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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.

  • Vinz says:

    I want to add something to the discussion as I think the “seamless customer service” is not the only reason why Amex pulled out of Curve.

    I made a payment over the phone this morning at a merchant I used Curve with a few weeks ago. When I gave them the card number the lady on the phone said something like “is this an Amex?” and I was like “no, it’s a mastercard” (which is true). The transaction was declined then she tried again and it went through.

    I think the problem is, merchants realised that there was something odd going on. People would pay with mastercards but then get Amex transaction fees. Maybe they started flagging cards, certainly they were upset about it. Or maybe it’s not relevant but I thought I would share with you.

    • Rob says:

      They don’t get Amex transaction fees, they get Business MasterCard fees – which are nearly as bad.

      Very soon, shops will legally be allowed to refuse certain sorts of credit cards. I believe that cards will have to marked to show what band of fees they charge. Some stores will start to say ‘personal MasterCard or Visa only’ and not take corporate cards or even premium cards like World Elite MasterCards which have higher fees.

      A reader told me last week that his business has already been approached by MasterCard to identify what sort of cards it will be willing to accept. All others will be blocked.

      • Rum says:

        I think this will result in a lot of lost business; from me at least. I am not going to sit and argue with a shop owner/assistant as to what type my card is. If I am asked, I will simply cancel the transaction and walk out. I hope many others will do the same. This could easily result in profiling customers in the long-term, based on their type of cards. Not sure I am OK with certain data of mine being used in this way.

        • Talay says:

          It will and it won’t is the likely answer !

          My core businesses take Amex, in fact we take anything but our average transaction value is around £25, so the difference between 1% and 3% is a massive 50p ! We are also a high gross profit industry which means that such costs are not crippling.

          However, if I was retailing big ticket items costing say £5000, then that extra 2% is £100, which is or could be significant if the mark up is low, as it is say on consumer electrical goods.

          I won’t worry about it but some might. I am more than a little narked though on losing the ability to use Amex where Amex was not accepted.

  • BigDave says:

    They must be getting desparate, literally a day after giving me the chance to cancel my order (I was still pondering whether to or not) they say theyve taken payment and will be shipping out

  • Dann says:

    I’ve made a petition for amex to accept curve again, I Spoke to their CEO, who said this could potentially help the case, if we all get behind this, it might show AMEX what a mistake their making..
    Sign and share the petition guys;

    • Alan says:

      Or push Amex over the edge and decide for them that Curve is more hassle than it’s worth.

      We should probably let the dust settle in June and see how Curve try to get them back on board. Maybe Curve themselves don’t want to do it since its costing them money and any petition will be in vain.

    • harry says:

      I won’t be signing, make up your own mind.

      Amex dumped Curve for good reasons.

  • Neil says:

    Is there an end-date to the cancellation offer?

  • Federico says:

    You don’t need to return the card. I have cancelled mine and they wanted me to cut it, I have also received the refund today of £35.
    ‘Curve account cancellation confirmation
    We can confirm your Curve account has been cancelled. We will refund your original payment card – please wait 7-10 working days for the money to be credited to your account. Please cut up your Curve card and dispose of it safely – it will no longer work.

    Thanks for being part of the Curve Beta – we’re sorry to see you go.

    Team Curve’

    • Paul says:

      So you haven’t received any refund, just an email from Curve promising one in 7-10 days! GIven the company’s track record to date I wouldn’t count your chickens until that money is showing back on your card account!

      • harry says:

        Paul, please read thread, refunds are being processed in 48 hrs

        No need to kick them with untruths

      • Federico says:

        I did cancelled my card on Tuesday and received the money back into my card yesterday (thursday)

        • Sussex Bantam says:

          Cancelled my card Wednesday – refund arrived today. That, at least, seems to be working correctly…

  • lee says:

    Is there a review of revolut card on headforpoints ?

  • Brian Peers says:

    One thought – why didn’t curve just setup up a credit card outside the EU in any currency with 0% FX fees and then allow consumers to settle their account in sterling. No EU rules or caps to abide by. Surely the answer!

    • Rum says:

      Not a very safe thing to do given potential market volatility. No bank or sensible investor is going to take up such a risk!

  • AB says:

    I was less than impressed with all the delays originally, but thought, okay, lets wait, this is worth it, but then this blow? sorry, lost all sympathy towards them, being able to use amex everywhere was the key reason I signed up for this, and I was just about okay putting up with delays, an app that is flaky and full of bugs, etc
    anyway, good idea, but just hasn’t worked

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