Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

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

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Yesterday we looked at new changes to Curve Card, including the ability to pay your credit card bill with another credit card via Curve, for a 1.5% fee.

I promised that I would run an updated version of our introduction to Curve Card for the benefit of new Head for Points readers who may not have heard about it and don’t understand what it offers.  Here you go!

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

Why should you get a free Curve Card?

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 £10 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).

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.  Curve Metal 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. 

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 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.  You will see our special £10 bonus.  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.

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.

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 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 £5 per month more than Curve Black?

That’s a good question.  For your extra £5 per month, 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
  • 1% cashback from an additional three retailers

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 card 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 £10 for trying it out if you use our link.


Want to earn more points from credit cards? – August 2022 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit card, here are our top recommendations based on the current sign-up bonuses.

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here. Here are the best of the other deals currently available.

EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.

British Airways BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable card perk – the 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

American Express Amex Gold

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

60,000 points, £200 travel credit 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 1.5 points for every £1 you spend 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 offers:

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

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

10,500 points bonus – the most generous Avios Visa for a limited company Read our full review

For a non-American Express option, we also recommend the Barclaycard Select Cashback card for sole traders and small businesses. It is FREE and you receive 1% cashback on your spending.

Barclaycard Select Cashback credit card

1% cashback (3% on business travel for four months) and no annual fee Read our full review

Comments (240)

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

  • Lumma says:

    According to the terms and conditions, the maximum value of the rental car is €35,000 not €25,000 although you’re only covered for £25,000.

    I’m not sure how you’re meant to determine the retail value of a car in a foreign land however

    • Don says:

      Darn thats really poor. I didn’t realise the coverage was so limited. One thing to bear in mind is that I have found that the value of the car is based on the booked car, not the upgraded car. That’s my experience with Hertz.

    • Frenske says:

      It is a particular nasty exclusion. There will be people who will be caught out by this, assuming that they are covered. Who is looking at the value of the car when hiring? Nobody.

  • Pat says:

    Most the point earning credit cards are issued by Amex in the UK but Curve card doesnt support them. Whats the point?

    • Rhys says:

      Amex got grumpy and dropped Curve support over a year ago. Plenty of non-Amex rewards cards, however.

      • RTS says:

        out of interest, do you know what was concluded with Curve’s legal challenge against AMEX? Given how quiet it has gone, have Curve backed down?

      • Freddy says:

        Any non-amex at a decent earn rate though

        • Rhys says:

          The IHG card is a popular one, although the annual fee card is (we assume) temporarily withdrawn.

          • Harry T says:

            @Rhys @Rob
            Do you think the IHG black premium card will make a comeback? I’d seriously consider getting Curve metal if I could access the IHG card with the better earnings rate and the free night. Not really worth it using the free white card.

          • Rhys says:

            Given that the IHG premium card was one of many cards Creation pulled for new applicants during the pandemic I suspect it will be back, although clearly anything is possible.

          • Secret Squirrel says:

            I thought I read Creation we’re trying to get out of the credit card market?

    • Secret Squirrel says:

      Not most Pat, just some. Try all the cards using Visa / MC.

  • Optimus Prime says:

    Also bear this in mind when going on holidays – https://community.curve.app/t/curve-fronted-an-important-update/19995/154

    “I guess another thing to be aware of is that some state run museums, tourist facilities might also be using the code 9399. Since Curve is universally blocking 9399, I’d recommend non-metal users on a holiday trip to use another card to avoid the awkward declined moments.”

    • Brian says:

      Does it mean Blue users need to enable Curve Front when going to tourist sites overseas?

      • the_real_a says:

        Potentially… but who knows what the tourist site is coded as? You may get a notification that its curve fronted. The one that i checked coding was road tolls in certain foreign lands – these would fall under curve fronted.

  • EDA says:

    Anyone incurred cash advance fees on HSBC WE and Rev?

    • luckyjim says:

      Yes. HSBC started treating Revolut as a cash advance in January. I had some interest charges on my account despite paying the balance in full each month. HSBC confirmed this was the reason.

      • EDA says:

        Agreed, have seen reports on interest charges but not cash advance fees?

        • luckyjim says:

          Just interest. So I suppose you could pay it off quickly to keep this down. Revolut also suddenly became less useful for paying for certain things so I cancelled the HSBC WE before the next annual fee was due.

          • Anna says:

            It would seem so – I last used it a couple of months ago, paid it off the same day and no interest charges on the next statement. Curve seems to have stopped working for me altogether now so it’s back to Revolut and see how that goes!

  • Steve says:

    Anyone know what happens to my tax code if I pay HMRC tax throughout the year? Will the PAYE tax code be adjusted to even it out, or will that only happen at the end of the tax year when I file my return?

    Thinking this could be an easy way of making metal more than pay for itself, in effect paying monthly taxes on salary on a rewards earning card rather than via PAYE.

    • Rob says:

      If you’re on PAYE why are you paying HMRC at all? If it is self employment side income or interest income then the money just sits on your self assessment account as a positive balance until the due date.

      Remember that self assessment payments for 31/7 have been scrapped so you don’t actually need to pay anything until January. I AM still making weekly payments, partly to push money through my M&M card in viable chunks and partly because I actually prefer to pay HMRC now rather than risk getting a bit surprise in January.

      • FloriGuy says:

        Technically if you were very keen you could pay using the SA system and claim a refund later (might need to fill in a SA Tax Return though)

        • shd says:

          > claim a refund

          Thought HMRC insist(ed) on refunding back to the card that the payments came from? They did with me ~18 months ago…

      • Steve says:

        I file a SA tax return, but main source of income is PAYE, usually only a small amount payable at the end of the year. So yes, in normal circumstances it’s just deducted via salary, but wondering if I could instead put that all through curve and effectively reduce my PAYE deductions.

        • Sundar says:

          Did u mean – Can u pay your PAYE tax normally taken through salary deductions via Curve to HMRC and get an adjusted tax code ?
          If so, good/interested to know as well.

          • Rob says:

            No, you can’t do that.

          • Steve says:

            That is exactly what I meant. Doesn’t seem like it would be automatically adjusted, but maybe if I called through after making payments they may adjust my code. Probably not I guess.

        • Rob says:

          In that case, yes, I imagine it would get knocked off your credit balance.

          • Sundar says:

            Any accountants here who can confirm that ? I doubt your tax code will be adjusted though.

          • Rob says:

            On your self assessment form there is a box saying ‘should we collect any cash due via your tax code?’. If you say no then it calculates what you owe and it shows online. If your account already had a balance (positive or negative) it is added to that.

  • Ottavio says:

    Sadly when trying to link my austrian Miles and More Mastercard this February to Curve it was not possible as my provider has listed Curve into a fraud company (told during a phone call to Card Complete Austria), which for me is difficult to understand why they did so. I do have Curve but for my two main mileage accrual cards, Austrian Miles and More Mastercard and BA AMEX, it is unfortunately useless.

    • Don says:

      Very easy way to stop Curve taking away a chunk of their Forex fees.

  • Harry T says:

    Can you use Curve linked to the Miles and More card to pay our good friends Ernie and the seagulls? Is there a cash advance fee or interest to pay?

    Looking for a replacement for my Virgin card now they are going bust. Only have the free IHG card as an alternative.

    • EJH says:

      HSBC Prem World Elite MC seems the best bet right now?

      • MJ says:

        ^I would also agree with EJH especially when you consider that HSBC allows you to transfer to BA, Etihad, Singapore and Cathay and occasionally (every 12-18 months) has a 25% transfer bonus to Avios.

        1 Avios per £ is not bad going, and if you wait for a transfer its as good as the M&M, plus the signup bonus is pretty good and perhaps worth having a (somewhat) transferrable currency in these times

  • Matt says:

    There are still 2 problems with Curve:
    They don’t fulfil the main selling points: it’s not every card in one (Amex) and it’s not free use abroad (weekend loading)
    They change the rules with zero notice, repeatedly, and are at best unclear at worst misleading about what they’re doing and why/when.
    If those issues went then I’d be using Curve constantly – all my foreign spending and anything where they don’t take Amex. As it is I use it to take cash out on the odd occasion I need it and that’s basically it. Why swap S75 for relying on Curve’s promises?

    Clearly there’s scope for playing games paying off credit card bills etc, though surely not for much longer. But where is the use otherwise that gets people paying for it?

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