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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.

  • Nick_C says:

    Used Curve with Lloyds MC to deposit £865 with NS&I on Saturday. Not prompted to use “Curve Fronted” which is turned off. Showing as pending with Lloyds at £970.49! Can’t get any further information at this stage.

    • FloriGuy says:

      Well that would be over 12% of a fee so doesn’t sound like the Fronted feature has kicked in

    • Kevin K says:

      I used Curve to pay for a small AMEX bill (£250) with my underlying M&M MasterCard and was charged £7.48 (3%). I checked online and the transaction was described as ‘Service charge cash withdrawal’. I might have to ‘Go back in time’ to reverse the charge.

      Wonder if anyone had the same experience.

  • Arkadio says:

    Is there any way to go around daily limit if the transaction amount to HMRC is higher than daily limit?
    Many thanks

    • Rob says:

      Break it down. I am paying self assessment in 104 payments, twice per week.

    • FloriGuy says:

      There is a daily limit for payments to HMRC? Or are you talking about the 3750 limit?

      • Rob says:

        More key is the implicit limit that your underlying credit card puts in place before it decides Curve transactions are suspicious.

        • FloriGuy says:

          Thanks for explaining. What sort of numbers are we talking before you hit that?

          Is it not just a case oh phoning up the bank though to verify the transaction was made by you?

          • Rob says:

            Seems to vary. I could never get more than a few hundred onto my IHG card but others could do thousands. No logic to it.

  • Boi says:

    Just so I understand, are we meant to switch curve fronted on or off?
    I don’t want to end up paying a fee

    • Grant says:

      I have had to opt in if I wanted to complete the transaction, so it was off by default for me.

    • Mr. AC says:

      Off by default. I turned it on, I don’t want the hassle of getting a transaction rejected. If I get charged unexpectedly, I can always use “Go back in time” to recharge to a Debit card which refunds the 1.5% fee.

  • Ozzie says:

    If Virgin was still looking good it might be worth the fee but Curve £180 per year + IGH £99 per year – can only do £700 per week is it worth it? Could be topped up with ATM but how many times do you want to do that @ couple of quid with of points per time..

    • Freddy says:

      My thoughts entirely – if virgin was okay I’d might consider it

    • Grant says:

      Small beer I know, but if you pre-pay for a year the fee for metal is £150

      • Rob says:

        All references to that have gone from the website, unless it is tucked away in the terms. I deliberately took all those references out.

        • Genghis says:

          Still available in the app as an upgrade option if you click through.

          • Harry T says:

            @Genghis are you upgrading to Curve Metal now? I know you will have run the numbers.

    • Bazza says:

      And even then probably looking at a max 50 grand through curve. Its just no way yo to collect points the 2qy we like. Might as well wait for a points sale for cash.

    • Secret Squirrel says:

      Curve Metal – £150 a year, not limited to £700 a week?
      Agree Virgin miles are risky option but you still have IHG + others!

      • Anna says:

        To my knowledge IHG won’t give you a higher limit because you pay Curve!

        • Secret Squirrel says:

          Hi Anna,
          Yes, £700 max to pre paids still.
          Unlimited to govt Inst fee free.
          Paying CC with CC – Fee Free..

  • Doug M says:

    Curve Fronted. Do you all have iPhones? There is no sign of this in my Android app, and it’s seemingly up to date.

  • mark2 says:

    Has anyone tried to get the ‘Metal’ card without the card (apparently very expensive to produce), travel insurance etc. i.e. just the facility to pay credit cards for say £75?

    • Andrew L says:

      I would be interested in that for £75 a year. I don’t need a metal card or the insurances.

    • Secret Squirrel says:

      Have you asked them?, I’m sure lots would go for £75 @ year!

      • Andrew L says:

        As long as it included all the payment options such as HMRC etc. Just excludes insurances, discounted lounge passes, car hire and metal card.

  • yorkieflyer says:

    Try as I might I can’t get Mrs Yorkieflyer’s IHG card added to her curve card. Mine works no problem. Any insight would be helpful

    • mark2 says:

      Are you having trouble finding the confirmation code perhaps? You cannot see it until the validation £1 charge moves out of pending.

      • Yorkieflyer says:

        Don’t even get that far! Complete the card details and I get no further, the app simply refuses to accept it’s a valid card

    • Michael says:

      I have the same issue. I’ve contacted Curve several times and they are aware of the issue but can’t give a timeframe for when it will be resolved. I’ve tried adding the card to Apple Pay both through the Curve app and through the Wallet app, neither work unfortunately. It’s really frustrating as would be so handy being able to use IHG via Apple Pay.

  • Liam says:

    I just paid a chunk to the Student Loans Company using Curve Black and that still appears to be going through with no 1.5% surcharge applied.

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