Curve Review – Is it the best way to combine all your cards
What is curve?
Curve; the new Mastercard debit card that allows you to link all of your cards, to enable you to switch between spending on them all, but from the convenience of one place. Curve was founded in the UK in 2015 by Shachar Bialick, 'a serial entrepreneur' who has won many industry awards and is regularly featured in The Sunday Times, CNN and Bloomberg.
Curve launched in beta in 2016 and by 2018 had expanded into Europe, amassing 250,000 customers who have collectively spent over £500 million using the innovative smart card.
It has received investments from Santander InnoVentures, Investec, Oxford Capital and Breega Capital. Other Curve investors include Taavet Hinrikus (TransferWise CEO & co-founder) and Ed Wray (Betfair co-founder).
Types of card
There are 3 different types of Curve card and the benefits, features and charges are listed in the table below:
|Curve Blue||Curve Black||Curve Metal|
(or £150 upfront cost)
|£500 per month, can withdraw up to £200 per month from ATM||unlimited spend, can withdraw up to £400 per month from ATM||unlimited spend, can withdraw up to £600 per month from ATM|
|1% Cashback||3 retailers - first 3 months only||3 retailers||6 retailers|
|Go back in Time||up to £1000
within 14 days
|up to £1000
within 14 days
|up to £1000
within 14 days
|Travel & Gadget Insurance||Not Included||Included (restricted cover)||Included|
|Minimum period||No minimum||No minimum||6 months or 12 months on an annual plan|
|Availability||In 31 EEA
|In 31 EEA
|Currently UK only|
For more information on the types of card and their differences you can find that information here.
How does it work?
In order to use Curve, all you need to do is download the app via iTunes or Google Play and it is within the app where you are able to order your new card.
Once downloaded, you are asked to enter an email address where you have the option to be sent a magic link or use a password.
If you select 'Use Magic Link' and open the link via email then you will automatically be logged into the app. Upon opening you have the opportunity to add the cards you would like to use with the Curve card. You can add most cards to the Curve app (except Amex, Maestro, Diners Club, JCB and Union Pay) and you can do this by simply scanning your bank card, or alternatively, entering in the card details manually.
Once you start spending, Curve has a feature that allows you to get instant notifications, and like the other mobile banks such as Revolut and Monzo, you get a categorised breakdown of your spending across all of the cards loaded onto your curve.
Spend wherever a Mastercard is accepted
When it comes to spending with the Curve card all you need to do is simply tap to select the card you wish to pay with using your Curve app, and then you pay for the item using your Curve card; and you'll receive an instant notification. You are able to use your Curve card anywhere that accepts a Mastercard, including abroad.
Save when travelling abroad
When you travel with your Curve card you can 'save up to 5% on hidden bank fees' through new technology which not only removes these charges, it encrypts the payments, meaning your card details are never shared with third parties.
Earn Cashback on purchases
As you spend you also have the opportunity to earn cashback on your spending with certain retailers, these are limited to 3 with the Blue and Black Curve cardholders (only the first 3 months for blue cardholders) or 6 retailers if you upgrade to the Curve Metal card.
If you signed up to Curve prior to 16th February 2018 then you qualified for its Rewards programme which was significantly better than the current cashback offer. Curve blue cardholders were able to earn between 1-3% cashback and Curve black cardholders 3-5% cashback on all purchases indefinitely.
With both of the Rewards programmes you earn points that equate to cash. One point is the equivalent of £0.01, therefore 100 points is £1.00.
Go back in time
Curve has an interesting feature called 'Go back in time' which allows you to move a transaction from one card to another. This is especially handy if, for example, you have accidentally spent on your company card instead of your personal card. You have the ability to move any completed transaction from one card to another for free, so long as it is under £1000 and the original payment was made with your Curve card.
If you upgrade your Curve card to the Curve Black version, for £9.99 a month, you will gain Worldwide Travel Insurance and Electronic Gadget Insurance on top of the Curve Blue benefits you already receive.
With Curve Metal you get all the benefits and features of Curve Black, but you also benefit from Car rental loss and damage insurance and Worldwide airport Lounge Key access. The cost is £14.99 a month or £150.00 if paying annually in advance.
Are there any spending limits?
Curve currently has limits set on how much you can spend in a day/month/year. For the average spender with a standard (free) card these shouldn't be an issue but could cause problems if you are planning to buy something expensive, e.g a holiday.
Curve blue spending limits:
- £200 cash withdrawal a day
- £2,000 a day
- £5,000 a month on a 30 day rolling basis
- £10,000 a year on a 365 day rolling basis
Curve insists its limits will increase over time 'as you cultivate a spend history with us and pass our account risk checks.'
Curve has enhanced spending limits for those with a Curve black/metal business or personal card:
- £1,000 cash withdrawal a day
- £3,750 a day
- £20,000 a month on a 30 day rolling basis
- £50,000 a year on a 365 day rolling basis
These limits slightly differ for a Curve pre-paid business customer.
A great feature that is available within the Curve app is the ability to see how you are doing with your spending against the limits set on your particular card type.
Is it safe?
Curve is an appointed representative of a firm that is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) so your data will be protected by the security regulations in place by the FCA. It also doesn't share your bank card details with any retailers during transactions. Additionally, within the app you have the functionality to lock your card should it be lost or stolen, offering extra security.
Am I protected by section 75?
Credit card purchases are covered by section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, giving you added protection and the ability to claim and get your money back; however, paying with Curve means that you are paying via a third party and therefore you lose those rights. If you have any concerns over a purchase, particularly higher value purchases, it is worth purchasing directly with a credit card.
With that being said, Curve stress that consumers are protected by 'Mastercard® chargeback rights, where refunds may be provided if goods are damaged, not as described, or the merchant has ceased trading.'
Curve has also introduced their Customer Protection which protects customers money up to £100,000. You can submit a claim for reasons such as:
- Goods/Services not received
- Goods/Services defective
- Refund failure
- Duplicate charge
Any claims you may have are to be raised with the merchant first and if no resolution is met, then you have up to 120 days to raise the issue with Curve. It stresses that if you raise a claim with your underlying payment issuer then you're no longer protected under Curve's Customer Protection.
Pros & Cons of Curve
- Easy to use & navigate app
- Basic card is free
- All cards in one place
- Different cards, can pick the best to suit you
- Instant notifications
- Go 'back in time' feature
- Can use cards in places that they aren't usually accepted, as payment is through the Curve Mastercard debit
- No hidden fees abroad
- Easy to manage money
- Helps with budgeting
- Curve Customer Protection
- Limits on spending and cash withdrawals could cause problems
- Everything is on the app so will need wifi or data access to change your card over
- Advisable to take an additional card with you as payments can sometimes be declined before a spend history is built up - almost defeats entire object of card
- Cash back offer is only introductory
- Not protected by section 75 of Consumer Credit Act
Curve and AMEX
One of the initial impressive features of the Curve card was that it was compatible with Amex, a card that isn't widely accepted in the UK. In January 2019, This is Money wrote an article informing readers of the Amex compatibility and the ability for those with reward cards to maximise earning their rewards.
On the 29th of January 2019 however, Amex terminated a Merchant Service Agreement they had with Curve leading to a still-ongoing dispute and leaving Amex customers frustrated and confused. Curve has since started a campaign to try and encourage Amex to rethink their position on the matter. If you're intrigued to see what went wrong click here for the blog post by Curve's founder Shachar Bialick.
At the time of writing, Curve has received 1,254 reviews with an average rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars on Trustpilot. Only 9% of the reviews rate it as below average and those who scored low tended to comment on an issue with their response time and customer service. It is worth noting that a lot of the 5 star reviews are also people trying to get other users to use their unique code to earn the £5.00 reward. Some comments can be seen below:
If you want to have a better understanding of where you are spending your money and like the idea of simplifying your spending whilst also limiting the number of cards you need to take with you, then Curve is for you.
The 'no hidden fees' overseas spending feature is especially handy as it is easy to get caught out when travelling and the fees can easily mount up. The feature that allows you to lock the card is useful as ensures you keep your other cards safe and eliminates the annoyance of having to call the bank, which is brilliant if you are abroad.
Being able to flip between multiple cards is clearly Curve’s main selling point and so those that don’t hold multiple cards may want to look at other mobile banking apps such as Monzo, Revolut and Starling Bank. They allow you to spend abroad with little to no fees and have the same instant spending notifications, so it is hard to see where Curve stands out above them.
I personally have a Curve and have recently used it while abroad. I was impressed, however, I am not yet totally convinced and so, for now, I'll continue to carry my other cards with me. Perhaps if they are able to reconcile with Amex it could just be a game-changer, although this does seem unlikely.
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