Is the Recent Curve American Express Collaboration the Best Thing Since Sliced Bread?
Predominantly for the purpose of collecting points, I hold a large number of credit cards and for some reason until recently I’ve carried all of these with me wherever I went. Apparently I’m not the only one, with the average person in the UK carrying 3.6+ credit cards in 2016 according to the founders of the Curve card. I have to admit I’d let the Curve card pass me by until November when they finally reintroduced the ability to use the Curve card with American Express (albeit this is only available to Beta testers until early 2019 when it will be rolled out to all cards).
Let's break this post down...
Who, What, When….
The Curve card is another British fin-tech success, which in December 2018 hit 300,000 customers. Of these over 100,000 spend over £1,500 per month on the card. The Curve card allows you to combine all your bank cards into one card and now, importantly, has the potential to include American Express. The founders of the Curve card set out to drastically reduce the number of physical debit and credit cards we hold while still allowing individuals to benefit from the various perks of each of their cards (be it rewards points, 0% foreign exchange fees, etc.).
So what is the Curve card? With the tagline of ‘all your cards in one’ the Curve card is an electronic payment MasterCard which allows you to collate all of your cards into one product. By downloading the app you can control which credit card your various individual transactions are charged back to. You can now charge back to nearly any debit or credit card you hold. As the transactions appear as though they are for a MasterCard debit card this has numerous benefits, especially for those whose local retailers do not accept American Express or alternatively if you want to reduce excessive foreign exchange fees. I’ll cover the full details later on in this article.
Curve Card – How Does it Work?
Once you’ve downloaded the Curve app to your phone you’ll need to upload the details of each of the cards you’d like to use on the Curve card.
You can then use the app to switch between your linked cards with a single tap – whichever is selected in the app is the one that will get charged when you use the Curve card. Don’t worry, if your phone is out of battery or you can’t be bothered to sign into the app each time, the Curve card will just revert to the last used card. You then have the ability to move the payment to an alternative card at a later date (up to 14 days) should you wish…
The Different Cards – What’s the difference between the Curve Blue and Curve Black?
There are two Curve cards currently available on the market. The Curve Blue card is the free version and the Curve Black is the premium version which comes with an annual fee of £50. As regular readers will know, I’m not adverse to paying credit card fees HOWEVER the annual benefits must outweigh the cost of the card… Let’s look at the benefits of the free Blue Curve card UK.
Curve Blue Card Review
The Blue Curve card details:
- Card Type: MasterCard.
- Where is it accepted? Everywhere that takes MasterCard.
- What cards can be used? All Visa, MasterCard and American Express debit and credit cards (the Amex is currently only available to Beta app testers, however expect it to be launched shortly).
- Foreign Exchange / Travel: Receive MasterCard FX rates (up to £500 per month) and withdraw £200 per month from a cash machine. Make sure you update the app to reflect the currency you’re withdrawing otherwise you’ll incur a £2 fee.
- Cashback: 1% cashback at 3 retailers (only for the first 3 months).
- Time Travel: Any purchase up to £1,000 can be moved from one card to another within 14 days of the purchase taking place.
- Curve Amex Charge: What I haven’t mentioned so far is that the free version of the Curve card will charge a fee of 0.65% for all American Express spend.
Curve Black Card Review – What else do you get?
The Black Curve card comes with an annual fee of £50. Let’s take a look at the additional perks and see if the annual fee of £50 provides value for money:
- Tumi Wallet: You’ll receive a free Tumi card wallet as pictured below. Whilst a nice plus, this wouldn’t really provide any added value to me.
- Increased foreign spending: With the free card you will only receive MasterCard FX fees up to £500 per month after which point you’ll be charged 2% on all transactions. The Curve Black card comes with an increased spending limit of £15,000 per month. This is only really of any benefit to those who spend a significant amount on credit cards when travelling abroad. With the annual fee of £50 equating to approximately £4.15 per month, the benefit of the increased FX spend allowance with the premium Curve card would only really outweigh the fee if you average more than £708 of foreign spending per month (calculation: first £500 free, remaining £208 spend at 2% equals the monthly card cost). Clearly if you travel a fair amount with work and pay for your own hotels, etc. you could easily reach this amount of monthly spending.
- Cash withdrawals up to £400 per month: I rarely withdraw cash when I’m travelling these days but if you do the additional £200 of free cash withdrawals with the Curve Black card may be handy.
- Curve card American Express fees: Free for the first £1,000 per month and 0.65% on all spend thereafter. Note that the free £1,000 Curve card Amex spend is cumulative across all the Amex cards you may have on your account. You’d need to spend over £630 per month using a Curve American Express combo for the saving to offset the £4.15 per month fee.
So is the premium Curve Black card worth the £50 per year fee? Yes but only if you’ll spend an average of £710+ per month abroad or plan on spending over £630 with a linked American Express card.
That said for international spending if you’re prepared to have yet another card (although that kind of defeats the object of this Curve card review, which is all about reducing the number of cards you hold), the Revolut card is free and offers 0% FX fees up to £5,000 per month – read my full review here.
Curve Card Step-by-Step Guide to Signing Up
So you’ve decided that the Curve card is the one for you. Registering is straightforward, just follow the step-by-step guide below:
- Download the Curve app, click get started and enter your email address.
- You can either select to log in to your Curve card account using a password or magic link (essentially a link in an email).
- Add your phone number and use the verification code sent by text.
- Create a 4-digit app pass code.
- Then choose either the free Blue Curve card or premium Black Curve card.
- Complete the various personal details required.
- If you like at this stage you can enter our promo code (BKLYY) for a £5 welcome bonus. We’ll also receive a small reward which goes towards the costs of keeping the website ticking over.
- The Curve card will then be sent out and once received you’ll need to activate the card using the Curve app.
- Now add your various credit and debit cards to your Curve card account and begin spending…
Why You Should Sign Up to the Curve Card
As I mentioned earlier in this Curve card review, there are a number of benefits offered by the Curve card UK. These include:
1. Earn Points and Miles
Here at Thrifty Points, we believe that one of the best benefits of the Curve card is the ability to redeem reward points from high-yielding American Express credit cards where historically these cards weren’t accepted. With the large majority of retailers accepting MasterCard you’re able to use the Curve card connected with an American Express card. This will considerably increase the number of outlets in which you can use your Amex card going forwards.
For those who are new to collecting air miles with credit cards or if you’d like to boost your existing air miles stash, we’d recommend the (free for the first year) American Express Gold card (reviewed here). The card comes with a sign-up bonus of 10,000 reward points (12,000 if you use this link). American Express reward points can be redeemed for a whole ton of things. Worst-case scenario would be to offset the points against your credit card bill at a rate of 0.45p for every point (equating to £54 if you used the link). If you were to redeem them against flights the value could be significantly more. Read my BA First Class Review here to see how I used two credit cards to fly myself and my other-half First Class to Sao Paulo…
2. Analysing Spending Habits
With a detailed breakdown of spending available in the app, you can analyse spending habits and introduce budgeting features should you wish.
For business spending the Curve card app also integrates with Xero, allowing you to mark spending as business expenses in the app and then snapping a picture of the receipt. If you use different accounting software you can have a report delivered to your email or alternatively download a CSV file.
3. Reduce International Spending Charges
With 0% FX fees and MasterCard exchange rates you’ll benefit from some of the best foreign exchange rates in the market. Just remember that with the free card FX fees of 2% are charged once you spend over £500 in a month. Also note that at the weekends, Curve add a fee between 0.5% and 1.5% to cover currency fluctuations while the FX markets are closed. This is standard across all cards.
Should you lose the Curve card you’re able to lock the card at the touch of a button. The app will also provide notifications of spending on the card, alerting you quickly to any possible concerns.
5. Free Credit Card Cash Withdrawals
If you were to withdraw cash from an ATM using a credit card you’ll ordinarily be charged a large fee by your credit card company for the privilege.
As the Curve card is a Mastercard debit card, and with the way things work behind the scenes, your cash withdrawals will appear as an online transaction on your credit card statement.
You can only make 10 ATM withdrawals per month with the Curve card for free and a fair usage limit of £200 per month applies for credit cards.
6. Ability to Change Payments
The ‘Go Back in Time’ feature allows users to move payments from one credit card to another within a 14-day period of the expense being incurred. This could be great if you’d forgot to put say your British Airways flights on your BA American Express where you’d benefit from the double points promotion…
7. Declutter your Wallet
As I mentioned before, the average UK resident has 3.6 cards within their wallets/purse. Whilst this is nothing in comparison to the average for US citizens, who have 7.5 cards per person, it is still a considerable amount to carry around. In a society keen to reduce plastic waste, perhaps having just one card with numerous providers preloaded could be an incredible option…
Frequently Asked Questions
How to use the Curve card with Amex?
The Curve American Express combo is currently only available to those who’ve signed up to the Beta testing programme.
You’ll need to have downloaded the Curve Beta app as opposed to the standard Curve app. You’ll then have the option to add an American Express card as a payment card (read the terms and conditions here as unfortunately only cards starting with certain card numbers will be accepted – I’ve checked all of mine and they are all accepted).
You will then need to pre-load an e-wallet with a minimum top-up amount which is never more than £100. When your balance falls below a certain level your e-wallet will be automatically topped up.
Note that during the Beta Testing stages you can only add one Amex card to the Curve app.
Where is the Curve card available?
The Curve card is currently available within 27 countries within the European Economic Area (EEA). These countries include – Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and United Kingdom (excluding Crown Dependencies: Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man).
Curve hope to be able to roll the cards out in Croatia, Cyprus, Greece and Slovakia in 2019.
Curve Card Rewards
Frustratingly Curve card Rewards are limited for a period of 3 months and only available to new customers. In the first 3 months you’ll receive 1% cashback on three retailers of your choice. There are currently over 50 retailers (full list found here). Outlets of particular note for Thrifty Points readers include Marriott International Hotels and Virgin Experiences. Curve Rewards with the premium card can be earned across 6 retailers as opposed to the 3 retailers for the free card.
Upcoming changes to the Curve card?
Like all fin-techs, the team at Curve are continuously pushing boundaries and 2019 won’t be an exception. Key developments for 2019 include:
- Metal Curve card: The Curve Metal is expected to be launched in early 2019 and will provide the first metal Curve card. The Curve Metal comes with additional features including 1% cashback, unlimited fee-free American Express spending, intra-bank FX rate, gadget insurance, international travel insurance and collision damage waiver insurance. Initially the card will be marketed within the UK and rolled out across the EEA in due course. There is currently no mention of how much the card will cost but I’m guessing it won’t be cheap…
- Additional benefits for the Curve Black card: The team at Curve hope to improve the current benefits of the Black Curve card including travel /medical insurance (for UK, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain) and higher, fee-free spending limits abroad to name a few.
- Curve Cast and Curve Send P2P: Occasionally I’ve had to lend my card to friends to make a payment for something (usually lunch when I’m being too lazy to leave the office!). Curve Cast will allow Curve customers to share their cards with any Curve users. I’m excited to see how this will work and how users will be able to maintain control over the card in this instance.
- Curve Credit: Essentially offering a loan with monthly payments. Suspect costs will be high – so probably one to avoid.
Curve Blue and Curve Black – what Curve card is right for me?
As we covered earlier in this post, the premium version of the card is only really worthwhile if you plan on spending more than £630 on a linked American Express card (currently only available to Beta app users – invite only) or alternatively will spend £710 per month abroad. That said you’d likely be better off opting for a 0% FX fee card such as the Revolut card in this instance. Long and the short of it is that we wouldn’t recommend the premium Curve Black card for the vast majority of individuals.
Curve card alternative?
With limited competition there is currently no direct Curve alternative. I suspect it won’t be long until a similar provider pops up. With over 300,000 users, Curve has done an excellent job of gaining market share. So at present the only Curve card alternative is lugging your various credit and debit cards around with you…
Curve Card Promo Code
We be delighted if you’d use our Curve card promo code. Just enter BKLYY when applying for the card and you’ll receive £5 of free credit.
Let’s Wrap Things Up – Curve Card Review
With a usable app-based interface, the Curve card currently does a good job of combining numerous debit and credit cards. Whilst the Curve American Express combo has recently been launched it’s unfortunately only available to a select few who are currently trialling the Curve Beta app.
Curve have confirmed that they’ll be rolling out the ability to use the Curve card with Amex over both the Curve Blue card (charge of 0.65%) and Curve Black card (free to £1,000 per month then 0.65%) in 2019.
The introduction of the Curve Metal card could possibly be a game changer depending on the cost. It’s unlikely to be cheap, however we’ll just have to wait and see. Further innovations are likely to make the cards even more appealing although I believe Curve will come into its own once it has a fluid and easy-to-use agreement with American Express.
If you are thinking of signing up, we’d be over the moon if you’d use our Curve promo code – BKLYY. Curve will give you £5 credit upon signing up as well as providing us with a small fee which will go towards covering the costs of this website.
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