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The highest points-earning credit cards in the UK are generally issued by American Express. But using these cards for everyday spending may present some issues:
- American Express is not accepted everywhere
- For purchases in foreign currencies, there is a 3% fee, which, unless the American Express card has a very high earn rate, the foreign transaction fee will always outweigh the value of the points earned.
So, for some savvy points travellers, a portfolio of cards for different situations could be the best solution. Use an Amex where accepted locally, a points-earning Mastercard and Visa for local purchases where Amex is not accepted, and perhaps a no-foreign-transaction-fee card for foreign purchases, though it likely won’t earn any rewards.
This can get complicated for many travellers, and you will likely still be missing out on points by using debit cards in some situations. So, newcomer Curve has come up with an innovative new product to try and simplify your portfolio and maximise your rewards.
What Is Curve?
Curve is not a credit or debit card, but rather a payment method. The service uses Mastercard and links to your existing credit or debit cards. Think of this less like a bank or credit product and more of a payment technology, 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.
Curve offers three different card options:
|Feature||Curve Card (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 cash withdrawals (monthly)||£200, then a £2/2% fee||£400, then a £2/2% fee||£600, then a £2/2% fee|
|Local cash withdrawals||Free for 10 withdrawals per month, 50p for each one after that||Free for 10 withdrawals per month, 50p for each one after that||Free for 10 withdrawals per month, 50p for each one after that|
|Foreign currency purchase limits (monthly)||£500 per month||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Travel insurance||None||Yes, for residents of UK, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain||Yes, including lost luggage, for residents of the UK|
|1% instant cashback, in the form of ‘Curve Rewards’||3 retailers of a choice of over 50 (for 90 days)||6 retailers of a choice of over 50 (forever)||6 retailers of a choice of over 50 (forever)|
|Gadget Insurance||No||Up to £800||Up to £800|
|Rental Car Collision Damage Waiver Insurance||No||No||Yes|
Go Back in Time
Curve also offers a nifty feature that allows you to change the card you used for purchases up to £1,000 for 14 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.
The Huge Issue With Curve Right Now
While in concept, this sounds like a perfect solution to earn rewards everywhere, Curve currently does not have a relationship with American Express. It once had American Express functionality, then dropped it, gained it again with much fanfare, and now once again it has gone.
This removes its most valuable use, but if Curve can reinstate this option, it will really become a game-changing product.
Which Cards Compete With This Card?
This is a really unique and innovative product offering that doesn’t have any competitors in the UK right now.
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.
For me, right now while the Amex functionality is offline, I don’t feel I would get enough benefit to recover the monthly cost, as I also have a points-earning Mastercard and separate comprehensive annual travel insurance. I could get the free option, but there aren’t a lot of benefits and the low limits mean I would need to memorise the limits of yet another card in my wallet.
If Amex comes back to Curve I will seriously consider signing up for either the Black or Metal Curve cards because the ability to earn Membership Rewards on foreign ATM withdrawals is an enormous, game-changing benefit.
You can be sure TPG UK will be reporting the news if and when Amex returns. You can download the Curve app here.
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