What should you do with your Curve card now?

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.

Curve prepaid MasterCard

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 ….

(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards?  Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards Update’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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Comments

  1. Mine arrived far too late, so it was useless. They refunded my 35 Quid quickly. Will they pay all of my foreign exchange costs for my recent trip to Singapore /Australia because I was replying on using their card but they took too long to send it out?

  2. Well, today’s the cut off day.

    I’ve had a ball with my card.

    No duplicate transactions and the card was here in good time. I have kept track of all my Curve transactions and I have calculated that I have earned more than 1k Avios than I would have done without it – silly little things really, just paying utility related bills, and other everydays. £35 well spent.

    But as with all good things….

    (And, no, I don’t work for them. Just plain old good feedback)

    • 1k avios? or £1k worth of avios? I hope it’s the latter, for the £35 🙂

      • No, I wish it was 1K worth of Avios 🙂

        I spent £948, so that’s £948 x 1.5=
        1422 Avios I would not have earned using my regular credit card where Amex not accepted.

        I’m happy. I think we should run a “who got the most value?” comp!

        I’m sure there are some people here that got some real value!!

      • Brian W says:

        £3980 spent over two Curve cards (Mine and OH) including cash withdrawals (adhering to the FUP!) before the Amex cut off, all of which was at non-Amex accepting merchants as I didn’t see the point in using Curve instead of BAPP if Amex was accepted.

        If Amex doesn’t return prior to the 23rd June refund deadline I’ll send one back to save £35 and hold onto the other in the hope it returns in the future.

        £3980 x 1.5 = 5970 Avios
        Minus the 995 Avios we would have got using Avios Prem Due MC’s @ 0.25 per £1 = 4975 Avios up for an outlay of £35 – assuming I do indeed return one of the cards.

        0.7p per Avios by my maths, which was never great, so I’m happy with that, especially as the Amex link may possibly return in the future.

        Was always a risk and I thought it would last longer than it did. Shame as it will gather dust in the cupboard if Amex doesn’t return.

  3. Curve putting Marriott Mastercard transactions through as cash transactions – beware !!!

    I only found out as my attempted transaction was too high for the cash transaction limit and was declined, prompting my investigation.

    Presumably had it been under £500 they would have processed it as a cash advance, thus damaging my credit profile and requiring endless hours of emails and conversations to reverse it all out.

  4. I spent the 5k on my card this month linked to Gold and managed £1600 via atm transactions.

  5. Still not received mine after ordering in March and being charged the card fee on the 13th of May – the excuse is they have run short of Tumi wallets.

  6. BigDave says:

    My curve card finally arrived, I thought I’d give it a chance I do spend in mainland europe a bit,
    but I would have put so much through it if it had amex hookup… very easy to set up and the app is quite good having been updated recently. Wish they would have an android version soon as this will help their cause.