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).
Curve describes itself as the banking version of Netflix and Spotify by combining all of your cards in one smart card. On the 26th June 2020 the FCA suspended its permission for Wirecard Solutions Limited's UK subsidery (the company that currently issues Curve cards) to carry out regulated activities in the UK. This action is not related to Curve itself, however Curve currently depends on Wirecard for the operation of the Curve Card. Curve is currently in the process of migrating its customers to Mastercard so there is likely to be some disruption to customers until this process is completed.
- Use your Curve card worldwide - Curve can be used anywhere that accepts a Mastercard
- Instant alerts - get instant spending notifications
- Spending categorisation - colour-coded categories to help you make sense of your spending
- Go back in time - switch card purchases if you have paid on the wrong card and 'Go back in time' up to 2 weeks for purchases up to £1,000
- Earn cashback - earn 1% cashback with numerous retailers (limits apply)
- Send money to other Curve users - transfer money to another Curve user via the app
- Pay your bills - pay bills that you wouldn't be able to with regular credit cards
- Apple/Samsung/Google Pay - pay using your smartphone
- Fee-free spending abroad - save up to 5% on hidden bank fees when spending abroad with Curve
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 any Visa and Mastercard card 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.
How can I use Curve abroad?
Curve allows you to spend on any of your Visa or Mastercard cards whilst abroad and does not charge any additional fees for doing so. Get instant notifications in both the local currency and your usual currency when abroad so you can keep track of what you are spending whilst on the go. Curve also uses the interbank exchange rate so when you spend with Curve you avoid the unnecessary fees that banks usually charge. You can use Curve to withdraw cash at any ATM that accepts a Mastercard however limits do apply. You can find more information on Curve limits and restrictions here.
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|
|Cost||FREE||£9.99 per month||£14.99 per month or £150 a year|
|Curve Cash||1% cashback with 3 selected retailers for 90 days||1% cashback with 3 selected retailers||1% cashback with 6 selected retailers|
|Fee free spending abroad*||Up to £500 every rolling 30 days then a 2% fee||Fee-free up to £15,000 a year then a 2% fee||Fee-free up to £60,000 then a 2% fee|
|Fee-free ATM withdrawals*||Up to £200 per rolling 30 days then 2% fee or £2 whichever is higher||Up to £400 per rolling 30 days then 2% fee or £2 whichever is higher||Up to £600 per rolling days then 2% fee or £2 whichever is higher|
|Go back in time (up to 14 days, up to £1,000)|
|Curve customer protection (up to £100,000)|
|Loungekey airport access|
|Rental car insurance|
|Minimum subscription period||0||0||6 months (monthly) or 12 months (annually)|
*If spending or withdrawing money at the weekend Curve will take the rate from the last day the market was open (usually Friday 23:59) and apply a surcharge of 0.5% for currency conversions in GBP, USD or EUR and 1.5% for any other currency.
For more information on the types of card and their differences you can find that information here.
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 warns that as a new customer you may not initially qualify for the standard spending limits above. However, 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 its own 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.
At the time of writing, Curve has received over 2,000 reviews with an average rating of 4.3 out of 5.0 stars on Trustpilot. Only 11% 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.
Those who have rated the card as excellent have cited great customer service and like the ability to only need to carry one card around with them at any time. Another customer said they liked the fact that Curve allowed them to use smartphone spending as this was something their original bank did not support.
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 the entire object of the card)
- Cashback offer is only introductory for basic users
- Not protected by section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act
- No FSCS protection
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 used it whilst abroad in the past. I was impressed, however, I am not yet totally convinced and so for now, I'll continue to carry my other cards with me.
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