Curve Review – Is it the best way to combine all your cards?

9 min Read Published: 22 Jul 2022

What is Curve?

Curve; the 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 describes itself as the banking version of Netflix and Spotify by combining all of your cards into one smart card. 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. Since then Curve boasts that over 4million people now spend with the Curve 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 Features

  • 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 30 days for purchases up to £5,000
  • Curve cash - earn 1% cashback with up to 6 retailers (for subscription Curve cardholders only)
  • Apple/Samsung/Google Pay - pay with Curve using your smartphone
  • Fee-free spending abroad - save on hidden bank fees when spending abroad with Curve
  • Anti-embarrassment mode - set up a backup card that Curve will automatically use if a payment declines
  • Loyalty cards - add all of your loyalty cards such as your Tescos Clubcard to your Curve app so you don't have to carry multiple rewards cards around at any one time
  • Free credit card ATM withdrawals - withdraw up to £200 a month free but 2% fee applies thereafter (you may still be charged a fee by your card provider)
  • Free ATM withdrawals abroad - withdraw up to £200 every 30 days fee-free whilst abroad (2% thereafter)
  • Fee-free spending abroad - spend abroad up to £1,000 fee-free every 30 days using the interbank exchange rate (a 2% fee is applied thereafter)
  • Curve customer protection - while Curve is not covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) Curve customers are covered up to £100,000 with Curve Customer Protection
  • Curve Fronted - make HMRC payments or pay credit card bills with another credit card within the Curve app (1.5% fee applies to Curve and Curve Black cardholders and Curve Metal cardholders after a set limit)
  • Curve Flex - get a refund for a transaction and spread the cost over 3-12 monthly instalments with Curve's take on Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL)

How does Curve 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 any Visa or Mastercard card and you can do this by simply scanning your bank card or by entering 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.

Can Curve be used 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 unless you exceed the set spending limits. If you are a Curve basic account holder you can spend abroad fee-free up to £1,000 and if you exceed this limit you will be charged a 2% fee. The fee can increase by up to 1.5% at the weekends depending on the currency you are using. If you have a Curve subscription plan you can get higher limits when spending abroad and we cover this in more detail below.

When you are travelling with Curve you can get instant notifications in both the local currency and your usual currency while abroad so you can keep track of what you are spending 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.

Curve Cards

There are 4 different types of Curve cards and the benefits, features and charges are listed in the table below.

Curve Curve X Curve Black Curve Metal
Monthly Cost FREE £4.99 £9.99 £14.99
Payment card limit 2 5 Unlimited Unlimited
Curve Cash cross cross 1% cashback with 3 selected retailers 1% cashback with 6 selected retailers
Fee-free spending abroad* Up to £1,000 every rolling 30 days then a 2% fee Up to £2,000 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 a year then a 2% fee
Fee-free ATM withdrawals abroad* Up to £200 per rolling 30 days then 2% fee or £2 whichever is higher 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 30 days then 2% fee or £2 whichever is higher
Go back in time (up to 30 days, up to £5,000) 3 uses per month tick
Curve customer protection (up to £100,000) tick
Cashback rewards  tick tick tick tick
Priority customer support cross cross tick tick
Travel Insurance cross tick
Phone insurance cross
Loungekey airport access cross
Rental car collision waiver insurance cross

*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.

Curve 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 starting spending limits:

  • £200 cash withdrawal a day
  • £500 spending limit a day

Curve standard spending limits:

  • £500 cash withdrawal a day
  • £7,500 spending limit a day

Curve warns that as a new customer you may not initially qualify for the spending limits above and may therefore have the starting spending limits. Curve insists its limits will increase over time 'as you cultivate a spend history with us and pass our account risk checks.' Curve Black or Metal users may have higher limits and these are detailed within the account section of the Curve app.

Curve fees

In the below comparison table we list the fees payable on a Curve card.

Curve Standard Curve X Curve Black  Curve Metal 
Monthly subscription fee £0 £4.99 £9.99 £14.99 or £150 per year
Card delivery fee £4.99 £0 £0 £0
Minimum subscription term  No minimum No minimum 6 months 6 months
Replacement card  £4.99 £4.99 1 free replacement then £5 1 free replacement then £50
Cancellation fee within 14 day cooling period £0 £4.99 £8 £50
Cancellation fee after 14 day cooling period  £0 £0 £0 £50 if cancel within first 6 months
ATM withdrawals  10 free withdrawals every 30 days then £0.50 10 free withdrawals every 30 days then £0.50 10 free withdrawals every 30 days then £0.50 10 free withdrawals every 30 days then £0.50
ATM withdrawals using a credit card  £200 free per calendar month then 2% £200 free per calendar month then 2% £200 free per calendar month then 2% £200 free per calendar month then 2%
ATM withdrawals abroad  £200 free per 30-day rolling period then highest of £2 or 2% £200 free per 30-day rolling period then highest of £2 or 2% £400 free per 30-day rolling period then highest of £2 or 2% £600 free per 30-day rolling period then highest of £2 or 2%
Purchases currency conversion fee  £1,000 free per 30-day rolling period then 2% £2,000 free per 30-day rolling period then 2% £15,000 per year then 2% £60,000 per year the 2%
Curve fronted  1.5% of transaction amount 1.5% of transaction amount 1.5% of transaction amount free for first £10,000 a month then 1.5% of transaction amount

Curve Flex

Curve Flex is a new Buy Now Pay Later offering from Curve. You are able to get a refund for a previous transaction of up to 12 months prior which you can then spread the cost of the transaction over a period of 3,6,9 and 12 months. The first payment on the instalment plan will be due 30 days after the refund of the original transaction.

All personal Curve cardholders can use CurveFlex but this is subject to rigorous credit and affordability checks. Curve checking your affordability and creditworthiness will not affect your credit score but setting up an instalment plan will result in a hard credit search and could therefore impact your credit score.

Is Curve safe to use?

Curve 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 with Curve?

No.

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
  • Counterfeit
  • 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.

Curve Customer Reviews

Curve has received over 7,200 reviews with an average rating of 4.2 out of 5.0 stars on Trustpilot. Only 15% 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.

71% of customers have rated the card as 'Excellent' and there are comments on great customer service and that they like the ability to only need to carry one card around with them at any time.

Alternatives to Curve

In this section of the review, we compare Curve to its competitors.

Curve vs Revolut vs Starling vs Monzo

The below comparison table compares the free basic Curve account to its competitors' basic accounts. For more information on the competitors mentioned in the below table, read our independent reviews:

Curve Revolut Starling Monzo
Monthly cost FREE FREE FREE FREE
Fee-free spending abroad (limits may apply) tick tick tick tick
Free ATM withdrawals abroad Up to £200 per month up to £200 per month tick up to £200 per 30 days outside EEA or up to £250 per 30 days within EEA
Go Back in Time  tick cross cross cross
Categorised spending  tick tick tick tick
Buy Now Pay Later  tick cross cross tick
UK Bank account  cross cross tick tick
FSCS protection  cross* cross tick tick

*Curve offers up to £100,000 protection with Curve Customer Protection

Pros & Cons of Curve

Pros of Curve

  • Easy to use & navigate app
  • Basic card is free
  • Allows you to carry all of your cards in one place
  • Can use cards in places that they aren't usually accepted, as payment is through the Curve Mastercard debit
  • No hidden fees abroad
  • Curve Customer Protection

Cons of Curve

  • 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)
  • Not protected by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act
  • No FSCS protection

Summary

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.

However, you can use Curve to spend abroad on your credit card with no fees to withdraw cash or make purchases. Some limits do apply but this may make Curve appealing for some. If you prefer to spend on your credit card when abroad, we compare some of the best travel credit cards in our article, 'Compare the best travel credit cards in the UK'.