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

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(EDIT:  Curve has changed since this article was published.  Please do not rely on the information here.  Instead, please click here to read our detailed 2019 Curve review, which includes a promo code for a free £5 credit when you sign up.)

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. Sorry, but this is totally worthless. £500 a month is not going to pay for a trip abroad unless you have prepaid.

    Going over will quickly result in a higher bill than before.

    Another example of a headline from Curve that is actually meaningless.

    Very poor.

    Plus given the wording above the black card will have an annual fee.

    Sure, they need to make money but this smacks of give something free then bring in charges via the back door.

    I appreciate that Rob will not be critical as he earns a lot of commission from Curve and is friends with them but if anyone thinks this is good news clearly does not spend money abroad to any great extent.

    • AMEX I’d be surprised at, given recent comments they can’t do the MCC pass through thing.

      Given it would then be a paid card, then perhaps the 50k/ year limit is lifted?

  2. Would be nice if curve was accepted in US fuel pumps but this is disabled.

    • That may change soon given the fact that Curve will now change the way it handles transactions. Could be worse – Revolut doesn’t work anywhere as far as petrol stations are concerned.

    • Doesn’t this need a US address? Any card I try always wants a ZIP, tired a few basic ones, 10011 90210, but never lucky.

      • There is a trick to this, but I can’t fully remember – I think you just press enter rather than entering anything.

        • Buying metro tickets on New York subway asks for zip code. I’ve entered 00000 and 99999 and the transaction has completed.

          • You take numbers from your post code and add enough zeros to get to 5 digits (in cases where it is verified, which the subway does not).

        • Not tried the numbers plus 000 for example – thanks, i’ll try that.

  3. Second negative Curve change in a week for me. I’m nearing the £50k limit and just got my wife to sign up for one to get another £50k. I admit it makes sense for them to nudge people toward the black card but that 2% will render it useless for all but HMRC transactions for me.

  4. Per month. So, effectively, per holiday.

    So, £500 spend and £200 cash.

    Then it costs more than before.

    So if you spend more than 500 + 200 on a holiday, this is WORSE than before.

    This is a BAD thing, not a good thing.

  5. lynn orford says:

    Sorry pretty new to all this so Which credit card is the best to link to Curve if you want to earn Avios points?

  6. The thing that has generally stopped me using Curve in the past is just how often it is refused overseas. If this combination improves things then I’ll definitely give it a go again. How do I work out which card I have and how do you upgrade to the premium?

  7. I would have been tempted by this for overseas spend (currently use Nationwide flex visa) but there were a lot of comments on articles earlier in the week saying the customer service is awful and there have been lots of technical issues with payments not going through. Not worth the hassle in my view especially as I only go abroad a few times a year

  8. Rob don’t you need to add a warning re free cash withdrawals as this can be charged for now by underlying card?

    • Mr(s) Entitled says:

      It is there, but the warning is not given the same prominence as the hard sell which is bold to catch the eye:

      “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.”

      The low FX limit of the blue is of no interest to me. Black I could be tempted by but do I really want to pay £50 annual fee which will become ??? in a years time? Probably not.

  9. Curve also have a limited offer for the black card when signing up, you get a free Tumi wallet worth £50

  10. Nigel the Pensioner says:

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

  11. 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).

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