Revolut – The top 4 features beyond regular banking services

Foreword – Account and Card services

Much like Wise, a Revolut account enables currency management without extensive conversion fees. Firstly, Revolut provides personal account details and physical Debit Cards usable globally. Further, there’s the option of a free virtual card which is refreshed automatically after each use. *Wise have just developed a similar feature – free digital Debit Cards for added convenience. Meanwhile, with the Revolut card you can pay and transfer in 140 currencies at the Interbank rate. However, Revolut has other advantages and in this article I discuss 4 of them. Additionally, I’ve summarised the Revolut plans and indicated which features require the paid plans.

Revolut Plans

  • Standard – the free plan
  • Plus – 12 months – £2.99 per month or £29.99 annually.
  • Premium – 12 months – £6.99 per month or £72 annually.
  • Metal – 12 months – £12.99 per month or £120 annually.

1. Revolut Insurance

In early 2021 I discovered that Revolut offer the following types of Insurance:

  • Medical Insurance (Metal users) – Importantly, Revolut medical insurance ensures you receive global protection (currently U.K. residents only). When I travelled to Thailand during 2021, I needed medical Insurance including COVID-19. Revolut cover you for 90 days and up to £10million emergency, COVID-19 and Winter Sports expenses.
  • Travel Insurance (Plus, Premium or Metal users) – This covers trip cancellations, loss or theft of luggage, personal money and passports. Their pay per day feature keeps your insurance active only when you’re overseas.
  • Device Insurance (Premium or Metal user) – you can acquire discounted device insurance of 20% for instance.

2. Revolut Cryptocurrency

Revolut promotes instant investment in 21 different coins including a range of Altcoins. This lowers your reliance on Crypto Exchanges which can be time consuming and irritating. To summarise, with Revolut you can, for example:

  • Create Price Alerts and Auto Exchanges so you’re prompt in the market.
  • Browse market rates and track your performance.
  • Buy/sell/hold Crypto.
  • Buy Crypto with your debit card.
  • Exchange to or from any Crypto up to $15,000 per transaction.
  • Withdraw Crypto, however, only Bitcoin currently (requires Metal plan).
The exchange rate you are given depends on market factors and the margin on your is given separately.

When you buy or sell you are telling Revolut to buy or on your behalf, however, you own the Crypto. See the full Cryptocurrency Terms and Conditions and Personal Fees for clarity.

Hold and Send Bitcoin

Metal plan subscribers can enjoy access to Bitcoin withdrawals allowing you to send it from one platform to another. The process requires a Bitcoin address and Revolut runs 2FA to ensure you know exactly where you’re sending it. Note, you can withdraw up to £1000 a month or £500 per day and the following are options for storing Crypto:

  • An External Wallet (add up to three of these).
  • A Hot Wallet.
  • Cold Storage (External Drive).
  • A Revolut Personal or Savings Vault – receive daily and annual interest. However, the latter requires a Premium or Metal account).
Withdraw Bitcoin to an External Wallet using a Bitcoin Address.

Airdrops

Flare network has arranged a Spark airdrop for all holders of XRP tokens. Revolut is affiliated with Crypto partners which approve the airdrop, therefore they can also approve it. If you were holding any XRP on your Revolut account on 12/12/2020, you’re eligible to obtain Spark tokens. For those that are not aware:

  • An airdrop is a distribution of a Cryptocurrency token or coin, normally for free, to many wallet addresses. This is a method to gain attention and new participants, for instance
  • The Flare Network is a new blockchain established on the Flare Consensus Protocol. This is a system intended to bring Ethereum-like performance to the XRP Ledger.

Revoluts involvement in such projects indicate their extensive Crypto coverage when compared to others in the fintech market.

3. Donations

The Revolut app enables you to easily donate to local and global causes. Additionally, you can make one off donations or create a recurring payment for regular donations. Revolut then periodically transfers your funds to the official third-party bank account of respective charities. Your charity receives 100% of your donation as there are no fees charged by Revolut. As yet you cannot donate with Cryptocurrency, however, you can exchange Crypto into Revolut supported currencies.

4. Commodities

Much like with Crypto, Revolut support investment in Commodities such as Precious Metals from as little as $1. You can set up Price Alerts and Stop or Limit Orders to automatically exchange Gold or Silver at your desired price*. In addition, you are able to:

  • Buy/sell/exchange/transfer Gold or Silver within the Revolut platform at current market rates. Note, the price reflects the market value of 1 troy ounce which is approximately 31 grams.
  • Store them in a Personal or Savings Vault. You can acquire interest and annual bonuses of 4.50% for up to your account amount. With Premium or Metal you receive interest rates of 0.28% Annual Percentage Yield on the funds in your account. Therefore you can earn a total of 4.78% in addition to the 4.50% bonus. Meanwhile, as a Standard User you receive interest rates of 0.15% APY on the funds in your account. Therefore you can earn a total of 4.65% in addition to the 4.50% bonus.
  • Use any supported Fiat or Cryptocurrency to exchange as Precious Metals or exchange Precious Metals to Fiat or Cryptocurrency.
Track live rates so you’re moving with the market.

*In short, Market Order exchanges between Precious Metals and Fiat or Cryptocurrencies are instant and at Revolut rates. See more on Terms and Conditions in the Commodities FAQs.

Quarantine Hotel – the full story of returning to Thailand

Fifteen nights isolating in Bangkok

Foreword

Visiting the U.K. in July 2020, I planned to return to Thailand in September yet only certain visas were being accepted. After correspondence with Chiang Mai University I discovered that applications for the Education (ED) Visa were not opening until December. Therefore, I waited patiently as the conditions in both Thailand and U.K. continually changed. This post recounts the process of returning to Thailand, from application to subsequent quarantine hotel on arrival.

Application Process for (Non Immigrant) Education Visa

When the applications for Education (only formal) resumed, there were various changes due to Covid-19. Steps 1-4 below are the same as pre Covid-19 requirements as referred to in Thai Language Study Level 1. At step 5 the process differs, previously applicants needed to visit a Thai embassy but currently applications are completed remotely. Finally, steps 7-9 are specific requirements from Chiang Mai University.

The steps followed to enroll on the Thai Language and Culture Level 2 course.

Preparation of Quarantine Hotel

From mid 2020 everyone entering Thailand must stay at an Alternative State Quarantine hotel for 15 total days. When I arranged my journey in December there were 120 hotels enrolled and they are partnered with local hospitals. The hotels are mostly in Bangkok, with several in Phuket and Pattaya, and range in price between £600 and £3000. After applying for the Visa at https://thaievisa.go.th, I posted my passport which was then returned to me within 5 working days. Subsequently, I started the list of following requirements: (see the full list here: https://london.thaiembassy.org/en/publicservice/requirements).

Preparation of Required Documents

  1. Hotel Booking and Flight Schedule* – Your quarantine hotel/flight must be booked first so you can confirm dates for the following documents. Print copies for travel. Approximate combined cost £1100.
  2. Health Insurance – Covering medical expense caused by COVID-19 with minimum coverage of $100000. See a list of providers offering this: https://covid19.tgia.org/. Be sure to read the policies carefully and print copies for travel. Approximate cost for 3 months £175.
  3. Declaration Form – This form is completed and uploaded to your COE application. Print for travel.
  4. Certificate of Entry (COE) – A one page document stating that you are eligible to enter Thailand. You can use this link for full instructions: https://coethailand.mfa.go.th/. Ensure you carry printouts of this.
  5. T8 Form – The immigration form that you always fill out when entering Thailand.
  6. COVID RT-PCR Test within 72 hours of departure – This method of swab test with a lab report showing no evidence of COVID-19 is mandatory. Check with your airline before regarding 72 hour policy as this information can be conflicting. Is it 72 hours from test time or result time? Print your lab report for travel. Approximate cost £150.
  7. Fit to Fly Medical Certificate – A statement from a GP that you are free of symptoms and fit to fly as scheduled. You can obtain this as soon as you receive your negative test result. Print copies for travel. Approximately £10. From April 2021 this was removed as a requirement.

*I flew with Etihad Airways as they were reasonably priced and they had favourable layover times. Furthermore, I booked The Green View Hotel in Bangkok, 25km from Suvarnabhumi airport.

Tip: separating your documents helps to ensure you don’t forget any.

Arrival at Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok

Once disembarking, there was an immediate staff presence to gesture you towards immigration. I reached a cordoned off area, with chairs for passengers to sit, present their documents and have temperature recordings. After my documents were checked, I was given a sticker and passed through immigration. Further, when I exited arrivals, the staff from all the respective ASQ hotels were waiting. Within five minutes I boarded a minivan to Green View Hotel, a half hour journey. The process from disembarking to arriving at the hotel was quicker and less hassle than I had expected.

The Green View Hotel: Chosen Quarantine Hotel

The schedule stated when your room could be cleaned, when you are tested and when you are allowed outside.

On check-in I showed my passport and COE and was given a brief of the schedule, before heading to my room. The room itself was perfectly adequate; providing views of the garden and containing all essentials including masks and digital thermometer. Meanwhile, I needed to take my temperature twice daily for the nurse who phoned to record it. The first afternoon I traded, made phone calls and then dinner arrived at 5.00pm. Certainly I was eager for a good sleep due to travelling for over 20 hours, so settled down at 9pm.

Settling in and keeping entertained

I recognised that creating and maintaining a routine was particularly important during my stay. I aimed to balance productivity and ‘downtime’, the former to give purpose, the latter to recharge physically and mentally. Each day closely followed the usual schedule I would aim to accomplish: language study, blog development, trading, reading and exercise. Further, factoring in meal times, temperature checks and phone calls resulted in the days passing quickly. The experience enabled me to reflect and focus on activities I might normally create an excuse not to do.

I was grateful to receive snacks and drinks from my girlfriends parents although meals provided by the hotel were generously sized.

Specific activities and daily tasks

Morning

By Day 3 I had adopted a loose but effective schedule. I woke up to the sound of the breakfast trolley and then ate, either before or after a short workout. Subsequently, I worked on web development and Thai study – either Duolingo or written notes until lunch arrived. In addition, I switched my PalFish Free Talk status to online for students to call, of which several engaged. Whilst eating lunch and dinner I enjoyed some football highlights or other YouTube videos. At times I would take a welcome break from screen time whilst eating lunch. Note, my routine slightly changed when I underwent the COVID tests and spent time outside the room (see below).

Afternoon/Evening

I aimed to exercise at least once per day, usually in the afternoon after my trading work, but some days twice. Likewise, once I implemented this, the physical and mental benefits were invaluable. Moreover, some afternoons and evenings involved phone calls with my girlfriend, family or friends. At dinner I chilled for a while, reading news or watching YouTube. After dinner I usually logged onto PalFish again as many students enjoy evening study. Lastly, I immersed myself in a good book and aimed to settle down to sleep around 10pm.

Food in my Quarantine Hotel

My first meal: minced pork with basil and chilli and a cake for dessert.

My meals were placed on a table just outside the room followed by a knock on the door. The menu was varied with a mix of Thai and International cuisine and the portion sizes were certainly substantial. Breakfast included a meal along with bread, fruit and milk, lunch and dinner included a meal with fruit or dessert. In addition, I had already carried snacks and my girlfriend’s parents delivered food, so I had more than enough.

An example of a breakfast. Inside the bag are fruit, milk and bread.

COVID Tests – Days 5 and 12

My first test took place on Day 5 in a communal area setup with chairs and tables. The process lasted no longer than a few minutes and I then returned to my room. Slightly uneasy about receiving the short, sharp pain from the swab, I went for the second test on Day 12. Again the process was fast and I felt content that quarantine testing was complete (provided the result was negative).

Room Cleaning and ‘downtime’ – Days 8 and 13

Having not received a test result by Day 8, I received a call asking if I wanted my room cleaning. A nurse accompanied me to a room with ventilation and refreshments where I waited. Within 15 minutes I was back in my room but the change of scenery was enjoyable. Similarly, on Day 13, I hadn’t received a result, so assumed I would be permitted ‘relax’ time. A call duly arrived asking if I wanted room cleaning and that I could have one-hour outside the room. I walked the circumference of the swimming pool several times before perching on a sun lounger. Meanwhile, with just one day left I felt content returning to the air-conditioned room and continuing my schedule.

The refreshments room where ‘guests’ could wait during room cleaning.

Concluding Remarks on Quarantine Hotel Process

Having completed the quarantine, my advice is to ensure you have a purpose each day. Generally I achieved this by having a consistent routine and sensible targets. The experience became quite normal and on reflection, re-entering the outside world after almost felt strange. That said, I was extremely excited to reunite with my girlfriend and Chiang Mai after 6 months. Thailand has such an incredible food scene, interesting culture and remarkable nature and history. These made quarantine worthwhile and now back in Chiang Mai, I’ve commenced studying and continued my work projects.

Thai Language and Culture Certificate at Chiang Mai University

Information on One-Year Education Visas

Application Process (Level 1 Thai Language)

I consider travel to be the greatest form of education. Having lived in Thailand for 6 months, I applied to study Thai language on an Education Visa at Chiang Mai University starting in May 2019. In January 2019. I collected documentation from the University before commencing a period of travel in Cambodia and Vietnam. Subsequently I returned to the U.K. to submit this at the Royal Thai embassy in London. The process at the embassy was really efficient, I spent around 30 minutes there on both days. Note the opening times and application details as follows:

  • The embassy opens Monday-Friday from 9.00-12.30 and 14.00-17.00.
  • Apply for your visa between the times of 9.00 and 12.30 on your first visit.
  • Collect your passport with visa inside the next day between the times of 14.00 and 17.00.
  • Bring £50 consular fee, your documentation, a criminal record check and passport (including photocopies of these). Use the following link for a reliable and inexpensive criminal record check: https://www.gov.uk/request-copy-criminal-record

*Information accurate as of January 2020. The process has since changed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. See updated information in the post: Quarantine Hotel – the full story of returning to Thailand.

Course Cost and Structure

The cost for the visa is 35000฿ (£870) which you pay in advance or when commencing study. You can make the payment in installments, I paid half prior to leaving for the U.K. and the remainder when returning. The visa entitles you to 216 teaching hours split into two sessions per week, mine being on Tuesdays and Thursdays 4-7pm. The classes are at the Language Institute in the main University campus. Meanwhile, there are three individual mid-term breaks (1 month each) and some Buddhist holidays where you are not required to study. I continued to study independently during these periods and could optionally request extra ‘homework’.

Thai Language Course Chronology: May 2019 – May 2020

On commencement of the Thai language program there were five students, yet by September the number reduced to two. In February 2019, the other lady I studied with opted to return home to South Korea so I received personal tuition. Further, my teacher was likable and easy going, meaning studying didn’t feel unnecessarily pressured. From March until the end of the course the classes took the form of Zoom calls due to Covid-19. Certainly this was strange, though due to the patience and flexibility of my teacher there was minimal disruption to my learning. Additionally, my teacher kindly offered to continue Zoom tuition for a month after my visa expired. Below are some of the activities that we engaged in alongside classroom learning.

One Craft, One Gold Exhibition

Interesting exhibits on display in the Social Research Building.

In October there was an art and craft exhibition, named One Craft, One Gold, in the nearby Social Research Institute. During a class break, we had a look around the exhibition which showcased an array of regional artefacts and hand crafts. The experience was fascinating, increasing my knowledge on Lanna culture and both the general and northern Thai languages. In addition, Chiang Mai University has a reputation for innovation and community development. Certainly this was evident in it’s support of local exhibits, some of which I’ve included in the photos.

Preparing Yam Wunsen (ยําวุ้นเส้น)- a spicy noodle salad

Preparing ingredients for Yam Wunsen.

Food is a substantial part of Thai culture and I find this relationship really interesting. Thailand has an incredible variety of food and the availability and affordability amazes me to this day. One of these is the spicy noodle salad Yam Wunsen, which we prepared in a lesson just before Christmas. I had previously tried the dish, yet producing it was enjoyable and assisted my understanding of creating flavour with certain ingredients.

See this simple method for making Yam Wunsen and the list of ingredients we used are as follows:

  • Vermicelli (dried glass) noodles.
  • The meat/seafood can be Vietnamese sausage, pork mince, chicken or shrimp – all are tasty. The vegetarian option using egg/fried tofu or tempeh is also delicious.
  • Tomato – cut into wedges.
  • Red onion and spring onion – finely chopped.
  • Chinese or regular celery – inner stalks and leaves.
  • Cilantro or coriander – chopped.
  • Chilli – finely chopped.
  • Juice of a lime or two.
  • Brown or granulated sugar.
  • Thai fish sauce.
  • Oil for cooking.

Local Market – Kad Fai Hin (กาดฝายหิน)

Kad Fai Hin, a daily market from 4pm, is located in the main campus, a few minutes from the Language Institute. Our teacher drove us here one Thursday in the last hour of our study time. The vendors mostly sold food and drink and being able to order in the Thai language is always satisfying. Further, several stalls sold northern Thai food, some of which I had not sampled. Once we had examined the offerings we each selected dishes to share and chatted in Thai for additional practice.

Flower, Candle and Incense Arrangement

Arranging candles, incense sticks and flowers to place inside the cone shaped banana leaf we made.

When people visit temples, particularly during festivals, placing flowers, candles and incense inside banana leaf is important in merit making. Buddhists consider this a way of overcoming selfishness and calming the mind in preparation for practicing virtue. I had participated in the offering at Wat Thep Phithak in Korat Province, though the materials were ready made. Meanwhile, you contribute 20 baht towards the materials which is another ‘offering’. I find acknowledgment of the Buddha profound and insightful, contributing meditation in tranquil temples.

Thai Language reflections and additional mentions

I recommend the Level 1 course as it provides opportunity to learn about Thai language and customs, in addition to a visa. Likewise, integrating yourself in the language increases the respect you earn from natives as well as being beneficial personally. The variety of activities I mention supplemented my knowledge of Thai culture and traditions. Finally, I involved myself with Chiang Mai University promotional videos. The first was filmed at the Language Institute, along with other students, for the website. My teacher also requested I create a video, in English, discussing my feelings about online tuition. I filmed this from the resort I stayed at in Chiang Dao, with the backdrop of Doi Chiang Dao.

Coffee Plantations in the mountains of Northern Thailand

Coffee Growing in Chiang Rai

Coffee Plantations – 1. Doi Tung

Views over the mountains en route to Doi Tung.

Touring Coffee plantations was an something I had wanted to do since moving to Chiang Mai in 2018. I first experienced Coffee growing in the mountains of Doi Tung and this was certainly large scale. The Coffee was available to taste in the Doi Tung Cafe at Mae Fa Luang Garden, Chiang Rai Province. Subsequently, I’ve seen Doi Tung products in supermarkets and their shops in Chiang Mai and further afield.

Coffee Plantations – 2. Abonzo Coffee

Abonzo’s location offers amazing views of the Doi Chang mountain range and beyond.

History

I subsequently discovered that Coffee growing became an agricultural alternative to Opium for hill tribes in Doi Chang. Though such ventures took years to profit, the founder of Abonzo, Pattrachai Mongkolkoolpongsai says his family never gave up. He encouraged villagers of his Akha community to keep growing Coffee resulting in Abonzo’s success. The project educates Coffee farmers to achieve improved quality and quantity of their Coffee. Additionally, Pattrachai aims to develop Abonzo further whilst supporting Akha children’s education through scholarships.

Witnessing close up the coffee bushes and cherries blossoming.

The Plantation

To reach the plantation, we had to navigate steep roads through Mae Suai district. My first reaction was to take in the remarkable mountain views and then notice the Coffee growing. We sampled Iced Coffees in the adjacent Cafe and you could choose your bean (we chose Green and Peaberry varieties). Subsequently, we browsed products they were selling including drip coffee, coffee beans and ground coffee. We witnessed their coffee roaster, bags of coffee cherries and in another building people sorting coffee. I felt the experience was humbling, putting into perspective the achievements of the communities.

Coffee Plantations – 3. Doi Chang

The Wawee and Doi Chaang logos.

The Mae Suai district encompasses Doi Wa Wi and Doi Chang, and we observed considerable Coffee en route. On this occasion, we decided against visiting Doi Wa Wi as the road became narrower and densely mountainous. The Doi Chaang Coffee brand originates from the Doi Chang mountains and the Wawee Coffee brand from Doi Wa Wi. Furthermore, they are now nationwide offering Arabica Coffee as their signature product. I recommend visiting all the regions as they offer authentic opportunities to see Coffee cultivation in beautiful surroundings.

Travels to Korat Province (Nakhon Ratchisima) via Bangkok

The Central Heartlands of Thailand

In 2018 I first visited my girlfriends family in the Pak Chong district of Korat, Thailand’s largest province. Subsequently, I’ve visited again, for instance when we explored Ayutthaya, Lopburi and Saraburi. The most convenient way to Pak Chong from Chiang Mai is to fly to Don Mueang Airport in northern Bangkok. From the airport you can take the two-hour train to Pak Chong. Klang Dong village is the precise location of her family home and this is just 15 kilometres from the station. Our travels within Korat Province (and beyond) comprise an array of destinations, most of which I mention below.

Travels through Bangkok

Passing the famous Wat Arun on the Chao Phraya river.

I had passed through Bangkok six months previous when visiting the islands of Koh Chang and Koh Kood. However, this time I had more chance to sightsee from the central Silom and Saladeang where we stayed. One of our hostels was a converted Chinese Temple, named Cloud on Saladeang, which I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend. Travels included walking through Khao San Road and China Town, and visiting the vast Chatuchak markets and Lumphini Park. Furthermore, we took the boat on the Chao Phraya River and saw the highlights, Wat Arun and the Grand Palace. After staying in Bangkok for a few nights, we headed to Korat.

Travels to Korat Province

Klang Dong Village

Korat is the largest province by land and encompasses Khao Yai National Park, a popular destination for wildlife enthusiasts. My girlfriends family live 30km from the National Park in a strikingly mountainous and spacious location. Additionally, their land contains many types of fruit tree and a small factory where they produce fruit wine and juice. Likewise, their house has direct views of the White Buddha at Wat Thep Phithak high in the mountains. I drove their Isuzu truck to the temple and we walked the 600 steps to appreciate the superb views. Before leaving we sampled Coconut Ice Cream and Thai Tea in the main temple area – both were sweet and delicious.

Capturing the Pasak Dam (Lopburi Province) on a surprisingly less sunny day.

Pak Chong District

We toured the cities of Nakhon Ratchisima and Pak Chong, sampling Isaan (north-east Thai), Japanese and Korean food. Further, we visited local markets and cafes along with trips to Khao Yai National Park, temples and waterfalls. My girlfriends family were really accommodating, the dishes her Mum cooked and meals at restaurants provided amazing flavours and variety. Therefore, I greatly anticipated tasting different products and ingredients, for instance their homemade wine and juice. Above all, this first stay at the family home was fascinating and gave me additional insight into Thai culture.

Bananas Plantations in the land owned by my girlfriends family.

Further travels – Khao Yai PB Valley Winery

In early 2020 my girlfriend and I embarked on further travels within Korat accomplishing some outings and activities. One of these was the Khao Yai PB Valley Winery, one of the largest wine producers in Thailand. The Winery is a short drive from Klang Dong, and 20km from the entrance to Khao Yai National Park. We participated in a tour of the vineyards which evoked memories of Wine related study at College and University.

Walking through some of the vines during our tour of the site.

Background to PB Valley

The winery comprises 320 hectares with grapes like Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo grown, in addition to Thai grapes. PB Valley was the first in the region (1989) yet as others emerged the ‘Khao Yai’ was discarded for PB Valley. Subsequently, I discovered that several of Thailand’s largest Wine manufacturers are based in Korat.

An Oak Barrel in the manufacturing plant.

The Tour

My girlfriend and I travelled around the site on a golf cart, stopping to walk through vines. The tour gave us an idea of how extensive the growing and production areas were. We observed much of the manufacturing from fermenting to oak barreling and bottling. Additionally, we tasted some of PB Valley’s signature wines and finished with lunch in one of the restaurants. Tickets were 300 baht each, good value considering the amount of information and operations displayed. The winery was a highlight of our travels in Klang Dong and I recommend visiting if you go to Korat.