Revolut threatening to disrupt AmEx $AXP

Revolut threatening to disrupt AmEx $AXP

The Revolut app is amazing!

It’s the kind of app which should have existed long before now, enabling us to swap currencies at decent rates and move them quickly. It’s user-friendly, fast and more convenient than a typical banking app. I’ve lived in a couple of different places and always had to move currencies from place to place, and this is the service I always needed.

What makes me even more excited is the sense that I’ve only scratched the surface of its features, since downloading it a couple of weeks ago. I’m excited about the prospect of getting a Revolut card, and am seriously contemplating the Silver and Metal options!


The Metal card, at €13.99 (or £12.99) per month, gives 1% cashback, a concierge service for hotel and flight bookings, medical insurance, travel delay insurance, and a bunch of other benefits.

This article sums up the feeling which Revolut gives its customers:

I may just be a freelance fintech consultant, working on a bench in a coffee shop in Sheffield rather than a bar on a beach in Thailand, but I have a VIP concierge service and my card is in the post and it is ice cool Metal. You know how Revolut makes me feel? Like a rich man.

The “I feel rich” sensation has traditionally been associated with the cards issued by American Express ($AXP). However, I don’t think that AmEx offers the payments and FX functionality that Revolut does – if you’re an AmEx customer, let me know what you think in the comments!

And Amex cards are expensive. While the Basic Card is free, it doesn’t provide many benefits worth writing home about. To get the benefits, what you really need is the Platinum Card for an annual fee of £575.

So I wonder: for a new generation of mobile, technologically-savvy professionals, could Revolut eliminate the desire for an AmEx platinum card? Why pay AmEx for lounge access, travel insurance, hotel benefits and other rewards if these are all available for a fraction of the price and in a more functional way through Revolut?

I own a tiny sliver of AmEx through my Berkshire Hathaway ($BRK.B) shareholding, and I think this could be a real concern.

Well done to the former bank trader Nikolay Storonsky, who set up Revolut in 2015:

I was travelling a lot and wasting hundreds of pounds on foreign transaction fees and exchange rate commissions which just didn’t feel right. As someone with a financial background I knew exactly the rates I should be getting. As a solution, I tried to find a multi-currency card and was later told it wasn’t possible. But I was determined to make it work.



Wordpress (6)
  • comment-avatar

    Hi Graham, I acquired the Revolut card on my trip to far east last year. I have the basic card and think it is really great especially when travelling with the great exchange rate and the other features. I wonder what the moat is  –  it has to be above and beyond  the exchange rate and features. I am sure companies like Fairfax can replicate easily. Perhaps it is on typing up great deals from other services  –  travel Insurance (I see they offer this on the next level up card), perhaps couple this with additional loyalty  type marketing programmes –  Avios points  etc, Amazon purchases etc.
    Its next step i, I guess, beyond just the technology.

    I love my card and will be using it almost exclusively next week when I am off to Singapore (from UK).


  • comment-avatar

    On a related note, I recently signed up for a Tandem credit card and they offer competitive rates when going abroad, but what I found amazing was that when you’ve downloaded the Tandem app from the App Store or Google Play store, and you link your current account, you can see the balance and transactions within the Tandem app related to your current account.

    For example I could see my current account balance, direct debits, upcoming payments, etc. The app was even clever enough to see that some of my utility bills had increased over the past month. My standard banking app is pretty limited – sure I can see historical transactions and make some, but its not as intuitive as this app.

  • comment-avatar

    I doubt the concierge services provide any kind of moat, since companies like Ten Entertainment (TENG) are signing up to provide such services to numerous banks (they presented at Sharesoc in March).

    Then there are numerous disruptive companies in financial service. For example: Instead of being stuffed with a 3% charge for overseas bank transfers & conversion, Transferwise charge me nearer 0.5% (total) and the money can be in my overseas bank account within 30 minutes of starting. Then my Starling card & phone app is amazing. I withdrew some dollars in Cambodia & after I selected the amount, the phone app notified me of full details of the transaction before the ATM even responded. Then the traditional Banks & Building societies are adding features to maintain competitiveness with the challengers.
    My only current financial services holdings are Paypal & Ramsdens.

  • comment-avatar

    I actually had a bad experience with Revolut and will probably never go back.

    I used the card on a trip to Australia a couple of years ago and was amazed to discover that I was being given a worse FX rate for using it outside of trading hours.

    And if memory serves me correctly, I only noticed because I did the FX calculations myself for a few transactions and something looked wrong, not because Revolut stated they were giving me a worse FX rate.

    I had to contact customer service who informed me of this “outside trading hours” rule at the time as I don’t recall it actually being written anywhere in their T&Cs!.

    And they also clarified that trading hours was UK trading hours, not the country you were in, so if you withdrew cash from an ATM on a weekend in Sydney you were given a different FX rate than if you did it midweek 9am-4pm UK time!

    The lack of transparency was enough to put me off, probably forever.
    I do have a Transferwise card, but again, I’m charged a conversion fee when spending abroad so don’t really use it.

    It’s much easier (and cheaper) to continue using my Nationwide CC and Metrobank DB, which both have served me fine when travelling abroad.

  • comment-avatar

    I have Nationwide & Metro Bank ATM cards. Both charge about 2.75~3% outside Europe, so no way will I use them.
    My Halifax Clarity credit card charges 0%. Also on cash withdrawals, almost 0% on the forex and interest at about 1% a month. I have avoided any interest by going on line and paying off the amount the same day.
    The Starling bank card is supposed to charge near 0%, but I notice the Mastercard rate they got wasn’t quite as good as I expected from Halifax experience -a virtually mid market rate for the latter.

    As for Revolut, I believe they are not covered by FSCS, so I wouldn’t be prepared to put any significant sum of money with them. As I said earlier, any financial institution could contract Ten Group to provide premium concierge services. So no moat. However, I am very interested in hearing the other side of the argument & any other theories on the payments sector. As for the fancy services, I thought the Teng valuation was already pricing in lots of future growth when I heard them at Sharesoc in March. They are up ~50% since then.

  • comment-avatar

    I appreciate all of the incredible feedback I received on this article. Definitely helps me to build a better picture of the payments experiences of others and the market as a whole. Thank you.

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