Credit card for EUR transactions -> Neon/Revolut or bank in eurozone?

I am checking now whether I really need all the accounts I have and I wondered: Do I actually need a EUR credit card issued in Germany or would a zero transaction fee and low spread credit card such as those from Revolut or Neon not actually do the same job? Do I save any money from having a EUR credit card issued in Germany compared to Revolut or Neon (I do save compared to ZAK, since their exchange rates are worse)?

The advantage is that it’s a real creditcard, not a debit card as Revolut & Co. are.

Otherwise you probably even have drawbacks when you actually have to repay the credit… If you just pay the bill from your CHF ebanking, you will have the bad exchange rates there.

True, debit cards have problems especially with hotels and car rental. So I need to retain the EUR credit card for those cases…

But when the card is accepted the costs should be pretty identical. Neon uses the Mastercard reference rate, which is the average of the real time reference rate Transferwise uses (I think). Meaning it should be pretty much the same on average. Plus I’d save the Transferwise fees I’d otherwise pay to top up my EUR account. Or am I missing something?

My experience with Neon and Transferwise (after having used both card a lot over the last few months): The Mastercard reference course applied by Neon is not an average but usually the worst rate that existed during the current day (24 hours window, maybe this is a way - beside the fact that Mastercard doesn’t seem to use the middle course - how they earn some additional money). Transferwise uses the actual existing market rate at the exact time of purchase (plus a fee). So, depending how volatile the currency is during the day, you can get a better/worse course with Neon/Transferwise. I experienced both, but most of the time (I paid with volatile currencies) Transferwise has been the better bet. This is why I prefer Transferwise. In addition to this I don’t like that Neon does not show the original amount in the foreign currency, neither in the app nor in the bank statement (only in the SMS).

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Hmmm… sounds like an App idea where an user enters all his available credit cards and fees and then the transaction he’s about to make and the app will give a suggestion which card to use right now. (Bonus points if it includes stuff like cashback etc.)

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Thanks all! I am more looking for the opposite approach to the app helping with many cards, one card to rule them all. Of course not possible atm, since I also want cashback. I thought Neon would at least cover the non-CHF transactions, or those that work with a debit card, but with a worse rate than Transferwise that doesn’t really work for me.

So, new idea Transferwise multi-currency account with Mastercard Debit. Should cover all non-CHF payments that work with debit cards and also includes a functional EUR account (receiving and direct debit free, sending unfortunately not). Only real headache I have is no deposit guarantee. But at least they seem more trustworthy than Revolut.

My experience with Revolut has been very good. I must have saved more than 2000 CHF in a year with the rate they offer.

I use it for every payment in foreign currency, also for my business.

Even if I were to lose the 300 CHF I have parked there on average I still would have saved so much money.

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I have Revolut as well, could use them as my EUR account and card. But I’d have to have more money there on average, to avoid to constantly check and top up. I am not sure that I trust them with that… On the other hand, topping up with Revolut should be cheaper on weekdays than Transferwise. And topping up is fast with credit card, no? So I could keep a small sum with them and top up manually each time before I buy something bigger. And never buy on weekends. A hassle, but might be the cheapest option.

As for Neon, it really depends on how big the difference between the Transferwise rate and the Neon rate actually is. @_MP calculated 0.3% in his blog post. If that’s the case I actually find that Neon is cheaper than Transferwise: Topping up your Transferwise account with 5000 CHF, converted to EUR, costs 21.04 EUR, according to their webpage. 0.3% of 5000 CHF is 15.51 CHF.

The problem is of course that the rate difference is not static, depending on the difference between the average and the real time rate, so we don’t know how close to the average difference @_MP estimate is. EUR/CHF should not be that volatile, however, so the difference should be small?

On top of that, Neon offers deposit insurance and handling credit card payments would be less hassle, with no separate account to check and manually top up. Unless I am missing something or the rate difference is much bigger?

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My experience with Neon Debit MasterCard and their FX rate:

I went to Czech Republick last summer for 10 days and spent all my purchase (airbnb, transport, shopping, museum, others) with Neon. First of all, the card was accepted everywhere and never had any issue. Second of all, for the experience I’ve been checking the “google FX rate” during each purchase VS the Neon one and the difference was minimal, we are talking about 0.01-0.05 cents… And in comparison with Revolut, I think that Neon was clearly cheaper during the weekend (no majoration of 1% - news rules from Revolut).

However, I will not use neon as a main account or a big account, but to purchase aboard and sometimes to use it also in Switzerland to my general purchase, I am truly happy and never had an issue with them. Plus, now you can use Transferwise with neon ! Ok, you will pay an extra 0.4% but I was quite satisfied to use it to transfert our wedding gifts to our Czech host during the trip :slight_smile:

Don’t know if I could help you to decide whatever you need or not an extra EUR account, but to keep it simple, I will just take a “transaction free solution” instead of having multiple account to do ONE job.

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That helps, yes! My preference is to keep it as simple as possible if that’s not much more expensive. From your experience it sounds like it isn’t, so I might just give Neon a try. Revolut is too complicated, with the monthly maximum for free exchange, weekend surcharge and headaches about trust worthiness. The Transferwise debit card is a strong contender for me, but manual top ups and lack of deposit insurance make me hesitate.

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Neon uses the Mastercard rates, which are (mostly, though with exceptions, such as weekends) not as good as the interbank rates by Revolut, though only by a small margin. If you want something to keep it simple - and don‘t have massive (business?) transaction volumina, it‘s a good choice IMO. TransferWise as well - but they do charge a bit more. Still very decent fees though.

Revolut is probably least expensive for the casual low-volume user. And not too complicated either. But I‘ve experienced the worst support and reliability from them by far. In addition to being on hold in their chat support for hours, I‘ve been burned by them disabling all Swiss customer‘s cards (literally!) overnight without notice, when finding out they weren’t allowed to market them and send to Non-EEA residents - after having sent them to hundreds if not thousands of users.

uh?
It’s not my blog post…

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Uh, you are right, I am sorry! Blog, cursory glance, a M and a P, no double check… corrected

I used revolut as a low-volume user. Mainly use it to avoid fee to top up my crypto wallet. For restaurant when abroad…

A friend of mine use the transferwise debit card, but it got refused at a gas station when we were in Canada once… but I think it was an amount problem, but not sure about it.
Have you think about N26? it is in Germany but don’t know about their fees…

That’s what I am afraid of. Lot’s of users are happy, as above, and I have experienced nothing bad myself either. But I have heard so many negative things, I can’t trust them with more than the 30 or so Francs I hold with them now. So, instead of getting more of my business, they look set to be the first to go in my simplification exercise, even though there are the cheapest.

I had a bit more time to look into the numbers. I thought my current set-up was quite clever - DKB credit card, topped up with TransferWise. But actually I can save not only time but also some money when simplifying:

Chechking the VISA and Mastercard calculators, they charge a few cents more than the reference rate, confirming the above results. Consequently, Neon (Mastercard) and Yapeal (VISA) seem to be only a few cents more expensive than Revolut (reference rate).

TransferWise Debit card comes in at about 1.70 EUR more for every 1000 EUR spent, but allows for some free cash withdrawals.

My current solution DKB/Transferwise comes in at about 2.70 EUR more for every 1000 EUR spent, with also free withdrawals, but those probably at a worse rate (never checked that, don’t withdraw much).

The only advantage of the DKB credit card: It is a full credit and not a debit card. The most relevant case for me would be at hotel check-in, when you have to show a full credit card as guarantee. Does anybody know though, if you have to pay the foreign transactions/exchange fee for those guarantees? Or could I not use my Swiss credit card for the guarantee and then pay with the debit card?

They’ll get blocked but ultimately shouldn’t get debited from your account. As such, you don’t pay foreign exchange fees. (You should just be aware and of when and who ultimately charges your credit card, for instance that the hotel doesn’t “conveniently” charge the credit card used for booking/check-in).

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Lazy question: how to get the DKB credit card and what is the cost? I used to have a full fledged EUR credit card thank to my employer but I’m switching jobs. Revolut/Neon might not work for toll roads, rental cars and the likes.

Thanks in advance!

The normal DKB Visa should be entirely free. I never use mine as I have a Hilton Card with them, 48Eur/year but worth it for me as I travel often (well, pre-Covid). Works well and had dozens of car rentals in 2019 with it in Eur-land. Even has a somewhat decent insurance (albeit lower limits on cars and changed travel plans) at another ~40Eur/year.
And precisely, it’s a fully fledged credit card. Revolut I too simply wouldn’t trust with higher amounts, simply due to issues with support.

Free with their DKB-Cash bank account (which it is always part of - the “standard” DKB Visa is not available as a standalone product, unlike Hilton and M&M cards. The bank used to be somewhat “picky” in accepting non-residents though).

1.75% foreign currency exchange surcharge, unless you have monthly incomings of at least 700€ on the bank account (free in the latter case). No fees on cash withdrawals, though a 50€ minimum is usually enforced.

I see, thanks both of you for your answers! I’ll enquire some more.

What about the credit limit? I like to spend big in Euroland sometimes while on holidays… Well, me too pre-Covid.

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