Why you should get a FREE Curve Card to maximise your miles and points from credit cards

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Curve Card is an intriguing payment product which has a LOT to offer to miles and points collectors.  Whilst this introductory article is a little complex at times, the key thing to remember is that Curve Card is free – in fact, they pay you £5 for trying it – so you have nothing at risk.

The key benefit of Curve is that – if you link it to another Visa or Mastercard which earns miles or points – you will be earning miles on debit card as well as credit card payments, and foreign transactions will no longer have a 3% FX fee.

You will even earn miles and points on ATM cash withdrawals up to certain limits.

Whilst we talk about Curve in a UK context in this article, it is actually available in all 31 countries in the European Economic Area.  This means Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom (excluding Crown Dependencies: Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man).

(EDIT: This article was updated in April 2020 to reflect minor changes to the card and its benefits.)

What is Curve?

Let’s start by saying what Curve isn’t.

Curve is NOT a bank account.  It is NOT like Revolut, Monzo, Starling or Monese.  If you take out a Curve Card you are NOT getting a ‘current account on a card’.

Curve is simply an intermediary card, a Mastercard to which you can link all of your existing Visa and Mastercard payment cards

Via the Curve app you can select which linked card you want to use at any particular time.  Curve transactions are automatically recharged onto that card.  Even if a shop does not accept credit cards at all, only debit cards, you can still pay with your Curve Mastercard, which is a debit card, and earn miles on the underlying Visa or Mastercard.

Council tax is an obvious possibility, along with some utility bills.

You cannot pay HMRC, the Government and ‘financial institutions’ such as credit card companies and mortgages for free using Curve.  There is a 1.5% fee.  The fee is waived if you have the £14.99 per month Curve Metal card, which we discuss in more detail below.  This may be attractive to you if you have substantial tax or credit card bills each month due to the points you could earn on your underlying Visa or Mastercard.

Any transaction you make is automatically recharged to the relevant Visa or Mastercard by Curve.  Your card statement will show as ‘CRV*XXXXXX’ with XXXXXX being the name of the original merchant.

Curve has some other unique features:

Cash withdrawals are charged as a PURCHASE.  Yes, a cash withdrawal on your Curve debit Mastercard will be recharged as a purchase to your linked Visa or Mastercard. This is FREE for £200 per 30-day period on the free card.  Note that Tesco Bank and NatWest / RBS do NOT allow credit card holders to make free cash withdrawals via Curve. Others banks may do the same in the future, or indeed may do so already and we haven’t picked up on it.

Overseas purchases are converted without an FX fee during Monday to Friday (except for free Curve Blue which is capped at £500 per 30-day period of free FX transactions with a 2% fee beyond that).  This is a better deal than using a separate free ‘no rewards’ credit card with 0% FX fees because you still earn rewards on the underlying linked card.  On weekends and UK public holidays, a 0.5% fee is added for € or $ transactions and 1.5% for other currencies.

ALL miles and points Mastercard and Visa credit cards carry a 3% foreign exchange fee.  By using Curve as an intermediary, you will now pay as little as 0% in FX fees and still earn miles and points.

What are the Curve Card limits?

Irrespective of the limits on your underlying cards, Curve has its own daily, monthly and annual limits.  Your limits are increased as Curve begins to ‘trust’ your behaviour.

These are the maximum limits you can get according to the website, although some people have been given more:

Daily spend (inc ATM withdrawals) – £3,750
Daily ATM withdrawal cap – £1,000
Monthly spending limit (on a rolling 30 day basis) – £20,000
Annual spending limit (on a rolling 12 month basis) – £50,000

You may not get this limit from Day 1 but, as you begin to use the card, your limits will be increased.

What are the three different types of Curve Card?

There are three different Curve Cards you can get:

The basic Curve Card (Curve Blue) is FREE – in fact Curve will pay you £5 for trying it out if you use my referral code of OQB4J

Curve Black costs £9.99 per month and allows unlimited foreign exchange recharging and provides some travel and insurance benefits

Curve Metal costs £14.99 per month or £150 per year and has a choice of three cool metal cards to choose from, allows unlimited foreign exchange recharging, pay-per-use airport lounge access and a broader range of travel and insurance benefits

How to apply for your Curve Card (free if you choose Blue)

To sign up to Curve, simply go to this page of their website to download the app.  The easiest thing to do is order the free Blue card and then think about upgrading to Black or Metal once you are familiar with it, although you can start immediately on Black or Metal if you want.

Curve will pay you £5 for trying it out if you use my referral code of OQB4J – a £5 cash credit will be added to your Curve Rewards balance.  If you click through via the link above (or here) and then download the app it should track automatically.  If it doesn’t, add the code when you register your details in the app – you will see a box to insert it.

Once you have received your card, you can link it to your ‘miles and points earning’ Visa and Mastercard products and start spending.

How to choose the right Curve Card for you

What are the features of free Curve Blue?

Curve Blue is free – free to apply and free to operate.

Curve Blue is explained on this page of its website.  You can compare all three cards side by side here.  In summary:

Curve Blue fee: None

Card:  Plastic, not metal

Availability:  UK residents and various other EEA countries

Foreign exchange fees: £500 per 30-day period for no fee (0.5% fee $ or € and 1.5% fee for other currencies applies to transactions made on a Saturday, Sunday or on a bank holiday) with a 2% fee thereafter

Fee for paying off credit cards, tax and other financial transactions via Curve:  1.5%

ATM withdrawals: Overseas: £200 per 30-day period for free, 2% thereafter / UK: £200 per 30-day period fair use cap

1% cashback from three retailers for the first 90 days of membership.  This is on top of the rewards you will earn from your underlying card.

Even users of the free Curve Blue can pay any debit card bill and have it recharged as a purchase for free to a linked Visa or Mastercard.  There are no usage limits except for the day / month / annual limits imposed by Curve which are increased as you become ‘trustworthy’.  The 1.5% fee only applies to HMRC, Government and ‘financial institutions’ transactions.

For most HFP readers, the free Curve Blue will be good enough.

Review of Curve Black card

What are the features of Curve Black?

This page of the Curve website compares the three different types of Curve Card.

Curve Black is explained on this page of its website.  You can compare all three cards side by side here.  In summary:

Curve Black fee: £9.99 per month

Card:  Plastic, not metal

Availability:  UK residents and various other EEA countries

Foreign exchange fees:  Unlimited transactions with no fee (0.5% fee $ or € and 1.5% fee for other currencies applies to transactions made on a Saturday or Sunday)

Fee for paying off credit cards, tax and other financial transactions via Curve:  1.5%

ATM withdrawals: Overseas: £400 per 30-day period for free, 2% thereafter / UK: £200 per 30-day period fair use cap

These are the key benefits.  There are other benefits which I do not value highly but which some readers may find useful:

Travel insurance underwritten by AXA  (this looks OK – you can see the policy document here – and with an age limit of 70, although the rules are stricter than many policies in terms of, for example, sports you may not play on holiday. Baggage and personal belongings are not covered for Black cardholders.)

1% cashback from three premium retailers for as long as you hold the card.  This is on top of the rewards you will earn from your underlying card.

This card has the possibility to be attractive to Head for Points readers.  Let’s look at a couple of key areas:

You can charge all of your foreign spending to a miles or points earning card whilst paying 0% FX fees, which should lead to a sharp increase in your points earning

You can charge some day-to-day debit card spending to Curve and turn it into spend which earns miles, points and ‘spend-related target bonuses’

However, I would argue that Curve Metal is a better package than Curve Black as I explain below.

What are the features of Curve Metal?

Curve Metal is explained on this page of its website.  You can compare all three cards side by side here.  In summary:

Curve Metal fee: £14.99 per month (if you pay monthly and cancel or downgrade within six months, a £50 cancellation fee will apply)

Card: Funky 18g brushed metal card in red, blue or rose gold.  I have the blue one and it is a bit boring to be honest so I’d recommend one of the others!

Availability:  UK residents only

Foreign exchange fees:  Unlimited transactions with no fee (0.5% fee $ or € and 1.5% fee for other currencies applies to transactions made on a Saturday or Sunday)

Fee for paying off credit cards, tax and other financial transactions via Curve:  None

ATM withdrawals: Overseas: £600 per 30-day period for free, 2% thereafter / UK: £200 per 30-day period fair use cap

These are the key benefits.  There are other benefits which I do not value highly but which some readers may find useful:

Travel insurance underwritten by AXA  (this looks OK – you can see the policy document here – and with an age limit of 70, although the rules are stricter than many policies in terms of, for example, sports you may not play on holiday)

Mobile phone insurance (maximum value £800)

Car rental CDW waiver coverage  (I have this via Amex Platinum but if you do hire cars and don’t have a standalone policy this will be worth something to you – the car must be worth under £25,000 however)

Airport lounge access via LoungeKey (this is NOT free access, you will need to pay a fee of £20 per visit)

1% cashback from six premium retailers for as long as you hold the card.  This is on top of the rewards you will earn from your underlying card.

This card has the possibility to be VERY attractive to Head for Points readers.  Let’s look at a couple of key areas:

You can charge all of your foreign spending to a miles or points earning card whilst paying 0% FX fees which should lead to a sharp increase in your points earning (0.5% fee $ or € and 1.5% fee for other currencies applies to transactions made on a Saturday or Sunday)

You can charge some day-to-day debit card spending to Curve and turn it into spend which earns miles, points and ‘spend-related target bonuses’

You can pay off your credit cards, as well as pay HMRC and fund National Savings accounts and buy Premum Bonds, for no fee and have the cost recharged as a purchase to a miles-earning Visa or Mastercard (you need to test first that your underlying credit card does not treat these transactions as a cash advance)

Is Curve Metal worth £2.50 to £5 per month more than Curve Black?

That’s a good question.  If you pre-pay for Curve Metal at £150, the difference in cost is only £30 per year or £2.50 per month.  For your extra £2.50, you get a snazzy metal card plus:

  • CDW car rental insurance (not part of Black)
  • £600 vs £400 of free overseas ATM withdrawals (this in itself is worth £1 or so in extra Visa or Mastercard rewards)
  • Travel insurance includes lost or stolen baggage (Curve Black does not)
  • The ability to pay £20 per visit for LoungeKey airport lounge access
  • The ability to pay unlimited sums (subject to your Curve Card limits) to HMRC, credit card companies, the Government and ‘financial institutions’ for free whilst earning points on the underlying Visa or Mastercard

On this basis, I think Curve Metal justifies the small extra fee over Curve Black.  However, for many HFP readers the free Curve Blue card will be enough.

Conclusion

Curve Blue is a risk-free, NO FEE introduction to Curve.

For most HFP readers, Curve Blue – the free version – will be good enough.  You can easily upgrade via the app to Curve Black or Curve Metal if you choose to do so at a later date.

If you want to pay off – for free – your credit cards bills with Curve, buy Premium Bonds, pay into National Savings accounts or pay HMRC, you need to get Curve Metal.

How to apply for your Curve Card (free if you choose Blue)

To sign up to Curve, simply go to this page of their website or download the app.  The easiest thing to do is order the free Blue card and then upgrade to Black or Metal once you have got familiar with it, although you can start immediately on Black or Metal if you want.

Curve will pay you £5 for trying it out if you use my referral code of OQB4J – a £5 cash credit will be added to your Curve Rewards balance.  If you click through via the link above (or here) and then download the app it should track automatically.  Alternatively include the code when you add your personal details to the app.

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Comments

  1. Does this mean I can pay my monthly amex bill and charge it to my Tesco Bank Debit card and get club card points?

    • No, because you don’t earn Clubcard points on payments to financial institutions. Tesco will still see it as this

    • I pay all my Amex bills with the free curve card (blue) to my IHG credit card and earn points on it.

      • Secret Squirrel says:

        And how long have you been doing that or how many payments have you made to Amex using blue curve?

      • iamfugly says:

        Quick question, does the IHG master card treat curve as a regular transaction. ie it doesn’t treat as a cash advance and apply charges and interest?
        I am having trouble using IHG with Revolut. They seem to decline large transactions via Revolut and limit transactions to the couple of hundreds of pounds only.

        • Secret Squirrel says:

          £700 a week max.
          £200 per day max.

          • iamfugly says:

            Thanks for confirming. Much appreciated. Any experience of using with Curve? Is it exactly same experience/limits as using with Revolut?

  2. Hmmm – Something to be cautious about – and a question.

    According to the website: “For Curve Blue (free) customers, you can spend of £500 per month with no currency conversion fees. From £501 and above (cumulative) a month, you will be charged an additional 2% as currency conversion fees.”
    &
    “On weekends, which we count as Friday 23:59 – Sunday 23:59, the UK foreign exchange markets are closed. During this time, we take the rate from Friday 23:59 and charge an additional 0.5% for all transactions made in GBP, EUR and USD and 1.5% for all other supported currencies”.

    The bit that worries me is ‘additional’

    Does that mean then if I have curve blue (which I do) and have already spent £450 in one month (which I have) any transactions over the £500 limit will be charged at 3.5% assuming I spend in AED (which I am about to…)?

  3. I have a question regarding the additional 2% fee charged on cash withdrawals over £200 and foreign purchases over £500 within a 30 day period for the free Curve. Is this fee itemised on the statement?

    I was recently abroad and charged around £700 in (foreign) cash withdrawals and an additional £900 in foreign purchases to my Curve, but as far as I can see I’ve not been charged any additional fees, unless they’re hidden in the exchange rate. The exchange rates look correct compared to the MasterCard website.

    • In reality they do not charge. I only repeat the official rules 🙂

      • Emily K says:

        I believe they just hide fees all in the exchange rate. I am currently in New Zealand and religiously use mine up to 500GBP/month during the week, to avoid the 1.5% weekend surcharge. One payment I made lunchtime on a Monday (NZ time) used an NZD:GBP exchange rate of 1.96NZD:GBP vs the 1.99NZD:GBP in a transaction a few hours later, which is what the actual exchange rate had been hovering around all weekend.

  4. I used the free blue cars to pay for a car (where a credit card would not have been accepted) it meant a number of separate payments over a few days but 30,000 Vrigin miles for very little effort.

  5. No mention of losing S75 protection on purchases?

  6. Seeing as Curve metal and black have been around for a while now, does anyone have any feedback on how good the insurance packages are? How do you know if a car is worth over €35,000? How long does it take for them to replace a lost or stolen gadget?

    Seems like a reasonable deal compared to packaged accounts from the high street banks as the lounge access and car hire insurance are more valuable to me than the usual breakdown cover

  7. ClaireLj says:

    Does using Curve affect your Section 75 protection, as I’d have thought they’re classed as a third party processor?

    • Yes – You lose it. But tbh for most that won’t be an issue. I can’t imagine many are buying items which need S75 and curve advantages?
      i.e. Most people don’t make significant purchases (for future redemption) abroad. The only thing you are losing out on in the UK therefore is the 1% cash reward by using the underlying card to get S75.

      Curve also have their own protection policy but tbh you are therefore relying on the credit worthiness of Curve which is not something in which I have too much faith.

      • Jovanna says:

        I bought a pair of sliders (flip flops for those of you over 30) online for €40 with my Curve card. They were posted from China. A pair of boots turned up. They were the correct size but not much use for the beach.

        I had no response from the company. I contacted Curve and I had a refund within a few weeks.

  8. How do they define a 30 day period?

    • The t&C’s on the website are slightly conflicting. For example some limits are a rolling 30 days, others a fixed calendar month.

  9. I have a £20k tax bill to pay in January. Could I start paying chunks regularly via my virgin card on curve and get the air miles?

    • DANIEL MACDONALD says:

      Oh yes..very much so.

    • Froggee says:

      Yes. Although if you’re only just starting with Curve it will take a little while to get the annual spend limit increased from £10k. So get the Curve card and use it for lots of small transactions (lunch etc) as well as chunkier HMRC payments. Once you get near the £10k annual limit, ask for an increase and they should put your annual limit up to £50k. If you just put £10k of HMRC spend on it they may not increase your limit and you’ll be unable to use it for the best part of a year!

  10. Cracker says:

    Does anyone know if I can get a Curve in France and link it to a UK HSBC Premier Mastercard as a way of getting Avios on our significant spend in France? Would this then be a UK transaction for HSBC? Or am I being a muppet?

    [Background – currently spend approx 40% of our time in France, have French house, bank account etc but resident in UK for tax and would like to get Avios on money spent in France. Veuling card looks risky as they won’t take full balance every month]

    TIA

    • You can set the currency of your linked cards as you wish – so you can recharge euro spend to your UK card in GBP, but what you need to consider is whether and you want to convert pounds to euros every time you spend and don’t care about the rate, is that worth the avios, or would you rather convert once and keep euro spend in euros

  11. To clarify, Curve is issued to residents of and works perfectly in the Crown Dependencies.

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