Supercard, the Travelex-backed foreign currency payment card, has emailed its beta users (a large % of whom were recruited via Head for Points) to say that the scheme is finally going to open up to the public.
(EDIT: the new Supercard is now available, you can download the app here.)
I was expecting some sort of announcement from Supercard after the Curve launch. I am a little surprised by the timing though.
All existing Supercards will stop working on 6th June. Beta testers and other people who have an expressed an interest will be invited to reapply for a new card later in the Summer – no date given.
I covered Supercard a lot last year. I have been very quiet about it since, as the beta was not accepting new users, so it is worth a recap of the product.
Like Curve, Supercard is a plastic credit-type card which does not have a credit limit of its own. Instead, any transaction you make with the Supercard is recharged to a different Visa or MasterCard you own. There is an app to manage your linked cards and transactions.
This sounds very similar to the Curve card which I wrote about last month and which is due to ship to the first 10,000 users later in March.
The two products are different in some key ways:
Curve has a one-off £35 fee for the basic version, offset by a £10 credit on your first transaction if you are referred by an existing cardholder, whilst Supercard is free. Curve will have a loyalty programme for users but there are no details yet.
Curve can recharge any MasterCard transaction to an American Express, Visa or MasterCard. Supercard can only recharge to a Visa or MasterCard. This means that Curve is the only option if you want to bulk up your Amex spend at non-Amex retailers.
Curve has a 1% fee when used outside the UK. Supercard has no foreign exchange fee.
Curve can be used in the UK. It can even be used to withdraw cash from UK ATMs and recharge the withdrawal as a purchase to your American Express card. Supercard is not meant to be used in the UK. During the beta process people have been doing it – and Supercard has not, I believe, been imposing the threatened 50p per transaction fine – but I would expect this rule to be applied more firmly when the full roll-out takes place.
The lines are now clearly drawn:
Supercard will be the preferred option for people who want no card fee and want to avoid all foreign exchange fees when spending abroad
Curve will be the preferred option for people who are concerned about reward points (the 1% is likely to be worth paying in return for the rewards offered on a linked Amex card), who need to build up spend on their Amex card to hit a bonus or spend target or who do a lot of UK spending at merchants who do not take American Express.
Of course, as there is likely to be a five month gap between Curve shipping (late March) and Supercard shipping (probably August, after your Summer holiday), you need to factor that in as well.