Revolut: A victim of their own success

Recently I have tried out Revolut 2.0, a service to instantly send and spend money globally with zero fees. But in my two weeks of testing, some money was temporarily lost and my account got locked… twice. Let me take you on the full journey.

So how did it all start? Two weeks ago, I downloaded the app and linked it to my phone number. To spend money you have to have money, so I selected top-up and followed the instructions. Revolut only takes debit cards, if you dare to enter a credit card, it will immediately punish you with a red colored text stating that you can’t use this card. I tried different VISA and Master Cards, but they all appeared to be coded as “credit”—even one that my bank explicitly labels as debit is not supported.

Highly frustrated I tried entering my Number26 Maestro number, which is also labeled as debit. And there, “success”, or so I thought. The top-up was accepted and I saw my money being deducted from my bank account via a push notification, that my bank sends whenever a transaction happens. However just a few seconds later, Revolut told me in their app, that the operation was not successful; but where was my money? It left my bank account and didn’t appear in my Revolut account. I turned to the support chat, which is conveniently located just 2 taps away from the home screen:

It will return to your account. We do not support Maestro Debit.

It took the funds almost a week to come back to my bank account.

In conclusion I had to transfer money to a bank account that I haven’t used in a while, which had a VISA Debit. After two days of waiting for some SEPA magic to happen, I could finally top up my Revolut account with a debit card. I entered the amount, tapped on next and saw my account amounting to 25 EUR. This euphoric state was shortly interrupted by a screen popping up stating that my account had been locked and I have to either identify myself or verify my debit card. WAT?

To verify a card, you need to get your bank statement (in my case by the end of the month) and enter a 4 digit code from that transaction into the Revolut app. Since I didn’t want to wait almost a whole month, I tried the “Passport or ID verification method”, which failed miserably. It was able to read my passport but as soon as it should scan my face, the app did not manage to switch to the front camera and crashed – every time. So, again, I took it to the support chat in the app.

After some wait, I was asked to provide “high definition” photos of my passport’s front, back (which is empty) and me holding the Passport with the front page next to my face, trying to look as pissed as I did when I applied for the biometric passport. I had to send that via email, unencrypted as no one knew what a PGP key or s/mime is. It would be another 2 hours until I was finally able to use my account to send and spend money with zero fees.

In order to continue with your verification process, please send us a clear, full-length, copy of a recent, official ID (passport, driver license or national ID) from both sides, a photograph of you holding the document next to your face and a clear photograph of your face. Kindly mail these with your name and mobile number as the subject to ***@revolut.com

I have then been to the Czech Republic and have spent and withdrawn money in a foreign currency, the Czech koruna (CZK), and everything was fine. I was about to write a lot about my experience and how smooth it worked until I topped it up again just now for a couple of screenshots. However, Revolut was blocking my account again. WAT?!?

This happened at 10pm in the evening on a Monday. The support staff was long gone home so I had to wait till the next day. My “offline” support chat message was ignored, so I sent it again in the morning, asking why my account was blocked. Rather than answering that question, I was asked to send a photo of my VISA card, unencrypted to their support email address. They gracefully allowed me to block out 8 digits of my card, so in case of an interception I would not lose all my data (oh the irony).

The last interaction with Revolut now has been two hours ago, I am still waiting to access my funds and my question to why the account got locked remains unanswered.

In conclusion: The product is great. I wish I could have given you more of an insight on conversion rates and how they compared to other cards, but circumstances prevented that. I feel like Revolut grew big too fast. Obviously, they are having mechanisms in place to reduce fraud, but their support can’t keep up with false positives, so the customers get frustrated. Once my account is unlocked, I will remove my funds and maybe give it another try in a year; that is, if they keep the pricing acceptable:

We reserve the right to change our pricing structure after the first 12 months of using the Revolut service, however, we do not expect there to be a significant change. Revolut was launched with the ambition to offer a fair and transparent alternative to foreign exchange with no hidden fees and we fully intend to live by that philosophy.

We would never charge our customers without clearly explaining the changes and asking their express permission to sign them up on a subscription basis.

12 thoughts on “Revolut: A victim of their own success

  1. Thanks a lot for that review.

    Apparently they’re worse than PayPal, not gonna take the risk that they’re lock in my money and sure as hell I won’t send them copies of my passport and credit card.

  2. I had a similar experience. My account was blocked after a top up from a new debit card, with no reason offered. It was a bank holiday weekend so the four digit reference Revolut required to unblock my account was not available to me as the bank was not updating statements on a bank holiday weekend. The amount blocked was £2500 which I had planned to use in Euro to pay my holiday hotel bill. This cost me somewhere around £60 in that I used my normal credit card to pay the bill who, of course, do not use inter-bank rates. If Revolut had been my sole source of payment I would have been stranded with my family. Stressful?
    The card was unblocked on Tuesday of this week. Since then I have successfully used the card in Athens, Astana, Almaty, Kiev and Rome with no problems.
    This is potentially a wonderful product for the regular traveler. These security glitches must, however, be sorted out.

    1. I honestly think that their fraud mechanisms get into the way too soon. They should offer a way to get past these security measures manually, so once you really want to start using this card a lot, you won’t be locked out immediately.

      Just like you, once it was unlocked, I have used the card on multiple occasions without any problems.

  3. Hi
    Just thought I would post a positive comment. Whilst I did have a few issues with verification which turned out to be my mistake (dob entered did not match passport) since then the operation has been seamless. Have used it on several currencies and it has saved me hundreds of pounds already vs the standard bank exchange rates.topping up has been instantaneous.

    1. I guess it is the nature of an older post. Glad to hear that signing on to Revolut is now a better experience. I also have been using Revolut a lot. It might not be the best deal for Germans during the weekends, but during the week, exchange rates are unbeatable.

  4. Unfortunately I have had a bad experience of Revolut too – their customer service is really very poor and getting refunds from them can take weeks. But worse, I’ve heard that they have closed all accounts outside of europe because they were not doing the right fraud checks. not good for a company that holds money!

  5. Same here, they blocked my account and when i asked for reason, they kept referring me to a section of their terms that has at least 10 possible reasons.

  6. Trusted them and took card to use on holiday in Ireland. After 2 days have been told card will be suspended in 24 hours and account should be emptied. Great help when you’re not due back home for over a week. Beware!!

  7. Have had a Revolut account for 3 months and have had absolutely no problems whets ever. Lodge money and auto topup via debit card in Euros. Use it to buy all of my online shopping in the UK and even bought two cars by doing a bank transfer. It takes revolt a full day to process the bank transfer but then the money arrived at the destination the next day. This is the only frustration, it can take 1-5 days for bank transfers to arrive and when you are buying a car in the UK and you live in Ireland you need to know when the money will arrive to book flights. This is not Revoluts fault, this seems to be a general bank transfer issue with money going into limbo for days. My husband used his card to withdraw funds and make purchases in the UK. Also has had zero issues. so helpful to get a notification every time your card is used and to have the ability to block your card or certain types of transactions from your phone. The banks need to up their game to provide similar services.

    1. Well, I am glad you didn’t have a problem yet. I get frustrated mails from many people asking what to do when they are in a foreign country, top up with their debit card and suddenly have a locked account.

  8. Revolt are truly ghastly. It started off well enough, great app etc, but their verification process when I added a new card was a nightmare. The kept asking for sight of my bank statement showing my name address and the last four digits of my bank card, which my UK bank accounts do not show! Sadly, they still have my cash, yet the account is blocked. It is impossible to speak to them and since their staff seem to be Eastern European, they do not always understand English and the workings of UK bank accounts. In frustration I will be closing this account, sending a letter of complaint, and putting it down to experience.

  9. Hi guys
    My Revolut card has blocked this morning. I hve read on the FAQ that I need to verify my account but on the app it’s not giving me option. I tried to call the helpline but it’s automated and gives you one option to cancel / block the card and nothing else. Desperate for advice if anyone has any please?

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