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Curve Card and its new ‘acceptable use’ policy

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(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 is an innovative new payment card which is currently in beta mode.  I reviewed the Curve card in detail here but, put simply:

branded as a MasterCard, it allows you to recharge transactions to an American Express card – great for places where Amex is not accepted

when used abroad, it only levies a 1% FX fee (compared to 3% on 99% of UK credit and debit cards) and recharges the amount to any linked Amex, Visa or MasterCard

when used in an ATM, it recharges the withdrawal to any linked Amex, Visa or MasterCard and treats that transaction as a purchase for the purpose of earning points and counting towards BA Amex 241 vouchers etc

Curve was launched with a caveat that all transactions would be subject to a ‘fair use’ policy which was undefined.

Curve prepaid MasterCard

A policy on ATM withdrawals has recently appeared on its website:

At Curve we want to be your gateway to everything money giving you more choice and saving you money. However there are certain services which are high risk for Curve and/or expensive for Curve to provide due to third party fees. For these services we have a monthly free usage limit which if passed will result in a small but fair fee to cover costs. This helps keep Curve free to use for the majority of our users.

ATM Withdrawals from credit cards

You can withdrawal up to £200 (or currency equivalent) for free using your American Express or other credit cards per calendar month after which there is a 2% charge. This limit does not apply to ATM debit card withdrawals. Furthermore any behaviour which Curve deems to be “cash recycling” whereby high volumes of cash are taken out of an ATM using a credit card and then used to repay the credit card in order to gain rewards on the funding card or Curve Rewards is not permitted. Such behaviour may result in your Curve account being blocked or cancelled. See Section 6 of Curve Terms and Conditions for further information.

Our platform uses third party systems to identify whether the Funding Source is a debit or credit card. If you believe your card has been incorrectly defined you should contact us at: [email protected] where you will be required to provide evidence as such in order for your case to be investigated.

ATM domestic withdrawal frequency

ATM usage is free for up to 10 domestic (withdrawals in the same currency as your Funding Source) withdrawals per month after which time you may be charged £0.50 (or currency equivalent) per usage for each additional ATM withdrawal.

It is worth noting that this new policy should not apply to anyone who applied for a Curve card before last Friday.

The Curve terms and conditions state the following:

1.10 Amendments to this Agreement. We may at any time amend, delete or add to this Agreement, including the Fees and other amounts which apply to your Account (as set out in Schedule 1) (a “Change”) by giving notice of such Change by posting a revised version of this Agreement on the Curve website(s). A Change will be made unilaterally by us and you will be deemed to have accepted the Change after you have received notice of it. We will give you 2 months’ notice of any Change with the Change taking effect once the 2 month notice period has passed, except the 2 month notice period will not apply where a Change is required by law or relates to the addition of a new service, extra functionality to the existing Service or any other change which neither reduces your rights nor increases your responsibilities. In such instances, the Change will be made without prior notice to you and shall be effective immediately.

As this is clearly a change in the fees levied, it requires 2 months notice to be given if you applied before Friday.  I have not been charged for a cash withdrawal over the weekend so they appear to be working to this.

Let’s look at where this leaves you with Curve

Under the new rules, you can withdraw – for free – £2,400 per year from an ATM to be recharged to a credit card.  Let’s assume that you use a British Airways Premium Plus American Express.

£2,400 will cover 24% of the £10,000 of spend required each year to trigger your 2-4-1 voucher – that is a meaningful contribution

You will earn 3,600 Avios per year which you would not otherwise earn

You also have the other benefits of the card:

Being able to recharge purchases at establishments which do not accept American Express to an American Express

Being able to make overseas transactions for a 1% foreign exchange fee, compared with 3% charged by almost all other cards.  Even if you have a credit card with 0% foreign exchange fees (Post Office Platinum, Halifax Clarity) you may be better off paying Curve 1% and earning the rewards on the underlying card.

The 2% credit card ATM fee may be worth paying

It may even be worth paying Curve’s 2% fee to make additional ATM withdrawals – whilst being aware of the ‘recycling’ rule.

Again, lets use a British Airways Premium Plus American Express as an example.  Withdraw £100 on Curve and you earn 150 Avios for a £2 fee.  At 1.33p each that is not a great deal, of course.  However, it also moves you £100 closer to your next 2-4-1- voucher.  A lot of people will find an acceptable trade off.

Curve is still a ‘work in progress’ and I doubt we have seen the last of the changes to their model.  Given that the Travelex Supercard will be relaunching at the end of the year – presumably still with 0% FX fees, still allowing overseas transactions to be recharged to a Visa or MasterCard (not an Amex) and still with no annual fee – Curve needs to offer substantially more than Supercard to justify the £35 fee and the 1% FX margin.

Full details of how to apply are in my original article.


Want to earn more points from credit cards? – June 2022 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge 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.

Until 18th July 2022 there is an astonishing special offer on these cards. You get 50,000 Avios on the Avios Plus Mastercard and 10,000 Avios on the free Avios Mastercard. You can apply here. We strongly recommend getting the Avios Plus card whilst this offer is running.

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

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

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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: The sign-up bonus on Amex Gold is increased from 20,000 Membership Rewards points to 30,000 Membership Rewards points until 19th July 2022. This card is free for the first year.

British Airways BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable card perk – the 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

American Express Amex Gold

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

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American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

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Virgin Rewards Plus credit card

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:

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits 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 card

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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

10,500 points bonus – the most generous Avios Visa for a limited company 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% on business travel for four months) and no annual fee Read our full review

Comments (401)

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

  • Adam says:

    Does anyone know if curve have fixed the bug where you cannot pay for CNP (card not present items) including online tranactions. Was meant to be fixed by 27-APR

    • Kev says:

      Used it a number of times online with no issue, including twice last night. I assume you have also used the car elsewhere as a means of activating the card via chip and pin.

    • Mr Dee says:

      Hasn’t worked online for some of my transactions, hopefully will do soon though

      • Paul S says:

        Same here.. Bit frustrated but hopefully that will change. Anyone know why?

        • Simon says:

          All my online transactions have failed bar one Amazon transaction and all have hit my credit card as transactions. First one from 16 April has been refunded today. I gave up using it online after 5 failures.

          They are supposed to be fixing the issue today.

  • John says:

    Has anyone with absolutely no connection to any sort of business applied for and received the card?

    MasterCard’s rates are usually better than visa’s by about 1% so compared to supercard (provided that they don’t introduce a fee) the curve FX fee is negligible.

    • Adam says:

      Yes

    • Graeme says:

      Some definitely have

    • Boi says:

      I disagree, I used super card 2 weeks ago in Spain and compared their rates and they were very competitive. 1% wouldn’t have been negligible in my case. Also £200 worth of money doesn’t go too far on holiday. I genuinely think that policy is ok for UK but not for overseas. If you factor that in super card wins….. Despite it not charging to amex( you can leave that to your uk spend).

      From reading hfp I don’t get the impression that most people struggle to reach the 241 spend target, more like people struggle to use it and get value.
      With the new terms it becomes of less value to most people, especially when it comes with a fee.

      • Mr Dee says:

        Agree that supercard rates are often very competitive, I have noticed that at times its above the rate on xe.com, if possible try doing a smaller test transaction to see the rates at that moment.

        I am not impressed with £200 per month seeing as they tried to make out that it was a big feature, for UK transactions £200 is reasonable but for travel money its far too low. Yes you get rewards but at 2% costs, if you don’t need to meet a bonus then I think a 0% fx card would be the better option seeing as 2% will nearly wipe out any gains.

    • Alan says:

      I haven’t found it as clear-cut as that for Visa vs MasterCard- it seems to vary from day to day or currency to currency which one is cheaper (compared Supercard Visa with Lloyds MasterCard)

    • Will says:

      Rule of thumb, if GBP goes up, Mastercard wins, if GBP goes down, Visa wins

  • Anon says:

    Any update from them when they will open it up to Android users, ridiculous they have focused on iPhone.

    • Duncan Stevenson-Price says:

      They are working on it, but there’s plenty of research that the iPhone is still the dominant platform in terms of people who actually pay for and download apps. Remember that dumb phones are basically nonexistent anymore, so anyone who normally wouldn’t be interested in a smartphone will end up with an Android device thus inflating their figures.

      There’s also a significant development hurdle in developing for Android; testing on the plethora of device sizes and variations can be pretty taxing at times. I’m sure they’re working on it (and they should) but if you’re in a rush to get to market I can understand focusing on iOS first.

      And, honestly, based on the standard of their iOS app I’d say they were in a rush to get it out of the door.

      • Mike says:

        My “dumb” phone is very much in existence, although according to O2 I am due for an upgrade as it has been 9 years since I last upgraded.

        • Peter K says:

          Ha ha. I also have a “dumb phone”! Works well for me. Use my wife’s smart phone if (rarely) desperate when out but otherwise use a laptop/desktop.

      • AndyS says:

        Why can’t they just set up a website so it can be set using any device, or even one of those rare full size computer things!

      • Alan says:

        Although iOS actually has more of a plethora of screensizes now that require different coding than Android, which although it has a wider range of devices has better API targeting to allow generic coding between device, especially if they (quite reasonably) restricted it to the latest couple of OS versions.

      • Dave says:

        My company has over 100,000 “dumb” phones 7 windows and 59 iphones

        If anything i would say iPhone is the “dumb” phone as it appeals to those who are only interested in what is marketed to them and not what is really useful.

        The only reason apps are launched on iOS first is the level of effort to make a stable application is a lot less with only a few versions of he operating system to cater for you do not hit the device bugs you would get from andriod, they may well have started the two apps at the same time but testing for andriod for something as commercial as this would take far longer.

    • Nick says:

      You don’t need an iPhone device. I used my best friends phone to activate my Curve card. I have known him for over 20 years though.

      • Bob says:

        Maybe you have an iPad, you can use that.

      • William says:

        You don’t need an iphone full stop. You need an iOS device. My mate is running her curve card of her son’s iPad.

      • Dom says:

        I’m sure most people at least know someone that has an ios device. In short term, just ask them for a favour; download the app on their phone, activate your card and uninstall.

    • Alan says:

      Totally agree although as of early this month they apparently hadn’t even started Android app development! They were promising a beta by the ‘summer’ though…

  • Duncan Stevenson-Price says:

    I’m quite happy with the changes to the conditions for cash withdrawals. That aspect of the card seemed unsustainable, and I’d be lucky if I withdraw £200 in a year, never mind a month (reward cycling aside)

    My biggest draw is using the card in places where Amex isn’t accepted, and if preventing the cash abuse (why else would someone want such a high volume of cash) will keep the product going then I’m all for it.

    • Pol says:

      I agree regarding uk withdrawals but I regularly withdraw more than £200 a month when abroad, in countries where credit cards are not as widely accepted. The £2000 per transaction limit is restrictive too, considering the card is aimed at the self employed.

    • Dom says:

      I’m happy they have put this restriction in, TBH. Alternative would have been a minority abusing it, leading to it eventually being withdrawn for all of us.

  • James67 says:

    Interesting post but using BA PP card as an example poor choice. Personally, I think it’s about time you took a long hard look at the 241 and post an article on it here so that we can have a good discussion. Exceptvin casesof couples regularly churning it, I believe it to be of limitted value in this era of cheap revenue flights.

    • Yuff says:

      Speaking of 241’s, do you have to phone BA, to book the return, if you’ve booked the outbound flight or is there a way you can book the return via the website?

      • Mycity says:

        Yes

      • Anon says:

        Yuff – yes you have to phone, if its CW your after its a US number for calling at UK midnight redirects back to Tyneside ironically, I did this for securing my rtn CW back from MLE… 😀

    • Simon says:

      Totally agree. The ‘value’ of it seems to be hugely inflated considering few people would actually pay £3k for a CW flight – in the vast amount of cases even if you were going to pay this there would be a better airline to do this with.

      I probably spent a couple of hundred quid attaining the voucher in the first place in churning transactions like Clubcard things so the ‘real’ cost of my last 2-4-1 to JFK in Club for 2 people was £1,300 (plus the Avios points), plus the card fee (granted, I earned back 15,000 Avios for the spend).

      How does that stack up compared to an ex-EU sale, and gaining Avios back?

      • James says:

        You’re comparing apples with pairs. For a start the 241 voucher allows you to travel from your main local airport, assuming you have one, so you don’t require a positioning flight and possibly an overnight stay or the additional travel time to get to your starting point. The 241 works brilliantly for some, myself included, and is virtually worthless to others. The main benefit of the 241 is of course the fact you don’t have to try and obtain one if it’s worthless to you. So from that point of view, it can never be over rated or overvalued.

      • Leo says:

        Not everyone rates ex-EU flights that highly. I wouldn’t rush to the States via Dublin again. Took forever if you include the hotel stay required to “ensure” the connection made etc. If you have a partner and have no issue hitting the target in any event the BAPP remains a no brainier for some. You still get benefit if redeeming against CE flight to somewhere like Santorini for example.

    • Cheshire Pete says:

      Yes agree. In last years sale ex-Dublin I cancelled my 241 booking to the States at a cost of £70 in order to make use of the then excellent Business sale prices including a return in 1st Class. Having earned another voucher around the same time I now have two of them one of which expires in November. But hardly anywhere I can plan to book with to use it. Probably best bet now is availability that opens up 5 days before at short notice. I also think the claims made about this product are over stated based on quite often there is only 1 seat available in business to most popular destinations. I think they should relax the rules and allow a 241 to force open a 2nd seat at the very least. I know BA guarantee 2 business seats per flight but there seems an awful lot of single redemptions being made obviously by people without a 241!

    • Alan says:

      Agree, my folks are closing their BA card now after years of having it – value on European flights markedly down thanks to extra connecting flight costs for the regions and longhaul the cost of business flights isn’t vastly more (cf previously) than redemption when taking account of high BA fees, loss of Avios on cash flight (at a minimum worth 0.5p given hotel redemption) and lack of availability/flexibility.

    • Morgan says:

      I’d agree with that sentiment. I no longer value the 241 voucher greatly. All my long haul premium travel is now a cash spend and my miles (and the 241 vouchers accrued with my missus) go on supporting the commute to our second home in Europe.

      • Simon says:

        It’s nice to have a 241 up your sleeve but even if you were based in the regions, RFS is cheap and sale fares also start from regional airports as well.

        But even if you were generating £10k spend on the card, the cost to get it is £195 (the fee for the card). Considering the cost of the taxes, even if you started a CW flight in the UK the cash saving is around £1k-1.5k tops than if you bought the ticket outright. But then, that ignores the fact that you save 100,000+ Avios and you also generate another good chunk on the flights.

        Like for my last voucher, I am wanting to go to Dubai. Given the plentiful sales on superior airlines, I can’t really see how the 241 offers any meaningful value considering the opportunity cost of the lost Avios, even if I was in the regions. Because of my travel I’d value an Avios at close to 1p, so basically my year of spending and holding the card means I am effectively paying £2k for business class flights for two people. You could go on Turkish and get a better product for less.

        Not to say Avios is a dead horse by any means, short-haul last minute redemptions are excellent value and generally easy to come by with a few exceptions. I don’t doubt it’s of use to some people but I think the value of the 241 has declined over the years for anyone with a little bit of flexibility and ability to pay cash.

        • James says:

          It’s declined over the years for some people, for others it still remains as the only realistic way of long haul travel in premium cabins. The sales are ad hoc and not on any guaranteed basis, I would suggest a large part of the recent sales is the lower costs of fuel in the last 6-12 months. The 241 voucher isn’t largely affected by fuel fluctuations, hit and miss nature of sales etc. It’s aimed at your average man and his wife on the street who always flies Economy and would never even bother looking at Biz or 1st Class fares to the Far East, or Northern American because they could never afford the fares. As I say, I don’t think it’s over rated, over valued etc because it does exactly what it says on the tin. If you have the means to pay for premium cabins and you actually care about the value of an avios, then yes, it’s probably something you could live without.

          • James67 says:

            Good to see all the comments on this and hopefully it will encourage Rob to run an updated post on the 241. I did not mean to imply the voucher was worthless but rather it was a case of horses for courses and we might all benefit from chance to reevaluate how, where and when to get the best out of it and when it is best avoided.

          • Anon says:

            Agreed, Rob’s analysis is always worth digesting.
            I got 3.26p/Avios value on my last 241 redemption on CW to MLE (including calculating the “loss” of not earning Avios)

            Again I value it from the regions too, no extra avios just the smallish extra surcharges/fees to pay.

          • Genghis says:

            But would you buy the tickets at the cash price? The ppa of value is really what you would otherwise actually pay.

        • Alan says:

          Sadly a lot of the recent sales (for Europe) at least have NOT included the regions – only London airports 🙁

    • Dom says:

      Even if you have given up on using the 241 on premium long hauls, I still think the BA PP is good value. People seem to think it is the only way to use it.

      You get a 241 worth up to 40000 avios on a CE redemption, plus 1.5 avios per £1 spend for £195 per year. I think that is still a good deal.

      • Rob says:

        Exactly. Even if used on CE to Germany, as I have in the past, it is 18,000 Avios saved plus the higher earning rate on all the spend. Just used the last one for a J out, F back long haul so that was clearly worthwhile.

  • Nick Massey says:

    Has anyone received their card that was dispatched on 20 April? Mine was apparently dispatched then, but no sight of it yet (that was after receiving an email the week earlier saying it would be dispatched on the 15th May!!)

    • Yuff says:

      I’d be chasing them. My wife’s was due for dispatch the 11th May and she received an email saying her card had been dispatched last Wednesday. No sign of the card.
      Mine is due for dispatch today.

      • Bob says:

        I got an email saying it have been dispatched so got excited looking for the post every day for a week finally got it a week later, so hang on in there! It’s great works for me.

    • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

      Mine took a week to arrive from ‘dispatch’. It was sent first class post, so I think they’re using quite a loose definition of the word.

    • Paul says:

      Mine claimed to be dispatched on the 18th and I’ve received nothing yet… 🙁

      • Hugh says:

        mine was due for delivery on the 6th May, it turned up on Monday – in a very nice black box – interestingly with warnings about hiding the number if you “share the card” on social media, and also the little black box serves as they put it, somewhere to store the “old cards”

    • Rum says:

      Yes. Email received on 20th April (1am) and loading card (Amex) charged. Received my card on Saturday (23rd).

    • John says:

      E-mail saying dispatched on 19th, arrived Saturday 23rd. It comes in a box in a jiffy envelope and only just fit through the postbox so possible it may be treated as a parcel.. I saw the postman struggle to force it through!

    • idrive says:

      i believe you will get it today

  • Susan says:

    Given that cash withdrawals are charged as purchases does anyone know if Supercard-paid transfers using companies such as Transferwise will also be purchases? I got stung recently by not reading the smallprint (no one’s fault but mine) when a CC funded transfer went through as a cash withdrawal on a Lloyds Avios.

  • Zoe says:

    I’m still waiting for mine to be dispatched. Has anyone used theirs for Easyjet or Flybe? Any luck with council tax also? Thanks in advance.

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