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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 (229)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • andy says:

    So on the amex news last week I put my last referral of the year through for a platinum everyday card for my wife. The card has just turned up. I want to reset the clock now for 24 months. Should my wife register the card and then cancel, or just not activate the card? Not sure if once it’s sent out it counts as active . I’m minded to get her to activate it and then cancel it but don’t want to mess things up too much!

    • Anna says:

      It would count towards the sign up clock as soon as soon as she was approved. Your wife can cancel it with or without activating it, but the clock will only re-set from the date of cancellation (and assuming she has no other cards which affect it).

    • Sideshowbob says:

      Oh dear so the latest strategy is to not even bother taking the new cards out of the envelope before cancelling. And you wonder why Amex (etc.) close down incentives for the rest of us.

      • Spiderman says:

        Don’t have a cow man!

      • Shoestring says:

        @SSB I agree, gotta be said. I hope Amex have some kind of system in place to blacklist serious abusers.

        • Andy Passey says:

          Am hardly a “serial abuser”. I wanted to test if I still got a referral bonus as there’s no point me keeping the Amex Platinum card long term if not. I don’t take the piss, I usually refer my wife for one card a year, we’ve both had BA Amex cards for ten years and the Platinum for two. I don’t churn that much. I’ve referred lots of friends and family for Amex cards.
          In normal situation my wife would keep the everyday platinum card now as a long term spending card but what’s the point? It just prevents her accessing a sign up bonus in the future. So for now I’ll keep my platinum card and my BA card and start referring her again in 24 months time. If that’s serial abuse then apologies!

  • Alexey says:

    OT re Melia points gift cards from amazon Spain, just to repeat my mistakes :

    Ordered few cards last December, the arrived in Melia envelopes, I didn’t need them immediately so did not open at the time

    Started to open in February, and one envelope was empty,

    Reported to Amazon Spain, but they were completely unhelpful, said that as 30 days passed they couldn’t do anything, and in general was very disappointed with customer service, tryed to escalate to supervisor they just refused to give his name, contact

    Uk amazon said it is matter to spanish

    Credit card, Lloyds, refused charge back request since again claiming 30 days passed and that was apparently somewhere in their term and conditions

    So very disappointed with amazon, if have unopened envelopes recommend to check them

    • Alexey says:

      Meant not repeat mistakes

    • meta says:

      I thought time limit for Section 75 claims was six years. I would write a letter to Lloyds with full claim.

      • Shoestring says:

        chargeback isn’t S75 – maybe that is the issue, OP should tell Lloyds that S75 applies because item paid for was not delivered

  • Mr Dee says:

    What is bizarre to me is that Curve didn’t adjust their pricing or offering since Amex was removed, hardly any incentive to stay for people or new people to consider, I am sure the go back in time feature was longer than 14 days for Curve metal originally.

    • Sundar says:

      Yes, I tried to check their forums on whether there was anything about the pricing model given there is no big Amex incentive.
      Nothing….Maybe someone attending the April event can ask and report back ? Otherwise, curve support ticket is a route….

    • Alex Sm says:

      Not clear what we should do with this new plans and downgrades. I am afraid that Curve will start charging 14.99 for Black cards without giving notice and thus will recoup all its losses… Has anyone heard anything?

      • Graham Walsh says:

        Just looked in the app and it says I’m On a Free plan with the black card. So hopefully no charges.

      • Nick M says:

        By coincidence I messaged them a couple of days ago to say let them know I wished to remain on the Black legacy… they have replied to say that I have to wait until nearer the time and they email out to give us the options…

  • Alex Sm says:

    Honestly, I thought that THIS was the shake-up which Rob meant…

  • Tom says:

    OT: AMEX Shop Small is back. Apparead on BA AMEX Card only (holding 4 cards in total)

  • Russ says:

    Late to the game but did, or why didn’t Curve try and forge a partnership direct with a oneworld avios distributor like BA?

  • James says:

    “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.”

    Say what? Anyone know any background to this statement?

    • Shoestring says:

      1. if one of them goes bust or gets taken over, the statement is true.

      2. if one or more prove/s successful, they will get taken over by a rich but more stagnant financial concern, it’s a simple way to buy growth & innovation, for a high price perhaps – and that is often what the founders want: to get rich & exit

  • will says:

    can you load your SIPP at hargreaves with curve for no fee?

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