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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)

  • Alexey says:

    I think we can compare Curve to early Uber…
    They definitely far from perfect but they provide competition, and on that basis I wish them to survive and challenge usual players (for instance on 0%fx) in the same way Uber is putting pressure on Black cabs fees

    • Alex aka illuminatus says:


      I love Amex, their support is great, and I can see that Curve pushed it with the wider ‘beta’… but I have been faced with the heavy-handed apporach from large corporates before, when with a flick of a compliance finger they put a business in peril, so really sympathise with Curve

    • Wizzywig says:

      I’m not sure that’s a fare comparison. Curve’s whole business model is to be, for lack of a better word, a parasite. To use other companies products to make money. Hence the heavy use of Amex branding and imagery recently to sell Curve…

      • Alexey says:

        A bit harsh I would say…

        They add value, it is in the same as bakery is using flour to make break, we can’t call them parasites for using others firm products/ingredients

        They do things more convenient and profitable for end user, and that what matters for me

        I do angry with them however for giving me 10k yearly limit which made it much less usable than it would have been)

      • illuminatus says:

        Sorry, but that does not make any sense. Is Uber also a parasite as it uses other drivers’ cars and labour? Are banks parasites too, as they use other people’s money?..

        • Callum says:

          Well no… Uber drivers CHOOSE to work for Uber. People CHOOSE to give their money to banks.

          Not only are the banks getting no say in being used by Curve, Curve actively ignores their desire to not take part.

          Not that I personally have any issues with it, your example was just ridiculous.

      • Flynn says:

        I disagree, it is a *fair* comparison. Both are parasite business models.

    • Mr Dee says:

      I don’t even really know what Curve is anymore apart from a way to pay certain bills to avoid card fees, clearly this isn’t profitable for them and isn’t going to last forever so will make the most of it whilst it lasts.

  • Rebecca says:

    Completely O/T…

    I have a fully refundable flight booked with Latam. There is an online form to cancel the tickets, which I’m trying to do and then will book with avios (£288 vs 9000 avios & £14).
    I’m unable to submit the form as it says I’m not selecting the same country of residence as I did when I purchased it. When I purchased it I could select Ireland. Ireland is not an option on the form. It has Germany or Rest of Europe. I’ve tried every country option and each ahs the same error.
    I’ve tried emailing them and using the contact form and had no response. Short of calling their Spanish speaking phone line does anyone have any suggestions? I don’t speak Spanish! Their UK number on the website doesn’t work.

    • JK says:

      Rebecca, I remember struggling with the same issue last year. It might be that “the rest of EU” did the trick.

      I checked my emails and got messages from LATAM from those email addresses: [email protected] and [email protected].

      Maybe worth trying to email those?

      • Rebecca says:

        Thanks! I’ll try those email addresses.
        I have tried submitting the form with “Rest of Europe”. Tried on my phone, on chrome and IE at work just in case it was an issue with the browser. Think its a ploy to stop you cancelling 🙂

      • Rebecca says:

        I rang them in the end. Initially they told me to do it online but they processed it for me when I pointed out I’d been trying all week. Was surprisingly unpainful. And I’ll get the money back in 20 business days instead of the 45 on the online form.

  • Alex says:

    Come on everyone- it’s only 265 comments to hit 1000. Last push!

  • AndyF says:

    I have cleared my Amex wallet I topped up just in case. Although I do think these comments are slightly over the top I can’t see it failing due to this, I think it will fail due to a lack of revenue if anything in the long term future. It’s still a great product for me with HMRC.

    Thanks, Rob for letting us know what’s happening, I think a few people have been unfairly commenting on your participation in this. Yet when you give them a tip for a good deal or use of their points in other situations you wouldn’t hear them complaining. You’re doing a good job!

    • Dan says:

      I totally agree, Rob is a cool dude. He’s running a business and good luck to him. Of course he needs to push products, he’s not working x hours a day for the good of society (sorry Rob, but you know what I mean). Keep up the good work.

  • Graham Walsh says:

    Not read all the comments today, but why on earth did Curve go open beta when they knew they didn’t have a product? Was it the hope of the 180 days period? That is piss poor decision making IMO and not a strategy, also wrecking the image of the company brand.

    • Dan says:

      Agree. They’ve really f’d up their image. Not good and barely recoverable. But I hope they survive. We need challengers.

  • Louise says:

    Maybe they have kept curve unblocked on the payment front so that they ensure curve does go under/can’t get out of whatever contract they have signed.
    Make the most of it whilst it lasts!

    • Dan says:

      Amex have no control over how funds in the curve Amex wallet are spent. It’s basically akin to having bought a gift card.

  • Talay says:

    Curve = Mickey Mouse company with a half baked idea and really no product to sell.

    The only and I mean only way it makes any sense for clients is if they can convert their points earning Amex cards into something non Amex acceptors will accept. Without that feature, it is worthless.

    • Big Dave says:

      worthless as a business model? maybe, time will tell – useful to users – depends who and why and where – lots of uptake in spain and france and they couldnt add amex

    • Grant says:

      I agree that AMEX compatibility was the draw for a large number of people (not that the latest statement from Curve would have you believe that) but there is still some ‘value’ for some users in being able to recharge a debit card payment to a points earning Visa / MC credit card in those places where credit cards are not accepted outright.

      Whether that is enough to see Curve survive remains to be seen.

  • Go says:

    Anyone else have curve payments from 28/29th still showing as pending on Amex. All my other transactions from these days have cleared

    • Graham Walsh says:

      I can’t see any history of transactions as my wallet is zero so it wants me to top up.

    • Grant says:

      Yes, my Curve top-up of £100 on 29/01 is still showing as pending in my AMEX account. All other transactions from that day have cleared.

      The £100 top-up has also been used through Curve and my AMEX wallet balance in Curve in only 30p.

    • Anna says:

      Yes, I’m just on the phone to Amex as I have had £100 pending since Monday and am £90 away from a gold sign up bonus!

      • Anna says:

        CS saying it’s waiting for Curve to take the money, they can’t understand why it’s not gone through. I pointed out that the money left the Curve wallet on Tuesday and has been with the two recipients since then; she was unable to explain it and said she would monitor it for a couple of days then send it to the back office if it hasn’t cleared. Looks as though there may be quite a few payments in limbo then if there’s been a total breakdown between Curve and Amex. Only an issue I guess if you’re waiting to trigger a bonus or voucher!

        • Doug says:

          same problem here, limbo since monday on a £300 top up, need to trigger the bonus quick. Guess I will book a refundable hotel just in case.

        • Go says:

          I have also spent the money with curve and the recipients including hmrc are showing as paid. Am I correct to assume that as they have been paid, this is a matter that curve and Amex must sort out? In other words curve can’t try to get money back from the recipient