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Curve is now live with Amex for beta testers – this is how it works

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Curve Card is an all-in-one payment wallet and aggregator that is popular amongst Head for Points readersI describe Curve in detail here, but in summary:

Curve Card (a debit Mastercard) is free – in fact Curve will pay you £5 for trying it out if you use my referral code of OQB4J (apply here)

You can link any other Visa or Mastercard to Curve – so the smart thing to do is to link a miles or points earning card

You can pay DEBIT card bills with Curve which are recharged to your linked Visa or Mastercard.  Importantly, this recharge goes through as a purchase and so earns miles and points on the underlying card.

You can withdraw £200 of cash per month at an ATM for free and it will be recharged to your underlying Visa or Mastercard as a purchase, earning miles and points (unless you have a credit card from Tesco Bank, which treats Curve ATM transactions as cash)

You pay ZERO FX fees when using your Curve Card for overseas spending (Mon-Fri, a 0.5% loading applies at weekends).  This effectively turns ANY Visa or Mastercard into a ‘no FX fees’ credit card.  There is a £500 per month ‘no FX fees’ limit on the free Curve Blue card and a £15,000 annual limit on the £50 Curve Black card.

As you can see, there is lots of interesting stuff here that can both save you money on FX fees and earn you miles and points too.

Curve is about to allow American Express cards to be linked to the card.  This will have a number of advantages:

You can pay with American Express anywhere, even at shops which don’t allow American Express, by using your Curve Mastercard linked to your Amex

You can pay with American Express at places which only accept debit cards, by using your Curve Mastercard linked to your Amex

You can spend abroad on American Express without incurring FX fees, by using your Curve Mastercard linked to your Amex (up to £500 per month on the free Curve version)

Amex payments are currently operating via a Beta programme with a small number of Curve users.  The terms and conditions are here so you can see how it will work.

In summary:

Amex functionality is a little different.  You will have an e-wallet enabled in your Curve app.  You need to pre-load this with funds from your linked American Express card.  The T&Cs say that eventually the top-up will be automated, so that you don’t need to manually load funds – as soon as you make a £100 Curve purchase, for example, Curve will automatically top-up your e-wallet and authorise the transaction.  

(This is exactly how the new Lufthansa Miles & More cards work.  You receive a Diners Club charge card and a prepaid debit Mastercard.  When you buy something on the pre-paid Mastercard it is immediately loaded up via your Diners Club charge card and the money released for the purchase.  This all happens in the background and should be seamless to you as the user.)

Amex use is not free.  Holders of the free Blue Curve card will pay 0.65% on all American Express transactions.  Holders of the £50 Black Curve will get £1,000 of American Express payments for free each month, with a fee of 0.65% thereafter.

All UK personal American Express cards are accepted as far as I can tell.  This includes charge (Platinum), BA, SPG etc.  This is a surprise as I understood that only the co-brand cards – which have had their fees capped under EU legislation – were going to participate.

Is it worth paying 0.65% for American Express acceptance?

Oddly, there is not a straight answer here.

If you have Curve Black then, whilst you are spending your £1,000 of free Amex allowance per month, it is clearly a good deal.  Beyond that, or for all Curve Blue customers, it is a bit different.

On the face of it, you might say:

“I am paying 0.65p per £1 recharged to my free BA Amex to earn 1 Avios, and 0.65p is a bargain”, or

“I am paying 0.65p per £1 recharged to my BA Premium Plus Amex to earn 1.5 Avios, and 0.43p per Avios is a great bargain”, or

“I am paying 0.65p per £1 recharged to my SPG Amex to earn 3 Starwood / Marriott points, and 0.22p per Starwood / Marriott points is a great bargain”

However ….

There is also an opportunity cost because you could have used a Visa or Mastercard for free.  You could for example:

Link a Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard to Curve, earn 1.5 Virgin miles per £1 and pay no transaction fee, or

Link a BA Premium Plus American Express to Curve, earn 1.5 Avios per £1 and pay 0.65% transaction fee

Your American Express acceptance cost is therefore 0.65% PLUS whatever rewards you would have got for free linking your highest earning Visa or Mastercard instead.

There are very few ‘super generous’ Visa or Mastercard products available however, so unless you have one of the new Virgin Atlantic cards or the IHG Rewards Club Premium Mastercard then paying for Amex acceptance via Curve is likely to be your best bet.

Of course, if ‘manufacturing’ American Express spend via Curve Card makes it easier to hit the 2-4-1 voucher on your British Airways American Express card, or hit the sign-up bonus on a new Amex, or hit the 10000 points annual bonus for spending £15000 on American Express Preferred Rewards Gold, then the maths changes again.  Using Amex via Curve is likely to be an excellent way of ensuring that you hit these targets.

Most Head for Points readers WILL get a lot of benefit from linking their American Express card to Curve.

When can I get it?

I don’t know.  The Beta programme launched last week for those who were invited.  The rest of us will have to wait a while.

It is also worth noting that Curve is planning to replace the existing Black card with two new products, each of which will carry a monthly fee but will come with a far wider range of benefits than you receive now.  I am not sure how existing Black cardholders will be migrated.

There is certainly no harm in getting yourself the free Curve Blue card now.  You can enjoy all of the benefits I outlined at the top of the page whilst waiting for Amex acceptance to roll out.  You can apply here – my referral code is OQB4J if you want to receive the £5 ‘refer a friend’ bonus.

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Comments

  1. Just a thought over lunch: what happens when regulators get a whiff of this new feature? Will Curve remove all Amex cards that aren’t co-branded?

    • Which regulators?

    • You have to assume that Amex has agreed to let Curve charge the same reduced fee across all cards (or Curve is swallowing a loss on Plat/Gold transactions in order to ensure all Amex cards are covered).

  2. What happens to your funds if you cancel your amex? I presume your money is safe within Curve? Are they regulated by the FCA?

    • Yeah safe for them

      • the beta terms suggest that you’d get the funds refunded to your underlying card within 10 days if you no longer want to hold a balance in the digital amex wallet. Not sure if the same would / could apply if Amex cancelled your card, however.

    • surely once you have ‘transferred’ the funds to Curve what happens with your Amex card is irrelevant? You just spend them as normal.

      • Yes agreed.

        I think the (small) issue would be if you’d just transfered a large amount to Curve, Amex or you directly cancel your account , and you’re left with a significant balance on your Curve account. Not hugely problematic – as you could still spend it.

        • Big Dave says:

          I would think in exceptional circumstances You should be able to refund to another card/account – curve guys are quite interactive once you get to know them

  3. Just ignoring the cost for a moment are testers finding this card does what’s supposed to do? Any problems booking flights at an airport or with hotels putting advanced charges on the card?

    • Won’t be a problem now because it is a debit card, not a prepaid card like the original Curve.

      • Oh ok. Thanks Rob.

      • Agreed with rob the only problem I had was with hsbc not curve. All sorted now and all curve transactions are agreed. Better than revolut nonsense. Got the black and its not a mnthly fee either and it doesn’t cost prople of debit and crefit cards. Also I withdrew from hsbc credit card as cash and it went down as a 26 month intetrst free purchase.

        Just wish they’d have a universal app and not an iphone only app. It is very annoying

      • Does this have any bearing on Section 75 rights? If a debit card anything bought via Curve is not covered, and debit card chargeback only applies?

        • You’ve never had S75 with Curve, just like with PayPal. Weaker Mastercard chargeback processes are available.

    • Rob Walker says:

      For some reason the government tax free childcare site refuses it. With our monthyl bill for two kids currently around £1400 before the tax free ‘discount’, it would be a nice source of points!

      • I would escalate this to mumsnet

      • Manwithaplan says:

        Have you sent a message to curve support? They should then request an update to the bin code list which should fix it.

        • Rob Walker says:

          Thanks, I’ll give it a go. I’ll check who the payment provider is when I make the payment tomorrow, and then drop Curve a line.

  4. Wendy Jones says:

    I recently opened a black account for me in the hopes of this. I opened a blue acct for my other half.

    I was invited to apply with the black card, but when I filled in the form I accidentally filled in the email address for hubby’s blue card, so they ended up inviting him to beta test. So instead of free transactions it’s at the 0.65%, but I still believe it’s good value. Especially because he normally uses his Tesco MC lots of under £8 purchases where he can’t use Amex, and doesn’t gain the CC points. Now he can. I tend to use the cards for the much bigger spends. So it’ll work out ok.

    We haven’t used it for anything too big, no holidays or travel. We topped up 250 initially, costing 1.63 in fees, I think. We’ve used it twice for £70’ish transactions over the weekend with absolutely no issues. So far so good.

    I wish it had come through 10 days ago as we were on holiday in France and the free FX would have come in handy.

    • If no spanners are thrown in the works along the way, that’s going to be a godsend. We have chunks of holiday spends which we generally have to pay in $ such as dive packages and car hire so it’ll be fantastic if we can put them on Amex and not incur a sizeable fee. (You often get businesses adding on their own fees for CC use in the Caribbean which means a double hit).

  5. Two things strike me about this 1. The promised November roll out isn’t happening 2. Curve seemed to have kept Rob in the dark about their plans. In hindsight wish I hadn’t taken Rob’s advice to upgrade. C’est la vie!

  6. OT: (ish) being a bit thick here – if I pay for flights in say dollars online with curve (from UK) do I pay a FX fee or charge?

  7. Is £50 fee one-off or annual? I got upgraded to Black ‘for free’ earlier this year in belated ‘compensation’ for them charging me hefty £35 for being an early adopter. Quite worried now if they are going to charge me £50 every year or not. Does anyone know?

    • Shoestring says:

      Fee not yet announced (but it’s going to be more than £50/ year)

      • Agreed, seems like an £x per month charge might be Curve’s plan for the future. I’ll wait and see which specific benefits it offers; but dubious that it will be particuarly attractive!

    • Lets hope they call it metal and black stays as it is. We should be left alone at least till the card expires. Not really interested in amex but i wanted the higher foreign spend and atm withdrawal. I hope Rob is right. At the end of the day it is just advice. Get the fairfx card to get £35 back to cover most of your curve fee. But to be honest rob knows nothing more than anyone else.

  8. Giovanni says:

    Would I be able to connect a US credit card to it? (Amex, Visa, Mastercard doesn’t matter)
    If so, will it charge the credit card in GBP, assuming the purchase was in GBP?

  9. Definitely gonna get a couple of these cards and start smashing the withdrawals. Do they care about 500 a day on hilton? Then next move paying Amex BA in a loop to get 2 x 2 4 1 by Christmas

  10. I’m still confused as to whether paying off a AMEX balance is allowed it seems to work but stated in the T & Cs that it’s a big no-no

  11. Unless Curve increase the limit beyond 50k then it makes no sense for me to use it instead of a MasterCard

  12. David Levy says:

    OT: As an aside for Amex re: Shop Small, saw a previous comment about the complete lack of Shop Small options in Jersey on the map. Called them and after some digging and discussion with supervisor there aren’t any this year? I haven’t been here long – is that normal or atypical? Thanks in advance.

    • Shoestring says:

      Poor old Jersey (& Guernsey). Can be very hit & miss. Only got 1 pub on my list this year but it’s a good one.

      Should survive, though – 3 pints carefully chosen can get you not too far over £10. Decent deck of cards.

    • That map is extremely unreliable.

    • Hi David
      Previous year Jersey had about 50 retailers in the Shopp small with a good selection of fast food,nice restaurants,few hotels,etc.
      Contacted Amex last night,they have raised a tech ticket,this just can’t be right!!
      They advised to wait and see if the map will become available on the 1.12 if not to contact them again

  13. “Is it worth paying 0.65% for American Express acceptance?

    Oddly, there is not a straight answer here.”

    Rob, i expected nothing less……
    Regards
    David

    • Well, if you want to accelerate your spend target but shop in places which don’t accept Amex, its worth more to you, Rob had made this clear and it’s a fair answer

  14. A bit behind the “curve” on this one Rob, they contacted me over 10 days ago about becoming an Amex Beta tester.

    • This article states its now live, not its going to be live. To be fair Rob covered a ‘watch this space for curve’ a few months back

      • It has been live for a week. I bowed out of the trial because it entails having to pre load the funds to your Curve and a lot of people were having issues with their Amex cards.
        The other problem being switching between your other cards (Visa / MasterCard), whilst on the beta trial it cant be done, so for me the overriding issue was normal functionality.
        Thank you and good luck to those who enrolled in the testing.

        • After your comment yes it can be done. I’ve just been to local shop to test it out as I’m on the Amex beta trial with Curve and no problem switching from Amex to Hilton Visa and back again took my money on visa though Curve.
          It’s great and works for me but I don’t push the limits

        • Big Dave says:

          there will be problems, that is why it is a beta and testing is involved, already up to a third version of the new app and its better all the time

      • If you’re on it, you know about it. If you’re not on it, you’re not on it. Not exactly any need to rush an article out on that basis.

  15. Anybody know if I can load my Black Card with AMEX and buy currency without fee? (say from CURRENCYONLINEGROUP or similar?)

  16. Can you use curve to pay HMRC

  17. andyj300 says:

    If you use a Curve card to pay for flights with Virgin Atlantic, and the underlying card is the Virgin Mastercard, will you still earn double miles?

  18. Just few minutes after midnight I would like to confirm that £1000 free monthly AMEX top up for black Curve is capped for CALENDAR MONTH and not on 30 days rolling period as someone wrote here. This is much more better as we don’t need to remember any past dates to maximise £12000 free per year.
    Maybe my SPG credit card linking to Curve does have nothing to do with this but it looks like AMEX is more than happy to be back with Curve as yesterday I received another credit limit increase offer from 12.5k to 16.5k just after few months.

    • I had asked Curve support about this and they came back with the following:

      “Thanks for getting in touch. The Amex top works on a rolling month basis from the date of the top-up, not a direct calendar month reset process. ”

      It would be interesting to know if that is not the case though!

  19. Will the link to AMEX support the Amex business cards too? It will be good to be able to pay corporation tax, VAT through that.

    Incidentally the 50K (or is it 55K?) limit is imposed by MasterCard. I wonder if there is a limit if the spend goes through AMEX instead

  20. Cool Guy says:

    I have applied for Curve and have been put on a waiting list. Any idea how long it will take to get the card?

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