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What should you do with your Curve card now?

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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.)

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 ….

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Comments (242)

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

  • Douglas says:

    Is there any free prepaid debt card that I could buy with my curve? I already paid few months of energy/sky with it, but not sure what else I could be doing in those last days.

    • pauldb says:

      You could potentially look at paying your whole year’s council tax with it. I even got mine through as a debit card.

      • RTS says:

        Why would you do that? You could quite easily just get a paypoint card for your council tax then head over to your nearest co-op and pay your Ctax with your Amex. (Yes it works, I have done it).

        • Douglas says:

          Yes, but that would be easier online huh? I tried and it is charging CC fees for me.
          Supercard attached to curve did not work (but obviously shows in supercard transaction page)

  • BD says:

    I’m also sticking with Curve. I think it’s a great product with fabulous potential. I’ll link my Lloyds MasterCard and keep earning Avios that way. Nothing like as many, but still giving Curve some business where AMEX is not accepted.

    I’m still hopeful (maybe hopelessly optimistic) that AMEX will be back on board soon.

  • Rob says:

    Any informed speculation on the chances that Amex will decide to work with Curve at some point in the medium term, next 12 months perhaps?

    I’ll keep my card active, as the £35 refund is neither here nor there, but I can’t think that I’ll use the card in the UK. I might use it for overseas purchases, but it’s probably time I investigated a cheaper way of using a card overseas. Without the Amex link I can’t see the point of Curve…

  • Alan says:

    I wonder how much Amex lost in revenue from people using their Curve card rather than Amex at retailers that accepts Amex anyway.

    In the month that I have had the card, I have used it in places that I normally use Amex anyway where I don’t feel like I needed S75 protection. It became a habit that I pulled out my Curve card rather than Amex and wondered if Amex might have studied some data on that.

    • Ross Parker says:

      This is a very good point. I used Curve for *everything*, hence the extra commission to Amex from non-Amex accepting merchants was probably at least counteracted by the lower commission on what would have been straight Amex spend beforehand.

    • harry says:

      Astute point, easy enough for Amex to crunch some data and make some assumptions.

      There must have been the consideration:
      new transaction fees n1 vs cannibalise existing (higher) transaction fees n2

      + hassle/ demands on customer service/ damage to brand Amex

      • idrive says:

        I don’t think Amex are so stupid.
        I always use Amex and Curve whereever it is not accepted. so from me, they would never loose business. win/win/win

        • Brian W says:

          That’s exactly how I was working it, used BAPP at Amex accepting retailers and Curve anywhere else.

    • Sideysid says:

      I know that I always paid with Amex directly where possible for the protection/cover it provides. I’m sure that most users are ‘savvy’ in the points game are the key users of Curve, so doubt Amex would have seen much of a drop.

      • idrive says:

        it would be interesting to know the active client base of Curve and the volumes of purchases so far!

  • Red says:

    Slightly off-topic, is there any news on when they will release the Android app? I know they said summer, but just wondering if they’ve narrowed that timescale down a bit? It’s a shame those of us who don’t have Apple devices are missing out on this.

    I’m suprised they didn’t from the start allow you to sign-up and manage your account on their website. They must be missing out of a lot of customers right now.

    • Alan says:

      They are recruiting for an Android Developer so maybe not in the short-term?

      • Krankyfly says:

        Its a wonderful opportunity for any Android developer to start a beautiful, long term work relationship with Curve.
        But you must be committed to them, as they have big plans for the future.

        • idrive says:

          you know that in life who is successfull is the one who goes against the average thinking (like salmons in the rivers:-)
          I don’t like all this sarcasm about Curve to be honest.
          Go and open your own business and see how many challenges you face every single day!

      • Red says:

        Shame, every time I go somewhere that doesn’t accept AMEX I always think of this card now and how I’m missing out.

  • Kranyfly says:

    The Curve card can be used as a paperweight in a non-breezy room, keeping up to one piece of paper securely on the table.

  • Will says:

    I think the ability to charge £200 via ATM to a rewards credit card is worth keeping it.

    I don’t have a huge cash demand in my life and even on a small amount it would be nice to earn a few avios / AA miles.

  • Boris says:

    Is there still a space to use Curve for places that have a high fee for Credit Cards and lower for Debit Cards? I am thinking of the likes of solicitors who may charge a higher fee for Credit Cards.

    That depends on whether Curve looks like a Prepaid Mastercard Credit Card or Debit Card.

    Is there any authoritative statement?

    • Genghis says:

      It is a Mastercard Prepaid card which is a card type in its own right. It seems to come through as a credit card for me on most payment systems (thereby adding a credit card fee when one applies).

    • Johnnycl says:

      It works as a debit card when booking flights through Norweigan…saving about £1 or so I think!

    • Boris says:

      I’m looking at eg paying fees to services such a conveyancers charged through to a Virgin Black Visa.

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