Curve has made some big changes in the last month, dropping their fee for foreign transactions (made mid-week) and increasing the amount of information they pass to your payment card issuer about the transactions you make. So what do these changes actually mean and should you consider getting a Curve card?
What is Curve?
Curve is a combined digital wallet and debit card that allows you to combine Visa and Mastercard issued cards into one, your Curve card. You do this by adding your various cards to the Curve digital wallet app. Once added, you simply select which card you want payments to be charged to, and spend as normal using your Curve Card. Curve will pay the merchant and charge your selected card. Interestingly you can change the card you used, up to two weeks after the transaction.
So what has changed?
Until last month, the card issuer could not see any of the meta-data for your transaction, with all payments through Curve been coded as a “general purchase” code rather than a category eg. “Groceries”, “Travel”, “Eating out” etc. As a result, users could withdraw cash from their credit card without the issuer registering it as a cash withdrawal, thus bypassing the usual fees and interest. In fact, since the card issuer saw the withdrawal as a purchase, users even collected points and rewards (air miles, hotel points, cashback etc.). However, this also meant that users missed out on any targeted rewards for their credit/debit card. Ie. Extra points for spending on Groceries, Travel, etc.
To combat this, and so ensure users could get that maximum number of points or rewards when using their Curve card, Curve increased the amount of transaction data that they were able to pass to your card issuer. As such, however, this change means that card issuers can now see when a cash withdrawal is made and so, apply a fee or interest if they desire.
The second change was the removal of foreign exchange fees on weekdays; with a lower rate of 0.5% on weekends (previously Curve applied a 1% fee to all FX transactions). This in effect makes any card, a 0% FX card, allowing you to avoid the hefty 3% FX fee typically found on reward cards.
Why I love Curve
At the time of writing, I have had Curve for about a year. As a “millennial” I rarely use cash – I actively avoid it as it doesn't earn rewards. A key reason for switching my spending to Curve, was the fact that on the rare occasions I do require cash, this could be done from one of my reward credit cards, thus allowing me to still collect my points/air miles.
What I didn’t anticipate, was how useful I would find the digital wallet aspect of Curve. Spending gives you an instant notification on your phone and the intuitive app allows you to easily track the various spending category across all of your cards (such as meals out, travel, groceries etc.). This meant that I could easily monitor all my spending in one place, whilst collecting rewards from my various cards. What’s more, since the app doesn’t store any sensitive information (such as payment detail) you don’t need to mess around with passwords to view your spending, simply tap the app and its there.
A recent trip to Copenhagen (our travel guide can be found here) cemented Curves place in my wallet - I could collect my IHG reward points whilst avoiding the 3% Creation FX charge. The instant notifications displaying my spending in both GBP and DKK (the local currency) made tracking the amount I was spending a doddle, helping me budget in an otherwise expensive city.
Finally, if American Express support is re-added, then I anticipate Curve to be my default form of payment for all purchases, for the foreseeable future. Not to mention that I would never need to use Who Accepts Amex.
So yes, I feel that Curve is a product worth getting!
How to get Curve
To apply for your own Curve card, simply download the app (here) and follow the instructions. There are two versions of the card, the free Curve Blue card and the £50 Curve Black card. For full details about both of these and the Curve rewards cashback scheme, check out our article (here). Currently, you can get £5 free when you use a referral code – ours is 7UJ2B – Simply enter in when asked whilst signing up.