Curve introduces 0% foreign exchange fees – and more change to come

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Curve Card has announced a new benefit for cardholders today – 0% foreign exchange fees.

(There is another major announcement to come in around 8 weeks, but you will have to wait for that one.)

Curve has always been a good deal for making payments abroad.  Historically it levied a 1% fee on foreign transactions, which it recharged to any linked Visa or Mastercard.  If you didn’t have a separate 0% FX fees credit card then using Curve was better than paying 3% to your standard credit card provider.  Even if you did have a 0% FX fees credit card, it was often more valuable to pay Curve’s 1% fee and pick up miles or points from your linked credit card.

From today, Curve will drop its foreign exchange fee to 0%, albeit with a small weekend surcharge.  It is important to note that it is using the interbank rate and NOT the official Visa / Mastercard rates – which are a tiny bit away from the spot rate – so there is absolutely no FX loss at all.

This means:

If you currently have a 0% FX fees credit card which comes with no rewards, you should definitely consider switching to Curve

If you currently have a 0% FX fees credit card with 0.5% cashback (Aqua or Tandem), you should consider switching to Curve if you have a Visa or Mastercard credit card with more valuable rewards

If you currently have the 0% FX fees Lloyds Avios Rewards Mastercard, you should consider switching to Curve when your Lloyds Avios Rewards card is closed (the replacement you will get charges a 3% FX fee)

Curve introduces 0% foreign exchange fees

The only snag is that Curve is imposing limits if you have the free card:

If you have the free Curve Blue card:

You can spend £500 per month in foreign currency at 0% FX, after which a 2% fee applies

You can withdraw £200 per month from an ATM in foreign currency at 0% FX, after which a charge of 2% or £2, whichever is higher, applies

Like Revolut, there is a weekend surcharge of 0.5% for £, $ and € (1.5% for other currencies) to reflect the currency risk taken by guaranteeing the closing Friday rate

If you have the £50 one-off fee Curve Black card:

You can spend an unlimited amount (subject to a potential fair use charge of 2% beyond £15,000 per year) in foreign currency at 0% FX

You can withdraw £400 per month from an ATM in foreign currency at 0% FX, after which a charge of 2% or £2, whichever is higher, applies

Like Revolut, there is a weekend surcharge of 0.5% for £, $ and € (1.5% for other currencies) to reflect the currency risk taken by guaranteeing the closing Friday rate

Curve Card 0% foreign exchange fees

If you are abroad a lot, the £50 Curve Black card now looks attractive.

Let’s imagine that you have £10,000 of annual foreign spending.  You would be paying £300 in fees on a standard credit card.  You could use a 0% card with 0.5% cashback like Tandem and receive £50 back.  Alternatively, you could a premium Mastercard or Visa – at the top end, the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ card – and pay 0% in FX fees and earn 15,000 Virgin Atlantic miles.

This new Curve benefit is also a good way of helping to trigger a long term spending bonus, such as the free night on the IHG Rewards Club Premium Mastercard (requires £10,000 of spending) or the 2-4-1 vouchers on the new Virgin Atlantic credit cards (require £10,000 – £20,000 of spending).

If you were thinking of upgrading to Curve Black, I recommend doing it sooner rather than later.  This card will see a substantial change to its benefits package and fee in a few weeks, but by upgrading now you will be locking in the £50 fee for 6 months.

Curve Card 0% FX fees

What is Curve?

If you’re not familiar with Curve, this is how it works.  Curve is a Mastercard DEBIT card that recharges every purchase you make to a linked Visa or Mastercard credit or debit card.

This is why Curve Card is worth having:

You make your debit card purchase – including tax payments – using Curve Card

Curve recharges it to your linked Visa or Mastercard credit card

It goes through your linked Visa or Mastercard credit card as a purchase

It therefore earns points from your linked Visa or Mastercard

You have just earned credit card points from making a debit card transaction

And the best bit is that Curve Card is free.  In fact, it is better than free – Curve Card will pay you £5 for taking it out.

It actually gets even better, due to two additional Curve Card benefits:

You can withdraw £200 of cash per month from an ATM and have it charged to your credit card as a purchase – this means it earns miles and points.  This benefit may go away soon as credit card companies can now see what you are doing following a change in how these transactions are processed, but for now it is business as usual.

Foreign currency transactions made on Curve are recharged to your linked Visa or Mastercard in Sterling with a 0% foreign exchange adjustment as we discussed above.  This makes it a better deal than using the underlying card which is likely to have a 3% FX fee.  There ARE FX fees for transactions at weekends and if you go over £500 per month.

One thing you CANNOT do with Curve is pay a financial services institution.  As with Billhop, HMRC is NOT treated as a financial services institution so you are fine.

Curve Card has an annual payment limit of £50,000.  This is fine for most people.  You won’t get this ‘out of the box’ however – you need to use the card for a few months until your limits build up as the company begins to trust you.

The Curve Card is FREE so there is no harm in trying it out.  If you use a refer-a-friend code when you sign up – my code is OQB4J – you will receive £5 off your first transaction with the card.  You must use a referral code to get the £5 credit.

The Curve website is here if you want to know more.  You need to download the Curve app for your phone and order a card from there if you want to try it out.

Conclusion

Depending on whether £500 per month covers your foreign currency spending or not, this new development is either a major benefit or just a small tweak to the Curve package.

If you are a heavy foreign spender who would benefit from the £15,000 per year of 0% FX spending – and you have a suitably rich Mastercard or Visa rewards card to recharge your spending to – then you may want to upgrade to Curve Black for £50.

As I said earlier, there are other fundamental improvements to Curve coming in a few weeks which will be of strong interest to Head for Points readers, so it is definitely a product to keep on your radar if you do not have one already.

(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards?  Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards Update’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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Comments

  1. Nigel the Pensioner says:

    Remind us all again what % commission Curve charge for each and every time it is used – abroad or at home??

  2. Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

    I still think these guys are total cowboys. You can’t go around making changes to fees without notice, especially when it’s in their T&Cs (that haven’t been updated with the new fee structure).

    1.10.1. We may at any time unilaterally amend, delete or add to this Agreement, including the Fees and other amounts which apply to your Account (as set out in Schedule 1) (a “Change”) by giving you at least 2 months’ notice of such Change by posting a revised version of this Agreement on the Curve website(s).

  3. Still no Apple Pay and no updates on it. Would be great to have this to “patch” things until Virgin Money catch up and deliver Apple Pay and even a smartphone app!!
    Curve are going to struggle to make this product relevant in the fintech space unless they get some key functionality delivered.
    Looks like the route to a few credit card points / miles for some monthly cash withdrawals is gone too.
    Doesn’t stack up against the MBNA Horizon card. No link to Amex… challenging journey ahead for the team at Curve…🤔

  4. Curve website says : The premium Curve Mastercard® costs a one-off fee of £50.

    Presume all existing cardholders will be protected from any idea of an annual fee?

    • Amazing what can happen when initial shareholder capital starts to run out and the founders have paid themselves handsomely….

      frankly a great concept but delivery has been so patchy with poor acceptance levels and flaky agreements with Amex and partners dropping from the rewards scheme (M&S)

      • They raised $10m about 18 months ago. Santander is a big investor. No-one gets paid much in these things and the HFP office is far more luxurious than the Curve office.

        • The Curve office is kinda like one big garden shed. And the guy I met with cannot make a decent cuppa.

      • Oh well you was correct on m & s atleast! Lol

    • It was a one-off £50 fee. I have just looked, and it does not currently appear possible to upgrade to the black card. The benefit for me would have been marginal at best in any case.

  5. I gues the free card version actually gives you £700 per month 0% free overseas, £500 spend plus £200 ATM.

  6. OT:
    How long are points from the Amex SPG card taking to hit your Marriott account at the moment.

    • I’ve had nothing since early August, still waiting on about 40k Marriott points.

    • Ages, I’ve been waiting 2 weeks now.
      I contacted amex on web chat and they asked me for my “new” combined account number to speed things up.

    • The last time I received any points from my SPG Amex was 5th July. Nothing since. Starwood are blaming Amex, Amex are blaming Marriott. Marriott can’t even access my account details and tell you to call Starwood….

      • I called spg CS last night, they checked my old spy account number and confirmed no points have been added by amex. They told me it can take up to 14 x days and for me to advise amex of my new Marriott account number.

      • Update:
        Called amex again, CS agent advised me that Marriott had rejected the transfer? The back office are now investigating with Marriott why.
        May be worth calling amex if yiur porn have not arrived since the merger.

  7. Everything is welcome but this one only really helps with stuff like meals, souvenirs, local transport etc which will be considerable for many readers. It would be a mistake to use this on big items like hotel and car hire which are often best done in advance of travel via those other places we no longer name on HFP. I agree with John on whinging, best we just make the best of what we can get from the loyalty game, no point losing sleep over what we don’t get.

    • You wouldn’t want to use a debit card like Curve for hotels or car hire anyway. You should use a normal credit card so that pre-auth transactions are handled properly (avoid Revolut for the same reason).

      Also, in places like India where DCC scams are rife it’s still safest to use Amex and take the FX hit. Better to pay 3% on the PRG and earn 2% back in MR than risk getting whacked for 8-10% on DCC.

    • BJ – any hints as to these places we no longer name? Im intrigued (and feel like im missing out!)

  8. Get a Transfer Wise borderless account and you will find there’s an easy way to top up Revolut in USD. I don’t want to go into details here but Revolut has a community forum where there are threads containing explanations on optimal ways of handling USD.

  9. Has anyone who originally signed up to the Blue card when it cost £35 been able to upgrade without having to pay a full £50 again? And does it affect the grandfathered rewards scheme?

  10. Can you upgrade from the free Curve card to the black Curve card in-app? Had a look, but nothing I can see?

  11. Will cash withdrawals abroad get flagged up as a cash withdrawal to my underlying credit card?

    • Potentially, due to the recent changes, although there isn’t much hard data to go on yet. Like Revolut top-ups, it may be a case of some cards are fine while others aren’t.

  12. Anyone able to confirm if withdrawing using curve with virgin card is processed as a cash advance ?

  13. TGLoyalty says:

    For all of the moaning about curve over the past year or so I signed up on day 1 and have done extremely well out of it

    Not had issues using abroad but that maybe becuase I use it in the uk for all kids of MasterCard transactions where s.75 protection isn’t required ie food and drink.

    I only see 0% fee on my black card as a positive and will reserve judgement on the £59 annual fee until I actually know what the package is. Downgrading to blue won’t be an issue based upon my experience with curve support.

  14. I’m guessing the next big annnouncement will be accepting Amex?

  15. For those with access to a Eurozone bank account and Euro debit card, how would that compare? This article makes out you’re going to be getting interbank rate with 0% and I’m struggling to get my head round that.

    How can Curve backed by a GBP *credit* card possible be cheaper than exchanging GBP for EUR (through Transferwise or whoever) then spending direct from a Euro debit card when in Eurozone?

    If Curve *is* cheaper, how is this possibly sustainable?

    • It won’t be at interbank rate.

      • Revolut uses interbank I believe?

        • No consumer “credit” product uses/offers interbank rates. In fact, IIRC not even Transferwise use/offers. They all take margin some more than others.

        • the_real_a says:

          Revolut only uses interbank for the wallet to wallet FX transfers, they use the mastercard rate if the card purchase currency is different from the underlying wallet. Essentially mastercard does the exchange if you do not have enough of the that currency already in a wallet.

        • My experience with Revolut for non-major currency pairs (e.g. not USD / EUR / GBP) is that they offer around 20-25 basis points (0.20-0.25%) above the interbank rate, which is what they refer to as the ‘real exchange rate’. If I compare it with Transfer Wise, who offer the interbank rate plus 0.5% on HRK, for instance, I find that the TW rate comes out to only be about 20-30 basis points higher. For more exotic currencies, this difference between Revolut rates and interbank seems to be worse (50bp or more), and I’m not talking about any extra commission they might add on top.

          So TW actually offers the interbank rates whereas Revolut is slightly off those, but TW adds on a commission (which is fixed and does not increase at weekends as the Revolut effective rate does).

          Even for the true interbank rate used by banks and large corporate treasury departments there will be a bid-ask spread, but it will be only be a few pips so for retail customers like us the difference is essentially insignificant (for most currency pairs a pip will be 0.0001 difference on the rate)

          Given what I’ve said above about the differences between Revolut and Transfer Wise, it’s always best to use a Transfer Wise debit card on weekends.

        • What the_real_a says above is true – I should have clarified that I was not talking about in-app conversion between base currencies held in separate wallets but for those transactions where Revolut has to convert to/from a currency that isn’t one of your base currencies (e.g. for HRK, as Croatian Kuna can’t be held in any wallet).

          However, the Revolut rate for such transactions will only be the M/C rate if the Revolut card is M/C; if you have a VISA card then you will get the VISA rate.

    • It’s costing them money to do this and offer the interbank rate. Their business model is to make that money back off you some other way.

      • Even if you do a six-figure GBP>EUR forex transaction you don’t get interbank, it’s just not going to happen for smaller stuff, at least not for long.

        It might be a good rate, it might even be the best rate for a consumer card, but since both parties aren’t banks, it simply won’t be interbank.

        Revolut describe it fairly well, and are open about their 0.5%
        https://blog.revolut.com/what-is-the-interbank-exchange-rate/

        • Hear hear – have a good buddy of mine who is in FX trading. He explained all the intricacies to me over a beer – there is ALWAYS a mark up when you, a consumer, are buying any currency from any credit product. FX’ers, like any other finance related institution, aren’t supplying a service out of the goodness of their hearts!

        • Transfer Wise does base off the IB rate but they obviously add a commission, so it’s workable; Revolut’s rate is different (‘real exchange rate’, not exactly IB rate) as I described above. The TW approach is more transparent but Revolut’s way certainly makes for better marketing!

  16. What are the curve rewards worth and any likely increase on this coming paid version?

  17. Historically curve charged no FX fees themselves if you set the underlying card currency in the app to be the same as the currency you are spending in – do you know if this changes with the new fees?
    Eg Horizon is the underlying card on a free curve account, with currency set to EUR for that card, if I spend £700 in EUR abroad in one month would I pay the FX fees on spend >£500 or not?

  18. slightly OT but excahnge related. i have to pay10K US$ in jan for a trip. they charge 3% on cc plus the exchange rate. what is the cheapest way to transfer?
    thank you

    • Transferwise?

    • the_real_a says:

      1) Open a $ currency account with HSBC.
      2) Load revolut with £ and exchange to $
      3) Transfer the $ into the HSBC currency account
      4) Transfer the $ to the target account in the US (£4)
      This will arrive from an account in your name…

      Or if the company allows transfers in from third parties… skip 3) and 4) and make a $ trasnfer to the company. This will arrive in Revoluts names.

    • If you have to do this kind of thing more than once, then get a TransferWise borderless account and your life will be easier. However, TW (and Revolut) doesn’t have full FSC protection as they’re not individual segregated bank accounts with deposit protection, so I would not use it for amounts significantly larger than this (I wouldn’t even use Revolut for $5K actually).

      TW is more like ‘segregated aggregated’, which means that all the individual accounts are bundled into one segregated account, which they’re not allowed to raid for trading purposes or any other.

      • the_real_a says:

        Do you know if Transferwise sends in your name or does it arrive as TW? (Some financial institutions will not accept payments from third parties…)

      • thank you all. only one final payment
        i have a revolut ac but have never used it. will start there and HSBC. 4£ is reasonable charge!!
        sam

  19. Hey Rob,

    I left curve during the amex crisis and then I join revolut. You probably already spoke about it but what is the real difference/advantage to have curve except for gaining avios, mastercard/visa do not give a great amount of avios for chosing curve over revolut… (personal opinion).
    I transfer money in my EU account very often and Revolut doesnt charge for it and it is done in a very short period of time and can also be done imminently for a small fee.
    So like you said with Billhop (paying bills with Amex) and Revolut, I dont see the incentive for Curve, but as I said, happy to hear your thoughts.

  20. Hey Rob,

    I left curve during the amex crisis and then I joined revolut. You probably already spoke about it but what is the real difference/advantage to have curve except for gaining avios, mastercard/visa do not give a great amount of avios for chosing curve over revolut… (personal opinion).
    I transfer money in my EU account very often and Revolut doesnt charge for it and it is done in a very short period of time and can also be done imminently for a small fee.
    So like you said with Billhop (paying bills with Amex) and Revolut, I dont see the incentive for Curve, but as I said, happy to hear your thoughts.

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