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Curve Card to add 1.5% fee for HMRC tax payments – unless you upgrade to Curve Metal

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SUNDAY EDIT: On Sunday evening, Curve put details of these changes back on its website, with two changes:

for new cardholders from Monday 25th November, these new policies apply immediately.  Existing cardholders will not switch to the new rules until 24th January (not 21st as originally stated)

the new policy will only apply to ‘we don’t accept credit cards’ merchants specifically listed by Curve, and initially only HMRC will be on that list.  You will NOT be surcharged for using Curve at any other merchant which only accepts debit cards.

MONDAY 6pm EDIT: Curve has added some additional exclusions to the website:

After an initial trial period with HMRC, other government payments such as National Savings & Investments, DVLA Vehicle Tax, and Student Loan Payments will be included as well.

Back to the original article ….

Curve Card briefly added a section to its website yesterday about new fees it is introducing for debit card payments which are recharged to a credit card.

The information disappeared from the website after pushback in Curve’s community forum, but it was detailed enough to assume that it is happening.

The main target here is HMRC tax payments.  It will also apply wherever you use Curve Card to make a debit card payment – at a merchant which does not accept credit cards – which you recharge to a credit card.

I’m not sure that many people have huge amounts of debit card payments apart from HMRC.  Most (not all) credit card companies are blocked by Curve using its get-out of ‘no financial services transactions’.  I think all debit card payments to mortgages, pensions or savings accounts are already blocked.

(If you don’t know anything about Curve Card, you may want to read my introduction here before continuing.)

Why do people use Curve Card to pay HMRC?

HMRC stopped accepting credit cards for tax payments last year, after the Government stopped merchants imposing fees for credit card use.

This was a serious blow for miles and points collectors who were not on PAYE, as it removed the ability to earn substantial sums of miles from paying VAT, NI, income tax etc.

Curve Card offered a way around this.  You could link a points-earning Mastercard or Visa credit card to your Curve Card and use it to pay HMRC.  Curve Card is treated as a debit card so it is accepted.

This was, essentially, free miles for people like myself.  I have used the bulk of my £50,000 Curve Card limit this year paying HMRC bills.  I recharged them to my Miles & More Global Traveller card, earning close to (50,000 x 1.25) 62,500 Lufthansa Miles & More miles for free.

Curve introducing fee for HMRC payments

It looks like this is coming to an end ….

This is what was posted on the Curve Card website for a period yesterday:

Can I use Curve to make payments to HMRC?

If you decide to use the Curve card with a credit card selected as your payment card, starting on the 21st of January 2020, you may be charged a fee. For Curve Blue (free) and Curve Black (including Curve Black Legacy users) customers you will be charged 1.5% of the amount of the transaction. There is no charge to Curve Metal customers.

Here is the full list of Q&A uploaded to and then removed from the site:

For which transactions will the Debit Fronted Credit fees apply?
Can I use Curve to make payments to HMRC?
Does Curve charge a fee to make payments to HMRC?
Are there spending limits to HMRC payments?
I got a decline after making a payment to HMRC. What happened?

It is pointless (sic) paying a 1.5% fee to pay HMRC via Curve Card.  There are very few scenarios where the underlying miles and points earned will be worth that.

The only exceptions may be if you have a Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard, earning 1.5 miles per £1, or the Miles & More Global Traveller card, earning 1.25 miles per £1.

Your miles would be costing you 1p and 1.2p respectively.  This is not a great deal but some people may find it acceptable.  I don’t.

It is worth noting that Curve Metal customers will not pay a fee.  This is intriguing.  Curve Metal costs £14.95 per month or £150 per year.  If you have substantial tax bills, the upgrade may be attractive.

Let’s run some numbers …..

GREAT DEAL – Pay £50k of tax on a Miles & More Mastercard (1.25 miles per £1) = 62,500 Miles & More miles for £150 Curve Metal fee

GREAT DEAL – Pay £40k of tax on a Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard (1.5 miles per £1) = 60,000 Virgin Flying Club miles for £150 Curve Metal fee

AVERAGE DEAL – Pay £30k of tax on an IHG Rewards Club Premium Mastercard (2 points per £1) = 60,000 status-qualifying IHG Rewards Club points (valued by me at £240) for £150 Curve Metal fee

BAD DEAL – Pay £20k of tax on a HSBC Premier Mastercard (0.5 Avios or other miles per £1) = 10,000 Avios for £150 Curve Metal fee

The bottom line is that:

if you pay enough to HMRC each year, and

you have a generous-enough points-earning Visa or Mastercard credit card linked to Curve

…. then Curve Card via Curve Metal is still an attractive way to pay the Inland Revenue or any other debit card bill which accepts Curve.

Curve introducing fees for paying Inland Revenue

Don’t forget that Curve Metal has other benefits too

On top of the ability to pay unlimited sums to HMRC – subject to your Curve Card limits, which for most people are £50,000 of charges per year – your £150 annual Curve Metal fee comes with other benefits:

This page of the Curve website compares the three different types of Curve Card.  With regards to Curve Metal:

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

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)

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 as a PDF – 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)

Gadget insurance (maximum value £800 with a £50 excess)

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.  This is on top of the rewards you will earn from your underlying card.

You won’t necessarily get £150 of annual benefit from this package, but you will get something.  And, of course, you will be retaining the ability to make substantial payments to HMRC via Curve Card.

Final thoughts …..

There had been rumours that Curve Card was introducing fees for paying the Inland Revenue after it sent out a questionnaire recently seeking views on the topic.

What is new here is the addition of charges for ALL debit card payments made with a Curve Card which are recharged to a credit card.

If the structure above turns out to be correct then many of our SME readers will still be OK.  They will have £50,000-worth of HMRC charges per year across VAT, PAYE, income tax etc and the upgrade to Curve Metal can be justified if you have a generous Visa or Mastercard credit card linked.

The losers are likely to be those with under £10,000 or so of HMRC or other non-financial debit card payments.  If this is you, it won’t be worth paying £150 per year for Curve Metal and it won’t be worth paying a 1.5% fee to use Curve Blue or Curve Black.

Let’s see if anything changes between now and the proposed launch date of 21st January.

PS …

If you have read this article without knowing anything at all about Curve Card, read my introductory article here.  As it explains, Curve Card is free at the basic level and Curve will actually pay you £5 for trying it out if you use my refer-a-friend code.

(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards?  Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards Update’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

Comments (592)

  • Dave says:

    Does anybody know whether the santander business credit card can be used to top up revolut business, without incurring a fee? Thanks

  • ysun says:

    it’s probably the start of ending of this game.

  • Voltron says:

    Has anyone recently been getting charged cash transaction fees on their VA card using curve? Just checked mines and been charged 5% of the amount…

  • S says:

    OT: Any bonus points for upgrading Amex business gold to plat?

  • CardiffJock says:

    Ah well, good while it lasted. Will get in under the wire and pay my Corp Tax bIll on Curve next month, linked to IHG, but going forward?

    Think best option will be what I did pre-curve: Tesco Debit card, 1 CC point per £8, so a £24,000 tax bill = 3000CC points = 9,600 Avios (I get the old 3.2 x grandfathered rate) – unless Tesco Bank have stopped paying CC points on HMRC payments.

    Anyone?

    • Andrew L says:

      Why not fund a Revolut account 3 or 4 times a week up to the allowed Creation weekly allowance of £700 and either set up a monthly standing order to HMRC from your Revolut account or pay the monthly amount with your Revolut debit card?

      • Richmond says:

        Funding Revolut with thousands of pounds, which are not protected in any way? Revolut can block account for no reason and say they investigate it and you won’t see your money for weeks or months. Also, it would take ages to pay higher amounts tax liabilities.

        I’m glad I just paid corp tax on Curve, will pay one more VAT and personal taxes in January.

        • Andrew L says:

          Been funding my Revolut account with £700 a week with Creation money for over a year now without any issues. I do actually do all my day to day spending on it though via Curve and then move anything purchase £10 and above to IHG card with Curve’s Go Back in Time. I think if you actively use the account on a daily basis, rather than just using it to pay HMRC with credit card funds, there will be no issues regarding having you account frozen.

          • Andrew L says:

            Regarding the protection issue with using Revolut….
            As an authorised institution, Revolut safeguards your funds as per regulatory requirements. In the event of an insolvency of Revolut, you will be able to claim your funds from this segregated account and your claim will be paid above all other creditors.

            All card transactions are processed by the Mastercard, Maestro, or Visa network and are protected by Mastercard, Maestro, or Visa rules accordingly.

    • bazza says:

      Miles and More might be more profitable

    • ashish says:

      This is the best place to find out about MS “secrets” on flyertalk and other forums its like tying to get blood out of a stone – atleast here people share.

      I love using them as I am not a big spender……..keep them coming!!

  • NFH says:

    What is Curve’s rationale for imposing fees on payments to HMRC using commercial Curve cards, given that commercial cards are not subject to the 0.2% cap on interchange fees under Regulation (EU) 2015/751? Curve makes money on these payments when made with commercial cards, so why discourage this revenue by imposing fees?

  • Andrew L says:

    BREAKING NEWS
    A paragraph has been added to the Curve statement of yesterday afternoon which states:

    “After an initial trial period with HMRC, other government payments such as National Savings & Investments, DVLA Vehicle Tax (whom accept credit card payments), and Student Loan Payments will be included as well.”

    • The Urbanite says:

      Sounds like it is being done by MCC then!

      • EwanG says:

        It’s being done particularly badly I think everyone will agree. Very piecemeal!
        What will be the next instalment in this saga?

    • PaulC says:

      DVLA Road Tax can be paid with AMEX at Post Office so I would of thought people would be using that as first priority anyway.

      • Craig says:

        That’s useful to know, thanks.

      • Andrew L says:

        You can pay with Amex directly on the DVLA website. Curve have completely lost the plot. Clearly blinded by sheer greed.

        • PaulC says:

          With a fee though.
          Post Office is fee free, I just did it on Sunday at my local Spar with a Post Office inside.

        • Craig says:

          I thought they’d pulled Amex?

        • Travel Strong says:

          This doesn’t tally with my experience of Amex not being an option on dvla website and post office terminal rejecting it when I tried this year and last year! Other CC’s like Virgin+ are accepted though, so agree it makes little sense for curve to block it.

    • Deepak says:

      Well thats pretty much the end of our abuse of Curve. A massive reduction in the money passing through Curve now but I guess they couldn’t fund our 1st class flights forever!

      Any more manufactured spending opportunities?

      • Secret Squirrel says:

        First Class flights through Curve – tell us more?

        • jc says:

          Curve -> miles-earning credit card -> flights, I presume.

          • Deep says:

            Yes, that’s it. I made the most of the brief Amex partnership to obtain a ba 241 voucher and combined curve with Tesco when that still worked. Plus a few more little tricks I picked up on here.

    • Lady London says:

      So as well as tasy HMRC payments, because those would have been overall the largest average and total value of any vendor paid by Curve, they are (predictably) looking to add extra “tax” to any payment for which demand is inelastic – which of course includes most mandatory government payments.

      Well I suppose Curve had to find a reason to propose for its continued existence.
      I suggest people here send them the correct message during their “trial period” of HMRC that yes, demand to pay the government various things is inelastic as mandatory, however mandatory is not the use of the Curve card to do this.

      I still can’t understand how they can justify excluding metal holders from these charges. Using a debit card backed by a credit card to pay these sorts of charges may be a bit flaky, and against all sorts of financial wholesomeness. So if they’re stopping it how can they let metal cardholders get out of jail free?

      • Andrew L says:

        I’ll be amazed if Curve is still in existence in 6 months time the way they’ve been acting over the last few days.
        Trust me, Go Back in Time will be the next thing they start charging for unless you pay for a Curve Metal subscription.
        I personally think they’re in trouble and trying desperately to keep their heads above water, hence no statements coming out of Curve HQ.

        • AlexT says:

          I don’t think they are. I think they knew they were being abused, but took it on the chin to demonstrate significant growth before the latest financing round. Now that the money is in the bank, the loopholes are being closed. That said, this still doesn’t mean that Curve has a functioning business model – it goes from a loss making firm that people use, to a loss making one that people ignore…

      • Roy says:

        They’re not stopping it because they think it’s somehow immoral; they’re stopping it because their current service is a loss leader and they’re trying to reduce the losses, without out-and-out banning big spenders – who they are presumably keen to acquire for when they pivot their business model to something (as yet unknown) that actually makes money.

        Hence, preventing users who aren’t paying for the premium tier the ability to make the category of payments that loses them the most money, makes a certain amount of sense in trying to stem the losses. Maybe.

        I think it’s clear what they’re trying to do. How effective it will be is another matter.

    • Bagoly says:

      “NS&I”
      Ooh, I have been missing out!

      • Shoestring says:

        yep that was one Curve people here wanted to keep under the radar, I did my bit by not mentioning it for the last year! 🙂

        it *was* mentioned a few times by others, though

      • jc says:

        My thought exactly. I would guess it’s a cash advance MCC, but might be worth a test payment to see if that guess is wrong (and recycle savings -> bank -> savings -> … if so!!!)

        • Shoestring says:

          you’re a bit late, Curve just announced they’ll add the 1.5% fee onto NS&I – still time to hammer it if you get Metal card

          • jc says:

            Still 2 months yet – that’s a lot of recycling – and if it does work makes Metal trivial to justify

        • Andrew L says:

          From this afternoon’s statement it’s a trial with just HMRC for now, so you should be able to fill your boots with NS&I for a short time.
          Just received the email explaining tbe changes from the 24th January but it alzo mentions:
          “Something big is coming…
          We have an exciting new feature coming very very soon, so keep an eye out!”
          ??? 🙄

      • Christian says:

        I completely agree!
        That’s exactly what went through my mind.
        Still, 2 months to remedy that oversight…

  • melonfarmer says:

    The official “a few changes you should know about” email has just popped into my inbox. “Heads up” it says, whereas “hands up, we’ve fluffed it again” should have been the opening gambit.

    “government based payments” carry the fee (as per Rob’s update). Also changes to privacy & “something big is coming”. Hopefully they won’t leak the latter on line before it’s ready & then have to pick up the pieces of another PR disaster afterwards. Whether I care (as an investor) about “something big” now remains to be seen.

    • Lady London says:

      changes to privacy…. usually means they’ve found ways to sell your data.
      Assuming they’ve not actually inserted compliance-accordant wording in, if it was missing before.

      • Symon says:

        That’s exactly what I thought. Looks they’re throwing everything at the wall to see what can help them make a profit.