Unless you only read Head for Points via email, you presumably saw my extra article yesterday about the decision of American Express to stop working with Curve card.
I won’t go back into how Curve works again, but you can find full details in this article. Fundamentally, one of its benefits was that you could make credit card purchases using the Curve MasterCard and have them recharged to an American Express. You can also make limited cash withdrawals and have them recharged to a credit card as a purchase.
With a few hundred comments to the article yesterday, I think the different options open to you have already been beaten to death.
The bottom line is this – no-one should be out of pocket here. If you cancel, Curve has promised a full refund and you will already have received various benefits to date. It is important to remember that.
There are two options open to you as a cardholder. These are:
return the card for a refund of your fee (you might as well wait until after 31st May as Amex functionality continues until then) or
keep it and, as long as you spend £1,000 on the card between 1st June and 31st August, receive a £35 credit in their forthcoming rewards programme which can be used towards any card transaction
My gut feeling in the short term is that – if you can still get £ benefits via ATM and overseas use that would justify the fee irrespective of whether you get the £35 back – there is little to lose by sticking around.
Of course, you also need to consider the track record of the company to date which has been shambolic in many ways. This includes:
delays in sending out cards
not having the loyalty programme ready to launch on Day 1, despite the premium version of the card being inherently linked to this
failure to predict cash recycling via ATM withdrawals, forcing them to cap those at a level below that required by most people for day to day spend
IT issues (outside their control, admittedly) which led to both transactions being refused and other transactions being double charged
failure to have Amex tied down to a long term agreement to support the card
It was also disappointing to read in the letter yesterday that the card was “saving you money when you travel with zero FX fees“. This may be semantically true but, as Curve is using a foreign exchange rate which is 1% off the spot rate, you are paying the equivalent of a 1% fee. There was simply no need for this comment to be made and it has not helped the situation.
Here are the pros and cons as I see them (based on having the £35 version):
Reasons to return the card:
Card fee refunded now
No need to divert £1,000 from American Express spend in order to trigger the statement credit
No risk if the company closes down
Reasons to keep the card:
£35 fee refunded via a statement credit if you spend £1,000 between June and August – assuming that Curve Rewards is ready to launch by September and the company remains solvent.
If you were referred, you are still due an additional £10 credit when Curve Rewards launches.
You can continue to take out £200 via an ATM each month and have it recharged to a MasterCard or Visa as a purchase. This is worth a couple of £ per month in benefits.
You can use it abroad and pay just 1% in fees instead of the 2.99% which is normal on most UK credit and debit cards. Even if you have a 0% fee card such as Halifax Clarity, it may be worth paying the 1% Curve fee instead if the rewards on your underlying card are worth more than 1%.
You can use it at those merchants who treat it as a debit card without paying the fees associated with using a credit card – but it is still hit and miss as to which those are
You won’t have to pay £35 to rejoin if American Express returns as a partner or some other interesting functionality appears
On the assumption that you wouldn’t have any problems making £1,000 of spending it comes down to whether you believe Curve will be around to credit your £35 of rewards and how much value you put on the FX and ATM benefits.
The company is funded via a high profile mix of private investors and well regarded venture capital funds, but of course start-up projects like this can be volatile.
If I had paid £35 (and I haven’t, because I was on the beta trial) I would stick with it – primarily because I can put my Summer holiday spend onto it for a 1% fee and recharge it to my old BMI MasterCard paying 2.5 Avios per £1. I can cover £35 of value from that. Of course, not many people have a Visa or MasterCard which is that generous.
If you have the £75 premium card, it is a different calculation. Because the statement credit is only £50 but you can receive a £75 refund by returning the card along with the Tumi card wallet, I would take a refund. You could always reapply for the £35 card later and only be £10 worse off.
Whatever you decide to do, however, remember that you won’t be out of pocket and that, if you’ve been using the card already, you should be ‘up’ overall. No HFP reader should be losing any money here.
It is also worth remembering that, behind the faceless brand, is a small team of people who have been working hard, apparently close to 24/7 based on the timings of some of the messages I have received, to make this work. If this experiment fails, they are the ones who really lose something. Welcome to the world of working with start-up companies ….
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