support and reliability factors make it very risky to use this as your primary solution. I also can’t recommend the premium account(s) based on the insurance factor. Don’t upgrade for this or the other features (perks, concierge, etc), they’re not good value offerings. I will update you if my opinion changes (and I hope someday it does).
Aside from Revolut, I’ve been using Starling Bank, Monzo (was Mondo) and N26.
Starling Bank is overall very good — it’s reliable and has a great user experience. It has the feeling of a more innovative traditional banking institution. They pay interest on your balance (which is great) and also offer business banking. There are no fees to use or withdraw overseas, which makes the account great for long term travel. The offering is free, fast and secure.
I use Monzo as my card for Apple Pay and it’s worked perfectly. After the rebrand from Mondo, they’ve not stood out to me with any particular feature or benefit. It’s just a UK mobile first current account. I hope to see them expand their offering and find a way to differentiate themselves in the competitive FinTech market.
Finally, I’ve been using N26 — for almost as long as Revolut, but unlike them they have really matured as a banking platform. This maturity drove me to upgrade to their premium account (N26 Black) and more recently to their latest premium account (N26 Metal). The core offering is strong if used as a primary account (you intend to pay your income into this account).
The premium accounts are a very good value upgrade – with a great medical and travel insurance from Allianz (including mobile phone theft insurance), additional 1 year warranty on your purchases and delay/cancellation insurance. They have built in savings, investment, credit & insurance management features too. The one improvement I’d like to see within the N26 experience is for the ‘support’ function to know who I am – rather than me having to enter my account details from scratch.
In addition to these FinTech providers, I collect Avios for free flights and upgrades by using my American Express cards. All of which offer free transactions overseas and many other great travel benefits.
I hope you found this information helpful — if you did, please share.
Got a question about any of the companies here? You can reach me on Twitter, or contact me via the contact page. Or if you’re from one of the companies I’ve mentioned and would like to do an interview? I’d love to speak with you – just reach out.