A handy way to avoid foreign exchange fees while earning points: A review of the Curve card

Jan 6, 2022

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Although some of our favourite credit cards are marketed as travel cards, almost all of them charge a frustrating foreign exchange fee for purchases in currencies other than pound sterling. If you are using a card that earns 1 point per £1 spent but charges a 3% fee for a foreign currency purchase, it’s unlikely you will be able to redeem those points for the same as or more than the cost of the foreign exchange fee.

Fortunately, there’s an innovative product that can solve this problem, and also help with the frustration of fees to withdraw cash while travelling.

Here is what you need to know about the Curve card.

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What is the Curve card?

Curve is not a credit or debit card, but rather a payment method. The service uses Mastercard and links to your existing Visa or Mastercard credit or debit cards. Think of this less like a bank or credit product and more of a payment platform, like how you might use Google Pay to pay using existing cards on your phone.

Curve allows you to earn the rewards your credit card would provide without the issues of acceptance (Mastercard is accepted just about everywhere that cards are) and foreign exchange fees. You can even earn points on cash withdrawals, even in foreign currencies, which is a real game-changer.

Unfortunately, Curve does not allow you to link American Express cards, which is a big drawback.

Related: Should you use a credit card to withdraw cash while travelling?

The Curve products

Curve offers three different card options:

Feature Curve Blue Curve Black Curve Metal
Cost (monthly) Free £9.99 per month £14.99 per month, or £150 per year if paid in advance
Free overseas purchases  Up to £500 every 30 days, then a 2% fee Up to £15,000 per year, then a 2% fee Up to £60,000 per year, then a 2% fee
Free cash withdrawals, at home and abroad (monthly)* £200, then a £2/2% fee (whichever is higher) £400, then a £2/2% fee £600, then a £2/2% fee
Foreign currency purchase limits (monthly) £500 per month Unlimited Unlimited
Travel insurance None Yes, for residents of U.K., France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain Yes, including lost luggage, for residents of the U.K.
1% instant cashback, in the form of ‘Curve Rewards’ None 3 retailers of a choice of over 50 (forever) 6 retailers of a choice of over 50 (forever)
Gadget Insurance None None Up to £800
Rental Car Collision Damage Waiver Insurance None None Yes
LoungeKey Lounge Access None None Yes
Card material Plastic Plastic Metal

 

*Note that weekend charges apply to foreign purchases

Go back in time

Curve also offers a nifty feature that allows you to change the card you used for purchases up to £5,000 for 30 days after making the purchase. For example, if you have your Curve card set to a card like the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard because you are trying to reach the minimum spend to trigger the sign-up bonus.

The ‘go back’ feature is great for being able to switch purchases that you have already made to a different card in order to maximise your rewards and not ‘waste’ any spend.

Curve has an app that allows you to go back in time, and also to choose your default card to use for each purchase. Since you can link multiple credit and debit cards to use with your (physical) Curve card, this app can be useful for toggling between them.

Which cards compete with the Curve card?

This is a really unique and innovative product offering that doesn’t have any competitors in the UK right now.

Related: How to best use cash while travelling abroad

Bottom Line

Curve is a fantastic idea that solves much of the frustration in trying to collect valuable rewards with multiple products — especially while travelling. I struggle to remember the exact limits, fees and benefits of every card in my wallet instantly, especially at foreign ATMs.

The real benefits of Curve kick in with the higher monthly paid options. Because of this, you would need to calculate whether the benefits you would receive outweigh the monthly fee you are paying for using the Curve card.

The lack of American Express functionality is certainly a continuing issue with the product.

You can apply for a Curve card here.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.