Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Curve Card and its new ‘acceptable use’ policy

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 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? – August 2022 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.

EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.

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

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

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points, £200 travel credit and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

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

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

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.

  • RC_Hammer says:

    I have been using my BAPP Amex with Curve and all my purchases and ATM withdrawals are earning Avios. Some appear to be experiencing problems with Avios crediting but seems it isn’t a universal problem.

    • mark2 says:

      Remember that it takes a few days for Avios and 241 balance to be updated.

  • PG says:

    My card was blocked and I’ve been accused of cash recycling for purchasing SPG points using my Curve card. They asked me to send statements and ID to unblock the card. I’ve asked them to clarify how the transaction counted as cash recycling.

  • William says:

    Hi Rob,
    This might appear a daft question but I take it the Amex charge card can be linked to curve? It doesn’t need to be strictly a credit card?
    I am eagerly anticipating the arrival of my Curve but wondered if anyone was having any bad experiences with using it and getting the appropriate Amex points?
    Cheers,
    Will

    • Simon Fisher says:

      William, I have linked my Amex Gold card and BA Amex cards successfully, although I have only used it linked to the BA card so far. I don’t see any reason to worry though.

      My only issue has been it not being accepted by web sites as a debit card, it states incorrect number. (Someone else has had the same issue in an earlier post.)

      Have withdrawn cash and spent in various shops (including contactless) without issue and seen all transactions correctly credited to my BA statement with Avios.

      • Will says:

        So I might have difficulty paying HMRC if they won’t recognise my number?

      • William says:

        Interesting…It has finally arrived!! I was wondering if anyone has had success with GoogleAdwords?

        Another query – I take it the transaction charges to the ‘top’ card selected in the app and all you need to do is swipe to swap?

    • Rob says:

      Yes, works fine with an Amex charge.

  • rams1981 says:

    has anyone actually been charged for trying to take out more than £200?

  • Steve says:

    Has anyone tried using the curve abroad and changing the currency on the linked curve credit card to the country visited?
    I ask this because Curve has said that if the currency spend on the curve card is the same currency as the card currency set on the card then you avoid the 1% fee.
    So this should mean that if I linked the Lloyds Amex and set the currency to USD, then when I spend in the states Curve will not charge me 1% because they will pass on charge in USD to my Lloyds card, this in turn will appear as USD on my Lloyds card which will be converted into GBP but with no fees as they are free on Lloyds Amex.

    Anyone tried that? Or does security kick in and check the address of card and home currency set? If so why then give the option to change after adding it into Curve app?

    Unfortunately I’m not overseas for a while to test.

  • rams1981 says:

    my points for curve have posted to AMEX, takes a few days. Just did a £2000 online transaction without issue too.

  • William says:

    Rob,

    What’s your view on using Curve for foreign atm withdrawal v ordering currency here? Fyi, I don’t have the Halifax card but we do have the favourable Nationwide version. It’s going to be for c. $200 US.

    Cheers,

    • Genghis says:

      My opinion is that Curve would be pricy: your $200 would cost you +1% + £2 so about £3.39 (or approx 2.4% loading). If using Nationwide which is load fee, use that to get the $200 and take out £200 in the UK pcm to get your points.

      • Rob says:

        Yes, if you’ve got a Nationwide card you are 4% down using Curve (£2 on $200 + 1% margin vs 0%) which wouldn’t cover the miles.

        However, I don’t have a credit with no FX fees for ATMs so Curve is perfect.

      • William says:

        Sound advice, thanks. So load $200 eqv to Nationwide and withdraw from atm abroad which will be better than ordering currency I assume?

        • Genghis says:

          It depends on whether your Nationwide card is load free and where you would otherwise buy your currency. At this moment in time, the VISA wholesale USD rate is 1.4441000001 but buying currency from Best Foreign Exchange (where I sometimes buy currency) is 1.4355. The former costing £138.49 for $200, the latter £139.32

    • Mr Dee says:

      In theory you could link your nationwide card as a US currency card and then avoid the 1% in practice I don’t know if this will work with Curve but you would still have the £2 charge for cash withdrawals above £200 a month.

      Supercard isn’t mentioned as much because its not available to new people right at the moment, anyone who has one would find it the best solution in most cases.

      The ‘Best Foreign Exchange’ looks good if you have a branch close by

      • harry says:

        tbh I’m not that bothered about paying 3% but getting 2% back in MR points

        chicken feed

        • harry says:

          We go out to our place in the sun either 4 or 5 times a year. About 12 weeks pa. We own it so no mortgage.

          Bills out there plus local taxes etc (couple of cars, house, insurance, food etc) are not going to be more than about £3-4000 pa.

          We pay most of it through HIFX.

          So we might end up a couple of quid down through not getting Clarity, boo hoo.

          • harry says:

            Which kinda explains why I’ve never been very interested in Supercard or Curve, nothing much in it for us – or for you, possibly.

            Rather amused to see Curve start to deliver less than they promised, always was too good to be true on ATM/ Amex points.

  • Terence Semmence says:

    Just found out you cannot add an additional cardholder for MBNA BMI Amex. We have two Curve cards and added BMI Amex to one – you can’t then add the additional BMI card to the other Curve card as the BMI card has the same number……..Great…..

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.