Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Curve – the radical new payment card that lets you use Amex ANYWHERE

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

(EDIT:  Curve has changed a lot since this article was published.  Please do not rely on the information here.  Instead, please click here to read our detailed 2020 Curve review, which includes a link for a free £10 credit when you sign up.)

The Curve card, launched yesterday into public beta, is a radical new sort of payment card.  It takes some of the best features of Supercard (which has still not launched publicly) and adds a few new twists which are bound to appeal to the Head for Points loyalty credit card readership.

Most relevant for our market, it allows you to pay for anything where a Mastercard is accepted and have it recharged – as a purchase – to an American Express card.

Even cash withdrawals are recharged, as a purchase, to your Amex.  I have been testing the card for a few days and I can confirm that this works perfectly.

Let me repeat this bit – you can buy something using the Curve card at a retailer which only accepts Mastercard, or even make a cash withdrawal at an ATM, and it will be re-charged to your American Express card (or a Visa or Mastercard) as a purchase.  It will earn miles, points or cashback and count towards any sign-up bonus.  It also works abroad, even on overseas cash withdrawals.

You must have an iOS smartphone to join up.  Android will follow later in the year but, for now, you will be missing out – sorry.  An iPad would also work – the only purpose of the app is to load up details of your other credit and charge cards and to check your transactions.

Curve is required to target the small business market rather than the personal market, although their description of “bliss for entrepreneurs, freelancers and small business owners” is a very broad one.

This is how it works:

You pay a £35 one-off fee and receive a rather snazzy Mastercard in the post

This is offset by a £10 sign-up credit if you use my refer a friend link

You download the Curve card app to your iOS device

You link as many other Visa, Mastercard and American Express cards as you wish to the app

You select which card you want to use for your next transaction

You can then use your Curve card in shops or in cash machines.  The transaction shows in the app and is recharged to your underlying card as a purchase.

Last Friday, for example, I withdrew some Euros from an ATM at Frankfurt Airport using my Curve card.  The transaction is already showing, as a purchase with Avios earned, on my BA Amex statement.

Can I use the card everywhere?

Not quite.

Curve cannot be used for “gambling transactions, dating / escort services, massage parlours, automated fuel pumps and direct marketing – inbound telesales”.

You are limited to transactions which can be processed using a prepaid Mastercard.  I tried to pay my Amex bill with it, as a test, and it failed.

It is not clear what happens if you use the card as security at a hotel or for car hire rental, as a prepaid Mastercard is normally blocked in those circumstances.

I am assuming that it does work OK as a debit card (and thus, for example, avoiding the £5 British Airways credit card fee) but I haven’t tested it yet.

What about Section 75 refund protection?

To quote from their website:

Similarly to PayPal [….] 3rd party purchases, using Curve is not a direct purchase from the user’s original card, so the purchases are not covered by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act.

However Curve users are protected by Mastercard chargeback rights where refunds can be provided if goods are damaged, not as described, or the merchant has ceased trading.

What are the fees?

The Curve card is not entirely free, but you may find that you can avoid their fees depending on how you use your card.

Purchases made in the UK – FREE.  Remember that Curve means that you can effectively use American Express EVERYWHERE that a prepaid Mastercard would be accepted.

Purchases made outside the UK – 1% fee.  This compares with the standard 3% fee on 99% of UK credit and debit cards.

Cash machine withdrawals in the UK – FREE.  Yes, you can withdraw cash from a UK ATM and will appear on your Amex or Mastercard as a purchase, earning you miles and points and counting towards any sign-up spend target

Cash machine withdrawals outside the UK – £2 fee plus 1% FX fee.  If the ATM itself charges a fee, as often happens in the USA and some other countries, this will obviously be added on.

How does this compare to using a card with no FX fees?

In terms of making purchases abroad, you will – purely in terms of £ charged to your card – still get a better deal with the Post Office Platinum Money (free, review) or Lloyds Avios Rewards (£24, review) cards.  This is because Curve adds a 1% FX fee which those two cards have no FX fee at all.

However, if you want to put your spending onto a card other than the Post Office or Lloyds Avios then it is a no-brainer to use Curve abroad.  For working towards your BA Amex 2-4-1, for example, you will save 2% on every overseas transaction when you use Curve instead of paying directly with the BA Amex.

You also need to remember that Amex acceptance is rare in many European holiday areas and Curve is the only route to generate Amex spend from these transactions.

Overseas cash withdrawals will be a better deal on Curve because the withdrawal will be treated as a purchase and thus earn miles.  You will also avoid the cash advance fee and daily interest levied by Lloyds or the Post Office.  Halifax Clarity has no cash advance fees abroad but still charges daily interest.

Should I use the Curve card for all of my UK ATM withdrawals?

Absolutely.  Withdraw £100 in cash using Curve and it will go through your American Express or other linked card as a £100 purchase.  This will earn you, on a BA Amex, Avios points plus count towards your BA 2-4-1.

Note that ‘fair usage restrictions apply’.  I suspect that anyone withdrawing more than a couple of hundred pounds a week may find their card blocked.

How does Curve make money?

As the card is aimed at business users, the Curve card is not impacted by the EU cap on interchange fees.  There are also plans to offer additional services to users in the future.

What is the difference between the £35 and £75 Curve cards?

They seem to have screwed this up, to be honest.  There are two versions of the Curve card, a blue one and a black one.  The only difference is that the black one, which costs £40 more (a one-off fee, not annual) will apparently earn double rewards in the Curve loyalty programme.  As that programme has not yet been launched, however, it is impossible to know if you’d get £40 of value from it!

In terms of what the card does and the fees you pay to use it, both are identical.  The £35 version should do the job.

As a temporary offer, you will receive a free Tumi leather card case, worth £60, when applying for the £75 version.

Remember that you get £10 back as a credit when you sign up via my link, or any other refer a friend link.

Who is behind Curve?

The company is an independent start-up, but primarily funded by the backers of TransferWise.

What have I learned from the beta?

As I mentioned, I have had the card for the past few days and have been trying it out.

My biggest issue is that the app does not show the original foreign currency value of overseas transactions.  All you see is the £ equivalent.  I am told that this will be added to the next release but it seems to be a major oversight.

There is also an issue with how American Express transactions appear on your card statement.  Mastercard and Visa purchases made using Curve, as with Supercard, show on your statements using part of the original descriptor so you can still identify what a particular payment was for.

Amex transactions simply show on your statement as ‘Curve London’.  To work out what each transaction represents, you need to open the Curve card app – which shows the original description, eg WH Smith Heathrow – and manually match up transaction values.

I should make clear that every transaction (purchase and ATM withdrawal) I have used it for over the last 5 days in the UK, Germany and Austria has gone through without a problem.

How do I join Curve?

You can sign up here.  This link includes my referral code so you receive £10 credit.

(If you decide to sign up via the app, please add my referral code when prompted of oqb4J)

Remember that the card is aimed at “entrepreneurs, freelancers and small business owners” and you will be asked to say that you fall into one of these boxes.

Only 10,000 applications are being accepted at this stage – I suspect the HfP community will account for a fair % of these.  You will not receive your card until April.

Remember that you must have an iOS smartphone or an iPad to take part and that there is a £35 one-off fee.

Curve is still in beta mode for the next few weeks and, as I mentioned above, the app is still missing some of the functionality which it advertises.  This is a very interesting product however and I’m sure those HfP readers who qualify to get one can see the value in getting one when it comes to maximising their miles and points.

The application page is here.  If you use the app to apply instead of a desktop, please add my referral code of oqb4J.

Thanks to my resident credit card expert Andrew Seftel (@andrewseftel) for his help with this article.  The Curve card links in this article include my refer-a-friend code, which means that you will receive a £10 sign-up credit.


Want to earn more points from credit cards? – February 2023 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit card, here are our top recommendations based on the current sign-up bonuses.

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here. Here are the best of the other deals currently available.

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 21st February 2023, the sign-up bonus on the British Airways Premium Plus American Express card is increased to 35,000 Avios from 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

35,000 Avios (ONLY to 21st February) and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and unbeatable travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend Read our full review

Earning miles and points from small business cards

If you are a sole trader or run a small company, you may also want to check out these offers:

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

Get a 10,000 points bonus plus an extra 500 points for our readers Read our full review

For a non-American Express option, we also recommend the Barclaycard Select Cashback card for sole traders and small businesses. It is FREE and you receive 1% cashback on your spending.

Barclaycard Select Cashback credit card

1% cashback (3% for 3 months if you apply by 31st March) and no annual fee Read our full review

Comments (397)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Simon says:

    I’m in. I have a load of transactions that I’d love to post to Amex but can’t.

    I really, really see this going mammaries vertical pretty quickly though. In my opinion, a large percentage of people that will be using this will be gaming one thing or another.

    I’m hoping they are deeply funded by venture capital and have no need for profit for at least a year as I see the Amex benefits being pulled.

    • Rob says:

      Amex should be roughly break even for them so not necessarily an issue long term.

    • James says:

      One of their key selling points is the ability to use Amex in places you wouldn’t normally be able to. If they pulled the Amex benefit their card would be massively less attractive. You would hope that they have thought this through and taken into account all these issues. As for a large percentage of people abusing the card, they will probably find their card blocked and a smack on the wrist when they call up to get it reinstated. If they persist with the abuse it will just get taken off them, and will be available to be given elsewhere. They are not going to suffer huge losses on people taking out huge sums of cash. I think anyone daft enough to think this is an opportunity to rack up tens of thousands of miles per month via cash withdrawals deserved the inevitable banning!

  • Josh says:

    How likely is the card to get out of beta? Surely there’s quite a risk of failure here?

    • Rob says:

      It has been in private beta for 3 months, it is now about scaling up controllably. Hopefully!

  • Craig says:

    Weekly shop, Aldi £80, 10 Clubcard points or 24 Avios. Using Curve, 120 Avios or circa 6k Avios a year. That’s just over 0.5p per Avio, add on cash withdrawals and CoOp plus the few others that I use that don’t accept Amex then it’s a cracking deal.

    • Saif says:

      Weekly shop 80?! Wow, our monthly shop isn’t even that much and we’re a family of 4 adults and one 16 year old….

      • James Alexander says:

        Wow! Would love to know if you survive in air and dust!? Lol. I’m single and my weekly shop for groceries food etc comes to at least £100 and I also eat out! You should publish the book on feeding a family on such a low budget!

        • RTS says:

          Wow… 80-100 quid a week at Aldi, jeez… Seems like a lot of food wastage to me…

      • Jason says:

        You’re joking right? Just two people and we spend £150 a week plus we eat dinner out three times a week on average…

        • Mrtibbs1999 says:

          Are you on a lobster only diet? £700 a month on groceries for two is obscene.

          • Mary says:

            700£ a month for 2 is barely 12£ a day: 2£ breakfast and 5/5 lunch/diner. Seems fair enough for me. Wonder what other people are eating to be so cheap…

  • Tilly71 says:

    Do you really think Amex will allow cash withdrawals without somehow blocking this part at some point soon after the cards are in circulation. Suddenly a vast amount of money is going through their system on certain accounts only, surely this would flag up security. I have heard of someone able to use a pre loadable card, pops into the PO and tops up then goes and withdrawals at the
    An atm, this is different as the money load is seen as the PO, these transactions will just show up as atm. Worst case scenario could be that suddenly amex switch the system and these become cash advances.

    • Rob says:

      Amex does not see the original transaction. Curve charges your Amex card.

      • Tom C says:

        On a AMEX Gold Card, currently if I put through a foreign transaction on travel, I receive 3x points, yet get charged 3% on foreign transactions, whereas on using it via Curve, as it does not see the type of spend, I would receive 1 point, but avoid the AMEX transaction charge and only get charged 1% by Curve. Is that right?

        • Rob says:

          Yes

        • AndyR says:

          But you are paying 1p for the Amex point so depends if you think they are worth that much. For foreign spend this card doesn’t make sense to me unless you need to hit a target for a sign up bonus.

    • Simmo says:

      Prepaid VISA/Mastercard Topup Cards available from PO that can be topped up by an AMEX? why have I never heard of this before??

  • Joe says:

    Wow. Just ordered one. Thanks.

  • Adam says:

    Just signed up!! It’s tried to take 3x £1 transactions from my Amex (did others get that?). Anyway, will keep any eye on it but on the face of it, it looks good……

  • Mark1980 says:

    Stupid question, I presume the £35 fee is automatically charged to the card which you input into the app? I’ve just signed up and received confirmation that my card is on it’s way but never actually ‘paid’ the £35…

    • WiseGuy says:

      You will be charged at the point when they will dispatch your card… Similar practice to amazon etc..

  • Dannyrado says:

    Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but this will close almost immediately. Headforpoints site slowed, curve site crashed… We all know a few flyertalkers will go and get £300 a day cash from an atm, possibly on more than one card. I give it a month, if that..

    • James says:

      Bearer of bad news or talker of nonsense? Clearly the people behind Curve have considered the cash MS element here and put into their t&c’s a fair usage policy. If people want to risk their cards being revoked they can crack on. It won’t take long for word to get around the forums that X amount of cash per day/week gets you blocked and anyone with any sense who values the card for its proper purposes won’t risk losing it for a few thousand MR points. I have no doubt the people behind curve have carried out some sort of risk assessment on this subject, factored in some “wastage” into their profits and will have systems in place to detect sustained and large cash withdrawals. As their terms state that the card is to be used for business expenses (probably not enforced unless necessary) most people would have a hard time explaining why their business needed £1,000 a week cash.

    • The_Real_A says:

      I think many people have missed. Their bank will pull their account if they see deposits of huge amounts of cash into their accounts – and potentially give you a CIFAS marker. Anyone planning to do this needs to do some serious research first.

      • harry says:

        It wouldn’t ever get to ‘huge amounts’ – Curve would block your card. The opportunity to earn Amex points on cash withdrawals will be quite limited in scope.

      • sd83 says:

        I agree, however using some common sense you could pay your Amex statement ‘in cash’ at a post office or similar paypoint?

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.