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What Curve Card’s email yesterday about ATM cash machine usage means

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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.)

If you have a Curve Card, you will have received an email from them yesterday which you may have found a little confusing.

There is a big Curve announcement coming this week which I will cover on Thursday morning.  If you don’t know about Curve, I will run a full explanation in that article.  You can also learn more in this HfP article.

I spoke with Curve’s CEO yesterday to get an understanding of what is going on.

Curve card ATM changes

As many Curve cardholders have discovered, Curve has a decline rate which is higher than standard credit cards

A key reason for this is that all Curve transactions carry the same merchant reference code.  Standard credit card transactions are coded based on the type of retailer or, for big companies, the exact retailer name.  Unfortunately, when your underlying credit card issuer sees transaction after transaction coming through marked as ‘general’, it can trigger fraud concerns.

In order to improve acceptance, Curve transactions will now carry a merchant reference code which reflects the underlying transaction.  Your underlying credit card company will now see a mix of retailer types coming through instead of just ‘general’, ‘general’, ‘general’ etc.

Another upside here is that it will trigger sector-based and, for large retailers with their own merchant code, company-based promotions.  For example, the HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard – until the end of the month – offers a £20 Uber credit for a £500 airline transaction.  A bonus like this should now trigger if you paid with Curve as it would now carry an airline merchant code.

However …..

As part of this recoding, ATM withdrawals made using Curve will now be identifiable as cash transactions by your card issuer.

It is important to note that, short term, my understanding is that there should NOT be charges for making ATM withdrawals with Curve.  However, over time, it is possible that individual credit card companies will make changes to treat these transactions as cash withdrawals.

ATM withdrawals made using Curve when it is linked to a debit card will continue to be free regardless.

We have seen the same thing happen with Revolut.  Some credit card companies have changed their terms and conditions recently to treat Revolut transactions as pseudo-cash, and so incurring cash withdrawal fees.  Other credit card companies have not, so you can load your Revolt card from those credit cards and have it treated as a purchase, earning miles and points.  Our main article on Revolut including a HfP special offer for applying is here.


For now, you should be able to continue making £200 per month of ATM withdrawals with Curve Card and have them treated as a purchase, earning miles and points on the underlying card.  Keep an eye on your emails and card statements, however, as you may receive notice from your underlying issuer that this will change.

You can find out more about Curve in this article.

Curve will pay you £10 for trying it out if you use our link.

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Comments (270)

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

  • JohnT says:

    Nationwide Flex also making changes to their conditions from 8/10 – increasing non-sterling fee for debit card payments and ATM cash from 2% to 2.75%, (+£1 extra for cash). Yuk!

    • JPa says:

      Flex Plus is the account to have for foreign cash withdrawals (the extra insurances and 3% interest are well worth the £13 a month).

      • JPa says:

        Zero fees on. Staring is also very good and free.

        • Joe says:

          Been using starling abroad for the last month and it’s been great

        • Andrew L says:

          Yes, Starling is the best of all the new age start-up mobile app banks.

        • CV3V says:

          Another vote for Starling, moved over to it from Monzo, recently used Starling in 4 different countries/currencies for atm withdrawals and and chip n pin, no issues at all and very good exchange rates.

      • Phil says:

        Have this nationwide account and starling and tandem all for abroad activities. Used to hold post office credit card for a decade but the above are more modern and better so ditched PO!

        Curve 0% announcement on Thursday could provide yet another option ????????‍♂️

    • Roger1* says:

      As JPa suggests, use Nationwide’s FlexPlus DEBIT card for cash. Using it for purchases incurs charges and/or fees.

      Use Nationwide’s Select CREDIT card (or another 0% f/x card) for purchases. Using it for cash invcurs charges and/or fees.

  • Stuart Longstone says:

    Just so everyone knows, my atm withdrawal yesterday on Curve has an Atm fee and merchant coding which tells my card Virgin Money its a cash advance. Costly advice.

    • pablo says:

      try to go back in time in curve app and move the cash withdrawal to a debit card. It may reverse all associated charges automatically or you can ask virgin on the phone to reverse the fees.

    • Stuart says:

      Ignore above, poor advice and misunderstanding from bank. Have asked Anika to delete post.

    • Leigh says:

      Withdrew cash with curve linked to Virgin Atlantic card on Saturday – transaction posted yesterday with no cash advance fee.

  • Andrew L says:

    I would be grateful if someone who uses Curve to withdraw cash from a cash machine today while connected to their Creation IHG credit card could report back on whether they were charged or not by Creation for the withdrawal.

    Unfortunately I’ve already had my £200 free limit this month, so can’t test it until 1st October.


    • Genghis says:

      Perhaps pop it in the machine one more time. You won’t be charged by Curve, at least…

      • Lumma says:

        Don’t all ATMs say “you may be charged a fee by your bank” when making withdrawals or was that just the corporate pre paid MasterCard one?

    • Graham Walsh says:

      Hi Andrew. I took £200 out this morning and it’s linked to my IHG. Showing as pending still and no charges. I did get the warning at the Santander ATM that I could be charged.

      • Andrew L says:

        Thanks for letting me know Graham. The cash machines have always shown that warning.

      • Ryan says:

        Same. Just took €100 out in Almeria on Curve via IHG Black. Got the same warning from UniCaijo (sp) on the charges. Only did it because I stupidly left my Nationwide Flex in the room…

        Mine says the same in the App – ‘Cash’. Will check tomorrow.

    • Stuart says:

      £200 out of ATM on curve linked to IHG on Monday. Showing as £200 and no fee on creation statement.

      • Rob says:

        As predicted. Some people really have no faith do they Callum? 🙂 Mine should clear overnight.

  • VJ says:

    Unfortunately or Fortunately 🙂

  • Nicholas says:

    It would be very useful if someone produced a wiki list of which cards have which policy when it comes to Curve 🙂

    • Neil Spellings says:

      Why would this be needed? Just read your CC terms and conditions. If they charge a cash advance fee (and it’s highly likely they do), then they’ll charge you one when you withdraw cash using Curve, as essentially they’ll now be no difference.

    • luckyjim says:

      If someone did prepare such a list, why would the want to share it on here?

    • the_real_a says:

      This is the exact the problem that curve now has – users will have no confidence in what charges the underlying card will levy. Remember this card was heavily targeted at contractors and business owners. Its not just people gaming ATM withdrawals, i was charged a cash advance (pre-curve) on road toll payments last summer in spain. One of my now defunct credit cards used to charge a cash advance on council tax payments, etc etc… If you have to log in and charge the card frequently, then its just quicker to take out and pay with the original payment card.

      I also dont agree that Credit Card companies will need to give 30 days notice, each and every one of them has a catch all “quasi-cash” or “cash like transaction” clause in the t&c`s.

    • Jaws says:

      If there was a list it’s all over now…

  • Andrew L says:

    It’s useful for the extra reward points obtained from the credit card.

    • CardiffJock says:

      £200 a month on (say) a rewards credit card is worth about £1 a month (possibly £2 depending on how you value them) in terms of miles/points benefit, so I’m not sure why people are getting so bent out of shape. I appreciate that £2,400 per annum of ‘spend’ in this way could contribute to a threshold (e.g. IHG Premium, Lloyds Avios for upgrade voucher), but even so….. it’s hardly Armageddon.

      I do agree that Curve’s last minute communication, however, has been rubbish and has created concerns (unfounded or not) that people drawing from ATMs on Curve linked to CCs may be knackering their credit score.

      I for one will be abstaining from the odd ATM withdrawal henceforth, only out of concern re credit score impact.

      • Genghis says:

        You could do a lot more than £200 a month… I certainly did.

      • Mark says:

        “….. it’s hardly Armageddon”. True but that’s hardly the pont!
        I don’t expect many of us one here really NEED the extra £12 from ATM’s, nor the IHG free night, nor the Spire elite status, but it’s a nice feeling when your ‘intellectual hobby’ provides them for free.
        Ditto with Avios etc…..

  • Tracy says:

    I didn’t receive any email from curve and withdrew £200 yesterday. Curve app states it is cash. Currently pending on my IHG creation card as CRV*Tesco, lets see what happens…..
    Intetestingly on the curve app, all my £200 withdrawals as far back as January are now detailed as cash….not sure if that was always the case or not.

    • Rob says:

      I did a Creation withdrawal today which is also showing as a standard transaction so far. Might do an MBNA one later as a double test.

      • Michael Jennings says:

        I did a Creation transaction today too – just £10 as a test. It’s showing as a standard pending transaction now. I shall report back as to what happens. I’m also interested as to what happens with the Hilton Barclaycard, but I haven’t tried a transaction yet.

      • rams1981 says:

        How would you know if the creation one was a cash transaction?

        • Rob says:

          There may be a pending £3 cash charge attached to it. Or perhaps not, since I’ve never withdrawn cash on the card so I don’t know what I’m expecting.

        • Michael Jennings says:

          The £3 cash charge is unlikely to show as pending. If it is charged, it is more likely that only the original charge will be shown as pending, and the cash charge will only be imposed when the charge goes from pending to actual. So wait and see.

        • BLT says:

          Creation often don’t give you any warning until your statement is generated. You then see the charges you have accrued.

        • Genghis says:

          I’ve been charged by Creation as soon as cleared on statement.

    • Roger says:

      I can report from my test cash withdrawal from last weekend.
      No extra charge

  • Albert says:

    withdrew cash with curve linked to Lloyd’s MasterCard on Friday – transaction posted yesterday with no cash advance fee

    however the email refers to changes being made “this week” so this may have all changed…

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