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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.

  • richy says:

    “so you can load your Revolt card”

  • Eugene says:

    If the ATM points for pounds window has shut and you don’t buy into- have x cards but just carry one angle- because it causes problems on refunds etc then where’s the USP?

    I tried three times with gradually decreasing amounts, ending up a a tiny£500 to pay my HMRC bill and got declined by Curve each time. Despite having v.good credit status I discovered after numerous emails- nobody to talk to, and a 24-48 hr lag for a reply by the way- that you have to build up a pattern of spending with them to get ability to charge larger amounts. They obviously don’t use Experian or other credit reference agencies.
    So my card has say a £25k limit but Curve won’t let me charge £500 to HMRC.

    The only Curve I will be using is the parabola my card describes as it arcs gently into my trash bin..

    • George says:

      Curve isn’t a credit product, and they don’t credit score. They don’t care what your underlying credit limit is, or what your credit file looks like – they care about risk visible to them. From their perspective, you’re a complete stranger asking them to make a payment through the debit network to HMRC (not easily recovered) and trust that your payment via the credit network (easily charged back, particularly in the case of fraud) is going to match it.

      If you want to make bigger payments (>£200) you first need to develop a pattern of ‘normal’ spending.

  • swhostring says:

    Haha! Most of the moaners here can bog off – official – from the CEO:

    ‘Indeed this change may mean we will be losing some of our customers. Approximately 1% of our customer base have used Curve for cash recycling purposes – and although we’ll be sad to see them go, the product we’re building was not for them in the first place.’

    So stop your moaning, it’s game over and you weren’t profitable customers for Curve in any case, they’ll be glad to see the back of you.

    • Axel says:

      Im not wanting to take the wind out your sale Harry or disagree but basically the way I see it , Curve have taken two years to realise their is a small leaking hole in their boat and are now plugging it up.

      When Curve first appeared – the Amex stage – a lot of comments on HFP were saying the business model wont last.

      There are still other gaping holes to be plugged by Curve but nothing changes from my perspective in this game. We are still dealing with a naive startup of spotty faced school leavers.

      • George says:

        I’m interested that ‘only’ 1% were cash recycling – if that’s 1% of active users then there are clearly a reasonable subset that find value in the product – not everyone can have huge HMRC bills. If its 1% of all signups and we assume reasonable attrition (see the various comments on this post alone) then they’re going to lose a real chunk of users – albeit definitely not profitable ones.

        I use mine to pay the HMRC and other debit card only bills but the 50k allowance barely lasts a quarter. Rob’s comment about a ‘paid’ limit increase a few pages ago is of interest – if they charged me the interchange fee on the transactions I make (ie 0.3%) I’d willingly pay it – its hardly going to make them rich but could be a genuine way of taking a high value but high cost customer and making them at least revenue neutral, if not profitable.

        I’m with you that cash withdrawals was never going to be a long term game (nor really worth the effort involved) – like all MS opportunities (which I purposely steer clear of) someone is picking up the tab, and when that someone realises there will be a reckoning. For all legitimate uses of the cash withdrawal feature there are well placed fintech or traditional finance products available at modest or no cost.

      • swhostring says:

        Take 1% with a hefty pinch of salt – probably much higher. Not in the CEO’s interest to say any different.

        All users are Beta testers, not committed or loyal users.

        Is it really that useful to consolidate your cards such that you can use any of them with Curve by switching card on the app? Currently that’s the main benefit – 1 card in your slimline wallet – apart from the gaming stuff HfP users find useful.

        I’m sure Curve would like to sell you many other financial products and make some money that way. Why would you even bother to read their offers? I get far too many messages from Clearscore (amongst all the others but Clearscore are the worst) offering the same/ offers & quite happily ignore/ bin them. If I wanted a new financial product, I’d research it for myself.

    • Memesweeper says:

      I’ve almost never used Curve for cash in the U.K. It’s no loss to me to see it go. I have used it extensively at ATMs abroad, and if that cash code gets passed back it will hurt the usefulness of the card for me. Starling remains the winner in this case.

      The CEO says they are not running Curve to facilitate ‘hacking’ the payment card system. So, hardcore HfP readers, that is what you need to know about Curve’s direction of travel.

      Long term, for it to be my ‘only card’/‘go to card’ they need much higher limits.

  • Chris says:

    What’s the difference between ‘business services’ And ‘financial services’ In terms of any possible credit card cash advance fees?

    For instance, hypothetically, if one had been paying certain fees for holding shares with a popular FTSE 100 firm, and Curve classed it as ‘business services’, is that likely to count as a cash advance from Creation’s point of view?

    • swhostring says:

      In caseslike this you have to test it & see. Different card cos will see things differently. The same card co might change policy from 1 month to the next.

      You’re unlikely to lose serious money if it moves against you, as my kids say: ne panickoy!

  • Jason Hindle says:

    Is there anywhere I can find information about, for example, how a given credit card supplier treats a transfer to a Revolut card. I was wondering if I could transfer money from a points earning card (I’ll not mention it here due to the profile of this site in the broader points business) but don’t know how the transfer will be treated or if I’ll earn points.

    • swhostring says:

      and that’s directly under a post saying in cases like this, test it & see

      what’s the worst that can happen?

    • George says:

      If there was anywhere to find this information, you can bet the card issuers would be reading it and promptly changing the rules to stop it.

    • James Silver says:

      give it a try and let us know if you get charged and if curve ban you, if you don’t mind? thanks

    • Genghis says:

      I try new stuff out relatively often. Occasionally get charged cash advance fees but it’s worth it, put it that way.

  • Paul says:

    After these many posts, still no conclusion of Amex inclusion in Curve in near future?

  • Julian says:

    In practice it seems to be possible currently to withdraw more than £200 using Curve from cash machines without actually being charged for doing so. Or at least so far I have withdrawn £300 or £400 in a month in usually two withdrawals and not seen any fee added to the transactions above the cash withdrawal value.

    I only need a maximum of about £370 per month in cash (and in some months less than this) so hence why I may perhaps come within their grey area between someone withdrawing more than £200 per month and someone clearly exceeding the permitted Fair Use level who deserves to be charged.

    Still if cash withdrawals go too then I won’t see much point left in Curve given that I already have an exchange rate levy fee free visa and mastercard credit card (the former is only fee free in the EU) and an exchange rate fee free mastercard debit card that works at cash machines within the EU.

    Of course I’m not one of those complicated souls who tries to use Curve to manually pay one credit card bill with another credit card, which in any case I feel sure contravenes the spirit if not the letter of Curve’s Ts&Cs regarding cash recycling.

  • Brian says:

    Lots of talk about a £200 per month ATM limit. My Curve app clearly shows a:
    £1,000 Daily limit
    £20,000 Last 30 day window limit
    £40,000 Last 365 day window limit

    I have exceeded £200 per month on several occasions without any charges.

    • Louise says:

      Brian the fair use policy states

      ATM credit card withdrawal fair use
      You can use your Curve card to withdraw up to £200 (or currency equivalent) per calendar month, using your credit cards. After this Curve may charge you 2% for such withdrawals. This limit does not apply to ATM debit card withdrawals.

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

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