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American Express suspends its relationship with Curve Card, just 36 hours after launch

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(EDIT:  Curve has now published a lengthy blog post explaining how the split with American Express occurred.  I copied it into a separate article here.)

Here’s something I didn’t see coming.  After launching with much fanfare on Monday, American Express suspended its relationship with Curve Card on Tuesday night.

This came just 36 hours after Amex functionality was launched to the public.  Amex cards had, however, been activated for a test group of Curve Card users for a few months before this.

If you look on the Curve website, none of the cards are showing the option to link to American Express.  This means that the company is effectively back to the position it was in before Monday.

American Express sent me a statement last night which said:

American Express participated in a limited Curve beta test where we enabled a small number of Card Members to load funds onto an e-wallet using their Amex Card in the Curve app. Following this beta test we informed Curve that we would not participate in the further roll out of the Curve e-wallet.”

I spoke with Curve’s CEO early this morning and, whilst for legal reasons I don’t want to repeat what he said, he confirmed the position with American Express.

Curve has sent the following to users:

“We are extremely sorry that the top-up functionality for your Amex wallet is currently disabled.

Like thousands of other UK merchants, Curve has a valid merchant agreement to accept Amex payments into its e-wallet. However, on Tuesday evening, Amex decided to terminate this agreement and block all Amex transactions to Curve with immediate effect.

Amex has given no good or fair reason for their decision and we feel it is entirely disproportionate and discriminatory to Curve and all our (joint) customers. UK payment regulations clearly state that Curve should be allowed to access the Amex payment network on a level-playing field with every other fee-paying and legitimate merchant.

Rest assured that you can still spend the funds that you have already topped up to your existing Amex Wallets. If you have contacted us for support, we apologise for the delay in response and will endeavour to do so as soon as possible. We will update you as soon as we have any further information.

With our customers interests in mind, and our mission to deliver to you a truly innovative product, Curve intends to fight Amex’s decision with its full might. We believe financial freedom is the future and we are prepared to fight for yours.”

If there is any more news during the day I will drop it into this article.

TechCrunch has decent take on the subject here if you want to read more.  It is worth noting that the Amex statement given to TechCrunch – 18 hours after my statement – is a bit different:

“We participated in a limited Curve beta test in which we explored enabling Card Members to load funds onto an e-wallet using their Amex Card in the Curve app. A very small number of Amex Card Members participated in the test. Based on the results, we communicated to Curve that we would not participate in the further roll out of Curve because of concerns related to the overall American Express Card Member experience. Subsequently we terminated our contract with them.”

PS.  In a separate (or perhaps not entirely separate) note, payment company Billhop – we covered Billhop here – sent the following email to users yesterday:

“Due to guidelines from American Express you will no longer be able to make payments to private accounts with an American Express card regardless if the purpose of the payment is related to a business transaction. This change will come into effect on the 7th of February 2019.

You will still be able to use a MasterCard and/or VISA card for transactions to private accounts relating to business transactions including, but not limited to, payroll, housekeeping, rent, nanny services, etc.

Please note that peer-to-peer remittance is still not allowed regardless of card.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you.”

Note that this only covers payments to sole traders.  You can continue to use Amex via Billhop to pay a company, local authority, HMRC etc.


Want to earn more points from credit cards? – November 2020 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are my November 2020 recommendations based on the current sign-up bonus

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here.

British Airways American Express card

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up, no annual and a companion voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

BA Premium Plus American Express card BAPP

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable credit card perk – the 2-4-1 companion voucher Read our full review

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Rewards Plus credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus and the most generous non-Amex for day to day spending Read our full review

Earning miles and points from small business cards

If you are a sole trader or run a small company, you may also want to check out these:

American Express Business Gold card

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

Earn both Avios and BA On Business points with your business spending Read our full review

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company Read our full review

Disclaimer: Head for Points is a journalistic website. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibility to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances. Recommendations are based primarily on the ability to earn miles and points and do not consider interest rates, service levels or any impact on your credit history.  By recommending credit cards on this site, I am – technically – acting as a credit broker.  Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as a credit broker.

Comments (793)

  • L says:

    Is time amex improve there acceptance throughout the UK which im sure they will give time .

    I did chat with an adviser who said they are working on this and that the main reason people cancel there cards is for this reason and also they need to cut the FX fees 3% is just greed.

    • Chrisasaurus says:

      You think Amex dont already spend millions on improving acceptance?

      What do you want them to do? They dilute their revenue if they discount their fees, so what do you imagine they could do that they’re not already doing?

    • Andrew L says:

      No chance. Why would UK retailers want to spend money to accommodate Amex when at least 90% of their shoppers only own Visa and MasterCard cards.

    • Andrew L says:

      Surely if Amex are struggling to be accepted as a mainstream card provider, which they always have, then surely the quickest, easiest and cheapest option to achieve this goal is a partnership with Curve???!!

      • Mondeo Man says:

        “Amex are struggling to be accepted as a mainstream card provider” Is that the case, or just your opinion on the matter? Lots of opinions here being presented as facts, especially in regard to Curve and compliance.

        • Andrew L says:

          It is a fact that Amex only account for 10% of the UK credit card market.

        • Callum says:

          Mondeo man – They also issue their own cards, which makes the comparison pointless in my book – they aren’t like Visa or MasterCard.

          Not to mention, Amex on Curve is just a pre-paid debit card. There’s absolutely nothing special whatsoever about them that Amex needs – if they want their customers to have a backup MasterCard they can provide it themselves. It’s puzzling how it took Curve 6 months to develop.

      • Chrisasaurus says:

        That word assist them at all, it’s just lessen the reason for merchants to accept amex

  • Jon says:

    Still don’t have access to my Curve Rewards card within the app. Not really a big deal, there’s less than a tenner on there, but a bit annoying.

    On another note, it’s been very interesting reading all these comments on the morning and evening commute! I never took the mick with the curve card, and while I feel there is still a place for something like Curve (financial start ups have often spurred innovation/catching up in the wider sector), I’ve had a few failed transactions both in the UK and abroad (for no apparent reason), that still means I wouldn’t at this point go along with one of its main slogans to “carry less”.

    • EvilGazebo says:

      Yes, the “carry less” benefit doesn’t really work when you get stuff like that.

      Not helped by their reliance on the fintech favourite card processor GPS who had a spate of unscheduled outages last year.

      I’m all in with Starling as my primary current account (and love it) but they also use GPS. So I make sure I’m always carrying a big bank issued VISA debit as well so GPS and/or MasterCard can go down and I’m covered.

      Monzo ended up building their own dedicated links into MasterCard to remove their reliance on GPS.

  • Dan says:

    OT: any idea if it’s possible to get BA to release row 1 in first to non-gold? In a cabin with just 2 rows and row 1 is blocked. Row 2 has 1-2-1 confit but one of the middle seats is baby-only. So 2 ppl travelling can’t sit “together” unless you’re gold or you have a baby. Do BA release row 1 or the baby seat closer to travel?

    • James says:

      I’ve often nabbed Row 1 at T minus 72 hours (I’m a lowly bronze!)

    • Tilly says:

      I have managed twice to book row 1 in F at the time of booking tickets. Both times are on 241 reward tix and I’m only bronze.

      Maybe someone else already booked row 1 before you tried?

      • Dan says:

        Wow. That sounds great – well done! I may call BA again, they’re all currently empty in row 1.

        • Dan says:

          Called BA. No go. Absolutely flat refusal on unblocking row 1. Said only the airport desk can allocate these to non gold which seems wrong. I will try again and hope to find the person you spoke to!!

        • Neil says:

          Dan, this appears to be a new rule since before x-mas but if the seats are still available, you can get them at the check in desk.

        • Tilly says:

          We didn’t book seats over the phone. Just selected them in Manage My booking online.

    • Polly says:

      Dan we were able,to,book row 1 had a bassinet sign, we are silver, but booked it the day we got,our F redemptions. Is on line not working for you?

    • Nick_C says:

      How many seats are available in F? Do a dummy booking.

      I did an F redemption on the 789 in December. 1A and K were blocked but we were able to book the middle pair (E and F) . We could have also booked the middle pair in row 2. 2F is a bassinet seat, but anyone can book it.

      There were three empty seats on our flight, including 1K, although I couldn’t select it at check in.

      • Dan says:

        No, online doesn’t work. When I call BA they say all 4 seats of row 1 are empty but blocked for gold (they didn’t say gold but he confirmed when I asked if that’s the reason). Seems a bit weird but maybe it’s because it’s a small cabin. It’s LHR – KUL and only has 2 rows of first:

        1a ——1e 1f ——1k
        2a —— 2e 2f ——2k

        All of row 1 is empty but not selectable. BA won’t reserve by phone either. They reckon only the airport desk can release them. Does that sound correct?
        2a is available and good for a solo.
        2e and 2f would be perfect for two travellers but 2f has a bassinet so is unselectable.
        2k is available and good for a solo.

        Guess we’ll have to wait! Otherwise my neck will be at a permanent 90 degree angle for 13hrs. 🙂

      • Polly says:

        Nick, that’s what we could book, the middle pair, no problem..

  • Simon Spanswick says:

    Just received, having upgraded to Metal at the start of this week:
    Dear Simon,

    Thank you for upgrading to Curve Metal. Your card should be on its way, or already in your hands. We hope you like it!

    By now, you may have heard the disappointing news about Amex blocking Curve top-ups. We want you to know that we are fighting for your right to financial freedom and doing all we can to get Amex back on Curve. See more here.

    At Curve, we value you as our customer. If the current lack of Amex support is important to you and you want to cancel your subscription:
    – You have a 14-day “cooling-off” period as provided by law;
    – On top of this, Curve is giving you more time to decide: 14 extra days of cooling-off period. We want you to properly try Curve Metal, enjoy its many benefits and see how it looks in your wallet.

    The above extension applies to both monthly and annual subscriptions. Please note that if your subscription is cancelled, your Curve Metal card will be blocked and no longer usable.

    We thank you for being our customer and hope you enjoy your Curve Metal experience and decide to stick with it. We promise you it will be worth it.

    Best wishes,
    Team Curve

    • Stuart says:

      Nice try from them, but if you were a cardholder prior to 27th January (when T&C’s changed) you have until 29th March to close without charge…

    • Mr Dee says:

      Strange they are not offering any discount off the monthly fee seeing as the key feature is no longer included…

  • L says:

    They have said we can cancel our subscription. But what they havnt addressed is people who Did the beta
    Can we cancel and just keep our orginal curve card ?

    Please can we get this confirmed?

  • Jamie says:

    My Virgin Atlantic card is giving me 0% FX at the moment until April I think as part of a user-targeted offer… so really no need for Curve for my non-Amex/FX spend.

    It’s an innovative product but they should have fully ironed out issues with their product before making big announcements. At the moment they are so all over the place it wouldn’t be wise to trust them with you rmoney!

    • Tom says:

      Still paying the card provider exchange rate right? Appreciate the 1-2% delta from Interbank rate offered by Curve matters less without a miles benefit. (pinches self for saying something nice about Curve)

  • Mark2 says:

    I suggest a test of Curve’s case against American Express:
    Have Curve persuaded a leading firm of lawyers to take the case on a ‘No Win, No Fee’ basis?

    • Dan says:

      This kind of case is very rarely taken NWNF, the fee can run to Hundreds or thousands. Some very spurious legal experts suddenly popping up in the comments today!

    • Alex Sm says:

      Maybe they only promised them 0.65%…

  • TripRep says:

    Just spent some of the AMEX top up I put on the other day no probs.

    Also noticed that the app seems to still let me top up from my linked AMEX, shall I risk it?

    • Waddle says:

      Might let you but probably won’t go through.

    • Neil says:

      Do it TripRep – What is the worst that could happen?

    • TripRep says:

      Tried a tiny amount and as expected it was declined.

      Weird that they haven’t disabled the ability to try and update.

      Obviously not that sophisticated

      • Chrisasaurus says:

        Well they’d have to make a change to the code, test it build it and release it and you’d have to have downloaded and installed the update for your app to have been updated to no longer show amex topups as an option wouldn’t it?

      • Sundar says:

        Might need an app release, may not have resources available as fire-fighting now….?