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Curve Card launches legal action against American Express

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According to an article in The Daily Telegraph yesterday, Curve Card is going through with its threat to sue American Express for withdrawing its support in January with no notice.

The report says that Curve is seeking damages for the ‘millions of pounds’ spent on fees and development work for the project to integrate American Express into the Curve platform.

Curve has also said that it is filing a complaint with the Payment Systems Regulator.  To quote:

“We have a very large set of investors and we have a lot of money in our war chest”, [Curve CEO] Mr Bialick said. “When someone is actively trying to kill you, that means you are disrupting the model.”

Amex supplied the Telegraph with the same quote they gave to me back in January:

“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.  We informed Curve that we would not participate in the further roll out of the Curve e-wallet, prior to them launching the product.  We do not have regulatory obligations to work with a particular partner, and we can confirm that we have terminated our agreement with Curve.”

This is a tricky one to call.  For most businesses, the ability to accept payment cards is a pre-requisite to their survival so card companies should arguably not be allowed to discriminate over who they work with.  On the other hand, you can understand that Amex, Mastercard and Visa would want the ability to stop their logos being associated with stores or websites selling certain products.

Credit card companies also share legal liability for products purchased using their cards so they must be allowed to have the flexibility to only work with merchants whose finances and products are seen as reliable.  This was not an issue with Curve transactions, however, as the legal liability sat with Curve / Mastercard and not American Express or whichever other card your Curve was linked to.

Curve is still pushing forward

Curve is not going anywhere in a hurry, it seems, despite the huge setback with Amex.  Over the last couple of weeks it has announced plans to open offices in Italy, Germany, France, Spain, Portugal and Poland (country managers are currently being hired if you’re interested).  As Amex has a lower penetration in these markets, the lack of Amex functionality is likely to be less of an issue.

It has also launched ‘Faster Purchase Protection’ for transactions of up to £100,000.  This ensures that all claims for refunds against purchases made on Curve are dealth with within one day of receipt of the requested documentation.   You are covered when the goods or services were not received, defective or not as described. It also covers eligible purchases in the event that the goods prove to be counterfeit or when a promised refund is not completed.

It is worth noting that this covers debit and credit card purchases, which makes it more generous than Section 75 coverage in the UK which only covers credit card purchases.  There is also no minimum purchase threshold, whereas Section 75 protection only kicks in if you spend over £100.

Does Curve still have value to HfP readers without Amex as a partner?

Yes it does, basically.  Arguably the free card should be in your wallet, linked to another points earning Visa or Mastercard:

you can spend £500 per month abroad Monday to Friday without incurring any FX fees (0.5% fee at weekends) and have the transaction recharged your points-earning Visa or Mastercard in Sterling

you can withdraw £200 per month via an ATM and have it charged to your underlying points-earning Visa or Mastercard as a purchase (EXCEPT for Tesco Bank and NatWest / RBS cards)

If you pay HMRC, you should also know that payments to HMRC via Curve are still accepted. It is treated as a debit card but goes through as a purchase on your underlying Visa or Mastercard.

If you’ve never tried Curve, simply go to this page of their website to download the app.

Curve will pay you £10 for trying it out if you use our link.

Can Curve beat Amex?

I’m not sure if the Curve lawsuit against American Express will get very far.  I’d like to think it would, but the situations under which you can legally force a company to do business with another company are few and far between, although they do exist.

That said, strip away all of the noise caused in the last three months by the sudden collapse of the Curve / Amex relationship and you are still left with a product which has some use in the arsenal of the average miles and points collector.

Be clear, though.  There is a shake-up coming, with little hope that Curve, Monese, Revolut, Starling, Monzo, N26 and Atom will all survive as independent fintech businesses.  I’m not sure if Curve is less at risk – because it is at least offering something different whilst Revolut etc are just offering plain vanilla banking with pretty-coloured plastic cards – or more so.


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Comments (230)

  • illuminatus says:

    Rob, when you say ‘there is a shake-up coming’, do you imply something specific? Or it’s a general observation that there are too many players offering largely the same thing?

  • Ian says:

    I wouldn’t say Revolut are offering vanilla banking with a colourful plastic card.

    I actually think Curve won’t last very long. It’s trying to solve a problem which doesn’t really exist. I believe it’s now more hassle than it’s worth for points collectors – too many exceptions, rules, things to remember. Without Amex support, it’s pretty pointless in my opinion. I certainly can’t be bothered with the hassle.

    • Chris says:

      Anybody remember Supercard !?

    • TimTam says:

      Plus don’t forget that offers from you bank such as Club Lloyds deals don’t activate when using Curve.

      • Alex W says:

        Since DCC is passed through, I’m not sure that’s true any more. Haven’t tried Lloyd’s offers with Curve but I did get double points for IHG spend on Creation via Curve.

        • Symon says:

          I can second that Curve doesn’t work with Club Lloyds offers. That’s one of the reasons I stopped using Curve.

    • The Urbanite says:

      Tuxedo Supercard is very much missed. Limitless spending…

  • Julian says:

    Anyone else planning to go to Curve’s upcoming first ever “Community” event to discuss their plans presented by their CEO, Shachar, in Bloomsbury (London) on Monday 8th April between 6.30pm and 8.30pm.

    See https://bit.ly/2JA9Ys1

    If I say that I have already booked to go then that will probably guarantee that Genghis will plan not to attend of if he does that he will appear Incognito under his real world name.

    To be honest in view of the level of promotion of Curve that Rob has previously been responsible for I would have thought that he might also attend too to try to get further insight on the reasons for the recent spat with Amex.

    • Russ says:

      That comes over as pretty manipulative Julian. Not on old boy….

    • Freddy says:

      No mention of food or drink…I’m out!

      • Julian says:

        There might well turn out to be the odd drink or canape but if you advertise these things in advance you can attract freeloaders who turn up for entirely the wrong reasons………

    • Jonah says:

      Why do you even bother with this site? You clearly have nothing but contempt for anyone who comments and Rob. Whether you think you are justified or not do you realise how unpleasant you come across? Why on earth would you expect Genghis to be pleasant to you? – I’m sure most people here would actively avoid you if they had to.

      • Julian says:

        You do realise I suppose that Rob isn’t running this site as some kind of voluntary self help group for Avios collection enthusiasts in which he freely gives his own time for nothing purely in order to help other collectors for the common good.

        Instead Rob is running a startup Fintech business (in which he is no doubt still by far the majority shareholder) whereby he earns his living from significant airline points rewards and financial kickbacks from the financial service providers (the card issuers in the main) who he then introduces large groups of new customers to. And by running this site and pushing collectors to exploit the currently most lucrative opportunities available Rob’s site often changes the rules of the game by changing expected patterns of consumer behaviour by the card issuers.

        For instance would Amex have changed their new cardholder bonus scheme by introducing a new 2 year no reapplication rule (if you want to earn the introductory bonus) and/or would Amex have decided it couldn’t afford to do business with Curve if Rob hadn’t been directing such an unexpectedly huge volume of additional Mastercard debit card originating transactions their way that it was clearly unacceptable for whatever risk model they are running to decide whether to accept such transactions.

        But perhaps I should expect such thoroughly biblical lecturing from someone who titles himself here as Jonah. Although perhaps you Jonah see me as being something of a Jeremiah?!

        • Peter 64K says:

          Perhaps more Bildad the Shuhite?

        • Craig says:

          I, like others, do not understand why you are here. You seem so angry about everything.

          Rob is running a business and i appreciate that – yet I still value the articles he writes. No offence to Rob/HfP intended here – but i really do not think this site is big enough to move the dial on Amex by itself. i realised the huge gaping loop hole of the 6 month churn on Amex cards long before I read HfP – it is very very easy to “work out”. That doesn’t mean i don’t get a lot out of what is on here and everyone’s comments.

          Also – it doesn’t matter how many times you come here and complain about people “cheating the system” (which it isn’t) – everyone here is still going to do it…………… so why are you bothering……………..

        • Anna says:

          No offence whatsoever to Rob but I don’t think one man and a blog can “change patterns of consumer behaviour”. The regular contributors to the site are clearly financially savvy and love a bargain and must have been like that for a long time before HFP appeared!

        • Billy says:

          OMG! Rob is the Devil, a puppet master of sorts pulling on the strings of Amex and Curve.

        • Mikeact says:

          @Anna, I started this ‘hobby’ many years ago, probably before Rob was out of diapers/nappies! In fact I was one of the very first sign ups to AmericanAirlines when they launched the very first significant airline loyalty scheme in 1981, when we were in the States, or maybe they were second thinking about it. I still have the original card I was sent and sometimes handing it over in the US, most agents have never seen one, and my number is still the same after all these years.
          In fact I have cards from every airline that were flying in the 80’s, some long since gone sadly.
          As a hobby my wife and I have managed to literally, see the world, and if only the perks available in the early days were available today, when a free ticket really was free, and ridiculous lower miles to get anywhere, and so easy to turn left. Times have changed but we still enjoy travelling and ‘playing the system’ , legally of course !

      • RakishDriver says:

        Let’s also not forget the lack of grammar and spelling…

    • Art50 says:

      I honestly don’t think it is in Rob’s best interest, what with him being a partner of Curve. As seen here, keep pushing the Curve card and not question Curve’s statements is the order of the day.

    • Lady London says:

      Julian i appreciate much of what you say. But its hard sometimes not to.decide just to not read any particular post you may make if by words or tone you could appear to be publicly insulting other contributors to these blog comments or our host Rob. I think you often make interesting points. But i’m starting not to read you because as well as the occasional negative remark about someone personally sometimes there is an impression that overloads in negativity. This could give an unfairly bad impression of you, and makes it hard for the rest of us to align our views to yours. My marketing colleagues would say ‘lighten it up a bit that way your message is easier to absorb. Jus’ sayin’.

    • Rob says:

      I’m on holiday! And if I want to talk to Shachar I’ll just ring him up 🙂

    • AndyW says:

      Genghis what on earth did you do to the bloke?!

      • Julian says:

        Genghis didn’t do anything to me.

        Its just a kind of backhanded complement really as Genghis appears to be the most definitively expert contributor to this website as few seem to know as much as he does about the intricacies of the airline points collecting game. And his commitment to the subject is further indicated by the sophisticated IT measures he has clearly put in place to alert him to any responses to his own posts in these blogs or to any fresh posts (not responding to his own) that mention him by name.

        Anyway I’m not some starry eyed optimistic marketing or sales type (as quite a few you clearly are, unsurprisingly because its people in those jobs who nearly always travel the most by air on business) but an analytical data expert type who remembers history and can see where many of these points collection schemes tend to go in the long run.

        And fun though collecting all these points and redeeming them can sometimes be it can also be a pain if some expiring bonus voucher makes you feel you need to book a flight or hotel that you would not otherwise have booked just so as not to lose the value of your voucher offer………….

        • Peter 64K says:

          I still don’t see why you read this blog. It seems to upset you so much that surely not reading it will free up more of your time and reduce your frustration and blood pressure.

        • Spiderman says:

          My spideysense thinks Julian is a troll

        • Shoestring says:

          Heaven’s sake people! Play the ball not the man. Julian has every right to be here and write a few comments, including views on churning Amex if he sees fit. Raffles met him at one party and has him down as a decent bloke. The thing with Genghis is just a bit of history that obvs still rankles a bit but amounts to nothing much. Give the guy a fair chance, every day is a new day

        • Chabuddy geezy says:

          Julian I dont think that is how amex worked with curve. Amex receive the same interchange fee regardless. Curve we ultimately trying to fund this with the charges to customers.

        • Sundar says:

          “also be a pain if some expiring bonus voucher makes you feel you need to book a flight or hotel that you would not otherwise have booked just so as not to lose the value of your voucher offer………….”

          And that’s also why the airlines run a frequent flyer program – They win some and we win some.

        • Lady London says:

          Actually all sorts of people travel a lot on business. Especially finance people, operations people, IT people… lots and lots of different job types. I’d say someone who thinks a sales or marketing job is going to get them travelling is often going to be sadly disappointed. Often the most apparently glamourous jobs have the least perks. I say that as someone who has travelled on business a lot, in private a lot too, and been in charge of travel budgets, event budgets and booked and arranged an awful lot of business travel in many industries in my career. oh, and a long time ago worked in travel too.

        • Alex Sm says:

          We need to know what this IT is and how this could be used more widely by HfP readers as Rob consistently refuses to introduce comments editing and notifications of new replies… (

        • Lady London says:

          * above was about “starry eyed optimistic marketing or sales type (as quite a few [HfP readers] clearly are, unsurprisingly because its people in those jobs who nearly always travel the most by air on business”

  • the_real_a says:

    It should be noted that the “protection” advertised has very little protection in my opinion, since the only and final arbiter of the case is curve itself. Once the 45 days MasterCard “chargeback” process to the merchant is exhausted then it will be Curve footing the bill for any claim under this “enhanced protection”. That’s a conflict of interest i would not want to rely on, considering Curve`s lack of current profitability and the quality staff hired in the past year (that i experienced).

    Its also not certain the FCA would accept a complaint based solely on a dispute of this “policy” due to Curve`s FCA classification, so you would presumably need to rely on the courts for breach of contract (difficult) rather than a clearly defined S75 act with many legal precedents for a CC purchase.

  • john says:

    Downgraded my metal card just after Amex pulled their agreement.
    I was so happy that Amex finally works with Curve, but only lasted for a few days.

  • Zana711 says:

    O/T but since there’s quite a bit of discussion on Revolut above – has anyone done Revolut’s Source of Funds check recently? How long did this process take you? And if you don’t mind disclosing, what limit do you have to hit before you were asked to provide docs?

    I’ve just been asked to do it – very fiddly on the App because it only lets you upload JPEG on your phone or take a picture. Asked me for 3 months payslip & 3 months bank statements (not unusual) but also a copy of my tax return (hard to upload pages in JPEG).

    • stevenhp1987 says:

      Done it today… Topped up around £25k recently…

      Wouldn’t take PDFs… Had to convert each one into a series of jpegs…

      It says to wait 48 hours for a response, I’ve not had one yet.

      • stevenhp1987 says:

        FYI, It just went through, around 24 hours after sending docs in. They also asked for updated copy of driving licence as the one on file was old.

        24 hours isn’t too bad. I was still able to spend as well, just not make transfers or top-up.

    • The Urbanite says:

      Yes. I think each time you flag up for review they will give you a new limit based on your circumstances so it must be different for everyone.

      That said if you are spending enough to hit that you should be fairly used to KYCs. Their process isn’t too onerous and can be sorted over the chat system.

    • Alan says:

      Took a few days for me – same as last time. A slow and laborious process IME. Wish they’d bring back the tracker that let you know how far off another source of founds check you were!

  • Ben E says:

    ummm… £200 a month cash withdrawal limit. What happens if you go over that?

    • stevenhp1987 says:

      2% charge. I’ve gone over £200 in the past without ever seeing the charge though… but I’ve not done this recently!

      • @mkcol says:

        Likewise…a few times & no charge evident anywhere.

      • Julian says:

        Likewise withdrew £400 in total in month in cash a couple of times and no extra charge but now don’t need to take out so much cash these days so don’t know if Curve have tightened up in enforcing that rule since the start of 2019.

        • Alex Sm says:

          It occurs to me that the limit is £1000 or so. I definitely withdrew more than 200 in a month and nothing happened

        • Alex Sm says:

          It’s still 1000 for the UK and 400 abroad (for free Black card)

    • TGLoyalty says:

      As long as you don’t take the p*ss its fine.

  • @mkcol says:

    Delighted to confirm that Curve’s “Faster Purchase Protection” does indeed work within a day & that was only for a ~$35 purchase.

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