Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

What should you do with your Curve card now?

Links on Head for Points may support the site by paying a commission.  See here for all partner links.

(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.)

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 points from credit cards? – February 2024 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

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

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £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.

Virgin Money is offering double points on spending until 14th April (£5,000 cap) to new customers when you apply for the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard. Click here to learn more.

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios 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

40,000 bonus points and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 bonus points 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:

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

American Express Business Platinum

Crazy 120,000 points bonus (to 9th April) and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

Huge 60,000 points sign-up bonus (until 9th April) and free for a year 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

2% cashback on all your business spend for 3 months (1% thereafter) and no annual fee Read our full review

Comments (242)

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

  • Frank says:

    This card / company has been ruined by sites such as this.

    Encouraging people to exploit the card and charge thousands to Amex.

    If there is anyone to blame……

    • Mikeact says:

      I agree that it probably hasn’t helped the situation, but thems the times we live in.

    • Peaceful Waters says:

      It’s ridiculous to blame sites that highlight opportunities to optimise use. Especially when Curve deliberately court HFP and MSE, to name two, as free marketing opportunities for their product.

      It’s the 21st century. Social media is a fact of life.

      This is a failure to design a product properly. The lie about foreign exchange loading and the withholding of cash in lieu of “free” gift tells me these people are not just incompetent but also dishonest.

      Draw your own conclusion. I’m out and my view is the product is dead in the water.

    • Andrew says:

      Honestly, the exposure and traction it would have given them is gold dust, especially for a business which has tight margins and needs volume.

    • harry says:

      You seem to be unaware that Amex were very happy with that situation.

    • Robman says:

      Frank, don’t read the site if you don’t appreciate the opportunities that many of us have benefitted from. Each of us are responsible for making up our own minds on how we progress the opportunities discussed. It’s certainly not the sites fault what has now happened. Worst case, you’ve only lost a tiny bit of money. Move on.

    • Ross Parker says:

      I do not understand the self-loathing inherent in comments like this.

    • DV says:

      It amazes me that there are people this stupid reading the blog.

  • Russell Evans says:

    Is it hopelessly optimistic/inappropriate at the moment to mention that many of us were expecting £10 statement credits for either signing up using a referral code, or for signing up others using our own referral code. All has gone very quiet on this subject – did I miss them do another “Fabian Delph”

    • Rob says:

      Forgot about that, will add it back

      • Waribai says:

        Do you really think they kept track of these?

      • Singing Dwarf says:

        Raffles – I’m not having a pop (everyone has to earn a crust!), but in the interest of open journalism, would you care to add to the (longer) “Reasons to Keep the Card” list, the fact that you will get your £10 referral for each one of your readership who took the card – and on the (shorter) “Reasons to Return the Card” list, the fact that you will no doubt lose each referral 😉

        I know that you have taken a lot of stick over Curve, but FWIW, you have my wholehearted support. Thank you for alerting your readership to this opportunity – we are all grown ups and make our own decisions based on the information available to us at the time.

  • Andrew says:

    It’s clear to me from reading comments here and elsewhere that many readers have no experience of working with a startup, or any kind of comprehension of what that really looks like.

    These guys have built a pretty good product in a short space of time but have now had the rug pulled from under them by a much bigger player. They will have been killing themselves trying to save the situation, these last couple of weeks. Yes, they made mistakes in the development, but they’re a tiny team, hugely stretched, trying to change the way payments are made – I would expect some mistakes.

    I will be keeping the card and hope that they survive.

    • Yuff says:

      +1
      🙂

      • RIccati says:

        I have full sympathy, and innovation deserves support and rationed reaction.

        But they must have been prepared for this Risk No.1 — what if AMEX stops operations.
        Being able to charge to AMEX is No.1 feature of the product — they know it well.

        In the normal world, this should not have happened — AMEX had no substantial reason to discriminate against them as a merchant, factually banning them across all of its payment network and citing, say, duplicate transactions as a reason. It’s part of their job to work with merchant to resolve.

        They must have been prepared to push back to AMEX and have all the legal work and competition and fair trading complaints written up in advance and ready to do.

        ***
        On the side re: online payments, it’s shameful how banks here can’t handle this Verified by Visa/AMEX Safekey feature, there are continuing problems with registration, online transactions fail, and the online transactions with overseas companies (who use banks in Asia or Australia) are hit and miss.

    • Modern Day Sinbad says:

      +1

    • Our_Kid says:

      Absolutely agree – I’m sticking with them! I can’t believe some of the comments coming through, like people are parasites – sad state of affairs on essentially what is a hobby!

    • James says:

      +1

    • Phillip says:

      +1!

      Everyone wants something for nothing. As Raffles says, one way or another, nobody will be out of pocket. I am not holding my breath, but they have demonstrated that they can make something work with Amex, and maybe, just maybe, they can press play again on that relationship. It may not happen, but if there is the slightest chance that it might, it will have been money very well spent to stick around with them. After all, Amex isn’t losing anything out of this relationship. They’re making money from people making purchases at merchants that wouldn’t otherwise accept Amex. I’m willing to “invest” in them!

      • Claire says:

        +1

      • Chris says:

        It’s not wanting something for nothing it’s wanting the thing that was advertised and offered and for which I then paid.

        I don’t have a problem with it not working out and have a great deal of sympathy with their situation but they took a gamble with their key feature if they didn’t have the Amex link-up locked down and we took a much smaller gamble in buying it.

        Now that the one feature I bought the card for is withdrawn I’ve cancelled and will hopefully get a refund, if I don’t then as I say it was a small gamble that I as a grown-up took (knowing it was a gamble based on the comments when it was first mentioned here).

        I liked the product and was enjoying using it and if the link with AMEX returns I will be happy to sign-up again and continue to promote it to friends and families and even strangers as I was doing at work. But if it had offered what it now offers originally it’s not something I would have bought as it just doesn’t have enough to justify the fee for me (however nice the box it came in is)

        I wish them well and hope they can resolve their issues but it feels like the moment in Dragon’s Den when someone unveils a great product, the investors get excited until the moment they reveal that they don’t have a patent for it and everyone goes cold, losing Amex is definitely the I’m out moment for me.

        (If your comment however refers to criticism of Raffles and the site than I wholeheartedly agree – I have no issue with HFP suggesting new products that might be a risk, as many have said I have more than benefited £35 pounds worth of advice in the year I’ve been avidly following and I think this was a pretty low amount to gamble that as a grown-up I was happy to take. I also have no issue with him making suggestions from which he earns referrals, advertising etc – the effort that is put into this site means it’s more than fully earnt! To date I don’t think referrals or advertising has affected the sites independent judgement – the more successful the site becomes the more the temptation to be influenced by freebies and links might become but to be honest using Money Saving Expert as a template I don’t think that it has to go down that path).

    • RTS says:

      They DID build a good product but they failed to maintain it’s “goodness”. The current product now is no different to many travel products out there. There is literally 0 point for the majority of us to continue with Curve unless you have a grandfathered BMI card.

      You are better off running a Clarity Card and Lloyds AMEX for foreign spend rather than using a Curve.

      Unless they are able to bring AMEX back on board this product is as good as worthless, especially so when Supercard comes back out in all its glory.

      Curve fundamentally screwed up by allowing too many users to sign up during a “beta” stage which has invariably damaged its relationship with AMEX due to continued glitches, errors and the like.

      I am all for supporting start-ups but the question must be asked, would you have “invested” in Curve if AMEX wasn’t on-board from the start? For me (and I’m guessing for the majority), the answer would have been no.

      • Rob says:

        Worth noting that Supercard is refusing to confirm that it will be free when (re)launched.

        • Ian says:

          I have been told there will be a charge. Assumed it was known.

          ‘similar to other cards’.

          • Rob says:

            What ‘other cards’?!

            Expect a £35 and a £75 version then! Better news for Curve if there is a fee.

        • RTS says:

          Lucky us if that’s the case! 🙂

        • John says:

          Possibly so, but do you really think free cash withdrawls will continue?

  • Phil says:

    Can I clarify the terms under which the £200 ATM cap apply?

    I applied for the card on 18 Feb, they charged me the fee on 29 Apr and I received/activated on 6 May.

    Does the cap not apply to me now or is there a two month grace period from one of the dates above?

    There is a lot of conflicting info in this. Just wondering if I get a last opportunity to withdraw cash on my Amex before 31st.

    Phil

    • Mr Dee says:

      I would assume there is a cap with these people as they would just change the rules again if they needed to claim or better yet ask them

      • Rob says:

        You will be under the new £200 per month cap. However, the fee for additional withdrawals is ok if you want to boost Amex spend for, say, a 241.

        • d4ve says:

          I activated my card on 23/4 before the new terms. Does this mean I am not restricted by the new cap? I tend to need c£150 a week but like to keep things simple. If I am restricted to £200 a month I will revert to my old debit card but if I can stick with curve then I would get a little benefit from a linked visa.

  • Ed says:

    regarding blame the day curve hit the comments on this website, was when it was covered in the telegraph. it was instantly obvious at the time that manafctured cash withdrawals were going to be the next 3V cards. We all could see this on day one. so curve team must of thought about this as well, but were happy to use it as an early marketing ploy, probably expecting to roll back on it. The Amex issue is another thing altogether, in a few months time the product might look like a good option, but I’m waiting for things to settle.

  • Graham Walsh says:

    I still think it’s a great idea. Yes a big shame re Amex. I think one of the major issues which I’ve not seen mentioned is the Amex brand is missing when paying for transactions with a card. Others will see a curve card. Card issuers who spend millions on marketing have lost that to Curve, Supercard etc. But hey this is the world we live in with great innovation.

    Now my Supercard is junk as it gets declined more times than approved aboard, maybe it’s time to dig out my Santander Zero.

    I will still keep the Curve for now.

  • Mr Dee says:

    I think it is probably worth keeping after all as it will be easy enough for me to spend £1000 in the first week or where I was already going to be using a Visa/Mastercard.

    The only hope they have is if they launch their loyalty program now!

  • Concerto says:

    Ha! British credit cards. Man, they really suck. They get blocked every time I try to use them abroad, they get hacked by idiots who are probably 3 year olds, and so on. I’m so glad my cc use is with foreign issued cards, namely from Switzerland and Germany. Never had a problem, never been blocked, never been hacked.

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.