If you read that article, some of this piece will sound familiar. I have repeated myself for the benefit of our email subscribers, who didn’t get the original article, and for those people who only check Head for Points first thing in the morning.
What is Supercard?
When Supercard originally launched its trial scheme in May 2015 it was a totally revolutionary payment product.
As you (hopefully) know, almost all UK credit, debit and charge cards add a 3% fee when you buy something abroad.
There are only a handful of cards which waive this fee. There are a few free options, such as Halifax Clarity, Creation Everyday and MBNA Everyday. There is only one credit card in the UK which offers reward points and no FX fees and that is the Lloyds Avios Rewards card (review here). You need to pay a £24 annual fee for that.
Supercard is different. You can apply by downloading their free app. It can be used anywhere where a MasterCard card is accepted. Your purchase is translated into Sterling as the standard MasterCard wholesale rate and charged to any UK Visa or MasterCard you nominate. You will receive the usual rewards from that card.
Let’s imagine spending $150 in New York. If you use your Tesco MasterCard, you would be charged £103 based on a $1.50 exchange rate. Use Supercard – with your Tesco card linked to it – and your Tesco card would be charged just £100.
Supercard does away with the need to keep a separate credit card just for overseas purchases. You would earn reward points on every overseas purchase (assuming you linked a rewards credit card!), you would have spare credit available – by cancelling your Halifax Clarity, MBNA Everyday etc card – to apply for another rewards card and you would have one less bill to manage each month.
What are the benefits of Supercard?
Here is a summary of the card benefits and how it differs from the pilot programme.
Note that if you were on the pilot programme you must still make a fresh application. To apply, download the app.
Supercard remains totally free. Free to apply, free to use – although it requires a smartphone to operate. I must be honest, I expected them to start charging but I was wrong.
It is a MasterCard. This is a change from the pilot programme which operated on Visa. As MasterCard FX rates are generally better than Visa, this is to your advantage.
There are NO FEES when using the card for purchases abroad.
There is a 2.99% fee for ATM withdrawals abroad. This is a change from the pilot programme where ATM withdrawals were free. Halifax Clarity, Creation Everyday and MBNA Everyday Plus are, I think, the only UK credit or debit cards which allows fee-free global ATM withdrawals.
Supercard is not a credit card so there is no credit check. They will take steps to verify your identify to comply with general money laundering and compliance rules.
Whilst UK use is not banned, purchases or ATM withdrawals will incur a £1 plus 1% fee which makes them relatively pointless. The only exception would be if you had a generous card like my old ‘2.5 Avios per £1’ bmi MasterCard – I could withdraw £200, pay £3 in fees and earn 500 Avios.
Transaction limits are generous – £500 cash per day, £50000 in total annual spend and various daily / monthly caps
How does Travelex Supercard compare with Curve?
The Curve card, which we have discussed extensively recently, has similar functionality to Supercard. Supercard is superior to Curve in a number of ways:
Supercard is free, Curve has a one-off £35 fee
Supercard has no FX fees on overseas purchases, Curve has a 1% fee
Supercard has higher transaction limits than Curve
Supercard now uses the same payment processor, Wirecard, so they are likely to be equally good (or bad) in terms of declining transactions. Supercard had problems here during the pilot and Curve performed better. I would imagine that both will now be the same.
Supercard is cheaper than Curve for overseas cash withdrawals under £100 (3% vs £2 + 1%)
Supercard is open to everyone whilst Curve is targetted at those running a small business who would use the card for business purchases
Curve is better in the following scenarios:
UK use, as it charges no fees for purchases and no fees for your first £200 cash withdrawal per month via a credit card. When Curve Rewards launches, it may become very interesting for UK Visa or MasterCard spend as you would ‘double dip’ with Curve Rewards and rewards from your underlying card.
For overseas ATM withdrawals of £100 to £200, Curve is cheaper (at £200, Curve charges £4 whilst Supercard is £6). £200 is the daily Curve ATM cap IIRC. The Supercard ATM cap is £500.
If you need the detailed transaction analysis data which can be downloaded from Curve
If you only want to use one card for both domestic and overseas transactions whilst having a reduced FX fee compared to a standard credit or debit card
How do I apply for a free Supercard?
Download the app via this link to order a free Supercard. Even if you already have a ‘no FX fees’ credit card, Supercard could still be a better deal if you link it to a Visa or MasterCard which has richer rewards.
Don’t ask me how Travelex makes any money on Supercard because I don’t know! There is probably an arbitrage on the interchange fees and some data mining opportunities. The pilot programme must have convinced them that it does have serious long term potential.
(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.)